Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Korea land of rising sun is also a land of coffeeholics


 Korean loves all kind of flavour mixing with their own colours. It will strange if I don't share about the Korean's passion towards coffee , as wherever you go you will find coffee shop or an easy to make . Let's find out the magic of Coffee among the Korean and their fashionable markets.

By Jun Kyoung-woo
People, especially those engrossed in work, drink coffee as if it's water from early in the morning until late at night. In fact, workaholics are mostly coffee-holics.

Koreans started drinking coffee around the era of the Korean Empire (1897-1910). At the time, coffee was a rarity, but the instant coffee mix brought in by the U.S. Army after the Korean War allowed anyone to enjoy drinking coffee. A perfect harmony of sugar and cream, instant coffee dominated Koreans' taste for nearly 40 years. The sweet taste captivated Koreans who lived in challenging conditions.

What used to be called "dabang coffee," a mix of coffee, cream and sugar in approximately equal proportions of 1:1:1, became widely popular and available from imported vending machines in 1977. Korea's unique coffee culture, in which coffee is served in a small, 120 ml paper cup, was established around this period.
/ Article and photos by Jun Kyoung-woo

The 1988 Seoul Olympics changed everything in Korea, including coffee. Entering the 1990s, the coffee bean trend bloomed. Coffee "shops" specializing in coffee, replaced "dabang," an old-style salon where various beverages were sold. People started enjoying "American coffee" which was as mild as water. Sales of canned coffee and coffee mix also accelerated.

A second wave of change hit the nation a hundred years after the advent of coffee in Korea. The advent of roasteries, coffee shops that roast coffee by themselves, from the 2000s brought the Korean coffee culture to a whole new level.

Small stores owned by coffee masters began expanding from Seoul to the countryside, stimulating our tongues. The skills of the masters evolved ever more meticulously and as coffee consumption increased, higher quality coffee beans started being imported.

Today, there are over 1,000 roasteries in Seoul alone that roast beans and brew coffee in their own ways. Coffee masters became known nationally through social network, media and blogs and several roasting shops grew into larger companies.

The question is, which shops serve the best coffee? Ten places instantly come to mind, but these are publicly well-known. You easily can find them by searching on your smartphone. Instead, I will introduce four coffee shops that offer very special cups of coffee.

4 very special cups of coffee

1. Turkish Coffee

Café de Fazenda

Turkish coffee is basic. The method of boiling finely ground coffee beans in water is an extraction method which had long been used in most coffeeproducing regions. Although the coffee powder resides in the mouth after drinking, the intense flavor and heaviness attracts some drinkers. The café, located next to the Turkish Embassy in Yongsan, is run by Master Kim Sook-hee who is knowledgeable on coffee. Having embassy officials as regular customers, the shop offers coffee that is most similar to the local Turkish coffee in Seoul. Café de Fazenda is strong with the basics. It roasts raw coffee beans of highest quality and offers them in drip, espresso and siphon.

2. Decaffeine for every menu

Espresso House
If you are sensitive to caffeine but cannot give up your love for coffee, Espresso House is the answer. You can enjoy various menus made of espresso extracted from decaffeine beans. It has four different types of decaffeine beans which allow for diverse selection. The shop uses water-processed decaffeine beans which are incomparable to the chemically processed decaffeine beans. Since the barista there has an inclination toward sour taste, all of their coffees have a pleasantly sour flavor. The sour flavor in decaffeine coffees is particularly emphasized due to the processing method. You can compare these with single origin coffees extracted from espresso machines. The café is in an elegant brick building located in Yeonhui-dong, exuding a distinct ambiance. It was built in the 1980s by a famous architect.

3. Different flavors of Vienna coffee

Julius Meinl

Julius Meinl from Vienna, Austria, is a Viennese coffee brand with 150 years of tradition. Opened in Vienna in 1862, it is the first company to roast coffee on a mass scale. Its main menu is Vienna coffee. There are three different kinds – Einspanner, Franziskaner and Wiener Melange – served in beautiful red cups.
Einspanner is the most representative Vienna coffee with a small amount of water in double espresso topped with whipping cream.
Franziskaneris is made of a single shot espresso with steamed milk and whipping cream. Wiener Melange also is made of single espresso, steamed milk and milk foam – it is similar to espresso macchiato. The espresso base is of high quality. The sour taste is mitigated by milk. The shop is located inside Lotte Department Store in Myeongdong.

4. 1L Ice Americano

Deep Coffee
This place is a must if you plan to pull an all-nighter at Hongdae on a Friday night. Monster-sized Ice Americano, its main menu, will quench clubbers' thirst. The size – 1L (compare it with Starbucks' 591ml Venti size) – doesn't compromise quality. It uses top-notch beans and machines, such as the Bell Epoque, a coffee machine which costs over 30 million won (only three are in Korea). Four shots of espresso go into the cup. They serve until 4 a.m.

Museum displays Buddhist painting


The 13.17-meter-height Buddhist hanging scroll painting is on display at the National Museum of Korea in Seoul through April 26, next year./ Courtesy of National Museum of Korea

By Baek Byung-yeul / The Korea Times

In Korea's Buddhism, which has been an important element of the country's culture and religion since it arrived here at around 4th century, large Buddhist paintings have been used for outdoor rituals

The state-run National Museum of Korea (NMK)'s "The Buddhist Hanging Scroll at Gaeamsa Temple" exhibition, featuring precious massive Buddhist scroll painting, is a rare display that gives a fine introduction on Buddhist ritual in the country.

On loan from Gaeamsa Temple from Buan, South Jeolla Province, the 13.17-meter-height towering painting, produced in 1749 during Joseon Kingdom period (1392-1910), depicts seven Buddhist deities including triad Buddha (Buddha flanked by two bodhisattvas) in the center.

Designated as the country's National Treasure No. 1269, the five-story-high scroll painting is one of the largest "gwaebul" paintings in Korea, according to the museum.

"Gwaebul is the scroll painting used for outdoor Buddhist ritual. Due to its large size, it was hard to find out space for the indoor exhibition. We could find a room in our Buddhist art exhibition room and display Gaeamsa Temple's gwaebul painting as our ninth exhibition of our gwaebul exhibition series," the museum said.

"According to the historical records, the painting was done by 13 painters and 191 laymen and 59 Buddhist monks procured the materials for the painting, and according to the record left in the Gaeamsa Temple, this gwaebul was also used not only for Buddhist rituals but also for rituals calling for rain during droughts," added the museum.

The exhibition runs through April 26, next year. The venue is located near exit 4 of Ichon Station, subway line 4 and the Jungang Line. Admission is free. For more information, call (02) 2077-9493 or visit

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Do you also eat vicariously?


Lee Soo-kyung of a cable drama series “Let’s Eat.” / Courtesy of tvN

Food-centric TV shows becoming hot trend

Ha Jung-woo in “Hwanghae”
Choo Sa-rang in “Superman Returns”
Yoon Hoo in “Where Are We Going, Dad?”
Webtoon-based film “The Hungry Woman”
By Chung Ah-young

Yoon Hoo, the son of singer Yoon Min-soo, was catapulted to stardom by “eating voraciously” on MBC’s high-rating reality show “Where Are We Going, Dad?” Choo Sa-rang, the daughter of Korean-Japanese combat sports star Choo Sung-hoon, is winning the hearts of viewers mainly for her “eating” scenes on KBS’s variety program “Superman Returns.” Ha Jung-woo is often portrayed as an actor who is good at “meokbang,” a new broadcasting term in Korean, which means “eating well” on screen.

Watching someone eat on TV is becoming a bizarre trend in Korea. As “meokbang” gives viewers vicarious pleasure, a growing number of TV shows are competitively obsessed with providing eating scenes.

First aired in November, a cable drama series “Let’s Eat” on tvN, the first of its kind, has been gaining popularity. The show features the eating scenes of characters who live alone. Based on romance and everyday routines, the drama portrays the female character played by Lee Soo-kyung relishing eating. In the drama, Lee plays the role of a 33-year-old divorcee who is happy to be living alone. One of her pleasures is food. Goo Dae-young played by Yoon Doo-joon, a member of K-pop group BEAST, is another foodie who lives alone too.

Park Joon-hwa, producer of the drama, said that Korean dramas have lots of eating scenes in which conflict erupts or settles down. “The drama focuses on building relationships between strangers through having a meal and ultimately relieving their solitude. It portrays the process of how people improve relations via food,” he said.

“The Hungry Woman,” based on the eponymous webtoon, deals with a single woman’s life in her 30s and connects it with food. It has so far had more than 3.2 million views on Naver’s TV cast. Yoon Sung-ho, director of the film, said that the recent trend is adding eating scenes to the ordinary story. “Isolated individuals find consolation by seeing others eating. Meokbang is a symptom of our society’s loneliness,” Yoon said.

The recent fad in watching someone eating is attributed to an increasing number of the one-person households in Korea. According to Statistics Korea, one-person households represented 9.1 percent of the total in 1990, 12.9 percent in 1995, 15.7 percent in 2000, 20.2 percent in 2005, and 24.2 percent in 2010.

The steep rise is attributed to the increasing number of young singles in their 20s and 30s who leave their parents, as well as those who don’t marry or get divorced along with the elderly who survive their spouses. Cultural critics said that those who live alone feel loneliness and find more vicarious pleasure by seeing someone eating.

The trend was provoked by Afreeca TV, the online channel, which aired the live-streaming service of eating enormous amounts of foods by its broadcasting jockey since 2009.
CNN reported in February that the show hosted by Park Seo-yeon airs hours-long eating scenes. After eating various kinds of large quantities of food such as pizza or beef, Park talks to her fans in a chat room which accompanies her live-stream channel.
“A lot of my viewers are on diet and they say they live vicariously through me, or they are hospital patients who only have access to hospital food so they also watch my broadcasts to see me eat. Fans who are on a diet say that they like eating vicariously through me,” CNN quoted Park as saying.
The program’s fans are mostly women and her show is more popular with women than with men.
CNN also quoted professor Park Sung-hee of Ewha University’s Division of Media Studies as saying that for Koreans, eating is an extremely social, communal activity, explaining why the Korean word “sikgu” means “those who eat together.” And Koreans hate eating alone.

Following Japan?

For a long time, cooking and food have been a central element of fiction in Japanese TV dramas. Korean shows seem to follow Japanese social and cultural trends to some degree.

In the 2000s, Japan’s NTV aired “Food Fight,” a popular drama series, based on an eating competition, and revolving around love and friendship. Also, “Late Night Diner,” which was first broadcast in 2009, deals with customers who come to a restaurant which opens at midnight. In the drama, people with diverse stories share them with others while eating.

Also, “Lonesome Gourmets” began airing its season 3 in 2012, and “Ms Hana’s Cooking” portrays a housewife’s cooking recipe, while “Just Eating” focuses on the eating binges of a man and a woman.

However, this is a cultural difference compared with TV shows from Western countries. On Western TV, cooking or food on screen is basically nonfictional, usually seen in teaching how-to-cook to the audience, except for cases in which characters gather to eat in a certain restaurant or bar.
Source: The Korea Times

Throwing new light on old treasures (Korean Culture)


“Human Figure,” China, early 8th century

National museum’s latest acquisitions highlight traditional Asian art 

By Baek Byung-yeul

The National Museum of Korea (NMK) has been ambitious in purchasing of Asian artworks since moving into its massive complex in Yongsan, downtown Seoul, in 2005. The museum’s new exhibition, "New Acquisitions of Asian Art," provides the first glimpse into this expanding collection.

The display features 66 items, including highly-rated treasures from China, Japan, India and Southeast Asian nations. They represent the cream of the crop of the museum’s assemblage of non-Korean artifacts, now at around 400, says NMK director Kim Young-na.

"I think this will provide a great opportunity for visitors to expand their knowledge of the artistic heritage of other Asian nations and celebrate the diversity in cultures," Kim said.
“Goddess,’’ India, 10th century

About half the artifacts in display are from China, from the bronze ware of Shang Dynasty (1,600 B.C.-1,046 B.C.) to artworks of Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). For visitors, sophisticated ceramic works, paintings and calligraphies can be educational as they are beautiful, with the museum providing a smooth explanation on how Chinese styles influenced the artifacts of Korea in respective periods.

''Human Figure,’’ an 8th century pottery piece from the Tang Dynasty (618-907), could be argued as the highlight of the museum.

The 37.7-centimeter horse-rider figure with fading colors is valuable because it is believed to depict a woman, judging from the round cheeks, beardless chin and make-up on the lips.

"It’s notable that the woman is dressed in male attire for horse-riding. These were during a time when horse riding became more common among women and male garments would have been more convenient for such activities than women’s dresses of that time," said one of the curators at the museum.

The museum’s new acquisitions from Japan include pottery, masks and paintings from the Edo Period (1603-1867).
“Merrymaking in a Grand Mansion,” Japan, 17th century
/ Courtesy of NMK

“Merrymaking in a Grand Mansion,” 2.8-meter long folding screen painting created in the 17th century, is another must-see, portraying people of high social status enjoying themselves in a luxury leisure mansion. There are people dancing to music and playing card games and women taking a bath.

"Goddess," a 10th century statue from India, is one of the eye-catching artifacts in India and Southeast Asian art corner, most of which are about Buddhist arts.
The 81-centimeter-tall statue is made of red sandstone and is notable for its voluptuous description of the female body.

Other than Indian arts, statues of Buddhist gods and goddesses from Thailand and Indonesia are also displayed, representing each country’s independent characteristics in Buddhist art.

The exhibition runs through June 22. For more information, call (02) 2077-9552 or visit

Love is __?


institute invites complaints from sexual minorities

By Chung Hyun-chae, Park Ji-won, Nam Hyun-woo

Love seemed to be a universal concept that embraced all. Recently, however, a national institute released a new definition of the concept that excludes minorities, in particular same-sex partners.

The National Institute of the Korean Language (NIKL) came out with a new definition of the word love — a feeling or affection for a person of the opposite sex.

According to the institute, which establishes language policies and updates the national dictionary, the concept of love exists only between a man and a woman, except when referring to love for friends, family, inanimate objects or country. The NIKL announced the new definition on March 31.

This is not the first time the institute changed the meaning of the word. Love used to be defined as a “feeling or instance of longing passionately for a partner of another sex by being attracted to the partner’s allure.” Five university students asked the NIKL to expand the definition because it seemed “discriminative to sexual minorities.” Thus, in November 2012, it replaced the phrase “partner of another sex” with “somebody.”

Given that Korean society is still closed for the most part to sexual minorities, the NIKL’s move was a bold step toward acknowledging that same-sex partners can love each other in a romantic or sexual way.

However, the institute’s decision invited complaints, mostly from conservative Christian groups. The Commission of Churches in Korea urged the institute to scrap the revision in October, saying, “Deleting ‘partner of another sex’ from the definition of love can be interpreted as defending homosexuality.”

In response, the NIKL said the revision was not intended to promote homosexuality, but to reflect the current use of the word in Korean society. Nevertheless, the institute said it will review the definition of love once again and change it to reflect conventional perception.

“We change the meaning of words after receiving revision requests from many people through various means such as the Internet and telephone,” said an NIKL researcher surnamed Han.

The NIKL reviews the definition of words every quarter. During the reviews, researchers and linguists discuss the definitions based on their use and opinions from citizens and experts.

Han explained that the institute’s latest revision of the definition of love reflects opinions that the term “somebody” was too broad and vague.

“If they changed the meaning based on ordinary usage, they had to stand by that revision,” a Korean language teacher at a university said on condition of anonymity. However, the teacher questioned how much people’s use of the word love could have changed significantly in less than two years.

The Solidarity for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Human Rights of Korea released a statement on March 31 that limiting the meaning of love to something that exists only between a man and a woman clearly discriminates against sexual minorities.

“The NIKL’s move is against the new Korean society, which accepts differences,” it said in the statement.

Young Koreans interviewed agreed that defining love is quite difficult but that the definition of love should not be limited in terms of gender.

“When I was younger, I believed there was only one type of love — Eros,” said Hwang Dan-bi, 23, a senior at a four-year college.

She said she is straight but doesn’t think the word love should be defined as a feeling only between a man and a woman.

“As I grew older, I realized that love isn’t just about the heart beating fast. I think love can be enjoying delicious food, strolling down a street and sharing thoughts with someone else.”

“If I share those feelings with a friend of the same sex, shouldn’t I call it love?” Hwang asked.

She said she has a number of gay and bisexual friends whom she met during her stay in Canada last year. At that time, she realized that people of other sexual orientations are no different from straight people.

“They longed for love and boasted about what they did with their same-sex partners. And they were excited to plan their next dates, just like me. If the word love is defined as affection between a man and a woman, what should we call their feelings then?” she said.

A college freshman surnamed Lim, a lesbian, also said love is just an honest emotion.

“I can express my feelings, without display, to my girlfriend. We are just who we are to each other, and we are not just same-sex friends. I think it is love,” Lim said.

Regardless of one’s sexual orientation, some people say that love doesn’t have one exact definition. They have their own meaning of love based on their experiences.

“Love is the feeling of deep affection toward all creatures,” said Gil Min-sub, 29, an office worker.

“I think love is an irrational, illogical emotion because it is something that’s hard to define,” said Kim Yeon-joo, 24, a college senior.

Older citizens interviewed, however, have mixed opinions about the NIKL’s new definition of love.

“I am a Christian, so I’m just being honest when I say I’m anti-gay,” said a civil servant in her 50s. “But I’m still unconvinced that deleting the phrase ‘partner of another sex’ promotes homosexuality,” she said.

“In Korea, love is still widely considered as a feeling between people of opposite sexes. If the NIKL reflects that, then it’s an appropriate move,” Kim Chang-hwan, 48, said.


Should we define love?


Renowned linguist Roland Barthes said language is “quite simply fascist.” This is because words affect how people perceive a concept. When we refuse to accept a different meaning of a word and regard it as wrong, we are tacitly allowing ourselves to be compromised by discrimination.

As the NIKL said, a word’s definition should reflect its current use. However, many people have pointed out that the NIKL’s new definition of love disregards the existence of sexual minorities in the country. It implies that a gay couple’s relationship is not love even though they do the same things a straight couple does.

Barthes also said, “To try to write love is to confront the muck of language; that region of hysteria where language is both too much and too little, excessive and impoverished.”

A gay man in his 30s who declined to be named said love is a simple, unsophisticated feeling.

“For me, the feeling of love isn’t something big. It is the feeling of wanting to take off my jacket and cover my partner because the weather is cold,” he said.

“I think love is the desire to take good care of someone, which comes from the heart,” he added.

Perhaps this issue may be meaningless to those who do not have a special someone, but it is nevertheless something worth thinking about. 
Source : The Korea Times

Sunday, March 23, 2014

North Korean Defectors Ambivalent About Life in the South


Many North Korean defectors in South Korea are satisfied enough with their life in the South to bring their family over but feel that fierce competition and discrimination are hard to overcome. Their feelings remain ambivalent even after a considerable time spent living here.

Pundits say this failure to integrate fully into South Korean society must be addressed before reunification.

In a survey by the Chosun Ilbo of 200 North Korean defectors at the end of January, 71.5 percent said they are satisfied with their life in the South, compared to 22.5 percent who said neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, and 4.5 percent who are not satisfied.

Ninety-one percent of the respondents said they are familiar with the ways of South Koreans, with 63 percent describing themselves as South Korean. Only 25 percent still identify themselves as North Koreans and 10 percent as neither.

Asked whether they would like to bring family members from North Korea here, 51 percent said they will do so as soon as possible and 42.5 percent if they get the opportunity.

Most said their image of South Korea improved once they got here, with 82 percent, as against a mere 5.5 percent who said it got worse. Most North Koreans in other words are adapting to the life here reasonably well and comfortably.

Freedom and affluence were cited as the most satisfying elements of life in the South.

North Korean defectors walk across a crosswalk in Seoul. North Korean defectors walk across a crosswalk in Seoul.
Kim Hee-jae was originally from Tokchon, South Pyongan Province, where it was "still hard to feed myself in the North despite working in the mine for 20 hours a day. Now in the South, I can earn according to how much I work, and I can even save a little."

Kim Yong-hwa came from Pyongyang. "I used to get stopped and checked seven times every time I went to Sinuiju from Pyongyang, but here I can travel freely without having to worry about the police."

Cho Kyong-il, who now studies in a South Korean university, said, "At first, South Korean society was strange, but now I'm totally adapted to it. After a few years, young North Korean defectors will fully adapt to the economic and social system of South Korea."

But many defectors are economically disadvantaged here and suffer discrimination. Only 26.5 percent of the respondents earned more than W1 million (US$1=W1,068) a month, or roughly the minimum wage, while 45 percent said they earn nothing and 18.5 percent that they make less than W1 million.

Just 27 percent had permanent jobs, and 46.5 percent had never worked here or were unemployed at the moment. Only 25 percent worked at least 20 days a month and 27 percent eight hours or more per day.

Many also complain that prejudice and discrimination against North Koreans can make them feel like second-class citizens.

Kim Song-chol from Nampo said, "There is serious discrimination against North Korean defectors and rigid social stratification. Moving up the social ladder into the middle or upper-middle class is virtually impossible."

Some defectors who come from the North Korean elite or have a good education manage to make a good life here, but those who do not struggle to adapt.

Jong Kwang-song from Hoeryong, North Hamgyong Province. "Because competition is so fierce in South Korea, it's hard to survive and adapt." And Park Chung-kwon from Hamhung added, "South Koreans are not friendly to those who are different and tend to treat them as outcasts."

Song Won-jun was shocked how many people commit suicide in the South. "People are so individualistic, inhumane, and cold-hearted." He said

Source: The Chosun Ilbo English News

Cherry Blossom to Bloom Later This Year


Cherry blossom will start to bloom about two or three days later than usual this year and five days later than last year, due to the cold temperatures in early March, the Korea Meteorological Administration said.
Cherry blossom at a stream in Busan on Thursday /News 1 Cherry blossom at a stream in Busan on Thursday /News 1
This year's temperature in the period was 3.4 degrees Celsius on average as against the average of 3.8 degrees.

According to the weather agency, cherry blossoms will start to bloom on March 27 starting with Seogwipo, Jeju, spreading to southern parts of the mainland from April 1 to 12, central parts from April 7 to 11, and northern Gyeonggi and Gangwon Provinces after April 10.