This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Korean Cluture and Information Service
Ministy of Culture, Sports and Tourism
Enjoying Life in Korea
1. Currency and Prices 9 2. Shopping 12 3. Efficient Public Transportation 17 4. Housing 21 5. Special Days 26
6. Unique Flavors of Kimchi 31 7. Koreans and Rice Cakes 35 8. Table Manners 38 9. Five Dishes Non-Koreans Like Best 41
Popular Culture and Hallyu
10. The “Korean Wave” and Pop Stars 46 11. TV Dramas 49 12. Chungmu-ro and the Film Industry 52 13. Korean Pop Songs outside Korea 56 14. Taekwondo 59 15. Football and the Red Devils 62 16. B-boys and Namsadang 66 17. Samullori and Nanta 71
18. Koreans at Leisure 75 19. Norae-bang and Jjimjil-bang 78 20. Tourist Attractions 81
Seoul City Tour
21. Seoul City Tour 88 22. Museums 96
Korea in History
In Pursuit of the Korean Heritage
1. Hanbok 103 2. Major Holidays 106 3. Traditional Life Experience 110
Elegant Tastes of the Korean People
4. Classical Music 115 5. Traditional Dance 119 6. Graceful Pottery 123
Korea and Its People
Korea in the World
1. Geography, Climate and Population 129 2. The People 133 3. Spoken and Written Language 136 4. Emerging Multicultural Society 140 5. Korean Enterprises and Economy 142
A Glimpse of Korea
6. UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in Korea 146
Enjoying Life in Korea 5
Enjoying Life in Korea 1. Currency and Prices 2. Shopping 3. Efficient Public Transportation 4. Housing 5. Special Days Korean Food 6. Unique Flavors of Kimchi 7. Koreans and Rice Cakes 8. Table Manners 9. Five Dishes Non-Koreans Like Best Popular Culture and Hallyu 10. The "Korean Wave" and Pop Stars 11. TV Dramas 12. Chungmu-ro and the Film Industry 13. Korean Pop Songs outside Korea 14. Taekwondo 15. Football and the Red Devils 16. B-boys and Namsadang 17. Samullori and Nanta Leisure 18. Koreans at Leisure 19. Norae-bang and Jjimjil-bang 20. Tourist Attractions Seoul City Tour 21. Seoul City Tour 22. Museums
Enjoying Life in Korea
Currency and Prices
The Korean currency is called the Won ( denominations ( 5, 10, 50, 1,000, 100 and 5,000, ), and Korean money consists of banknotes in four 10,000 and 1, Part I 50,000) and coins in six denominations ( 1 and
500). However the
5 coins are virtually unused today
because of their very small value. Historical figures, cultural treasures and important symbols are featured on the notes and coins.
The Appearance of Korean Money
Sin Saim-dang was the mother of Yi I, one of Korea's most famous Neo-Confucian scholars). She was an accomplished artist who was particularly famous for her paintings of nature subjects such as flowers and insects. Her image graces the largest-denomination Korean bill, 50,000-won note, for her adorable motherhood and faithful wifehood. King Sejong (r. 1418-1450), the 4th monarch of the Joseon kingdom (1392-1910) appears on the 10,000 note. He is credited with the invention of the Korean native script, Han-geul, a project that was carried out with the help of selected scholars. He was also very much interested in the promotion of science, and many important inventions were created during his reign, including a rain gauge and sundial.
Enjoying Life in Korea 9
The portrait of Yi I (1536~1584, pen name: Yulgok) appears on the
He was one of the most prominent scholars in Joseon and an accomplished statesman who is acclaimed for his tireless efforts to fight political corruption in his time. The person who appears on the 1,000 note is another great Joseon philosopher, Yi Hwang (1501~1570, pen name: Toe-gye). He was a leading scholar in the study and development of Neo-Confucianism. The Manchurian crane, a symbol of longevity, wealth and fame, is depicted on the front of 500 coin, while the 100 coin features the portrait of Admiral Yi Sun-sin (1545~1598). He brought key victories to Korea during the Imjin War (1592~1598), utterly defeating invading Japanese naval fleets with his "turtle ships," the world's first iron-clad war vessels. The obverse of the 50 coin bears the image of a rice stalk, emphasizing the importance of Korea's agrarian tradition. Dabo-tap, a four-storied stone pagoda at Bulguk-sa (temple in Gyeongju) is on the face of 10 coin. The pagoda is considered one of the finest examples of stone masonry from the Silla kingdom (57 BCE-935 CE), was designated Korean National Treasure No. 20, and was included on UNESCO's World Heritage list in 1995.
Korean Housing and Transportation Expenses
Apartment: typical housing
Housing is rather expensive in
10 Passport to Korean Culture
Korea. A 2009 study by the Office of Statistics showed that the average household income was 39,150,000 (US$1.00 = age of least 1,150) in 2008, and individual households managed to save an aver9,530,000. A 100m2 apartment costs at 560 million in Seoul. Thus, the typical
Cappuccino & Pastry : $6.90 in Seoul, $6.50 in Tokyo, $5.20 in the US
US military personnel stationed at different locations worldwide were surveyed on the relative cost of living. According to that report, a cup of cappuccino and a piece of pastry costs around $2.75 in Italy, $4.00 in Germany, $5.25 in the US, $6.00 in the UK or Seoul, $6.50 in Tokyo and over $9.00 in Okinawa. Although the coffee was pricy in Seoul, a Big Mac was priced at US$4.38--as opposed to $5.68 in the US, $6.28 in the UK, $6.41 in Tokyo and $9.94 in Naples. A halfliter of draft beer can be had in Seoul for $2.52, but you have to pay $2.88 in Germany, $3.20 in the US and $5.43 in Tokyo for the same thing.
salaried worker in Seoul would have to be in his late 60s before he could afford to buy his own home. In other words, most Koreans cannot own their house in Seoul without help from parents or someone else. On the other hand, public transportation in Korea is relatively inexpensive. The taxi meter starts at between 2,600, and increases at 1,000 and 100 increments. The basic fares of Seoul subways are 1,300, while the bus costs 1,000 to rise. You get a significant discount when using a rechargeable transportation card and transferring between bus lines, the bus and subway or between subway lines.
10,000 Buys Today
Ten thousand won is enough to buy two servings of Chinese noodles in bean sauce (jjajang-myeon), or five orders of spicy rice cake (ddeogbokki). With the same amount of money, you can get a bowl of rice mixed with assorted vegetables (bibim-
bab), along with a cup of coffee. If you are not hungry,
10,000 will get you 30 min-
utes at a singing room (norae-bang). And if you go in the daytime, when business is slow, the proprietor may let you sing a while longer. For the health-conscious, a trip to the dry sauna (jjimjil-bang) will cost no more than tronic games or web-surfing at a PC parlor costs only 10,000, while playing elec1,500 per hour.
Enjoying Life in Korea 11
Shopping is one of the great pleasures awaiting travelers to Korea. Shopping venues are diverse, including the traditional open markets, fish markets and department stores. People go to these places not only to shop but also to discover the latest fads and trends.
Variety of Markets
No trip is complete without a visit to the local marketplace. Traditional markets that carry local specialties are always tourist attractions for their uniqueness, unlike the modern discount stores or department store.
The massive (some 100,000m ) Gyeongdong Shijang (Market) is in Seoul's Jegi2
dong (District). This market formed in 1953, after the Korean War, with vendors coming together spontaneously to buy and sell hot peppers, garlic, wild greens and herbs. As such, it became a center for buying ingredients for Oriental herb medi-
Ingredients for Oriental herb medicine at Gyeongdong Market
12 Passport to Korean Culture
cine. One of the great benefits here is the low prices. Pricing is not set, and people can still haggle on unit prices and get volume discounts. This is a place where you can feel the warmth of common folk, Koreans of the most genuine kind.
East of Namdaemun (the Great South Gate in Seoul) is a huge marketplace, visited each day by some 450,000 to 500,000 people. On a site of more than 40,000m are 58 buildings that collec2
tively house over 9,000 shops, with 97,000m in total floor space. Here you
Dynamic and lively Namdaemun Market
can buy clothes, fabrics, kitchen utensils, home appliances, foodstuffs imported goods and many other items, retail or wholesale, at very attractive prices. Shoppers are not only local but also from America, Europe, Southeast Asia and elsewhere. A major item found here is children's clothing; in fact 90% of all the children's clothing in Korea passes through here. The advantage for buyer and seller is the elimination of middle men, meaning lower prices without compromising quality. The market opens at 11:00 AM and closes at around 3:00 AM the following day. Late at night, the place remains crowded with retailers and wholesalers from all over the country; the hustle and bustle is a memorable experience for any visitor.
Dongdaemun Fashion Town
The area near the Great East Gate (Dongdaemun) has long been a popular
Buying clothes at Dongdaemun Market
Enjoying Life in Korea 13
retail and wholesale market, especially for garments. Recently modern high-rise buildings (Migliore, Doosan Tower, APM) that cater to the garment trade were added, and a so-called "fashion town" has emerged. In the vicinity, shoppers are treated to live performances by young artists who want
Modern high-rise Dongdaemun Shopping Malls
to show off their skills. This is Korea's largest retail/wholesale district, with 26 shopping malls, over 30,000 specialty shops and some 50,000 manufacturers clustered together to trade in garments, textiles, footwear, sportswear & accessories, electronic goods, office supplies and toys. Nearby are many shops carrying wedding dresses as well as other items for weddings such as cloth, bedding, kitchen utensils and traditional Korean clothing ( han-
Noryang-jin Fish Market
The huge fish market in Seoul's
Noryangjin Fish Market
Noryang-jin district originally begun as
14 Passport to Korean Culture
the "Gyeongseong Fish Market" at Uiju-ro, near the Seoul Railway Station in 1927. Some 370 different marine products, including live or frozen fish, are sold wholesale through auction. The products are delivered from all parts of the country. The auction starts at 1:00 AM for shellfish, 1:30 AM for fresh fish and 3:00 AM for live fish. People can also buy individual fish for cooking or sashimi at low prices. The daily transaction volume averages around 330 tons of marine products, worth some
Market Websites :
Gyeongdong Market: http://www.kyungdongmart.com Dongdaemun Fashion Town: http://www.dongdaemunsc.co.kr Noryangjin Fish Market: http://www.susansijang.co.kr Moran Market: http://www.moranjang.org/ Other Shopping Centers
1 billion. More than 30,000 people and 5,000 vehicles visit the
market daily, and some 100,000 tons of products are sold here annually.
Traditional Moran Market
The market at Seongnam-dong in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province is held every fifth day, on the 4th, 9th, 14th, 19th, 24th and 29th of each month. This is probably Korea's most popular "5-day market," drawing some 50,000 people each time it opens. The merchants total about 2,000 (1,200 registered members and some 800 non-member vendors). The market is divided into several sections that specialize in medicinal herbs, garments, flowers, grain, shoes, marine products, vegetables, food, pet dogs, poultry, and sundries. Visit the food section and you can eat generous portions of traditional rice soup with blood sausage, noodles and pork head in a simple yet inexpensive setting. Sometimes you will also be treated to street entertainment reminiscent of traditional times.
Yongsan Jeonja Sang-ga
The Yongsan Electronics Mall (Jeonja Sang-ga), in Yongsan-gu, deals in personal computers, computer peripherals and other electronic and electric goods. Clustered together in this area are large buildings (Jeonja Land, Seo-in Sangga, Terminal Jeonja Sangga and others) with multiple vendors. Computer buffs can
Enjoying Life in Korea 15
Yongsan Electronics Mall
either have their own PCs assembled here or purchase do-it-yourself parts.
Department Stores & Other Large Retailers
Koreans around the country today frequently shop at large retailers that carry everything from food and clothes to home appliances, and consumer electronics at attractive prices. They are usually conveniently located near public transportation and offer plenty of parking space. The sales area is spacious and pleasant, and the stores remain open till late evening. Some of the better-known ones are Emart, Lotte Mart and Home Plus. Department stores (Lotte, Hyundai, Shinsegae, Galleria and others) are for
high-end luxury goods.
16 Passport to Korean Culture
Efficient Public Transportation
Rapid, and convenient, public transportation is an integral part of life in Korea, to include buses (local and intercity), subways, taxis, trains (regular and highspeed) and airplanes. However the subway systems are limited to Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Daejeon, Gwangju and Incheon, and not every city is directly connected to the high-speed rail service (KTX). Part I
Popular Bus Routes
The most frequently used public transportation in Korea is the bus, with some six million passengers daily in Seoul alone. Bus riding became even more popular in the capital after the introduction of bus-only lanes in July 2004, which made the service much faster and more has reliable. been Recently, a monitor system added at bus stops to
Bus information monitor
Accessing Bus Information
You can find bus timetable at each bus stop. On the Internet log onto bus.seoul.go.kr for information on bus and subway services (bus stops, timetables, routes). Getting information by phone: First press 1577-0287, then 7 + bus stop number + #; or route number + #.
Using the transportation card
Most people in Seoul pay their fares with the transportation card rather than in cash. The cards are honored on buses and subways as well as in taxis. The benefits of using the card include discounted basic fare and free or discounted transfers. Recently, convenience stores and pay phones have also begun accepting these like cash. They can be purchased or reloaded at convenience stores, kiosks, subway stations and the mini-kiosks at bus stops.
Enjoying Life in Korea 17
Inside a Seoul Metro train
provide information on the estimated arrival time of each bus. The low fare is another reason why bus ride is so popular. You also receive a discount on the basic fare as well as on transfers between bus lines, or bus and subway lines.
Rapid Subway Service throughout Greater Seoul
The Seoul Metro offers fast, inexpensive and convenient services via 11 lines
Seoul Metro platform
that connect virtually every destination. For instance, Line 1 is connected with Line 2 at Seoul City Hall Station; Lines 1 and 4 intersect at Seoul Railway Station, and Lines 5 and 9 serve the international and domestic air terminals at
Subway information is available on Seoul Metro homepage. (http://www.seoulmetro.co.kr/)
18 Passport to Korean Culture
Gimpo. The subways are safe and reliable, unaffected by road traffic congestion. The basic rate starts at 1,000- 1,300. The subway will get you to most tourist attractions downtown as well as throughout the Greater Seoul Area, extending as far as Soyosan in the north, Yangsu in the southeast and Sinchang in the south. On the subway you pay only half what a regular train costs; for example, the subway takes you to Onyang Hot Springs for only 3,500. The Seoul Metro is a truly attractive way to get around on weekends to areas within the Seoul city limits as well as out into Gyeonggi and Chungcheong Provinces. Part I
Multiple Taxi Types
Taxis are readily available in Korean cities. The basic fare starts at 2,600, and the 100 meter increases at
increments. The cost of taking a taxi in Korea is much lower than fares charged in most other countries. You may catch taxis on the street or
call them to come to your location (in which case you pay an additional 1,000 won if the total fare is less than 10,000). The fare can be paid in cash or with either a transportation card or credit card. A free interpretation service is available for communication with taxicab drivers. In Seoul, "water taxis" also run on the Han River, providing shuttles during rush hour or used by individuals or families for tourism or fun.
Using International Taxis
International taxis are fast becoming popular among foreign visitors in Seoul. The drivers speak English, Japanese and/or Chinese, providing friendly service. You may reserve an international taxi by contacting the Call Center (1566-2255) one hour in advance, any time, 365 days a year. For more information, log onto www.internationaltaxi.co.kr
Enjoying Life in Korea 19
KTX (for Korea Train eXpress)
High-speed Rail (KTX) Express Buses
The KTX (for Korea Train eXpress) high-speed rail serves many major Korean cities. The KTX began operation in April 2004,
Advance tickets for KTX can be purchased either from automatic ticket machines installed at train and subway stations or from travel agents. You may also purchase your ticket online by logging onto the Korail homepage at: http://www.korail. com/.
connecting Seoul with Busan (Gyeongbu Line) in 2 hours and 40 minutes and Seoul with Mokpo (Honam Line) in 2 hours and 58 minutes, facilitating one-day business or sightseeing trips. Tourist companies take advantage of the fast and pleasant KTX trains in their package tours. Night trains with sleeping cars are also in service. Meanwhile, express buses run between all the cities and are a very popular form of transportation. The Gyeongbu, Guma, Yeongdong and Honam lines depart from the Seoul Express Bus Terminal, while the Seoul Nambu and East Seoul Terminals also offer similar services.
Using Express Buses
East (Dong) Seoul Terminal: (02) 446-8000 or http://www.ti21.co.kr/ Seoul Nambu Terminal: (02) 5218550 or http://www.nambuterminal.co.kr/
20 Passport to Korean Culture
Residential lifestyles are diverse in Korea today, ranging from the traditional
hanok to high-rise apartment complexes and ultra-modern mixed-use buildings.
Koreans may choose to live in a private home (either traditional or Western-style), low-rise apartment, high-rise apartment or unit in a mixed-use building, depending on their taste, financial status and purpose. Part I
The traditional-style private dwellings in Korea are called hanok, which have evolved over time. However a certain basic tradition remains: The hanok has a wood frame, walls and floor of clay, and either thatched-straw or tiled roof. As such, the structure "breathes," allowing the proper amount of ventilation yet blocking the winter chill. The interior is not too humid in the summer rainy season and warm in winter. The ondol heating system in the floor is highly efficient, and an open area with wooden floor is built between the two bedrooms to serve as a living room that is cool in summer. The ideal placement is facing south, which allows more sunshine in the winter while avoiding the most intense rays of the sun in the summer.
The hanok began to disappear in large numbers during the 1980s, as Koreans flocked to the more convenient apartments or Western-style single family dwellings. Recently, however, the traditional Korean home, with its environmentfriendly features, has again
Jeonju Hanok Village
Enjoying Life in Korea 21
Ondol: Korean-style Hypocaust System
The traditional ondol system is a series of under-floor flues that convey heat from wood burned in a fire pit. The flues are covered by thin stone slabs that can retain heat for several hours. Of course the system has evolved over time. For example, the fuel first changed from wood to coal briquettes and then boilers were adopted to supply and circulate heated water under the floor via plastic pipe. The heated floor is the main reason Koreans have had a preference for sitting on the floor.
Hanok, exterior and interior with open floor
become popular among the health-conscious. Some of Korea's younger architects are now designing hanok -style offices for government offices (at the lowest administrative level--dong),
22 Passport to Korean Culture
Experiencing the Feel of Hanok
Hanok Cultural Center homepage: http://www.bukchon.seoul.go.kr Jeonju Hanok Village is located in Pungnam-dong and Gyo-dong, Jeonju, North Jeolla Province. About 700 hanok remain here, maintained by the provincial and municipal governments, and now being developed as a tourist attraction. The homepage: http://www.hanok.jeonju.go.kr
dental offices and apartments. The interior of these structures has a rounded appearance, with wooden beams, pillars, and living room floor. The windows and doors papered with traditional paper ( hanji ), providing the atmosphere of the original
apartment is becoming popular for its combination of traditional elegance with modern convenience. The adobe-covered walls, hanji-papered windows and doors, traditional latticework and classical motifs on the ceiling, inner court instead of veranda or balcony, and open living-room with wooden floor add up to a cozy dwelling. The popularity of the hanok look is boosted by concern for good health and a desire to recover traditional values.
Enjoying Life in Korea 23
Single-family Homes (Dandok Jutaek)
Single-family home (Dandok Jutaek)
Single-family houses in Korea have their own gates and yards. The inside features are similar to other types of housing: living-room, bedrooms, kitchen and bathroom. Young people prefer apartments for their convenience and low maintenance, while families with children like the privacy of homes with their own yards. Today, Koreans are increasingly moving into private homes outside the large urban areas. One advantage of these rural dwellings is the small garden.
High-rise (15+ stories) multi-unit housing called "apartments" in Korea (or condominiums in the West because they are owned, not rented) are found throughout Korea. More than half (52.7%) of the population live in apartments and 68.9% say they prefer them to other types of housing. The first apartment buildings were constructed in the 1960s to ease the housing shortage in large cities. Since then, apartment design and quality have improved greatly. The growing urban popula-
24 Passport to Korean Culture
tion and scarcity of residential land have also contributed to apartment boom. A building that has both residential and commercial space is called jusang-bokhap (mixeduse) and an example of the greater versatility in modern architectural design. The commercial facilities typically occupy the second through fourth floors, and the upper stories are residential. Such buildings are usually very high and centrally located for convenience of transportation. Thus they command good view, especially on the uppermost floors, and the floor space is flexible. They often come with a swimming pool, bowling alley, indoor driving range or health club for residents to enjoy.
High-rise Jusang-bokhap buildings
Townhouses & Low-rise Apartments
Townhouses (or yeollip jutaek, "row houses") are defined as having no more than 4 stories and floor space totaling over 660m2 per building, while low-rise apartments ("villas") are 3-5 stories. The townhouses are aimed at lower income groups; the unit sizes are usually smaller and maintenance fees are low. The price and quality of "villas," on the other hand, varies widely.
Enjoying Life in Korea 25
People in every country have special days within the lifecycle. In Korea these are the child's first birthday (dol), the wedding day, the 60th birthday, and the day of the funeral.
A baby’s first birthday party has been a special event since early times to
Dol table and celebrating family
express gratitude for the
baby's surviving its first twelve months. Infant mortality was high in traditional times, when medicine was still undeveloped. Today, families still throw a big party for friends and relatives when their child reaches one year old. The highlight of the auspicious occasion is when the baby is put in front of a table that has various items arrayed on it (for boys: a book, paper money, sheet of paper, ink brush, inkstick, and bow & arrow; for girls: a pair of scissors, yardstick and needle are in place of the bow & arrow). The baby that picks up the money first is expected to grow up to be rich, while selection of the book or brush signifies the destiny of a future scholar or high-ranking government official, while the bow or arrow would suggest a future general. Today, a cake sometimes replaces the traditional display, and the party itself is held at a hotel or a restaurant. The well-wishers are given small gifts together with pieces of rice cake.
26 Passport to Korean Culture
Pyebek at traditional wedding ceremony
To Koreans, a marriage is not just a union of a man and woman but also the union of two families. In traditional times, the bridegroom-to-be went to the house of the bride-to-be for the wedding ceremony and then spent the first three days there before bringing his bride to his own home.
Modern wedding ceremony
Today, however, Western-style ceremony (with some modifications) is preferred to the traditional type, and it is held at a wedding hall, hotel, or church. Prior to the wedding, the couple are busy preparing many things not only for the wedding itself but also for life as newlyweds. Of course, invitation cards are mailed to relatives,
Enjoying Life in Korea 27
friends and colleagues, and special photos are taken in advance, many of which are outdoors. Professional wedding planners are frequently consulted as well. Immediately after the wedding ceremony, the newlyweds are to change into traditional hanbok, and the bride formally greets her new parents-in-law with deep bows in a ceremony called pyebek. Traditionally, a folding screen is set up in the room, with the father-in-law sitting in the east and mother-in-law in the west. The bride bows four times, offering some simple food, and in response the in-laws throw jujubes onto the bride's traditional skirt (chima), expressing wishes of a happy marriage and many children.
Hwegap (60th Birthday)
Hwegap (or hwan-gap or suyeon) is a big celebration on
the day one turns 60 (or 61 according to the Korean system). The 69th birthday (Korean age 70), called gohui, is also a special celebration but not as much as hwegap is. The significance of 61 is that it completes the 60-year zodiaGohui : 69th birthday party
cal cycle. In traditional times,
surpassing 60 years of age was considered a special blessing. The children offer their parents glasses of wine or liquor expressing wishes for an even longer life.
Funerals and Condolences
Koreans remain heavily influenced by Confucianism, which stresses the magnitude of key four ceremonies: the coming-of-age, marriage, funeral, and sacrifices to deceased ancestors. The funeral is considered as important as the wedding. Funerary customs have changed over time, influenced particularly by the contemporary reli-
28 Passport to Korean Culture
Funeral bier, traditional funeral procession
gion and philosophical value system. The deceased were virtually always buried from prehistoric times to about the 7th century CE, when the Three Kingdoms Period ended. The influence of Buddhism as the state religion spread the practice of cremation for the next seven centuries or so. Then, the importance of burials returned in the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), when Confucianism prevailed, and has remained the mainstream custom until the present. In recent years, however, funerary customs have begun to diversify once again. In the past, funerals were usually held at the home of the deceased, but now simplified ceremonies are more commonly performed at a funeral parlor attached to a hospital. Condolences are expressed in different ways according to one's faith. A Buddhist would offer two bows, while a Protestant would say a silent prayer and present a flower.
Enjoying Life in Korea 29
Unique Flavors of Kimchi
No discussion of Korean food is complete without mentioning kimchi. This indispensable part of the Korean diet is rich in lactic acid bacteria and nutrients, and has attracted global attention as a health food. Today, kimchi is enjoyed in many countries. Part I
Korean Food 31
Event : The Foundation for the Preservation of Cultural Properties organizes events for visitors to experience aspects of traditional Korean culture. Date : All year round Venue : KOUS (Daechi-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul) Korea House (Pil-dong, Chongno-gu, Seoul) Duration : 2-3 hours Admission : Free Application : Reserve by phone (The application form can be downloaded.) Information : Tel: (02)566-7037, 5951-2; Fax: (02)566-6314, 5954 e-Mail: email@example.com
Essential Part of Every Korean Meal
The origins of kimchi can be traced back at least 1,300 years, starting out simply as salted vegetables. Then pickling methods were developed, and various spices were added. Chili peppers were introduced to Korea in the 16th century and gradually became popular, contributing to development of today's hot and spicy kimchi varieties.
Diverse Varieties of Kimchi
The Kimchi Field Museum in Seoul has documented 187 historic and current kimchi types.
32 Passport to Korean Culture
Different varieties are served according to the season and region, and the varieties are determined by the main vegetables and seasonings used. Popular in spring are tongbechu kim-
chi (whole-head Chinese cabbages), nabak kimchi (sliced radishes in brine), jjokpa kimchi (scallions), minari kimchi
(dropwort). Early summer brings
oisobak kimchi (fresh cucumbers), oiji
(pickled cucumbers) and yeolmu kimchi (young radishes with the radish greens), followed by gaji kimchi (eggplant) and
sigumchi kimchi (spinach) in late summer. Autumn varieties include bechu geot-
jeori (unpickled cabbage), ggakttugi
(cubed radish), chongkak kimchi (young radishes), and godeulbegi kimchi (a kind of lettuce). Winter kimchi types such as
tongbechu gimjang kimchi are well fermented to last a long time.
Other winter favorites are seokbakgi (radishes sliced in large pieces), bossam
kimchi (stuffed cabbage) and oyster kimchi.
Different regions have their own specialties, like godeulbegi kimchi from Jeolla,
bossam kimchi from Gaeseong and ggakttugi from Gongju. Generally, people in
the north tend to use less salt and chili pepper in their kimchi than those in the south do. The use of fish sauce is more common in the south as well. Recently, fusion dishes that include kimchi have been developed and are becoming quite popular among Koreans and non-Koreans alike.
Korean Food 33
Nutritional and Health Benefits
Koreans have developed many fermented foods such as soybean paste, soy sauce, fermented soybeans and
kimchi . The fermentation
process kills bacteria and regular consumption of fermented foods can strengthen the immune system. Kimchi is rich in vitamins minerals and dietary fiber yet low in calories. Some studies sugkimchi refrigerator
gest that regular consump-
tion of kimchi can inhibit cancer growth.
Koreans generally are not fond of oily or sweet food. When they do eat it, they like to follow with kimchi, because the spiciness feels refreshing. Actually, chili pepper contains capsicine, which burns fat and stimulates the appetite while reducing the need for salt in flavoring.
Storage and Flavor
The same type of kimchi will taste different depending on the temperature at which it is fermented and stored. Optimal flavor and nutrition is normally achieved by fermenting kimchi for 2-3 weeks at 2-7 C and then storing it at 0-5 C. Allowing
kimchi to freeze can detract from the flavor, so Koreans traditionally kept their
winter kimchi underground. Nowadays, refrigerators have been developed specifically for storing kimchi.
34 Passport to Korean Culture
Koreans and Rice Cakes
Ddeok rice cake (sometimes with millet, beans, squash etc. added) has long been an integral part of Koreans' lives. This is evidenced by the many wellknown expressions involving ddeok : "Eating ddeok while lying down" (a very simple task); "The ddeok in another's hand always seems bigger" (jealousy); "The ddeok in the picture" (pie in the sky) and many others. No Korean ceremony involving food is complete without rice cake, and ddeokbokki (broiled and seasoned sliced rice cake with meat, eggs and other ingredients) is a very popular snack.
Korean Food 35
A Culinary Tradition from Ancient Times
About 200 kinds of ddeok are available today in assorted shapes and colors. The principle ingredient, shape, stuffing, and color may vary by region. This popular snack has probably been around in some form on the Korean Peninsula for close to 3,000
years. Grindstones and stone
mortars for pounding grain have been found dating from as early as the 7th and 8th centuries BCE, showing that agriculture was already established. Bronze Age implements with several holes at the bottom on each side appear to have been used for steaming grains. From ancient times, the Korean people have made ddeok for sad occasions such as funerals such as happy moments such as weddings. Sharing rice cakes among neighbors and friends was a way to foster a community spirit. Even today, families who move into a new neighborhood typically prepare ddeok to pass around as a way to greet the new neighbors.
Occasions for Ddeok
Ddeok has been so closely related to all walks of life that it would be difficult to
understand Korean people's lives without understanding the symbolic significance. Rice cakes are served at weddings, birthdays and other family events as well as on seasonal holidays. The type depends on the occasion and/or season. Different grains and other ingredients, including flowers and fruits, can be used. In traditional times, the royal family had luxurious ddeok prepared according to a unique recipe.
36 Passport to Korean Culture
Taking Ddeok to the World
Korean ddeok continues to evolve with changing tastes, providing a healthier alternative to sweets and fast food. Today, rice cakes are sometimes served the way sandwiches are. Some are pre-made for instant cooking in a microwave oven. Now packaged and preserved, Part I
Ddeokbokki : a popular Korean snack
ddeok is also exported.
Ddeokbokki is a popular Korean snack that was once restricted to royal court
cuisine. The original ddeokbokki was seasoned with soy sauce. Today's spicy version appeared in 1950, when the Korean War broke out, and is now enjoyed by everyone. The dish now includes ddeok, sliced and broiled; meat and eggs. It is seasoned with hot bean paste and some sugar instead of the soy sauce. Some like it with cheese. A variation called "rabokki" (for "ramyeon + ddeokbokki") may come with cream sauce or chili sauce instead of hot bean paste, catering to foreigners' tastes. hese days, the Ddeokbokki Festival is helping to further promote the dish among nonKoreans. (For more information, visit www.topokki.com.)
Learn How to Make Ddeok
The Ddeok Museum exhibits some 200 different varieties of Korean-style rice cakes along with instruments for shaping them. You can learn ddeok-related customs, participate in ddeok-making, and enjoy eating some of the delicious rice cakes, too. (For more information, visit www.tkmuseum.or.kr.)
Korean Food 37
Sometimes we experience embarrassment when we do not know the proper table manners when drinking or dining with people in foreign countries. Of course Koreans have their own sets of rules, which are particularly important when we are eating or drinking with the elderly.
Dining with Elders
In traditional times, upper-class people were served at individual tables, beginning with the eldest. Now, however, Koreans share the same side dishes on the same table together. The senior-most position at the middle of the table, on the side farthest from the room entrance. The eldest person is always allowed to sit down first and start eating first. As a guest, etiquette dictates that you thank the host before starting and after finishing. As a junior, you are expected to keep your posture correct and should not place your spoon and chopsticks on the table (indicating that you have finished eating) until the eldest done so. The eldest is also first to leave the table. Do not use a spoon to take from the side dishes (which are shared by all), and do
Family dining together
38 Passport to Korean Culture
not hog the side dishes you like most. In the past, keeping silence at the table was considered a virtue, but now polite conversation is normal. Try to use your spoon and chopsticks quietly and do not hold both in your hand at the same time. Of course you should avoid eating noisily or blowing noisily on your soup to cool it off.
The rice bowl goes on the left side of the diner, and the soup is on the right. The spoon is placed to the immediate right of the soup bowl, followed by the chopsticks. Any dish containing fluid is placed nearer to the diner, while the other dishes are farther away. Dishes with food cut in smaller sizes are nearer than the dishes with larger pieces are.
Traditionally, the junior was expected to offer a drink to the senior, holding the cup with both hands and on knees before filling his/her own cup. Today, the ritual has been simplified simply using both hands. The cup is held with the right hand,
Korean Food 39
while the left is placed underneath the cup. You should receive a drink from a senior with both hands and then turn your head a little to the side before drinking. Never refill another's cup before it is completely empty.
Clinking the glasses and Cheers
The teacup should be placed on a tray that is then put on a tea table before being filled and served on a saucer. The cup handle should be toward the tea drinker's right, and the teaspoon is to the immediate right of the cup. As soon as the cup is empty, it should be removed from the table. Tea should be drunk in silence; the cup is held in the right hand, while the left hand supports it underneath. If the tea is too hot, simply allow it to cool, instead of blowing on it; do not sip the tea with the spoon. Once finished, put
the cup aside and thank the hostess.
40 Passport to Korean Culture
Five Dishes Non-Koreans Like Best
A survey by Korean Traditional Food Research Institute concluded that the top favorite Korean dishes among non-Koreans are (in descending order): bibim-bap (vegetables & beef on rice), samgye-tang (boiled chicken stuffed with rice & ginseng), galbi-gui (grilled beef ribs), gimbap (rice wrapped in dried laver) and sunPart I
dubu-jjige (spicy stew of soft tofu & shellfish). Other favorites on the survey are hobak-juk (pumpkin or squash porridge), naengmyeon (cold buckwheat noodles
with vegetables, egg & beef), japche (potato noodles with beef & vegetables), bul-
gogi (thinly sliced beef marinated in soy sauce & grilled), haemul pajeon (pancake
with green onion, shellfish & other seafoods),
baechu kimchi (picked &
spiced Chinese cabbage), and hobak ddeok (pumpkin or squash cake).
Bibim-bap (mixed rice)
has long been popular in Korea because it is simple yet nutritious, and is now a popular in-flight meal for international travelers. Various vegetables are arranged on top of steamed rice. The diner then mixes the ingredients all together and adds red pepper paste and
Korean Food 41
Ingredients: 200g of rice, 50g of bean sprouts, 50g of squash, 50g of cucumbers, 40g of carrots, 30g of balloon flower root, 30g of bracken, 1 mushroom, 20g of shredded radish, salt, soy sauce, vegetable oil, sesame oil, salted sesame powder and garlic
sesame oil to taste. Often, a stone bowl (dolsot) is used because it helps to keep the ingredients warm until one finishes eating.
Bibim-bap has many variations, depending on the
region of Korea where it is served. Jeonju is famous for bibim-bap featuring fat soybean sprouts. Recently, a huge bowl of bibim-bap was served to a crowd in New York City at an event attended by the Mayor. The scene of New Yorkers enjoying the Korean dish was televised.
Steaming the Rice
Let the rice soak in water for 30 minutes before heating. Put in the bean sprouts and place the lid on just before cooking is finished. When ready, stir the rice well before scooping it into bowls. Namul is a general term for greens, herbs and wild vegetables seasoned with salt, vinegar and sesame oil. The name of the dish may vary slightly depending on what vegetables are used and how they are prepared. Virtually any type of vegetable, herb, or green can be used, and the parts can include the roots, leaves, stems, seeds, sprouts, petals, and fruits. They can be prepared as an individual namul or mixed.
Samgye-tang (ginseng-chicken soup)
Samgye-tang (ginseng-chicken soup) is especially popular for energizing the
body the hottest days of summer. A Cornish hen is stuffed with glutinous rice and boiled in a broth of Korean ginseng, dried jujubes, garlic, and ginger. The dish is particularly good for the stomach and liver.
Galbi-gui (grilled beef ribs) is one of the most popular Korean meat dishes.
42 Passport to Korean Culture
Galbi-gui (grilled beef ribs)
(Pork ribs, both marinated and fresh, are also popular and cost less than beef ribs.) The key to delicious beef ribs lies in tenderizing the meat and removing the fat. Therefore, the ribs are marinated in soy sauce mixed with rice wine, garlic and pepper for about 30 minutes. They are grilled at high heat, as cooking them slowly will making the meat tougher and harder to digest.
Gimbap is a handy snack to take along on picnics, hikes and other outings.
Steamed rice is lightly salted and mixed with other ingredients and rolled in gim (thin sheets of dried laver). The rolls are then sliced. Gimbap looks similar to Japanese sushi but the taste and ingredients are different. The basic ingredients are rice, meat or some other protein source (fish cakes, crab meat or eggs) and various vegetables (cucumbers, spinach, carrots, pickled
Korean Food 43
radish). Personal taste will determine the recipe. After rolling and slicing, the gimbap is typically served with a pickled radish known as danmuji. Traditional gimbap comes in round slices, but nowadays it may be wrapped into triangles or squares. Other variations include mini-gimbap, "naked"
gimbap (rice is on the outside)
and chungmu gimbap (rice
only--to be eaten with kimchi).
Sundubu-jjige is a stew with
soft bean curd ( dubu in Korean, tofu in Japanese). The soft bean curd may be less nourishing than the regular one, but its texture is popular with older people, and the flavor is widely liked. The stew (jjige) of soft bean curd, clams, mushrooms, soy sauce, salt and pickled shrimp is cooked in an earthenware bowl. For variety,
Sundubu-jjige with mixed seafoods
other ingredients may be
added such as kimchi, mixed seafoods, or short-necked clams.
44 Passport to Korean Culture
Popular Culture and Hallyu
The "Korean Wave" and Pop Stars
Popular Korean culture has gained global attention. Generally called Hallyu ("Korean Wave") its popularity has been spreading in an increasing number of countries. Naturally, more people in these countries want to know about the Korean language and Korean culture.
Hallyu : Global Interest in Korean Culture
Interest in popular Korean culture began to surge in Southeast Asia in the late 1990s, driving foreign interest in things Korean. Momentum grew after the release of a hit album by the Korean pop group HOT and the term Hallyu was widely adopted by the Chinese media. Korean TV dramas began to be exported to China in 1996, followed by Korean pop songs two years later. The Korean Wave has continued to spread to Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, the US, Latin America and even Arab countries. Today, Hallyu has come to include global interest in Korean food, electronics, dramas, music and movies. This phenomenon has helped to promote the Korean language and culture around the world, and many more students are learning Korean as a second language.
Introduction of Hallyu
Korean singers as well as actors and actresses have become popular
Hallyu stars in most Southeast Asian
“My Sassy Girl” poster
countries as well as in China.
46 Passport to Korean Culture
Movie and TV Stars
A Japanese survey on Korean stars ranked (in descending order) the most popular actresses Choi Ji-wu ("Jiuhime" in Japan), Jeon Ji-hyeon, and Lee Young-ae; and actors as Bae Yong-jun, Lee Byung-heon, Kwon Sang-wu, Chang Dong-keon and Hyun Bin. Japanese interest in Bae Yong-jun and Choi Ji-wu was sparked by the TV drama "Winter Sonata," the biggest hit overseas for any Korean TV series. The success of "Winter Sonata" was due to the poetic nature of the script as well as the music and scenes on the theme "first love." Bae became so popular that his Japanese fans nicknamed him Yonsama and remained devoted to him. The film was shot on Nami Island, near Chuncheon, and the set became a very popular destination for Japanese visitors to Korea. Part I
Bae Yong-jun Bae debuted with the TV drama "Salut D' Amour" in 1994, and
became popular in his role as a student of a future movie director in "A Sunny Place of the Young." His popularity continued in both Korean and Japan with "First Love," "Did We Really Love," "Winter Sonata" and "The Story of the Great King and the Four Gods." He has also starred in the full-length movies "Untold Scandal" and "April Snow."
Choi Ji-wu Choi made her debut as an MBC TV actress in 1994 and gained popularity from her work in the movies "Everybody Has Secrets," "The Romantic President" and "Nowhere to Hide" in 2002. Her leading role in the TV dramas "Stairway to Heaven" and "Winter Sonata," catapulted to the greatest fame. She also starred in the TV dramas "Beautiful Days" and "Truth."
Lee Byung-heon Dramas and movies starred in by Lee have achieved great
popularity in Asia, and recently he received attention worldwide with his appearance in the American movie "GI Joe: the Rise of Cobra." His most important movies to date include "Bungee Jumping of Their Own," "Joint Security Area," "A
Popular Culture and Hallyu 47
Bittersweet Life" and "The Good, the Bad, and the Weird."
Lee Jun-ki Chosen as the top Hallyu star
in China recently, Lee is also gaining strong
Bae Yong-jun Choi Ji-wu
popularity in Japan with the movie "King and the Clown." His other major works include "Virgin Snow," a joint Korean and Japanese movie, and "Iljimae."
Jang Nara Jang started out as a singer
Lee Byung-heon Lee Jun-ki
and has become a popular TV and movie actress in Korea, Taiwan and China In China she was awarded a top prize as a singer and appeared in the Chinese TV drama "The Mischievous Princess" with other top Chinese stars.
Lee Young-ae Lee starred in the TV drama
"Dae Jang Geum" and is now one of the most popular actresses in Asia and Middle East. She has also starred in "Joint Security Area," "Last Present," "One Fine Spring Day" and
"Sympathy for Lady Vengeance."
Rain The singer Rain has been chosen as one of the 100 most influential persons
in the United States. He gained his popularity not only as a singer but also from his work in TV dramas. He appeared in "Sangdoo! Let's Go to School" in 2003, "Full House" in 2004 and "A Love to Kill" in 2005, of which "Full House" won great popularity in China.
48 Passport to Korean Culture
Koreans love watching TV dramas, seeing movies and listening to music. Of the three TV dramas probably take up the largest part of their time. Korean TV companies now spend a hefty budget on dramas. Some of more successful ones are exported, helped by the influence of Hallyu. Part I
Characteristics of Korean Dramas
Chinese dramas tend to focus more on the stories and Japanese dramas emphasize the inner workings of the characters. On the other hand, Korean dramas are more about the personalities involved than the story. For instance, "Dae Jang Geum" received overwhelming popularity from viewers for its detailed expression of a woman trying to do her best in her specialty. People seem to draw satisfaction from such dramas as "Dae Jang Geum" and "Winter Sonata" by identifying themselves with the stars and sharing feelings with them. Perhaps the biggest reason Korean dramas are popular in China and Japan is that the audience can relate to the character of, for example, someone who can overcome various hardships in the pursuit of a dream for herself and her family. Korean productions are also highly rated for their sophistication in expressing human emotions.
The Top 5 Hallyu Dramas
The five most popular Korean-made dramas in Japan are "Winter Sonata," "Dae Jang Geum," "Stairway to Heaven," "Beautiful Days" and "Hotelier."
"Winter Sonata," Starring Bae Yong-jun and Choi Ji-wu This is a
tale of three persons bound together in the name of "first love." They met, separated and were re-entangled by the net called "family." The story unfolds
Popular Culture and Hallyu 49
through a mysterious interweaving of relationships surrounding them: Junsang; Yujin; Sanghyuk; and Minhyung, who resembles Junsang. Besides the romantic aspects, the drama captured fans' hearts with its memorable scenery and music.
"Dae Jang Geum," Starring Lee Youngae This fictional story is based on the life of a
woman during the reign of Jungjong (15061544) in Joseon, a male-dominated traditional society. Jang Geum becomes the top royal chef through her strong willpower and drive. She then learns medicine after overcoming various hardships and finally is appointed the first female royal physician. "Dae Jang Geum" means "Chief Female Royal Physician," the title bestowed upon her. It tells, for the first time, the story of a significant woman's success. Many people also loved the drama for its detailed coverage of royal cuisine in Joseon.
"Stairway to Heaven," Starring Kwon Sang-wu and Choi Ji-wu
This drama was purportedly made to give meaning to "loving someone fully, overcoming antagonistic social customs and taboos." It is a tragic story of hopeless, forbidden love between a man and woman. Their love is pure, hardly imaginable, yet surely such a love can exist somewhere. The drama awakens the viewers to their own feelings, never revealed to another.
50 Passport to Korean Culture
Korean TV Dramas Going Global
The popularity of the Korean dramas has spread to the Middle East, where "First Love," introduced in 1997 and starring Bae Yong-jun, was a big hit. ore recently, "Taejo Wang Geon" has become popular in China, Japan and the Middle East.
"Dae Jang Geum" Popular in UAE and Iran
People in the Middle East have been also caught onto the Hallyu craze. Dubai TV, the state-run broadcaster in the UAE, has been televising "Dae Jang Geum," "My Name is Kim Sam Soon" and "I'm Sorry, I Love You" since 2005. "Emperor of the Sea" and "I'm Sorry, I Love You" are particularly popular among young people. In Iran, "Dae Jang Geum" received a rating of over 90%, sparking greater interest in Korea and the Korean language. Middle Eastern viewers prefer family-based stories, as they usually watch TV as an entire family. That is one reason Korean TV dramas are so well received in this region.
A scene from "My Name is Kim Sam Soon"
"The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince"
"Princess Hours" and "The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince" have become very popular in Southeast Asia because these dramas and the stars' fashion styles show how Korean youth now live. "The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince" has been exported to Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand. In addition, the Hongdae branch of 'The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince," where the drama was filmed, is drawing crowds from inside and outside Korea.
A scene from "The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince" A scene from "Princess Hours
Popular Culture and Hallyu 51
Chungmu-ro and the Film Industry
Korean movies are now shown both domestically and overseas. Korea is exceptional in that over 50% of the domestic film market is made up of home-made productions. Korean films, along with TV dramas and pop songs, are at the heart of Hallyu, enjoying great popularity in China, Taiwan, Japan and elsewhere.
Chungmu-ro: Birthplace of Korean Film-making
Hollywood was the base for most of the American film industry for many decades. The Korean film industry was primarily based in Seoul's Chungmu-ro area, adjacent to Myeong-dong, from the late 50s through the 1980s, Here, film directors, actors and actresses worked with a cluster of film companies and cinemas. In the 1990s, film companies began moving to southern Seoul (Gangnam), but many still remain around Chungmu-ro.
Films in Hallyu
Until the late 1990s, few Korean films were successful outside the country. "Christmas in August", directed by Huh Jin-ho and released in 1999, was the first to receive significant attention in Hong Kong. The next year, "Swiri" sold well in Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. In 2002, "My Sassy Girl" obtained excellent results in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore, and Korean film had firmly joined the Korean Wave.
Hallyu and Korean Films
Hong Kong-made films once dominated the Asian market, but Koreanmade films have made significant inroads, riding the Hallyu wave along with TV dramas and pop songs. The
"Swiri" poster "Christmas in August" poster
Korean movies are popular for their
52 Passport to Korean Culture
solid story lines and diverse genres, appealing to a wide audience. Bolstering their success has been the international interest in Korean TV dramas in many Asian countries since the late 1990s. Korean TV actors and actresses also appeared in the movies, and their fame has boosted box office sales in several Asian countries. One good example is "April Snow", starring Bae Yong-jun. The film was produced with Japanese viewers in mind; it was sold to Japan even before completion and then went on to perform well in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore.
"April Snow" poster
Hallyu Films in Different Countries
Exports to Japan, now the largest market for Korean film, started with "Swiri," followed by "My Sassy Girl," "Joint Security Area," "Too Beautiful," "Old Boy," "Everybody Has Secrets," "TaeGukGi: Brotherhood of War," "Windstruck," "Untold Scandal," "King and the Clown," "The Most" and "April Snow." "A Moment to Remember," starring Sohn Ye-jin and Jeong Wu-seong, is the most successful Korean film in Japan to date. Exporting films to China is restricted by law, but pirated DVDs of "My Sassy Girl" were a big hit. Formal film exports to China have not been successful but Koreanmade movies are second only to American movies in pirated editions. Meanwhile, Korean films remain popular in Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore.
Excellent Directors and Genre Diversity
The popularity won by Hallyu and Hallyu stars since the 1990s undoubtedly played a key role in giving the Korean film industry its current global success. More importantly, however, many creative and competitive film directors began to
Popular Culture and Hallyu 53
come onto the scene from the mid1990s. They have ensured successful production, diversified the film genres, brought a better balance to the mix, and elevated the overall quality of Korean cinema. The remarkable growth attained by the industry in the new millennium has been recognized with awards to Korean film directors Pak Chan-wook, Im Kwon-taek, Kim Ki-duk and Lee Chang-dong at such major festivals as Cannes, Venice and Berlin, elevating the global stature of Korean-made films. Director Kim Ki-duk became known to American and European audiences with his "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring," while director Hong Sang-soo is noted for his excellent ability to express desire, discomfort and other aspects of the human psyche in this works. Director Im Kwon-taek, who was awarded at Cannes for "Painted Fire," also directed "Seopyonje" and "Chun Hyang," works that have made him known as the best director for expressing the Korean culture and spirit in film. Meanwhile, director Kang Jae-gyu, who began as a top screenwriter in Chungmu-ro, brought a boom to Hallyu films with "Swiri," followed by such blockbusters as "Silmido" and "TaeGukGi: Brotherhood of War." He is the most successful director in
"Old Boy" poster "Chun Hyang" poster Film director Pak Chan-wook Film director Im Kwon-taek
terms of production and
54 Passport to Korean Culture
box-office sales. Another young but prominent film director is Bong Jun-ho, who directed "The Host," which became a world hit outside Asia. Director Pak Chan-wook followed up his acclaimed "Joint Security Area" with a fresh and unique series that includes "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance," "Old Boy" and "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance." Since then, he also clinched the Jury prize at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival. His "Old Boy" has been sold to about 60 countries, solidifying world recognition of the Korean film industry.
International Film Festivals in Korea
The Pusan International Film Festival, now considered one of the world's top 10 international film festivals, is one of several such events held in Korea. Pusan International Film Festival (www.piff.org) Chungmuro International Film Festival in Seoul (www.chiffs.kr) Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (www.pifan.com) Jeonju International Film Festival (www.jiff.or.kr) Gwangju International Film Festival (www.giff.org)
Korea to Asia & Beyond
Korean films bring a new dimension to Hallyu beyond TV dramas and pop songs, expanding the market in Asia. Korean movies are, on their own strengths, now making rapid progress in markets outside Asia. "Il Mare," "The Host," "Old Boy" and "A Tale of Two Sisters" received Hollywood recognition
Posters of award-winning films at film festivals
and are now being remade. Korean movie stars Lee Byung-heon, Jeon Ji-hyun and Rain are active in Hollywood, and Korean film directors have been invited to Hollywood to make films. Korea has become an important player in the global film industry and holds international film festivals for everyone from the world to enjoy.
Popular Culture and Hallyu 55
Korean Pop Songs outside Korea
The news of Dongbangshinki's possible breakup dismayed fans in Korea, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. All of Asia is now the stage for Korean pop songs and pop singers. Hallyu started out focused on TV dramas, then expanded to movies. Korean pop songs are now the main driver of the Korean Wave. Korean pop songs have evolved for nearly a century. "Trot (from "foxtrot," which influenced its simple beat) is the oldest form of Korean pop music. It developed in the years before and during the Japanese occupation. The genre helped to comfort the sorrow of an oppressed people. In the 1970s, Korea was hit by a wave of songs sung by long-haired folk singers playing acoustic guitars and wearing blue jeans. Various new genres (rock, ballads, hip-hop) came and went through the 1980s and 1990s. In the new millennium, Korean pop songs became Asian pop songs and the world pop songs. Korean songstress BoA released her first single in Japan in 2001 and has subsequently been the top artist on the Oricon chart countless times with sale of more than 10 million discs in
Japan alone. "Tell Me Your Wish," the second album released by the all-girl band Girls' Generation, topped the Thai pop charts for four weeks. Meanwhile, SS501, a Korean boy band, released three albums in Taiwan, and they all topped one of the famous charts there. Songster Rain and Wonder Girls, a pop diva group, have advanced into the United States, while f(x), a 5-girl group, received mass media attention from many Asian countries even before its debut.
56 Passport to Korean Culture
General Trend of Idol Groups
The leaders in Hallyu pop songs are idol groups, which mainly perform hip-hop and dance music. They focus more on rhythms and unique dance moves than lyrics and melodies. Despite their adolescent appearance, the members emphasize sex appear with unconventional costumes, makeup and dance. Many of the bands are multi-national. Hangkyeong, a member of the 13-member boy-group "Super Junior," is Chinese and Victoria of "f(x)" is also Chinese. They are emerging not only as singers but as part of the popular culture. Sidelines such as fashion, games, books and TV program are being produced in tandem with these groups. Part I
Idol Group Singers Dongbangshinki
This 5-member boygroup ("Asian Popularity" in Korean) made its debut in 2003. Not only tall and good-looking, the members have been evaluated highly for their singing and dancing. The name varies from country to country: in Japan, Tohoshinki; in Chinese region, Tong Vfang Xien Qi; in the English-speaking region, TVXQ. The group has released 8 singles and 4 albums in Korea, 28 singles and 4 albums in Japan, and 1 single in the US and China--all in their respective languages.
Popular Culture and Hallyu 57
Big Bang This 5-member boy-group debuted in
2006. The members' song-writing, singing, choreography and stage performance have all been rated very highly. Albums "Always," "Stand Up" and "Remember" have been hits. The group went to Japan in 2008 and is active there, with new albums and live concerts.
Girls' Generation This 9member girl-group debuted in 2007 with the release of the album "Into the New World." Called "SNSD" in English-speaking countries, the group is composed of teenaged girls who are also talented actresses and dancers. They received the top prize at the 5th Asia Song Festival in 2008 and released a mini album "Gee" in 2009, which stayed on the major charts for two weeks.
Wonder Girls This 5-member girl-group made
its debut with the release of a single "The Wonder Begins" in 2007. "Tell Me," with its unique choreography, brought the "Tell Me" craze. In late 2008, "Nobody" was a hit, expanding the group's popularity to China, Thailand and the US.
58 Passport to Korean Culture
Taekwondo has long helped to make Korea better known to the world. This Korean martial art form uses fast kicking and punching techniques. The origins were developed as selfdefense against wild animals, requiring the
A kicking form
movements to be instant and fast. Over time,
blocking, kicking and punching evolved to create the Taekwondo of today.
Taekwondo practice encompasses forms (pum-
Ranks & Belts
A standard Taekwondo ranking system (dan and geup) is applied worldwide. Beginners wear white belts and are called mugeup (without any rank). Next is yugeup (with rank), which covers ten different ranks (indicated by yellow, green, blue, purple and red belts). This is followed by yudan (with black belt ranks), which comprises another 9 ranks, from first to ninth degree. Black belt holders aged 15 or older are given dan, while those 14 or younger wear pum belts with red and black colors evenly divided horizontally.
sae), sparring (gyeorugi) and breaking (gyeokpa).
Pumsae are series of moves that are practiced alone to improve attack and defense. The forms start out as being very simple, but they progressively become more complex and difficult.
Gyeorugi is the way to apply pumsae skills in
attack and defense. Taekwondo competitions bit athletes against one another according to preset rules to decide the winner. Only punches and kicks are allowed, and attacks are limited to the front of the opponent. Strikes to the face are only allowed with the feet and attacking the lower
Popular Culture and Hallyu 59
body is against the rules.
Gyeokpa is a way to measure the degree of one's Taekwondo
skills. The practitioner breaks boards, bricks, roof tiles and so on to test concentration, accuracy, mental strength and striking power.
Fostering Respect through Martial Art
Taekwondo does not condone aggressive violence; self-defense is the purpose. People practice the art to prevent violence, exercising patience and control gained after long and hard training. The practitioners wear white uniforms and colored belts; each color represents a different rank (geup). Low-ranking practitioners are expected to show respect to their seniors. The instructor is called " sabu-nim " (teacherfather). Taekwondo is not just for physical training but also promotes etiquette, respect and humility. This is one good reason why Korean parents send their children to Taekwondo class even before they are old enough to starting primary school.
Taekwondo Experiential Program
Gyeonghi-gung (a palace in Seoul) holds "Human Power Taekwondo," a program designed for foreigners to experience Taekwondo. Interested persons may apply via the homepage. It also holds a versatile performance on regular basis, "Power Art Taekwondo," a combination of Taekwondo, Korean traditional music and dance. (www.taekwonseoul.org)
Kukkiwon (World Taekwondo Federation)
The Federation was founded in 1972 to develop and propagate Taekwondo. It conducts tests for dan and pum promotion, holds domestic and international competitions, and offers special classes for foreigners. (www.kukkiwon.or.kr)
Globalization of Taekwondo
Around 70 million people now practice Taekwondo worldwide, learning about Korea and its culture at 500,000 gyms in 188 countries. The pioneer Korean Taekwondo instructors working abroad were essential for Taekwondo's achieving its present global status. They have served as
60 Passport to Korean Culture
civilian diplomats, introducing Korean culture as well as Taekwondo to the world. These days, Taekwondo has inspired modernized Taekwon dance and Taekwon exercises in Korea to provide easier access to the martial art.
An Internationally-recognized Sport
Taekwondo was adopted as an official event at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Thanks to efforts made home and abroad and adoption by the IOC, Taekwondo has become a global sport.
Popular Culture and Hallyu 61
Football and the Red Devils
Football is special to Koreans. Of course, many other countries may have better players and teams, but few exhibit the emotion Koreans do when their team competes internationally. Koreans come together to back their team, making it a major festival.
Massive rallies in the street during the 2002 FIFA World Cup
62 Passport to Korean Culture
Korean Football Yesterday & Today
Football came to Korea about 120 years ago, and Koreans remained excited about the sport despite many difficult historical and economic times. In the 1970s, Korean football underwent a Renaissance with the help of the government. Every village began to have its own early-morning football team. In 1983, the first professional league was formed, quickly making football Koreans' favorite spectator sport. Nevertheless, the national team failed at the World Cup in the 1990s, to the dismay of all Koreans. Then the 2002 FIFA World Cup was co-hosted by Korea and Japan. To the world's great surprise, Korea became the first Asian country to reach the semifinals. There are now 15 professional football teams in the K-league, raising Korean football to the next level and providing Korean football fans with much to cheer about. Part I
A Giant Step with 2002 FIFA World Cup
Korean football took a big step forward when the nation co-hosted the FIFA World Cup in June 2002. The Korean team was led by Dutchman Guus Hiddink and reached the semifinals for the first time ever, defeating one football powerhouse after another. No doubt, Koreans' great love of football and their support for the national team helped the players perform so well. The team was lifted by the massive rallies in the streets and the "Red Devils," the cheerleader group that urged their countrymen to share in the nation-loving spirit.
Chiwu cheonwang : "Red Devils" Logo
As the god of war and a soldier, the logo symbolizes victory.
Popular Culture and Hallyu 63
Birth of the "Red Devils"
A group of Korean football lovers formed in 1995 and they decided to adopt the name "Red Devils" in 1997. Their organized activities began from the preliminaries for the FIFA World Cup in France in 1998. The world took notice of their activities in Korea during the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The rhythmic shout " De~han min kuk (Republic of Korea)" resounded throughout the country and is now heard wherever a sports competition is held in Korea. The official support group for the Korean national football team has been leading the public cheering since that time. Membership was informal through the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, but now members are formally enrolled.
Red Brings Koreans Together
Many people identify Koreans as red-hot passionate people, perhaps because they still remember the massive crowds wearing red shirts during the 2002 World Cup. The "Red Devils" led a nation in support of their national team, changing
64 Passport to Korean Culture
Korean football, Koreans' perception about the red color, and Korea's image abroad. Korea is a divided country, and red represents the Communist North, so the color was avoided in the South. However, the Korean national team began to wear red uniforms, and their supports turned out clad in red, turning the color into a cause for celebration in the minds of South Koreans today. Red expresses joy and enthusiasm and now prompts Koreans to focus their energies.
Football Star Pak Ji-seong
The most revered Korean football star is Pak Jiseong. He is particularly loved for his ability to overcome physical shortcomings (small stature and flat feet) through hard work and constant self-improvement. At 19, Pak was already a brilliant national player. He was the top in the Korean Premier League before joining Manchester United FC in July 2005. He shot the decisive goal against Portuguese team in the 2002 World Cup tournament, and he scored the tying goal against France during the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
New Fashions on the Street
The Gwanghwa-mun intersection in downtown Seoul and City Hall Plaza turned into a sea of red while the FIFA 2002 World Cup was being held in Korea. Swarms of enthusiastic supporters appeared in the streets wearing headbands decorated with a national flag motif, red scarves on their arms, red shirts, and red knickers. Such instantaneous outpourings were unprecedented. Every plaza in the country became a gala display of national unity, irrespective of age group or economic
Young “Red Devils”
status. They were just the same people, participating in a celebration meant for them all. Every society needs an emotional outlet, and Koreans, especially so. The 2002 World Cup gave them such an opportunity in the form of on-the-street cheering for the national team.
Popular Culture and Hallyu 65
B-boys and Namsadang
The ecstatic moves of Korean dance express Korean heung, a mixture of joy, pleasure, mirth and excitement. At a glance, Korean break dancers, or B-boys, don't seem to have anything in common with the itinerant entertainers (nam-
sadang) of traditional times, but they share the unique Korean heung in their
magnificent rhythm and performances.
Korean B-boys Capture World Attention
The name "B-boy" comes from the American hip-hop culture of the 1970s, referring to professional male break dancer; the female counterpart is called "Bgirl." The B-boys brought a new culture genre, and many excellent performers have emerged. Late comers they may be, but Korean B-boys have made an impact on the global stage.
66 Passport to Korean Culture
B-boys Join Hallyu
Korean break dancers have won many world-class competitions, providing a new dimension to the Korean Wave. Break dancers the world over watch videos of Korean B-boys and emulate their moves. A Korean B-boy team was invited to the opening ceremony of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games for an exclusive performance and now many who are fascinated by the B-boy phenomenon visit Korea to watch local performances.
Pungmul and B-boys
Koreans' Great Rhythm & Passion
The global success of Korean B-boys
Gaya-gum and B-boys
was not easily won; they worked exceedingly hard to achieve world-class status. Nevertheless, their accomplishment may have never been possible without their passion, sense of rhythm and natural bodily movements.
Exclusive B-boy only Theater
It is easy to find B-boy performances in Korea. Just go to the "Bboys-only" theater in front of Hongik University; performances are held regularly. (www.sjbboys.com)
Information on B-boy Performances
"Ballerina Who Fell in Love with B-boy" (www.showbboy.com) B-boy and Ballerina (www.bisabal.co.kr) Breakout (www.breakout.co.kr)
Popular Culture and Hallyu 67
New Culture from Street Dance
Scene of "Ballerina Who Fell in Love with B-boy"
Korean B-boys are no longer confined to street dancing; they are now contributing to the creation of a new culture of musicals and dramas. They continuously develop by engaging themselves in joint performances with various forms of Korean traditional music as well as classical or pop music. Thus, Korean B-boys are now embedded in the culture, and are not just a passing fad.
Versatile B-boy Performances
The December 2005 "Ballerina Who Fell in Love with Bboy" took Korean break dancing to new heights at the unique "B-boys only" theater near Hongik University in Seoul. More versatile dance routines have been introduced here. In Korea, many new B-boy musicals are being created and performed, continuing the development of this art form.
Big Fun with Namsadang
The original namsadang were men who belonged to troupes of itinerant performers through the end of the Joseon period (1392-1910). Each troupe would have 40-50 members, mostly of commoner back-
68 Passport to Korean Culture
Namsadang performance (percussion instruments and tightrope walking)
ground, entertaining the masses with their animated music and circus-like tricks (tightrope walking, dish-spinning, etc.). Since the 1920s, these traveling bands became smaller and their repertoires evolved.
Extant are six different namsadang nori (performance categories), including percussion playing (pungmul ). Pungmul includes the traditional kwenggwari (small gong), buk (barrel drum), jing (large gong), sogo (small hand-drum) and
nallari (small conical fife). The players wear white headbands and produce light
and cheerful music, while dancing and making comic gestures. Other nori types involve dish-spinning, tightrope walking, tumbling (ddangjeju or salpan), mask dances and puppet plays.
Namsadang and B-boys
Salpan, one of the namsadang performance categories, resembles break danc-
Popular Culture and Hallyu 69
Namsadang performance (salpan)
Experiencing Namsadang Nori
Namsadang nori keeps an exciting part of traditional culture alive through performances and classes. You can have more fun by comparing the modern B-boy break dancing to the namsadang performances. You can discover how the excellent Korean break dancing is linked to tradition. Anseong Namsadang Baugeogi Pungmul Troupe (www.namsadangnori.or.kr) Anseong Namsadang Baugeogi Festival(www.baudeogi.com)
Namsadang and B-boys
ing in many respects. The performers exhibit exquisite skills on the floor, one after another, similar to the way B-boys compete. Originally, the namsadang performed nori from 9 in the evening till 3-4 in the following morning, but nowadays performances are just 2-3 hours.
70 Passport to Korean Culture
Samullori and Nanta
The delightful samullori (4 traditional percussion instruments) performances will captivate you, and you will unconsciously be following the exciting rhythm. On the other hand, Nanta is a modern reinterpretation that helps people unfamiliar with Korean culture appreciate Korean rhythms easily. Part I
Samullori Rhythms Origin
Samullori was inspired by traditional percussion playing (pungmul); the first
performance was held in 1978 at a small theater by Kim Yong-bae, Kim Deok-su, Lee Gwang-su and Choi Jong-sil, who were namsadang troupe members. Since then, this style has gained great popularity and is performed often.
Samullori originated from outdoor percussion playing and dancing, and the
musical characteristics were refined for the stage. In other words, a kind of
The four samullori instruments
Popular Culture and Hallyu 71
unstructured theatrical performance was developed into a musical genre.
Pungmul performers have no set number and play on their feet, moving with the
rhythm. By contrast, samullori consists of four performers only, who sit on the stage and play one different instrument each--the small gong, barrel drum, hourglass drum and large gong.
Development of Samullori
Samullori continues to evolve. The four sounds are now being integrated with
other experimental and creative performing arts. Originally samullori was simply an expression of traditional Korean percussion music, but then piano or orchestra accompaniments were added, followed by the inclusion of jazz and rock musicians. The direction of diversification has also gone into traditional Korean dance.
Nanta: Aesthetics of the Beat
Nanta ("reckless striking") is a non-vocal musical performance consisting entirely of rhythm and beat. This unique genre delights audiences through bodily movement alone. The instruments are simple kitchenware such as chopping boards,
72 Passport to Korean Culture
In 2000 Nanta became the first Korean performing arts group to get its own theater, a venue of about 300 seats in Jeong-dong, Seoul. A second of similar size opened in Cheongdam-dong (southern Seoul) of similar size as the first one in 2002. The Jeong-dong facility was expanded in 2003 to 500 seats. Performances are held year around at each theater. (www.nanta.i-pmc.co.kr)
kitchen knives, pots, pans and dishes. The players beat them in a samullori-like fashion, transforming something ordinary into a new art form.
Samullori is performed at many museums and there are also places where you can learn to play the instruments first-hand. Culture Art Center Keun Deul (www.onekoreaart.or.kr) Hanul-sori Beat Company (www.hanulsori.co.kr) Gwanghwa-mun Art Hall (www.ghmarthall.co.kr) Academy of Korean Music (www.samulnori.co.)
Nanta Now a Standout Production
First performed in October 1997, Nanta drew the biggest audience ever in the history of Korean performance and was chosen as one of the Top 10 Things to See in Seoul by the Korea Tourism Organization. Traditional samullori rhythms have been integrated into a theatrical performance
featuring comic kitchen scenes that amuse audiences of all ages.
To Broadway and the World
Nanta was designed with the world market in mind and has been enthusiastically received for its quality of composition and performance. A Nanta performance won the highest accolades at the 1999 Edinburgh Festival, and subsequently the act has remained a very successful in Japan, the UK, Germany, the US, Austria, Italy, Taiwan, Australia, Russia, China and the Netherlands. In February 2004, Nanta opened a long-running performance on Broadway, an Asian first.
Popular Culture and Hallyu 73
Koreans at Leisure
Economic advancement and social stability have allowed Koreans to devote more time to leisure. With greater disposable income, more and more Koreans want to do more than just rest; they want to enjoy a leisure lifestyle. The working population has received much more time off since when 5-day workweek went into lay in July 2004. The ways in which this newfound leisure is spent differs, of course, from person to person. Generalizations are risky, but some typical examples can be identified. Part I
Leisure activities are diversifying in Korea and becoming a greater part of everyday life. People who share the same hobby or interest now organize clubs, including sports clubs (bowling, hiking, inline skating, snowboarding, mountain biking, marathon running, ping pong and baseball, to name a few) as well as photography clubs, dance clubs and movie-watching clubs. Koreans who own the same model automobile may form a club to exchange information related to their cars;
Inline skating club members
gourmet club members seek out fancy restaurants together, while environmentalists and legal specialists band together to provide voluntary services.
Watching TV or Surfing the Web
A good many Koreans spend their leisure time watching TV or sitting at the computer. Each household has at least one TV set and PC and, with the availability of broadband, Koreans have easy access to online games and the worldwide web. In the past only certain entertainers had their own homepage, but now many peoWeb surfing
ple operate their own homepage or blog, sharing their personal life and communicating with friends. Social network services and blogging have become a popular means of passing time.
Hiking: an Activity for All Ages
Mountains have always been close to the lives of Koreans. Older people often go to mountains near their homes each morning to draw fresh spring water. Some do light exercises while there. People from their 20s to their 70s go hiking on weekends, sometimes alone, at other times in groups. An estimated 15 million
Hikers enjoying the autumn scenery
Koreans hike today, including men
and women of all ages. Some are hard-core rock climbers, but most simply enjoy the exercise and fresh air as a way to relieve stress.
76 Passport to Korean Culture
"Leports" (Leisure + Sports) Activities
The number of so-called "leports" enthusiasts continues to grow. In summer, they go to rivers for rafting, water skiing or wind-surfing, while in winter, they ski or snowboard. In addition the more venturesome young people may try bungeejumping, survival games or inline skating. Bicycle riding is gaining popularity today as well. Many people cycle along riverside paths or country roads in stylish wear, either alone or in groups.
Families at Parks on Weekends
Many Korean families visit public parks or amusement parks on weekends, trying out the rides and eating a picnic lunch. The best known destinations are Yongin Everland Resort, Gwacheon Seoul Land Amusement Park and Lotte World, while smaller ones can be found around the country. The amusement parks often operate art galleries or other family-type programs nearby.
Everland Resort Wind-surfing
Norae-bang and Jjimjil-bang
Singing rooms (norae-bang) and dry saunas (jjimjil-bang) are good inexpensive places to go with friends, colleagues or relatives. The norae-bang is an especially popular place to go after dinner and drinks. The jjimjil-bang is favored by young couples and families.
Norae-bang: For Men & Women of All Ages
The singing room (often called karaoke in the West) is equipped with a large screen that displays the lyrics as the song melody plays. Microphones are attached for the singers to use, and many of the people will also dance. The charge varies by the time of day and region of the country, but you can expect to pay around
7,000 won for
each 30- minute increment.
The norae-bang machines have more than 1,000 different songs in various genres, including children's songs, pop songs old and new and traditional folk songs. Japanese, Chinese and Western pop songs are also available. The low cost, wide variety and easy accessibility make the norae-bang a popular activity for people of all ages, from young children to the elderly. Businessmen often take advantage of norae-bang as a way to entertain partners, helping to build rapport and trust.
The singing rooms charge a basic hourly (or half-hourly) rate. In the daytime, or at other times when business is slow, the proprietor may offer a reduced rate or extend of usage time without any additional charge. In principle, only nonalcoholic beverages and snacks can be ordered at a norae-bang. The customer can request
78 Passport to Korean Culture
a CD recording of his/her singing to take home and use as a ringtone for a cell phone or upload on a homepage. The types of norae-bang has diversified of late, with private rooms for couples, nightclub-type rooms with mirror balls and other lighting effects, and music video game machines for dancing along. Part I
A new trend is to post singing room activities online. Singing and dancing at an offline norae-bang are recorded with a digital camera and uploaded for online evaluation and comparison. The person who gets the highest score is named "norae-bang jjang" ("champion of the singing room"). The highest marks are not for singing ability but for the ability to rearrange a song most interestingly. The first "norae-bang jjang" title was awarded to the "Dongseong-no Sisters," three college women who appeared on the SBS TV program "Choi Su-jong Show" in 2004. Those crowned singing room champions are often treated like stars.
Jjimjil-bang: a Home away from Home
The jjimjil-bang, which began to appear in the mid-1990s, are large establishments that combine the gender-segregated public bathhouse with an area for everyone to enjoy together. The separate rooms for men and women are equipped with restrooms, hot tubs, showers, a sauna, a steam room and massage tables. The term jjimjil-bang (the large dry sauna) refers to the common area, which will also include a public sleep area, lounge with TV, PC room, restaurant serving snacks and simple meals, large sauna, and ice room. Shirts, shorts, gowns and towels are provided for all guests. Here you can sleep and bathe outside your home. It is a great place for young couples or families to spend quality time together, as well as club members to relax after an outing. The jjimjil-bang is opened 24 hours a day, making it ideal for night workers to relax after they get off. It is also an inexpensive accommodation for travelers on a limited budget.
Inside a jjimjil-bang
The jjimjil-bang establishments continue to develop, getting larger, more luxurious and more diverse in their offerings. As such, they are no longer a simple space for bathing only, a complex that includes a singing room, small movie theater, beauty parlor, skin-care salon, PC lounge and even stage for live performances. These features make them especially popular for people on dates. Various search portals on the Internet allow exchanges among people sharing the same hobby, including lists of the most recommended
Significance of the Room (Bang)
Koreans like rooms. On the street, you will find singing rooms, game rooms, DVD rooms, laundry rooms and others. The rooms in the traditional Korean home(hanok) served multiple functions: sleeping, eating, receiving guests and doing work. The bang concept is associated with the closeness and warmth shared in traditional Korean life. Today, however, the bang has become a place for entertainment.
jjimjil-bang. The fanciest ones now have an "oxygen cave," DVD room, playroom for children, doctor fish spa, activated charcoal room, salt room, and jade room. For the time and price, they provide excellent access to a sauna and many other enjoyable facilities.
80 Passport to Korean Culture
There are many tourist attractions in Korea, popular with domestic and foreign travelers alike. Highlights include scenic Jeju-do, the largest island in Korea, the port city of Busan, historic sites and Buddhist temples. Visits to these places will provide greater insight into Korean tradition and history. Part I
Aerial view of Halla-san
Meaning of Oreum
The Jeju dialect includes the term oreum, which refers to the small cinder cones with their own crater.
Jeju-do (Island) is pristine volcanic island and world-class tourist destination. The island is renowned for its natural environment, open fields, beaches and mountains. UNESCO designated Jeju-do a world natural heritage. It is a popular place among Koreans for honeymoons and family trips, offering visitors a wide range of things to see and do such as eco-tours and water sports.
Information on Jeju Festivals and Tourism (http://www.jejutour.go.kr/)
Rape Flower Festival Date: April 9~10 Place: Gyori-ri, Bukjeju-gun
Jeju Scenery and Cuisine Halla-san (Mt.
Halla) is a 1,950-meter dormant volcano created
in the Quaternary period of the Cenozoic era in an eruption that covered the island with basalt and lava. The name "Halla" means a height that reaches the stars." The lake in the crater is called Baengnok-dam as well as some 1,800 plant
Jeju “Olle” tracking
82 Passport to Korean Culture
species that grow at different altitudes on the mountainsides. Also, more than 380 cinder cones (oreum) are disbursed about the island.
Udo Udo ("Cow Island"), with a shape reminiscent of a cow lying down, is in
Bukjeju-gun (North Jeju County). This beautiful islet is a great place for marine fishing, bicycling and hiking. A submarine ride and cruise tour are available. Some of the Korean movies filmed at this location include "Il Mare" and "My Mother the Mermaid." Many tourists also come just to see the beautiful scenery and beaches. Part I
Pony Rides There are many places for riding ponies on Jeju-do. Jeju ponies,
which have been designated as a "natural treasure," are much smaller than most other breeds and look rather wild. Yet they are mild-natured and quick with their feet. Most pony-riding venues are open fields that provide excellent views of Mt. Halla and the beautiful seascape.
Gyeongju has been around for at least 1,000 years, serving as the capital of the Silla Kingdom (57BCE-935AD). Many important historical sites and relics remain here, and UNESCO designated the area as a World Heritage Site in December 2000. The city has been divided into five districts based on the nature of the sites located in each: Buddhist fine art, ancient ruins of royal palaces, royal tombs,
Hwangnyong-sa (Temple) ruins; and defense works. A total 52
Temple Stay Program (http://www.templestay.com)
Beomeo-sa 1-day - Regular program: Experience the tea ceremony with the monk in charge of Seon (Zen) meditation. Free program - Offering with evening worship: A brief retreat from busy everyday life for personal reflection An overnight program - Seated meditation (Chamseon) Cultural program - Arts of making hanji, traditional tea-ceremony, making materials for natural dying, strolling along the wooded trails
designated cultural heritages are included in the World Heritage area. The Nam-san ("South Mountain") District is like an outdoor museum with hundreds of mostly Buddhist relics disbursed throughout. Relics of note include Na-jeong a well related to the foundation myth of Silla; Poseok-jeong, a pleasure pavilion that played a part in Silla's demise, stone images of the reclining Buddha at Mireuk-gol (Maitreya Valley), stone images of the standing Buddha at Beri and Buddha images carved on a cliff face at Chilbul-am (Hermitage). Gyeongju was the capital of Silla, a kingdom that lasted a thousand years and reigned over the entire Korean Peninsula for some 250 years. This part
of the old city boasts important architectural structures, Buddhist relics and monuments.
Haein-sa Haein-sa is a major
Buddhist temple built on Mt. Gaya, in South Gyeongsang Province in 802. The area is sufficiently remote to avoid the onslaught of invading armies over the centuries. Haein-sa preserves the 80,000+ woodblocks for printing the world's most complete edition of the Buddhist Canon
(Tripitaka Koreana). The name Haein-
sa (Ocean Symbol Temple) comes from the phrase "ocean symbol samadhi" (a state of deep meditation) in the Avatamsaka-sutra, referring to the Buddha's state of
84 Passport to Korean Culture
mind when preaching the first sermons after his enlightenment. Haein-sa, keeper of the Tripitaka Koreana woodblocks, is a Buddhist treasure for the entire world.
Night view of Busan
Busan is Korea's second largest city and the world's fifth largest port--an important international logistics center with beautiful coastline and mountains. In addition, the areas offer many sights worth seeing and festivals of all kinds.
Haeundae Beach Busan's Haeundae district is famous for its long stretch of
beach and beautiful coastline. This is one of the most popular summer destina-
tions for Koreans and foreign visitors alike. Indeed, the name "Haeundae" is almost synonymous with Busan for most Koreans. Every year, more tourists visit Haeundae than any other place in the country. High-rise buildings and hotels along the shoreline offer convenient shopping and great sightseeing. Annual events here include celebrations of the first full moon in the lunar new year (January or February), "Polar Bear" swimming competition (winter), sand sculptures (June) and the Busan Sea Festival (August). In the vicinity are Dongbaek Island, the Oryukdo Islands, a major aquarium, a yachtracing marina, the Busan Exhibition & Convention Center (BEXCO), and various scenic drives.
Jagalchi Seafood Market This is where you can really meet the dynamic people of Busan. Jagalchi is one the most famous fisheries markets in Korea and a Busan landmark. Here you can buy all kinds of fish freshly caught and enjoy raw fish served right at the market shops. The atmosphere of the bustling market is a treat in itself.
86 Passport to Korean Culture
Seorak Cultural Festival
This event is hosted by the city of Seokcho every autumn (Oct. 1-3), celebrating the beautiful autumn colors along with many other events in the Seorak area.
Online Information on Traveling in Korea
Korea Tourism Organization: http://www.visitkorea.or.kr Busan homepage (English, Japanese, Chinese): http://english.busan.go.kr Nature and ecology tours: Seoraksan National Park: http://seorak.knps.or.kr Korea Forest Service: http://www.foa.go.kr ForestOn: http://www.foreston.go.kr National Recreation Forest Office: http://www.huyang.go.kr Transportation: Train KORAIL: http://www.korail.com Bus Seoul Express Bus Terminal: http://www.exterminal.co.kr Dong Seoul Terminal: http://www.ti21.co.kr/ Seoul Nambu Terminal: http://www.nambuterminal.co.kr Air KAL: http://kr.koreanair.com Asiana: http://www.flyasiana.com Jeju Air: http://www.jejuair.net
Seorak-san National Park
Seorak-san National Park Seorak-san (Mt.
Seorak) has 1,708m Daecheong-bong, the highest peak in the Taebaek Mountain Range, considered the backbone of the Korean Peninsula. UNESCO designated the entire Seorak-san area as a Biosphere Reserve in 1982 (Korea's first), for its many rare species. Royal azaleas and other flowers in spring, valleys with clean and fresh water in summer and magnificent autumn colors capture the hearts of tourists, while the winter snow scenes are also magnificent. On the east side is "Outer Seorak," which features Cheonbuldong-gyegok (valley), Geumgang-gul (cave), Gwimyeon-am (rock), Biryeong-pokpo (waterfall), Ulsan-bawi (rock), Gweonggeum-seong (fortress wall), Oryeon-pokpo (waterfall) and Towangseong-pokpo (waterfall).
Seoul City Tour
Seoul has been Korea's capital for more than 600 years, starting from the beginning of Joseon in 1392. Tradition and modernity exist side by side, offering a diverse range of things to see and do. Visitors to Korea generally rate Seoul as their primary destination for all that it offers.
88 Passport to Korean Culture
Traditional Culture in Seoul Old Palaces Seoul is Korea's political, economic, cultural and educational captial,
with a forest of ultra-modern high-rises and crowds of bustling people. In stark contrast to this are five elegant old palaces, offering people a moment of rest in peace. They are: Gyeongbok-gung, the main palace; Changdeok-gung; Deoksu-gung; Gyeonghi-gung and Changgyeong-gung. Each has its own story corresponding to its long history. Part I
Seoul City Tour 89
Bukchon Hanok Village
Insa-dong & Bukchon Hanok Village
Insa-dong, near Gyeongbok-gung, is a traditional area bustling with shoppers (or window-shoppers) for antiques, ceramics or souvenirs. Many come just to watch the street performances or look at paintings on display at many art galleries. Between Gyeongbok-gung and Changdeok-gung is Bukchon Hanok Maul (Village), with many traditional tea houses. "Bukchon" (North Village) is so named for its location north of Cheonggye-cheon (stream) and Chongno (street). This was where the highest ranking government officials and royal family members lived in
Information on Seoul Palaces & Hanok Village
Gyeongbok-gung (www.royalpalace.go.kr) Changdeok-gung (www.cdg.go.kr) Deoksu-gung (www.deoksugung.go.kr) Changgyeong-gung (http://cgg.cha.go.kr/) Bukchon Hanok Maul (http://bukchon.seoul.go.kr/)
90 Passport to Korean Culture
traditional times. Some of the old homes of nobility remain. Unlike other residential areas where high-rise apartments are common, the narrow alleys of Bukchon showe glimpses of Seoul at an earlier time. Various hanok guesthouses are here for you to experience life in a traditional Korean-style home. Part I
The Dynamic City of Seoul Beautiful Night Scenes from Cheonggye-cheon & Seoul Tower Cheonggyecheon (stream) has always been an important part of Seoul's history. The stream symbolized the extreme poverty in the city in the 1950s abd successful industrialization and modernization in the 1960s and 1970s. Recently, it was reborn as a public recreation area. The concrete that once covered the stream were removed in a major project between 2003 and 2005, giving new life to the
Cheonggye-cheon Seoul Tower
Seoul City Tour 91
Information on Cheonggyecheon & Seoul Tower
Cheonggye-cheon (http://cheonggye.seoul.go.kr) Seoul Tower (http://www.nseoultower.co.kr)
Night at the Cheonggye-cheon
waterway. Now 22 bridges cross the stream, each in a unique style and illuminated brightly at night to provide a balance of water and light. Meanwhile, Seoul Tower (or "Namsan Tower") commands a beautiful panoramic view of Seoul. The view is especially striking at night, when the city is brighter than the starry sky.
Shopping streets Shopping in Seoul is fun and easy. Myeong-dong is the most
Busy Myeong-dong street
92 Passport to Korean Culture
famous shopping area, where locals and foreign visitors alike fill department stores, arcades and diverse restaurants.
Namdaemun Market Namdaemun Market is the biggest open market in
Korea, where clothes, food and other everyday items are sold. The style is both traditional and modern, with plenty of goods available at low prices. By contrast, Dongdaemun Market is a place to buy fashionable clothes at low prices, making it especially popular among young shoppers. Itaewon is still another excellent shopping destination in Seoul, and the merchants there cater to foreigners. The Itaewon area is home to many different nationalities of people, and the cuisines of different countries are available here. Part I
Seoul Parks Not every place in Seoul is
busy and congested; ample outdoor space is available for relaxation. One such place is along the Han River (Hangang). Here people
Olympic Park and Seoul Forest
Seoul City Tour 93
come to jog, riding bicycles or inline skate, and you can also see families, lovers and friends just engaging in friendly conversation. The Han River flows east to west through Seoul, and twelve different parks are along either side. They have outdoor swimming pools, various exercise facilities, motorboat and canoe rentals, fishing spots, windsurfing areas and places for sunbathing. Besides the Han River, you can visit Olympic Park, World Cup Park, Seoul Forest and other spots to get some relaxation in nature.
Han River Parks
The Han River is a very popular place to go for Seoulites to get some fresh air and relaxation. Twelve parks are located along the river, including those at Yeouido, Ddukseom, Banpo and Jamsil. You can board sightseeing boats at eight different locations, and the night scenery from the river is especially enjoyable. Today 22 bridges cross the Han. Various cultural events and festivals are held at the riverside, including the Hangang Rainbow Festival and Seoul International Fireworks Festival (end of September or early October). Information on Han River parks (http://hangang.seoul.go.kr) Hangang Rainbow Festival (http://hangangfest.seoul.go.kr) Seoul International Fireworks Festival (www.bulnori.com/)
Hangang Renaissance Project The Seoul City
government has been working to improve the Han River parks through the "Hangang Renaissance Project," which was launched in 2007 and will be completed in 2030. Each location is being developed with a separate theme, providing residents with a wide range of cultural activities.
Hot Spots for Young People A passionate
city like Seoul has many bustling places for young people. One of the most popular today is the area called Hongdae-ap, near Hongik University. This is famous for its clubs with live bands, and unique cafes. The clubs are packed with dancers, especially on weekends. Daehang-no is well known for small theaters where dramas, musicals and concerts are staged. Marronnier Park, in the center of the Daehang-no area, is a favorite spot for young street performers. COEX in Gangnam is always filled with young people who come to enjoy exhibitions, fairs, the aquarium, movies and shopping.
94 Passport to Korean Culture
Youthful band in front of Hongdae
Dynamic, passionate ‘Hi Seoul Festival’
The Hi Seoul Festival is held each season, organizing various events and performances to spice up people's daily routines. (www.hiseoulfest.org)
Sinchon has many of Korea's leading universities and is naturally another popular place for students and other young people who want to eat, drink or shop. Trendy Apgujeong-dong in Gangnam has emerged as the place to go for the latest in fashion and also has many excellent shops and restaurants.
Seoul City Tour Bus Package Tour
Operated day and night, the Seoul City Tour Bus offers tours to famous tourist attractions in Seoul at your convenience. This package tour covers all the main sights and is very popular among both Koreans and non-Koreans. (www.seoulcitybus.com)
Seoul City Tour 95
Korea has many museums, each with its own type of displays. In recent years, theme museums have been attracting many visitors.
National Museum of Korea
The National Museum of Korea is the largest museum in Seoul, exhibiting a vast collection of world-class artifacts. In addition to the quality exhibits are cultural programs and performances. The 1st floor has 10 halls that focus on prehistory and early history. On display are artifacts from the Paleolithic Age as well as Goguryeo, Balhae, Baekjae and Silla kingdoms. On the 2nd floor you can appreciate the best of Korean fine art, including many important works in calligraphy and painting in various genres. The 3rd floor is devoted to Buddhist texts; metal and ceramic articles; and cultural artifacts from China, Japan, India and Central Asia, helping you understand, experience and compare the various cultural legacies of
Front view of the National Museum of Korea
96 Passport to Korean Culture
Asia. The outdoor exhibition features two important pagodas, Yeomgeo hwasangtap (National Treasure No. 104) and Jingyeongdaesa boweol neunggong-tap of Bongnim-sa (Treasure No. 362).
National Folk Museum of Korea
The National Folk Museum of Korea is on the grounds of Gyeongbok-gung (palace) and has a collection of 2,240 artifacts related to the daily lives of Koreans from traditional times to the present. Here you can get a better idea of how lifestyles have evolved on the Korean Peninsula. Each museum building has features borrowed from some of Korea's most important Buddhist architecture. The front of the main building resembles Cheongun-gyo and Baekun-gyo, the two "bridges" (stairways) leading into Bulguk-sa, and the building is topped by a five-story pagoda modeled after Palsang-jeon (hall) at Beopju-sa. The three-story east wing resembles Mireukjeon (hall) at Geumsan-sa, and the architecture of the two-story west wing is inspired by Gakhwang-jeon (hall) at Hwaeom-sa. There are three standing exhibits as well as an outdoor exhibit, children's museum, and special exhibition hall. The main hall has models of the nine-story pagoda of Hwangnyong-sa (Silla kingdom), Mireuk-sa (Baekjae kingdom), and Geunjeong-jeon and Dongsipja-gak (Joseon kingdom). Part I
Seoul Museum of History
The Seoul Museum of History opened in May 2002 to show the history and traditional culture of the Korean capital. The museum has special exhibits, standing exhibits, donated collections, theme exhibits, a hall of fame for special donations, online exhibits and designated culSeoul Museum of History
Seoul City Tour 97
tural heritages. Various events are offered on weekdays, including the free "Wednesday Movie," and "Gallery Talk" on Thursdays (twice a month) to provide in-depth information of the exhibits. The monthly "Music Night at the Museum" concert is held on a Friday.
National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts
The National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts (NCKTPA) is the only museum dedicated to traditional music. The collection includes some 3,000 items, including books and other documents as well as various musical instruments. YeakNCKTPA
dang, a hall opened in 1996, is
used solely for traditional music performances and features a traditional stage and adobe-plastered walls to complete the mood. Wumyeondang is a small theater (seats 300) that brings the audience close to the performers in an intimate atmosphere. Performances here include traditional music, dance and plays.
The Kimchi Museum studies and researches the pickled vegetables that are such an integral part of Korean cuisine. Kimchi is becoming more popular worldwide as a health food, and today, the museum draws about
100,000 visitors a year. The exhi-
98 Passport to Korean Culture
bitions cover the history and many varieties of kimchi, providing a wealth of information. The museum collects kimchi-related studies, statistics, theses, and reference books, while publishing its own brochures and performing research projects of its own. Part I
The Ddeok Museum displays some 2,000 items related to traditional Korean culinary arts, focusing on the rice cake, or
ddeok. This nourishing food has
been with Koreans for millennia and comes in various types with different tastes. The rice cake tradition has developed over a long time and evolved with changing lifestyles. Songpyeon (pine-flavored rice cake) is prepared for Chuseok (Harvest Moon), and rice cake soup (ddeokguk) from sliced rice cake bars (garaetteok) is a must on Lunar New Year's (Seol). Deok is also traditionally handed out to guests who have come to celebrate a child's first birthday. The Ddeok Museum also has a program that allows you to make traditional rice cake yourself, providing insight into traditional Korean life.
National Folk Museum of Korea: http://www.nfm.go.kr/ National Museum of Korea: http://www.museum.go.kr Kimchi Museum: http://www.kimchimuseum.co.kr Ddeok Museum: http://www.tkmuseum.or.kr Seoul Museum of History: http://www.museum.seoul.kr/
Seoul City Tour 99
Korea in History
In Pursuit of the Korean Heritage 1. Hanbok 2. Major Holidays 3. Traditional Life Experience Elegant Tastes of the Korean People 4. Classical Music 5. Traditional Dance 6. Graceful Pottery
In Pursuit of the Korean Heritage
Traditional Korean attire, hanbok, is an important cultural symbol. Hanbok styles are distinctive, depending on gender and social status, and hanbok was worn on formal occasions as a form of etiquette. Hanbok has evolved over time and is worn much less frequently today, but Koreans, especially the women, still like to wear it on holidays and special occasions such as weddings. The hanbok designs have been simplified in modern times for greater convenience. Part 2
Korea in History
Woman in beautiful hanbok
In Pursuit of the Korean Heritage 103
Hanbok Styles & Colors
A set of hanbok includes the jeogori (jacket), for both men and women, and chima (skirt) for women and baji (trousers) for men. The duru-
magi (overcoat) is worn over the jeogori not only
for warmth but also for formality. The beauty of
hanbok comes from the harmony of graceful
Eaves of a Korean house
lines. For instance, the women's jeogori blends straight lines with the soft, curved lines reminiscent of the eaves on a traditional building. Western clothes are designed to fit tightly, but the chima is square shaped and wrapped around the wearer. It drapes down naturally, almost touching the ground, to create elegant
and graceful lines. The wrap-around skirt provides the wearer with flexibility and room, regardless of body type. The short jeogori combines with the long, graceful chima to provide balance and elegance. In traditional times, Korean commoners usually wore white clothes, while the hanbok was normally reserved for members of the royal
family or noble class. Commoners
were permitted to wear hanbok on their wedding day. The materials and colors allowed would differ according to the occasion and status of the wearer. For example, a bride would wear a colorful combination (for example red chima with green or yellow jeogori) for her wedding. Probably, the best color harmony is found in the rainbow-striped hanbok for children.
104 Passport to Korean Culture
Korea in History
Family in hanbok
Modern Koreans prefer wearing Western-style clothes, which are more comfortable and convenient than the traditional one. However, hanbok is still worn on special days such as Lunar New Year's (Seol) and the Harvest Moon (Chuseok). The traditional clothes provide the proper formality for offering sacrifices to deceased ancestors and visit one's elderly parents. Other special occasions that warrant hanbok include a child's first birthday or pyebaek, the bride's formal greeting to her in-laws immediately after the wedding ceremony. In recent years, modified hanbok outfits have been designed for everyday use. The style is convenient to wear but retains the basic traditional look. Buttons are used, and the sleeves and trouser legs are narrower than with the traditional hanbok. The colors are also less garish.
Buying a Hanbok
The price of a hanbok outfit can vary widely depending on the materials and workmanship. Low priced hanbok is available at Namdaemun, Dongdaemun or Gwangjang Markets.
In Pursuit of the Korean Heritage 105
As in any culture, Koreans have seasonal days for celebration. The most important of these traditionally were Seol (Lunar New Year's Day), Daeboreum (1st full moon of lunar year), Hansik (2nd lunar month), Buddha's birthday (4th lunar month), Dano (5th lunar month), Yudu (6th lunar month), Baekjung (7th lunar month), Chuseok (8th lunar month and Dongji (winter solstice, 11th lunar month). Today, Koreans mainly celebrate Seol, Daeboreum, and Chuseok.
Seol, Lunar New Year's Day, has long been one of the two most important seasonal holidays for Koreans. (The other is Chuseok.) On Seol, family and close relatives get together in the morning to offer a sacrifice to their ancestors called
charye. Items on the carefully prepared sacrificial table will include fish and meat
106 Passport to Korean Culture
dishes, fruit and rice cakes. After the charye, the younger members of the family perform saebae, a ritual bowing to their elders, wishing them good health and luck. In return, the children are given money, called saebae-don.
Seol Customs & Games
Ddeokguk (beef soup with thin
slices of rolled rice cake) is a must on Lunar New Year's Day. The significance of this custom has several different explanations. According to one theory, Seol, the first day of the new year, means "brightness," and the white color of the rice cake is bright, while its round shape represents the sun. Another theorypostulates that the long and white rice cake rolls ( garaet-ddeok ) is symbolic of a pure and long life. The rice cake shapes and other ingredients in the soup sometimes differ by region. In Gaeseong, for instance, they formerly used rice cake shaped like a bottle gourd (joraenYut-nori
Korea in History
Traditional pastimes associated with Seol are yut (a traditional board game), kite-flying, see-sawing and shuttlecock kicking. Kites flown on this day are said to carry away bad influences for the coming year. Yut, or yut-nori is played between two or more teams. The origin of this traditional board game was divination to determine the harvest in the upcoming year.
In Pursuit of the Korean Heritage 107
Chuseok, the Harvest Moon, is the full moon in the 8th lunar month. Other names for this important holiday are Hangawi and Jungchu-jeol. A table laden with newly harvested rice and fruits is reverently offered to deceased ancestors, followed by visits to ancestral graves. The weeds and grass on the graves is either removed in advance or during the Chuseok visit. People relax during the Chuseok holidays (3-4 days), as they have lots to eat and time on their hands. Koreans thus have a saying: "Things should always be like they are on Chuseok, no more, no less."
Chuseok Customs & Games
Chuseok is a celebration of an abundant harvest of grains, fruit and other things. Pine-flavored rice cake (songpyeon) is an indispensable part of Chuseok fare. The rice cakes are first molded into half-moon shapes, then stuffed with filling (beans, red beans, chestnuts or jujubes) and steamed. Traditionally, the whole
family would get together on Chuseok eve to make songpyeon under the moonlit sky. The person who crafted the most beautiful song-
pyeon was supposed to find a good
spouse or have beautiful children, so everyone would work hard at the task. Nowadays, people usually just buy premade songpyeon from shops.
Many forms of traditional enter-
108 Passport to Korean Culture
tainment and games were enjoyed during the Chuseok season. Farmers' music and dance added gaiety while villagers competed in games such as tug-of-war. Koreanstyle wrestling (ssireum) competitions were held to determine the strongest man. People would supplicate the full moon, and women would join hands to dance a circle dance called Ganggangsullae. These activities used to be carried out in each village, but now people just watching them on TV or attend live performances at palaces or theaters.
Korea in History
Traditionally, seasonal holidays were a time for the extended family to get together. Those who live far away would return to their birth home. Most Koreans today still take time out from their busy lives to visit their parents or kin back in the hometown on Seol or Chuseok. The mass exodus to the countryside from urban centers like Seoul causes severe traffic congestion, and seats on public transportation are hard to get. Not everyone is idle during the holidays. The women usually remain very busy preparing food for the sacrificial ceremonies and serving family members and guests. Thus, these occasions are not always welcomed by the women, even though families prepare less than they used to. Much more of the food is simply bought instead of being made from scratch. When a special holiday approaches, traditional markets and department stores bustle with people buying food and gifts. The markets seem to exude a festive mood. On Seol and Chuseok, people exchange many gifts such as traditional confectionery (han-gwa), health food and boxes of fruit.
In Pursuit of the Korean Heritage 109
Traditional Life Experience
Many places in Korea offer a chance to experience the Korean traditional way of living. Some offer participatory programs related to special holidays. If you are interested, you may want to visit one of the regional folk villages (minsok-chon).
The Korean Folk Village near Yong-in, about an hour south of Seoul, is an outdoor folk museum where the Korean traditional way of living is reenacted. This is the largest establishment of the kind in Korea, and you will need a full day to see everything sufficiently. The Korean Folk Village has a vast collection on display, including about 270 traditional buildings and more than 16,000 tools and household implements used some 150 years ago. Everything was relocated here from
Snow-covered Yong-in Minsok-chon
110 Passport to Korean Culture
Korea in History
New layer of straw for roof
Greeting a new year
around the country. The buildings include the homes of commoners and upper-class people, government offices, schools, herbal medicine clinic, Buddhist temple and shrine to local deities. Each house contains daily-used utensils and shows how the people of different classes lived in the old days. Koreans and foreign visitors can experience the traditional lifestyle at a number of different places. Minsok-chon performs a traditional wedding ceremony twice a day beginning from March 11 through November. Farmers' music and tightrope walking are also performed. The Korean Folk Village at Yong-in attracts some 1.7 million visitors a year, of which about 30% are foreign. This is a good place for families to go, as facilities are also provided for children to have fun. Regular events held here include sauce making and folk customs. Special programs are also organized for specific holidays.
Table for Traditional wedding ceremony
Information on Korean Folk Village
Transportation: Buses run from Seoul (Gangnam, Yeouido, Chongno) and Suweon. Admission: 12,000 (adults) for Folk Village only. Package coupons are available for additional facilities. Experience programs are offered monthly. For further details, visit the homepage. (http://www.koreanfolk.co.kr)
In Pursuit of the Korean Heritage 111
Andong Hahwe-maul: a Living Confucian Tradition
An overnight trip to Hahwe-maul (village) in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province is recommended for those who want to know how Korean gentry lived in Joseon and learn more about Korea's Confucian tradition. The village received media attention when
British Queen Elizabeth II at the Hahwe-maul
British Queen Elizabeth II visited there, and more recently it was the
setting for the historicaldramas "Hwangjini," "Scandal," and "Singijeon." A tributary of the Nakdong River encloses this village in an 'S' shape. This is the ancestral home of the Pungsan Yu clan and an excellent example of a single-clan
112 Passport to Korean Culture
Food in Andong
Andong Hahwe-maul is famous for its salted mackerel, jjimdak (steamed chicken) and soju (clear liquor). Another favorite is heotjesa-bab (literally "food offered in a false ritual"). This dish does not use the spicy bean paste found in bibim-bab, and is prepared and served simply. Steamed rice is covered with various vegetables, sliced roast beef and jeon (vegetable panc a k e ) . A n d o n g soju, designated as a local intangible cultural property, is symbolic of the Andong culinary tradition. Korean soju dates back to Goryeo, and the best-known local soju types are from Andong, Gaeseong and Jeju. Andong soju is also used for medicinal purposes.
Korea in History
A Hahwe mask
village. The entire community, with its well-preserved cultural artifacts, has been designated as a major folklore resource. There are 130 homes between 300 and 500 years old, providing a glimpse of how people of various classes lived in Joseon. They also serve as valuable resource for studying traditional gentry lifestyles and the architectural development of Joseon homes. Hahwe byeolsin-gut tal-nori is an annual competition among commoners and seonyujul bul-
How to Get to Andong Hahwe-maul
Transportation: Take the express bus from Seoul (Dong Seoul Terminal) to Andong, then transfer to buses for Hahwe-maul. Lodging: Some 30 home-stay establishments are available. For reservations call the Hahwe-maul Preservation Assn. (054- 853-0109) For more details, visit the Andong Hahwemaul homepage: (http://www.hahoe.or.kr)
nori is a unique game for gentry. Both have been
preserved here. The masks worn for the byolsin-
gut (a shaman dance to the village god) are
believed to have originated during Goryeo (9181392) and have been designated as "national treasures," evidence of thelong history of this village. The mask dance is still performed once or twice a week.
In Pursuit of the Korean Heritage 113
Elegant Tastes of the Korean People
"Korean classical music" refers to a special genre of traditional music, not to be confused with Western classical music. The tunes include those handed down from the past and those recently composed. Part 2
Korea in History
Korean Musical Instruments
The origins of the indigenous geomun-go (half-tube, 6-stringed zither) and gaya-geum (half tube, 12-stringed zither) date back to antiquity, while various flutes and the lute ( bipa ) were first brought in from Central Asia and China. Over the centuries, distypes. The National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts (NCKTPA) keeps 64 different kinds of instruments, which are classified either by the material used to make them or by the kind of music they are used to play. Recently, they have also been classified according to performance technique, in the same way Western musical instruments are classified. For example, the dae-geum
tinctively Korean styles of playing have evolved for even the imported instrument
Elegant Tastes of the Korean People 115
(large horizontal flute), jung-geum (medium-sized flute) and tongso (long notched vertical bamboo flute) are classified as wind instruments. The gaya-geum, geo-
mun-go, hae-geum (2-stringed fiddle), and ajeng (7-stringed zither, bowed with a
rosined stick) are refreed to as stringed instruments, while the buk (barrel drum),
jing (large gong), janggo (hour-glass drum) are in the percussion category.
Jongmyo Jerye-ak (music for royal ancestral rite) with 600-years of history
One category of traditional Korean music is Jongmyo Jerye-ak, a combination of music, lyric songs and dances performed during ceremonies to deceased kings and queens at the Royal Ancestral Shrine (Jongmyo). The solemn rites praise the meritorious achievements of past kings and offer prayers for the welfare of the descendents before the altars of the state deities. The tradition has survived intact, and the ceremonies are observed on the first Sunday of May each year. Jongmyo Jerye-ak is also performed at the National Center for Korean Traditional
It is performed each May and open to the public. (www.jongmyo.net)
116 Passport to Korean Culture
Performing Arts. Discs of the music are available.
Pansori (an oral narrative sung by a
professional singer accompanied by a single drummer) was developed from mid-Joseon in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula. This important genre of Korean traditional music was designated by UNESCO as a World Intangible Heritage in 2003. The singer's lyrics (aniri) tell a story to
A pansori scene
Korea in History
the drum beat and his gestures (balim) add dramatic effect. The performance lasts two to three hours, and seven different tempos are employed, from slow to fast. Originally 12 full-length stories (madang) were performed, but only five remain today: Heungbu-ga, Simcheong-ga, Chunhyang-ga, Jeokbyeok-ga and Sugung-ga.
Korean Folk Songs
Arirang is the most well-known of the Korean folk song genre (minyo), and is familiar to people in many countries. Simple songs expressing the thoughts, lives and sentiments of common folk have been loved from time immemorial. Starting out as work songs, they have been handed down orally, but their composers are unknown. Most minyo songs use the same melody for each verse, which is followed by a refrain. They are divided into two main categories: folk songs native to certain regions and the chang (ballad) type. The former are simple and of local color, while the latter are beautiful and refined. The more famous chang folk songs are Arirang, Yukja-baegi, and Susimga. Melodies vary by region. Those sung in Gyeonggi Province are called Gyeonggi-minyo; those in the western region are Seodo-minyo; those in the south are called Namdo-minyo and those on Jeju Island are Jeju-minyo.
Elegant Tastes of the Korean People 117
Rearranging Traditional Music
Traditional Korean music today is often being rearranged into a modern style. Young musicians especially like to take traditional forms in new directions, performing modern music with traditional instruments to make them more appealing to the general public. Original interpretations of traditional music are easier for young people to appreciate, while more bands play a fusion style that combines traditional Korean instruments with modern Western ones such as the piano.
Where to Experience & Learn Traditional Instruments
The NCKTPA holds diverse performances and classes for foreigners to learn how to play the janggu, danso, gaya-geum, hae-geum and samullori. (www.gugak.go.kr)
Traditional Korean music and fusion gukak are performed here. (www.mct.or.kr)
Fusion band with traditional instruments
Fusion Gukak on the Rise
Gukak (traditional court, folk and religious music collectively) has been reinterpreted in fusion forms, adding modern, youthful sentiments to familiar themes and sounds. Gukak seasoned with jazz is becoming popular, and Korean parents like for their younger children to be exposed to fusion gukak to develop their sentimentality. Cumbaya, a fusion gukak band, played Cuban musical instruments and rhythms on the outdoor stage at the National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts (NCKTPA), and received an enthusiastic response. The NCKTPA program "Bringing Gukak to People" offers a repertory of familiar and modern works reinterpreted from heavy court music. NCKTPA's "Tradition and Rule-Breaking" program presents the scores from "Titanic," "Cinema Paradiso," and "Comrades: Almost a Love Story" played in gukak style. Meanwhile, the Traditional Music Orchestra of Seoul recently performed Gukakjjang, Jaemijjang ("Great Gukak, Great Fun"), bringing together pansori and Andes music. The audience loved it.
118 Passport to Korean Culture
Koreans have long been known for their love of singing and dancing. Traditional dances genres are classified as either folk or court, the former being the most popular and diverse. Part 2
Korea in History
Features of Korean Dance
Ancient dances in Korea and elsewhere often begin as rites to Nature. Korean dances can be powerful, dreamlike, sorrowful or elegant. They express spirit (sin) and excitement (heung). Koreans have long been avid dancers, and historical records document dancing and singing sprees lasting several days and nights as part of ceremonies to the spirits.
Elegant Tastes of the Korean People 119
Korean folk dances were handed down by the common people rather than being developed in the court. There are three categories (1) group dances such as Ganggangsullae and the farmers' dance; (2)those performed by professionals (mask dance, Buddhist dance and spiritual cleansing solo); and (3) Buddhist or shamanist ritual dances (butterfly dance and cymbal dance). The folk dances express the emotion and
spirit of an entire people, while the court dances were meant for a select few.
Buchae-chum ("fan dance"), performed by a group of women with feathered fans in both hands, was introduced as a part of the Kim Baek-bong Performing Arts Program in November 1954 at Sigonggwan theater in Seoul. The origins are presumed to be shamanist. The dancers wear either hanbok or dangui (a kind of court dress) and use the fans to create circles, waves or floral patBuchae-chum
terns. The effect is stunning.
120 Passport to Korean Culture
Korea in History
Mask Dance Drama
Mask Dance Drama
The mask dance drama originated from village-level shamanist rituals (burak-
gut) to pray for a good harvest and the prosperity of the villagers. The tradition has
been handed down in the form of folk plays and reflects a range of emotions such as sorrow, happiness and scorn of the powers that be. Themes include ceremonial rites; depraved monks; poverty-stricken yangban (nobles); love triangles between a man, his wife and concubine; and the daily lives of common folk. Korean mask dances have different names by region: tal-chum in the north,
sandae-nori in the central region and ogwangdae in the south. Best known today
are the tal-chum from Gangnyeong and Bongsan; sandae-nori from Yangju and Songpa; ogwangdae from Tongyeong, Goseong and Gasan; and deul-noreum from Dongnae.
Elegant Tastes of the Korean People 121
Major mask dance dramas by region Mask Dance Types
The Bongsan Mask Dance ( tal-
chum) Drama emerged as the leading style in Hwanghae Province (present-day North Korea) by the late 18th century. It continued to develop, influenced by other styles around the country and reached its peak around the turn of the 20th century. The Bongsan tal-chum began to be performed in Sariwon in 1915, when the township administration office moved there and the Seoul-Shinuiju Railway opened. Around that time, the lion dance ( saja-chum ) was incorporated into the Bongsan acts. The Bongsan Mask Dance Drama was regularly held on Dano Day (5th
day of 5th lunar month) and was also
performed at important events such as the birthday or inauguration of the county magistrate, or visits by foreign envoys.
The Bongsan Tal-chum Masks
The Bongsan Mask Dance Drama is divided into seven acts and has 34 different roles but only 26 different masks, meaning some masks are used for more than one role. The Bongsan masks are more colorful than those used in other regions, using mainly blue, red, white, black and yellow. The colors are used to indicate the gender and age of the character, for example black for an old person and red for a young person. A whit mask would represent a young woman.
122 Passport to Korean Culture
Korean potters were influenced by China but developed their own unique, beautiful forms. In traditional times, pottery was close the lives of all people, and today remains an extremely important part of Korea's heritage. Studies of pottery provide insights into how life was like during each historical era. Part 2
Korea in History
Korean Pottery Origins
Pottery consists of two major categories: earthenware (or clayware) and porcelain (or ceramic ware). Earthenware was developed first and is baked at relatively low temperature. The first earthenware on the Korean Peninsula dates back to between 6000 and 5000 BCE. Porcelain, on the other hand, is kaolin (a fine white clay) glazed and baked at high temperature (1,300 C). During the 9th century (Unified Silla), porcelain was introduced to the Peninsula from China.
Earthenware figurine of horse and rider
A Unique Ceramic Art
Although influenced by and closely related to Chinese pottery, Koreans developed a pottery-making tradition that rivaled and at times surpassed what was being produced in China.
Delicate & Refined Goryeo Celadon
Goryeo developed a unique pottery tradition in the late 10th century, producing the finest works of celadon (cheongja). Celadon is porcelain noted for its greygreen (or grey-blue) glaze, a technique originally imported from China. However, the Goryeo potters distinguished themselves with an unsurpassed beauty in terms of both color and form. The excellence of the mysteriously subtle and almost trans-
Elegant Tastes of the Korean People 123
Pottery in Modern Life
Koreans use pottery every day, as rice or soup bowls or cups. Massproduced pottery is readily available at conventional markets, department stores and so on. At Insa-dong, hand-made pottery is also available.
parent color is recognized even by the Chinese.
Uniquely Beautiful Inlaid Celadon
Goryeo potters began applying the sanggam method (intricate designs carved into the vase, and other materials added to the forms) with kaolin around the 12th century. The patterns (notably clouds and cranes) are heavily influenced by Buddhism and indicate how
Information on Pottery Making and Exhibits
National Museum of Korea (www.museum.go.kr) Haegang Goryo Celadon (www.haegang.org) Icheon Ceramic Festival: Adventure of the Fire is held every year, from the end of April to the end of May. (www.ceramic.or.kr)(www.jiff.or.kr)
the Goryeo people put greater emphasis on future life than on
their present existence. The inlaid pieces are especially prized for their artistry and beauty, the pinnacle of porcelain making.
Rustic & Comfortable Buncheong Ware
Buncheong-sagi refers to
a particular type of ceramic ware decorated with a white slip coating under the glaze. Introduced in early Joseon,
Pottery of the sanggam method
this style has a grayish green
124 Passport to Korean Culture
Korea in History
body with painted designs or designs carved in after the body was covered with white clay. It lacks the refined form and surface decoration of Goryeo celadon, but is friendly and comfortable in mood. Joseon was strongly influenced by Neo-Confucianism, and the present world had more meaning than life after death. Reflecting this change in priorities, the pottery was designed for practicality with simple expression and bold patterns. The patterns reflect the prototype of native Korean aesthetics.
Buncheong wine bottle with fish pattern
Simple & Clean White Porcelain
White porcelain (baekja) is made by painting clear glaze over ceramic made from white clay. It was first developed in China and appeared on the Korean Peninsula in early Goryeo, along with celadon. However, baekja did not come into its own until early Joseon, completely replacing buncheong ware by the 17th century. Korean baekja is usually pure white, but sometimes green or milk color is added to the clay to create a paler effect. Joseon Confucianism emphasized frugality and integrity, and the white porcelain reflected that sentiment with simple, clean-looking patterns, distinguishing itself from the bright colored ceramics of contemporary China and Japan. Common motifs on Joseon baekja are bamboo, pine trees, plum blossoms, dragons, cranes, and peonies.
Elegant Tastes of the Korean People 125
Korea and Its People
Korea in the World 1. Geography, Climate and Population 2. The People 3. Spoken and Written Language 4. Emerging Multicultural Society 5. Korean Enterprises and Economy A Glimpse of Korea 6. UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in Korea
Korea in the World
Geography, Climate and Population
The Korea Peninsula is situated on the eastern end of the Asian continent, bordering China and Russia in the north. The Japanese islands are to the east. The peninsula is about 1,000km north to south with a total area of 223,273km (South
Korea: 100,140km , North Korea: 123,133km ), about the same size as the UK,
Korea and Its People
New Zealand or Italy. Of the world's significantly sized countries, the Republic of Korea (or South Korea) has the third highest population density (behind Bangladesh and Taiwan). Yet 70% of the territory is mountainous. Few of the mountains are higher than 1,000m above sea level, however, and most are in the east. The west and south coastlines are rugged and have many islands, but the east coast is relatively smooth and has plenty of beautiful beaches. Seoul is the capital of the Republic of Korea and administratively designated as a "special city." Six other cities (Incheon, Daejeon, Daegu, Gwangju, Ulsan and
Korea in the World 129
Spring in Korea
Busan) are referred to administratively as "metropolitan cities," meaning they have the same status as a province, while there are 9 provinces (Gyeonggi, Gangweon, North Chungcheong, South Chungcheong, North Gyeongsang, South Gyeongsang, North Jeolla, South Jeolla and Jeju.
Climate & Seasons
Korea is a peninsular country, but its climate differs greatly between winter and summer because of its location on the east coast of the Asian continent. Winter temperatures in most regions
130 Passport to Korean Culture
Korea and Its People
can fall between 0 C and minus 15 C in some regions, while summer temperatures will exceed 30 C for many days in some regions. The climate is generally humid and annual precipitation ranges between 800 and 1,500mm. About half of the rain falls between June and August (30% of the total in July alone). Korea has four distinct seasons. Spring is from March to May; summer, from June to August; autumn, from September to November, and winter, from December to February. Spring is windy but mild, and azaleas and forsythias begin to bloom in the southern part of the country from late March. In late June, the rainy season sets in and lasts until late July, after which the hottest summer days are experienced. This is the time for people to head for the mountains or beaches;
Korea in the World 131
however, typhoons also occur between July and September. Autumn offers many fine clear days with balmy temperatures. In late October, the leaves begin to turn color, starting from the north. Many people like to go to the mountains to enjoy the scenery. Snow can be heavy in the mountains during winter, and many Koreans like to go skiing or sledding.
As of 2009, the South Korean population is over 48.8 million, ranking 26th in the world. Annual population is currently increasing by 200,000 to 300,000, but Korean society is aging at one of the world's fastest rates. People aged 65 or older are expected to account for 11% of the total population in 2010 and 38.2% of all Koreans by 2050. High population density was a constant
Projection of Korean Population Pyramid, 2010
problem for Korean in the past, but the birth rate today is among the world's lowest. The birth rate has slowed for a combination of reasons: the transition from an agrarian to an industrialized society, replacement of extended families with nuclear families, increased participation of women in the workforce, and skyrocketing costs for children's education. The Korean government is now offering incentives to families to have more children. Korean demographics are changing in another important way as well. The number of foreign residents in Korea reached 1.2 million as of June 2009, of which 150,000 were immigrant women married to Korean men.
World : 6,909million 80+ 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Male Female
Korea : 49million 80+ 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Female Male
132 Passport to Korean Culture
Who are Koreans? What are the characteristics of the Korean people?
Several theories have been proposed as to the origin of the Korean people, but many agree they are part of a northern race that migrated east from Central Asia. Racially, Koreans belong to the same group as the Han Chinese, Mongolians, Manchurians, and Japanese, while linguistically they are part of the Ural-Altaicspeaking peoples, along with the Mongolians, Manchurians and Turks. Part 3
Korea and Its People
Ethnic Koreans and Korean Nationals
By law, Koreans are defined as the nationals of the Republic of Korea (ROK) those who belong the Korean ethnic group. As of 2009, that number was about 50 million. Originally, Koreans are the ethnic group living on the Korean Peninsula, Manchuria and the Maritime Province of Siberia, speaking the Korean language. They now live in the Republic of Korea, Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), China, United States, Japan and elsewhere, totaling some 80 million people worldwide. Koreans in the ROK are reaching out to other members of their ethnic group around the world. Under discussion is the formation of a Korean cultural belt
Large Korean family
Korea in the World 133
linking Manchuria, the Maritime Province of Siberia and Central Asia, all areas geographically close to the peninsula. Of course there is interest in forging and maintaining ties with ethnic Koreans living farther away as well. The development of global communication enables Koreans to access one another easily via the Internet.
The three words that best describe Korean emotion are probably jeong (affection), han (bitterness) and heung (excitement).
Jeong: Strong Bonds
Relationships are very important in Korean society, and jeong develops as the bonds of a relationship grow stronger over time. This is a special kind of affection that makes even unrelated people close like family. Once jeong has been established between two Koreans, their mutual involvement becomes close and they suffer great difficulty when apart. On the one hand, such a state of mind can seem burdensome to non-Koreans, who value their privacy, while on the other hand, the degree of caring can come as a pleasant surprise. Jeong is probably the product of a group-oriented society.
Han: Lasting Mental Scar
Koreans often express han to describe repressed anguish or bitterness from suffering a wrong and having no way to redress it. That feeling can remain as a mental wound. One source of han has been the many foreign invasions that devastated the country. The women tend to feel han the most, for their lives were more restricted in the male-dominated Confucian society. Korean women were expected to endure hardships unduly imposed on them; hiding ones talents and emotions was considered feminine virtue. Married life for a Korean woman in traditional times was described as being "deaf for three years," dumb for three years," and "blind for three years." Of course, much of the women's han has disappeared in recent years. Young
134 Passport to Korean Culture
people of both genders express themselves more openly today and do what they want to do rather than what their parents or others expect them to do. Likewise, Korean women are increasingly engaged in satisfying careers, and their social status has been elevated greatly.
Koreans in Heung
Korea and Its People
Heung: to Erase the Han
Traditionally, Koreans would often relieve their deep-seated bitterness by playing hard. For instance, they would become carried away when singing or dancing to traditional percussion music. The same goes for modern Koreans. When they play, they enjoy themselves boisterously to the full. Perhaps this need for excitement (heung) explains the passion shown on the streets during the 2002 World Cup. The Korean way of supporting their team so whole-heartedly captured the attention of the world.
Heung often coincides with sinbaram (literally "spiritual wind"), when quiet and
seemingly passive people suddenly become loud and active when the opportunity arrives. Some scholars analyze the New Village Movement of the 1970s as a part of the sinbaram phenomenon. Many Koreans participated in this movement tirelessly because it promised to help them escape poverty.
Korea in the World 135
Spoken and Written Language
Language is a key factor when discussing any aspect of Korean culture. Koreans use a native alphabet called hangeul, a very scientific writing system. In recent years, the number of people learning Korean as a second language has been growing, mainly because of the country's enhanced global status.
The Korean Language
More than 80 million people speak the Korean language: 74 million in the two Koreas and 7 million Korean expatriates and non-Koreans. Thus, among some 3,000 languages worldwide, Korean has the 13th highest number of speakers. The publication Hangeul, Korean Language, National Language, Today and Tomorrow from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) states 2,177 organizations were disseminating the Korean language outside the country in 2008. Of these, 1,072 were in North America, 506 in the former CIS, 225 were in Asia not
Foreigners in Korean class
136 Passport to Korean Culture
counting Japan, 142 in Japan, 115 in Europe, 75 in Latin America and 42 in the Middle East. Meanwhile, 628 elementary and middle schools in 15 countries teach Korean as a second language, while 642 colleges and universities in 54 countries have Korean language courses or classes. In 2009, a total of 189,320 foreigners and Korean expatriates applied to take the annual Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK), revealing the rising global status of the language. Korean is part of the Altaic language family, which includes the Mongolian, Turkish and TungusManchurian. The Korean language is agglutinative in morphology and subject-object-verb (SOV) in syntax. A key feature is the highly developed system of honorifics.
Bronze statue of Sejong the Great at Gwanghwamun Plaza Hunmin jeong-eum Haeryebon
Korea and Its People
Hangeul is a unique alphabet invented specifically for the Korean language in a project led by Kin Sejong, the 4th monarch of Joseon. The project was completed in 1443 and the new alphabet was officially promulgated in 1446. King Sejong called it Hunmin jeong-eum ("Correct Sounds to Enlighten the People"). The consonant symbols were modeled after the shapes of the human speech organs, while the vowels were made based on the three elements that form the universe, namely, heaven, earth and humankind. The present Korean alphabet
Korea in the World 137
Designs with Hangeul
consists of 14 consonants and 10 vowels. The basic letters are monosyllabic, and an additional stroke or strokes are used to create diphthongs. The consonants and vowels are combined into blocks to create syllables.
Propagation of Hangeul
Every year the Korean government holds Hangeul Week around October 9, Hangeul Day. Related events include the Hangeul Calligraphy Contest for Foreigners and selection of the Hunmin jeong-eum Goodwill Ambassador. Meanwhile, Design Contest of Stylish Hangeul Letters
Dress with Hangeul pattern & business card holder
(or fonts) and Love of Hangeul UCC
138 Passport to Korean Culture
Korea and Its People
Hangeul T-shirts, Neck tie, Cup mats
Contest are held to disseminate Hangeul around the world. The Hangeul Cultural Center, a unique museum dedicated to alphabets, is under construction and scheduled for completion in 2012. The facilities will include the Hangeul Hall, World Hall of Letters, and Hall of Hangeul-related Items. The value of Hangeul is not limited to its use as an alphabet but also as a design motif such as in the neckties, shirts and other fashion items produced by designer Lee Sang-bong, as well as on bags, sundries and electronics.
Installation art designed with Hangeul
Digital Hangeul Museum (http://www.hangeulmuse um.org)
Presents the history of Hangeul, literature related to Hangeul, Hangeul font, video material on Hangeul, etc. Hangeul games are also available.
Korea in the World 139
Emerging Multicultural Society
Generally speaking, Korea has been known to the rest of the world as a homogeneous country using the same language and living in the same culture, but this is now changing. Koreans are moving throughout the world, while the number of non-Koreans living in Korea continues to increase, rapidly creating a multicultural country. Most noteworthy is the growing number of aliens with Korean spouses and foreigners with long-term work visas. Strictly speaking, a society is "multicultural" when at least 20% of the population is other than the predominant group. For Korea, however, the figure is still only about 2%. Nevertheless, "multicultural society" is now a hot topic among Koreans, reflecting their surprise at the mere possibility of such a social transformation. A 2009 survey shows that the alien population in Korea has exceeded one million and that the number of multicultural families has greatly increased. And this trend is likely to continue. Traditionally, individual peoples or nations were expected to have their unique cultures, but cultural diversity is emerging with globalization and advances in communication. On the other hand, a society with multiple cultures can be vulnerable to unrest, and Koreans, who are so proud of their homogeneous heritage, are no exception. The rapid changes and influx of foreigners are raising concerns.
140 Passport to Korean Culture
The increase in multi-cultural families is the focus of special attention because they form basic units in Korean society but differ from traditional Korean families. As of August 2009, more than 150,000 immigrant women were married to Korean men. Marriages are taking place between Koreans and non-Koreans as well as between South Koreans and North Korean refugees. Naturally these families have a heterogeneous character in their way of thinking, customs and language. Their children will also differ from those born from two native Korean parents in terms of cultural identity, language and lifestyle. With the increasing multiculturalism, immigrants must no longer be considered outsiders. Accordingly, both the government and private groups are undertaking various programs to help multicultural families overcome cultural clashes. Institutes have been established to teach immigrant wives the Korean language and provide them with counseling. Extracurricular classes are provided for their children to learn the language and other subjects as well as to help them adapt themselves better to their school life. Fortunately, Koreans' understanding of multicultural families is increasing rapidly.
Institutes for Multicultural Families
These institutes operate counseling centers for migrant workers, where migrant workers may receive assistance related to their living in Korea prior to obtaining their Korean citizenship. Catholic Migrant Worker Center: 051-807-6403 Seoul Foreign Worker Center: 02-3672-9472 Solidarity for Asian Human Rights and Culture: 032-684-0244 Ansan Women Migrant Worker Counseling Center ‘Blink’: 031-491-3430 Migrant Workers' House: 02-863-6622 Human Rights League of Migrant Workers: 032-576-8114 Kosian House 031-439-8785 Women Migrants Human Rights Center: 02-3672-8988
Korea and Its People
Educational institutes for education of children of immigrant workers
These institutes educate immigrant children, providing preschool language courses, counseling on entering schools and after-school classes. Global House of Seongdong Migrant: Workers Center: 02-2282-7974 Jeongdong Church Hangeul Class: 02-725-4201 Janghanpyeong School for Foreign Youth: 02-6408-9476 Mongolian School in Korea: 02-3437-7078
Korea in the World 141
Korean Enterprises and Economy
During the past half century, Korea achieved one of the world's fastest economic growth rates. Many foreigners visit Korea to learn about it and to benchmark Koreans' economic success. Korean enterprises are playing an ever-larger role in the global marketplace, and the future potential of the Korean economy remains the focus of world attention.
Miracle on the Han River
The Korean Peninsula was divided north and south in 1945, and the Republic of Korea (ROK) was established in 1948. A devastating civil war was waged between 1950 and 1953, but the ROK managed to rise from the ashes and overcame severe economic hardship thanks to a vigorous government-led economic development program and to strenuous efforts by the Korean people. Key industries and highways began to be built in the 1960s, and foreign capital was brought in, resulting in a dramatic success dubbed the "Miracle on the Han River." The agricultural nation was rapidly industrialized and economic growth was led
Korean-made mobile phones
142 Passport to Korean Culture
Korea and Its People
by exports, achieving a trade surplus. Realization of the "economic miracle” would not have been possible without the sacrifices and hard work of all Koreans. Other factors include low-cost labor, a favorable international political climate, the emergence of new markets in the 1960s, technical innovations, discovery of new resources, changes in the aid policies, and the development of highly competitive human resources.
Import/Export Trends by Commodity, 2009
(Unit: US$ million, %) Commodity Export Increase Import Increase
Semi-conductor factory and Robots at auto assembly line
Korean Industries & Enterprises
The world's knowledge-based society has influenced the Korean economy greatly, and Korea now boasts a world-renowned IT industry of its own. This was made possible by state-of-art technology and world recognition of the high- capacity semiconductors and personal computers that have become major export items. Korea has some of the world's most advanced mobile phone technology with a 40% share of the world mobile phone market. Korea is
Korea in the World 143
also a powerhouse in the production of memory chips. The notable development of Korea's IT industry has been driven by major R&D investment that allowed local companies to dominate the domestic market and compete successfully overseas. Samsung Electronics, one of Korea's largest companies, is the world's leadKorea’s shipbuilding industry
ing maker of memory chips
and second-largest maker of mobile phones. Samsung was founded in 1938, during the Japanese colonial period, and grew steadily after the Korean War to be a major contributor to Korea's high economic growth. The group is especially well known for its outstanding human resources management, which has been rewarded by strong employee loyalty. LG, another Korean electronics giant, rivals Samsung with its state-of-the-art LCD, PDP and LED TVs as well as superb mobile phones. Hyundai is another major Korean conglomerate and, like Samsung, a global symbol of Korean economic success. Hyundai produced Korea's first automobiles and has continued to lead the domestic auto industry while making steady inroads overseas. In addition, Hyundai Heavy Industries is the world's leading shipbuilder, while Hyundai Engineering & Construction performs projects in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. Hyundai has also made headlines for its economic projects in North Korea, started during the Kim Dae-jung administration (1998-2002). Korea is also ranked fifth in the world for steel production and has the world's third-largest Internet-using population.
144 Passport to Korean Culture
A Glimpse of Korea
UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in Korea
UNESCO designates important cultural and natural heritages around the world for protection and preservation. As of 2009, eight sites in Korea are on UNESCO Cultural Heritage list, along with one Natural Heritage, seven entries in UNESCO's Memory of the World program, and another three on the Intangible Heritage of Humanity list.
Jongmyo is the Royal Ancestral Shrine, where the spirit tablets of past kings and queens are enshrined. Since the 16th century, its original shape has been well preserved with its unique architectural style. Ancestral memorial rites are still held here in the traditional form, with court music and dance.
Janggyeong-panjeon at Haein-sa
Hapcheon, South Gyeongsang Province
Haein-sa, one of the three leading temples in Korea, houses more than 80,000 woodblocks for printing the Tripitaka Koreana, (the Buddhist canon). Special buildings were constructed in the 15th century to preserve the blocks.
146 Passport to Korean Culture
Seokgul-am & Bulguk-sa
Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province
Seokgul-am (grotto) was built during Silla and is regognized for the exquisite blend of architecture, religion and art. Bulguk-sa depicts Buddhist beliefs in a form of architectural beauty found nowhere else in Asia. Part 3
Korea and Its People
Suweon, Gyeonggi Province
Built in the late 18th century, this fortress was designed with knowledge of both Oriental and Western military theories. The 6km walls have 4 gates and various buildings are inside.
A Glimpse of Korea 147
The main royal palace of Joseon blends perfectly with its surroundings.
Gyeongju Historic Heritage District.
Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province
Gyeongju was the capital of Silla for 1,000 years. The city has numerous buildings and works of art from Silla, earning the area the designation of Gyeongju Historic Heritage District.
Gochang, Hwasun, Ganghwa
The dolmen is a megalithic tomb, with a horizontal capstone supported by two
148 Passport to Korean Culture
or more upright stones. They are thought to have been erected 2,0003,000 years ago and serve as important prehistoric relics.
Joseon Royal Tombs
Seoul & vicinity
Korea and Its People
The Joseon royal tombs are supported by well-preserved records showing funeral services, rituals and other ceremonies related to the kings and queens of Joseon.
UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Gyeongju Historic Heritage District Gyeongju was added to the
list of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in 2000. The city was the capital of Silla for 992 years, from the Three Kingdoms period through the end of Unified Silla. The area boasts numerous Buddhist relics and other well-preserved cultural assets. Gyeongju is divided into five districts according to the nature of relics and a total designated cultural assets number 52. In essence the city itself is virtually a cultural asset.
Foremost among the many treasures are Bulguk-sa (temple) and Seokgul-am (stone grotto), both of which are on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list.
A Glimpse of Korea 149
Bulguk-sa & Seokgul-am Bulguk-sa is a Buddhist temple on the west slope
of Toham-san in Gyeongju. Construction began in 751, during the reign of King Gyeongdeok, and was completed in 774, together with Seokgul-am, by Kim Daeseong during the reign of King Hyegong. "Bulguk" means the "Buddha Realm." The people of Silla wanted to re-create a utopian world in the real world. The temple entrance features two stone staircases built in the 8th century. The well trimmed stone supports and rounded handrails, so delicate and magnificent, are sure to impress even the most critical eye. These staircases lead to a courtyard where a pair of stone pagodas, Seokgatap and Dabo-tap, stand. Both are registered national treasures. Other historic
relics, national treasures and cultural
150 Passport to Korean Culture
Korea and Its People
assets abound, drawing millions of domestic and foreign visitors to Bulguk-sa each year. The temple also serves as venue for the world to view and better understand Korea's Buddhist culture. The manmade stone grotto called Seokgul-am is on the side of Mt. Toham. Enshrined there is a statue of Sakyamuni surrounded by 38 (originally 40) other Buddhist images, including bodhisattvas, disciples, arhats and devas. The front section at the entrance is connected to the main section, while 360 broad stone pieces exquisitely constitute the vault, a technique found nowhere else in the world. The full-length statue of Sakyamuni is sculptured in a highly realistic way, along with a dozen magnificently and uniquely sculptured Buddhist statues. This statuary is famous and considered among the pinnacle of East Asian Buddhist art. The calm visage on the Sakyamuni statue in the main section seems to smile mysteriously within the muted grotto atmosphere, bringing warmth to the minds of viewers.
Value of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage
Gyeongju Historic Heritage District The capital of the Silla Kingdom that dominated the Korean Peninsula over a thousand years, Gyeongju, including its vicinity and the Namsan area, boasts numerous relics and monuments important to the study of Korean architecture and the development of Buddhism in Korea. Seokgul-am and Bulguk-sa Seokgul-am is a masterpiece of art from Silla, noted especially for its comprehensive design, combining architecture, hydraulics, geometry, religion and art. Bulguksa boasts a unique architectural beauty and distinct method of teaching Buddhism through temple architecture. Related Websites: UNESCO: www.portal.unesco.org Korean National Commission for UNESCO: www.unesco.or.kr Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea: www.cha.go.kr Gyeongju City Hall: www.gyeongju.go.kr/ Bulguk-sa Temple: www.bulguksa.or.kr Sukgul-am: www.sukgulam.org
A Glimpse of Korea 151
2009 Edition Copyright 2009
Published by Korean Culture and Information Service Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism 15, Hyojaro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea Tel : 82-2-398-1911~20 Fax : 82-2-398-1882 All rights reserved Korean Culture and Information Service Printed in Seoul ISBN 978-89-7375-153-2 03910 For further information about Korea, please visit: www.korea.net
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?