Monday, December 26, 2011

The Legendary ties between Korea-India and the present IT boom

Still now many people wonder about the possible historical linkaage between India and Korea and my pals from different countries keep asking 'Is there any cultural linkage between Korea and India?'.

Well we all know that there is a vast geographical and cultural differences. There is harldly any proximity when it comes to the physical, cultural and well as geographical.One is a homogenous and the other one is a heterogenous country.

But we all know that famous Buddhism faith flourish from the lap of India . When I start studying about Koreaan studies first time in my school I encounter one of the interesting legendary about the dynamic country of India and the mysterious country of Korea.

The India-Korea cultural connection goes back to the second century. There is a legendary story, Koreans believe that a prince called Kim Suro married the princess of Ayodhya.

As we all know that Buddhism started from India and it has spread every where specially in the East Asian countries. But, unfortunately Buddhism has not able to flourish much in India where it was born. We learned about how a Buddhist monk went to the other part of the world to flourished the idea and philosophy of Buddhism.

That's how we started our Korean studies, it was very tactful and enthusiastic ways of my professor who introduced us in the very first day and proceed our class on Korean history and society.

I was so amazed by the story and the very next day I started exploring internet to know more about this particular story. Because there was geographically distance from India to Korea numbers of country in between both the countries.

Anyway , the destiny has bring both the countries to have a connection somehow and it happened to be like these. Both the countires suffered from the big powerful countries like Japan and England. Both the countries has undergone from the various phases and come out as a winner. Both the countires acheived their freedom of the very same day i.e 15th August. And both the countries has seperated their parts and formed South Korea and North Korea on the otherhand India and Pakistan.

Above all these, India Korea started their political relation during the regin of Prime Minister Narsimha Rao. And became the first Prime Minister who visited Korea and make a strong ties in the field of political and trade relationship. And this year the President of Korea beame the guest of India's Republic day and signed some of the agreement between India and Korea for the progressive opportunities in the near future.

Today , again while having cultural discussion with other friends in my class the Korean teacher asked about the relationship between India and Korea, which has reminded me of date back of King Suro of Gaya Kingdom and his legendary story and how it developed India Korea ties.

But one of the most intersting part was the legendary story of "Ayodhya princess and the Korean King Suro of Korea". The legend of the Indian princess is narrated in Samguk Yusa, a Korean text written by a monk, Iryon (1206 AD-1289 AD). It is set in the Kaya kingdom in the first century CE.

For the video clip see this give link

Historical and cultural contacts between the two peoples trace back to ancient times.

According to “Samguk-Yusa" or "The Heritage History of the Three Kingdoms," written in the 13th century, a princess from Ayodhya came to Korea and married King Kim Su-ro and became Queen Hur Hwang-ok in the year 48 AD . The enduring philosophy of the Buddha, which has influenced the lives and thoughts of the people of the two countries, has also provided a strong linkage.

Kim Suro's Tomb
The rationale for a close relationship between India and South Korea has been reinforced in modern times by political and economic imperatives.

Gimhae, the city where the Indian princess from Ayodhya landed and married Kim Su-ro, signed an MOU establishing a sister-city relationship with Faizabad-Ayodhya. A monument in memory of the princess was erected in March 2001 at a site donated by the Ayodhya administration.

Busan and Mumbai signed an MOU on mutual cooperation in 1977. Gyeonggi Province signed an MOU for mutual benefit with the State Government of Maharashtra in March 2007. Seoul has a sister-city relationship with Mumbai and has expressed interest in establishing a sister-city relationship with Delhi. And twinning between Pocheon & Jaipur and Incheon & Kolkata is at an advanced stage.

During the visit of President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the first by any president of India to the ROK, the signing of a Joint Ministerial Statement on the Launching of a Joint Task Force to develop a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the two countries was held. Two other Agreements viz. Agreement on Cooperation in the fields of Science and Technology and Agreement on Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters were also signed during the visit. An MOU on Scientific and Technological Cooperation between the Department of Science and Technology and the India and Korea Industrial Technology Foundation (KOTEF) was also signed separately.

Bilateral CEPA negotiations have formally concluded and the CEPA has since been signed. Some of the highlights include the fact that the CEPA binds South Korea to phase out or reduce tariffs on 90 percent of Indian goods over 10 years, while India is to eliminate tariffs on 85 percent of South Korean exports within the same period, which is longer than what is written in other FTAs South Korea has signed. In addition to tariff reduction, South Korea will be able to move into various industrial sectors of the Indian economy, such as food processing, textiles, garments, chemicals, metals and machinery. The deal also opens the service and investment sector, with India accepting South Korean company inflows in its telecom, accounting, medical and advertising markets, as well as allowing South Korean financial firms in the investment market. With respect to rules of origin, both countries agreed on the allowable level of foreign contents to be up to 65 percent. South Korea expects massive inflows of information technology (IT) workers, engineers and English teachers as both sides agreed to allow temporary migration of professional workers.

Hundai Company India

Two-way trade between India and South Korea has gathered momentum recently, making South Korea the 12th largest trading partner for India. In the last four years alone, trade volume has gone up more than two and half times. As against a target of US$10 billion, bilateral trade is expected to exceed $16 billion in 2008.

South Korea is the 4th largest investor in India in terms of actual inflow of FDI into India. During the first three quarters of 2008, for which data is available, 164 investment proposals from 52 Korean companies for a proposed total investment of $243 million approved. The cumulative investment from South Korea in India has been $1.46 billion in terms of actual flow from 382 Korean companies for over 900 projects.

The ROK’s investments in India have largely taken place in the transportation industry, energy (power and oil refinery), electrical equipment (including computer software & electronics), chemicals (other than fertilizer), commercial, office & household equipments, metallurgical Industries and food processing pndustries. Major South Korean companies active in India include Hyundai Motor, Samsung Electronics, LG, Lotte Group and Doosan Heavy Industries. Now, major South Korean companies like Samsung, Hyundai and LG are expanding production facilities in India and smaller companies are focusing on technical collaborations. The Lotte Group acquired Parry’s Confectionery Chennai in 2004. Samsung Electronics opened a mobile phone plant in the state of Haryana in March 2006. Samsung Engineering has opened its Global Engineering Centre in New Delhi.

A remarkable feature of South Korea is its transformation from a developing country in the 1950s to a high-income country with a substantial per capita income today. The economic reforms of the 1990s in India were influenced by East-Asian successes and South Korea was among the chief countries to have an impact on Indian policymakers' thinking process. Though consular relations between India and South Korea were set up in 1962, it was in 1973 with the establishment of formal diplomatic ties that a new chapter was opened in the history of Indo-Korean cooperation.

Both India and Korea contribute significantly to the world GDP. Korea is among the few Asian countries that are counted among the developed countries of the world; India, too, has a growing stature and increasing role in international affairs.

The vision statement includes the prospective areas of growth for Korea and India are shipping and port development, infrastructure development, tourism and hospitality industries, agro food industries in addition to auto, communication and IT industries, which are already present in India. At the SME level, the following areas could be suitable for joint ventures, technology transfer and 100-percent .

With respective governments support in business community, positively and with the growing amount of globalization and liberalization, not only Korean companies are making their big role in India, Indian firms too are establishing themselves in Korea.

There is another famous Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore and his historical linkage. A short poem by Tagore in which he called Korea ‘The Lamp of the East”’became the rallying point for Korean nationalists fighting during Japanese colonisation, so much so that it is quoted even today in most diplomatic exchanges.
Noble Laureate Rabindranath Tagore composed a short but evocative poem in 1929 about Korea's glorious past and bright future. He wrote:

"In the golden age of Asia
Korea was one of its lamp bearers,
And that lamp is waiting
To be lighted once again
For the illumination of the East."

There is a movie called Finding Kim Jong Wook, starring popular lead pair Gung Yoo and Im Soo-Jeong, based on love story about two Korean tourists who meet in India.

An Indian movie called Gangster , in this most of the location were shotat Korea.

Culturally both the countries have ties from the olden day . Now with the help of flourishing IT sector Korean product is in every household names. Now we are awaiting for the real Korean wave in Inda with famous K-POP, Movies and other cultural activities.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

NIIED to upgrade Korean teaching abroad

An increasing number of foreignstudents are learning Korean as a second language because of Korean-Pop culture popularity at overseas.

Applications for the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK), administered by the National Institute for International Education (NIIED), is also increasing sharply as the exam become a must for every foreigners who want to study and work at Korea.

The institute’s President Ha Tae-yun said, it is time to upgrade the test and provide better textbooks and teaching materials abroad to make Korean a more worldly accepted language.

“One of my imminent tasks is to publish textbooks in various languages and provide customized study tools to global learners to meet the growing demand for TOPIK,” Ha said in an interview.

“That’s also to reflect Korea’s growing influence on the global stage. Korean language education abroad is important from cultural and diplomatic aspects as well.”

Teaching Korean globally

As Mr. Ha, a career diplomat, took the helm of the institute in late October, he focused on moving forward in its three ongoing projects ― "promoting the Korean language abroad, selecting foreign beneficiaries of state scholarships and promoting English education at public schools".

The institute’s role will become even greater in the future as more foreigners are expecting to practice Korean and the country’s global presence will continue to grow, Ha said.

The NIIED, now located in Daehangno, Seoul, is planing to move to a larger complex in Bundang, Gyeonggi Province, by 2015 to ensure more effective management of the projects. The education ministry is now pushing for a revision of laws to expand the institute’s functions at home as well as abroad.

“I’m very interest in promoting the Korean language among countries with which Korea’s cultural and economic ties have been growing rapidly. The planned upgrade of TOPIK and the publication of customized textbooks are aimed at helping people there learn our language in an easier and more comfortable way,” Ha said.

By 2015, the institute will be adding a speaking section to TOPIK, which currently has two sections ­ one for vocabulary, grammar and writing and the other for listening and reading. It also plans to introduce an Internet-based test in the long term.

The changes reflect concerns that the test is focusing on only grammar and vocabulary rather than evaluating practical conversation skills. The consistency of difficulty levels has also often been questioned. Some test-takers have called for the institute to develop a better tool so that Korean language learners can be properly evaluated.

Providing better textbooks to global learners is also a big task for Ha.

Despite the government’s efforts to boost the quality and professionalism of Korean language teachers abroad, many Korean language teachers abroad have complained of the lack of appropriate textbooks they can use.

Currently, most textbooks used by them are ones that are targeted to children and teenagers and produced for ethnic Korean students, not for foreigners. The education ministry recently published for the first time Korean language textbooks from level one to six targeting learners from English-speaking nations. But textbooks customized to countries using other languages and with different cultures are still needed.

“What I believe is that each country has a different culture so the language textbooks should also be customized. I’m committed to resolving the problem,” Ha said.

The institute is now demanding TOPIK scores from those who are studying on the state scholarship program, called the Global Korean Scholarship (GKS). It has been talking with universities and firms to promote the use of the test in evaluating proficiency of Korean language among foreign applicants, he said.

“TOPIK is closely related to GKS. We plan to expand the scholarship program to help local universities to draw top-rated students from around the world,” the president said.

English education

One of the institute’s flagship programs is to choose English teachers among ethnic Koreans and native speakers abroad and give them teaching jobs at public schools nationwide.

Under the Teach and Learn in Korea (TaLK) program, thousands of ethnic Korean students have visited the country and taught English in elementary schools in rural areas since 2008. It is also running the English Program in Korea (EPIK) to hire native English teachers for primary and secondary schools nationwide.

Ha expressed concerns about the moves by regional educational offices to reduce the number of native English teachers, saying students in provincial areas still don’t have chances to learn from native speakers.

He suggested that English education has been on the backburner as educational offices have readjusted their spending plans following the implementation of free school meal program. The education ministry is also focusing on increasing the number of Korean teachers qualified to teach English in English, rather than just picking more native English teachers.

Despite such a policy shift, demand for quality English education will continue to grow, Ha said.

“Native English teachers have greatly contributed to upgrading English education here. We should be grateful for them,” Ha said. “I will make every effort to protect their teaching jobs. The TaLK and EPIK programs will be the centerpiece of upgrading English education here.”

He said the NIIED plans to strengthen its on-the-job training for native English teachers to settle more smoothly here, providing them with chances to learn about Korean culture.

According to the education ministry, such teaching programs can also be solutions to growing household spending on English education. The ministry said more than 15 trillion won is being spent annually on private English education, which more than 90 percent of elementary school students receive.

“English proficiency has become more important in entering a good college and getting a good job. However, most children can’t learn at private institutes as tuition is too expensive,” said a ministry official. “We hope the TaLK and EPIK programs will be helpful in addressing the so-called English education divide between students in big cities and those in rural areas.”

So far, thousands of native teachers have participated in the programs.

The institute said the programs provide students in rural areas the rare opportunity to learn from native teachers. It’s a unique experience for Korean teachers as well.

“The native teachers are special guests to residents. Parents are happy about their children taking lessons from native teachers and playing with them. Korean teachers also can exchange teaching methods with the native teachers,” Ha said.

Who is Ha Tae-yun

Ha Tae-yun, president of the National Institute for International Education (NIIED), is a career diplomat who has carried out missions in a number of countries, including Japan, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Iraq.

A native of Gwangju, the 53-year-old started working at the foreign ministry after passing the state exam to select diplomats in 1979. He majored in public administration at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul.

Ha was dispatched to Cheong Wa Dae to help form the Kim Dae-jung administration’s international policies after Kim was elected president in late 1997.

He also served as a secretary for Kim in 2007.

Two years later, Ha became the country’s ambassador to Iraq and led missions to help rebuild the war-torn nation. He was named the NIIED president in October this year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

South Korea condolence over the demise of The North Korean Leader Kim Jong-il

Seoul expressed sympathy Tuesday, to the people of the North Korea over the death of their “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il.
“The government extends condolences to the people of the North Korea over Kim’s death," Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik said in a nationally televised press conference after a meeting of security-related ministers presided over by President Lee Myung-bak.

“We hope that the North will quickly regain stability and work with South Korea for peace and prosperity on the peninsula.”

Yu carefully chose his words to address the reconciliatory statement toward North Korea’s general population in line with the government’s policy to separate the North's military regime and hunger-stricken people.

“The government will only allow the families of late President Kim Dae-jung and late Hyundai Group Chairman Chung Mong-hun to visit the North to pay respects in appreciation for the sending of delegations to Seoul when Kim and Chung passed away,” he said. The funeral will take place next Wednesday in Pyongyang,

The remarks came as opposition party lawmakers and liberal activists pressed the government to send a delegation to Pyongyang as a conciliatory gesture.

A poll of 700 carried out Monday showed that 49.6 percent said the government should give official condolences over Kim’s death. Only 31.4 percent of respondents were against it.

Late President Kim held the first-ever inter-Korean summit with the late North Korean leader in 2000, and Chung pushed aggressively for joint economic projects with the impoverished North. Pyongyang sent condolence delegations to Seoul when Chung and Kim died in 2003 and 2009, respectively.

On Monday, Lee Hee-ho, wife of the late President Kim, issued a statement urging Seoul to allow South Koreans to visit the communist North.

Hyundai Group said Hyun Jeong-eun, its group chairwoman and wife of the late Chung, will visit North Korea to express her condolences.

Lawmakers of the governing Grand National Party (GNP) supported the government’s move not to dispatch a delegation to Pyongyang.

They argued that North Korea may turn down South Korea’s offer anyway as the reclusive regime announced that it won’t welcome foreign delegations to the funeral.

Opposition lawmakers, however, said the government should send a small group to the North.

"It is necessary to take Kim's death as an opportunity to improve inter-Korean relations," DUP lawmaker Kim Dong-chul said.

Observers say the government will not further soften its hard-line policy toward the Stalinist North on fears that the move may cause a backlash from conservatives ahead of next year's two crucial elections.

Seoul did not officially send condolences over the death of Kim Il-sung when he died in the summer of 1994, which many say contributed to worsening inter-Korean ties for years.

Meanwhile, defense officials said that religious groups agreed to withdraw their plan to light Christmas tree towers near the border this week.

Seoul planned to allow North Koreans to light three Christmas tree-shaped towers near the border Friday, a move that prompted the North to accuse Seoul of intensifying psychological warfare.

On the other-hand North Korean television discloses Their Leader Kim Jong-il's body

North Korea's successor Kim Jong-un mourned the death of his father Kim Jong-il on Tuesday as the isolated country showed the leader's body in the first public ceremony of the grieving period.

Kim entered the hall of Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang, where the body of his late father lies in state, to the solemn playing of funeral music, the North's official Korean Central News Agency reported in a dispatch.

"Kim Jong-un observed a moment's silence in the bitterest grief" together with other top officials, the dispatch said, adding that Kim's bier was seen lying among flowers, covered by a red flag. (Yonhap)

Kim wins 1st Grand Record Culture Award

Kim Dok-man, a public relations official of the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission (ACRC), has been named winner of the first Grand Record Culture Award for his contribution to disseminating the government’s anti-corruption policies to newspapers.

An award ceremony was held in a room of the main National Assembly building in Seoul, Monday. The award is offered by the Korea Record Institute.

Kim, a former journalist called an “evangelist of integrity,” has made about 2,000 contributions on anti-corruption policies, both in Korean and English, to newspapers since 2005, the organizer said.

A graduate of the department of English literature at Yonsei University in Seoul, Kim obtained a doctorate in political science (communications) from the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Archive spotlights '60s literary films

Cinephiles will have a rare chance to look at some of Korea’s hallmark 1960s “literature films.”
The Korean Film Archive (KOFA) has released a DVD collection of masterworks by Kim Soo-yong, a leading filmmaker of the Golden Age.

Kim is renowned for adapting literary works to depict various aspects of contemporary life, adding to the richness of one of the most productive, artistically experimental decades in Korean cinema history.

These films were dubbed “literature films” after the Japanese term for a similar batch of movies in the neighboring Asian country.

However, according to Kim Yeong-jin, professor of film at Myongji University, Kim did not turn to novels because he felt literary elements were necessary to harness cinema to artistic ends; rather he read through Korean and Western books in search of original plotlines during a time when many filmmakers copied foreign scripts.

Furthermore, he went on to adapt famous novels such as those of Maupassant, despite the opposition of producers. He told stories in a modern audiovisual language and was highly successful in the box office.

Though the veteran filmmaker has made over 100 films, the four works featured in the box set provide a peek into the 82-year-old’s oeuvre at the height of his creativity.

“The Seashore Village” (1965), based on Oh Yeong-su’s story about the dramatic fate of a fisherman’s wife, is credited for paving the way for local films inspired by literature, while “Confession of an Actress” (1967) sheds light on the 1960s film business centered in Chungmuro, Seoul.

“Mist” (1967) introduced modernist concepts in Korean cinema by translating Kim Seung-ok’s story of ennui, the novel “A Trip to Mujin,” to the big screen. Last but not least, “Night Journey” (1977), about a single woman’s romantic ventures, had to endure censorship and wait four years to be released due to the strict media regulations of the 1970s.

Younger audiences in particular may be interested to see Yun Jeong-hie — who recently won international critical acclaim for her role in Lee Chang-dong’s “Poetry” (2010) — in “Mist” and “Night Journey.”

This collection marks the fifth of the Korean Film Archive’s classic series, after featuring works by Shin Sang-ok, Kim Ki-young, Yoo Hyun-mok and Lee Man-hee.

Fans will be able to enjoy audio commentaries by Kim himself as well as famed critics and directors such as Chung Sung-ill.

Subtitles in Korean, English and Japanese are available, as well as a booklet with related text in Korean and English.

In addition to the four films, the DVD collection includes a 56-minute documentary about the veteran filmmaker, and a six-minute clip that compares “Mist” before and after the film underwent digital restoration. Rated 18 and over, the DVD can be purchased at KOFA, located in Sangam-dong, or through its website (

More classic films

KOFA invites film buffs to explore more classic works, as it has added 37 titles to its online video-on-demand service (

Eight films including Im Kwon-taek’s 1993 box office hit “Seopyeonje,” about “pansori” (Korean opera) singers, is being shown for free through the website through Dec. 31.

Offline, KOFA’s cinematheque is holding a retrospective of films by Japanese master filmmaker Kihachi Okamoto.

A total of 27 of his works, including his 1958 debut “All About Marriage,” are on offer through Dec. 31. Admission is free of charge.

Visit KOFA's website for more information.

Foreign media expanding coverage on Korean culture

The growing popularity of Korean culture is resulting in more coverage of the country by international media, according to industry officials.

A total of 248 journalists from 115 news organizations visited Korea this year, according to the latest press release by the Korean Culture and Information Service (KOCIS).

“The visiting journalists usually stayed for one week, spending time at major tourist and industrial sites, while preparing news reports on Korea,” a KOCIS official said.

“We will make use of important international events such as the Yeosu Expo and the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit in 2012 to disseminate Korean culture through foreign press,” KOCIS director Seo Kang-soo said.

The journalists who visited Korea this year came from all corners of the world. In June, a TV crew from Hong Kong braved the stormy weather to travel to Ulleung Island to shoot footage for a documentary on Korea’s economic development.

Recently, Belgian TV channel RTBF visited the Korea National University of Arts to prepare a documentary on Korean classical musicians.

Belgium is the host country of the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Competition, which has produced many Korean laureates. Pianist Kim Dae-jin will serve as a jury member in the next round of the Brussels-based competition in 2013.

In light of the rise of young Korean classical musicians, particularly at international competitions, KOCIS will publish an English-language book on the history of Korean classical musicians this week.

“K-Classic” is the latest in a series of publications by KOCIS to introduce Korean culture to foreigners. This year, the culture ministry affiliate previously produced English books on Korean TV dramas and pop music that are beginning to gain popularity beyond Asia.

KOCIS, celebrating its 40th anniversary this month, has conducted an annual project to invite members of the foreign media as part of the government’s efforts to promote Korea overseas.

One of its key roles is to operate 28 Korean culture centers overseas that work hand in hand with consulates and embassies.

An anniversary reception will be held today with a special photo exhibition and cultural performances, including a show titled “Hanbok — Clothing of the Wind,” by renowned designer Lee Young-hee.

The reception will be held at the Westin Chosun Hotel in central Seoul at 6 p.m.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Seoul Doll Fair 2011: Freaky though Fantastic

The annual Seoul Doll Fair is back for its fourth year, opening on this comming December 23rd at the Samsung-dong Coex, Hall A.

Around 10,000 dolls made by hundreds of participants artists will be on display till January 2nd, 2012.

When the word Dolls comes, it brings to our mind teddy bears or a sweet-faced cutty toys -- but the works on display at the Seoul Doll Fair are a going to be a bit pricier than your average Barbie.

"More than 90 percent of our dolls are handmade," said Seoul Doll Fair manager Shin Jong-hoon. "They range in price from a thousand to several hundred million won."

The variety is as diverse with different ranges.

"We have these 'figure' (피규어) dolls which are especially popular with men," said Shin. "Figure dolls are dolls that are based on popular anime or manga characters, or movie characters."

As we the audience are diverse and different likings same as these Dolls.

"We still get kids, mostly, but we get a lot of adults, too," said Shin. "With the advent of the 'kidult,' [Konglish for adults who enjoy child-like hobbies] we have many adult visitors, too."

In a significant upgrade from 2010, this year's fair will be featuring lifelike figurines of The famous people from around the world, a free puppet show and a doll-making workshop.

Admission is ₩10,000 for adults, ₩8,000 for adolescents, and ₩6,000 for children. There is a special discount for groups of 20 or more.

December 23-January 1, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. On January 2, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

1/F 159 Samsung 1-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 강남구 삼성1동 159 1층); +82 2 6000 0114 (Coex); +82 2 724 0906 (Seoul Doll Fair);

Read more: Seoul Doll Fair 2011: Freaky and fantastical |

2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit 100 days away

“A world free of nuclear weapons is the hope of all humanity, in which lies a core objective and fundamental spirit of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).” - Kim Sung-Hwan, Foreign Minister and Chief of the Preparatory Secretariat for the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit (NSS)

In light of its ever-growing presence and leadership in the global community, Korea was designated to host the Second Nuclear Security Summit as declared at the end of the inaugural Nuclear Security Summit in April 2010.

President Lee Myung-bak announces Korea’s designation as host of the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit at a press conference of the Washington Summit, April 2010 (photo courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae).

The high-level conference, convened to delve into global nuclear security, is set to take place in Seoul from March 26 to 27, 2012. As we move ever closer to the upcoming summit, the eyes of the international society have been once again turning towards the host city, following the G20 Seoul Summit in November 2010.

The first Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C. was organized as a follow-up on a proposal made by U.S. President Barak Obama in Prague in April 2009. During his Prague speech on nuclear arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation, President Obama singled out nuclear terrorism as one of the most challenging threats to international security and stressed the need for joint efforts to secure nuclear materials and strengthen cooperation in nuclear security.

Heads of state from 47 nations and representatives from the United Nations, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and European Union attended the Washington Summit in 2010 to discuss ways to enhance international cooperation and develop steps toward safeguarding nuclear materials and detecting and disrupting attempts at nuclear terrorism.

President Lee Myung-bak poses with the participating leaders at the inaugural Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C. (photo courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae).

In addition to sharing the goals of nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation, and peaceful use of nuclear energy, the participating leaders adopted the Communiqué of the Washington Nuclear Security Summit as the outcome, further elaborating work plans as guidance for future action.

Committed to the Washington spirit, the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit is expected to mark the single largest global summit to date -- excluding the General Assembly of the United Nations. The meeting will bring together over 50 national leaders in the Korean capital alongside the heads of the UN, IAEA, EU and newly joined INTERPOL.

Participants are expected to contribute to the deliberations and develop measures for consolidated cooperation on measures to combat the threat of nuclear terrorism, protection of nuclear materials and related facilities, and prevention of illicit trafficking of nuclear materials.

The 2012 Seoul NSS will provide a forum for a dialogue not only devoted to the issue of nuclear security, but also of its interface with nuclear safety, which emerged as the focus of renewed attention following the Fukushima nuclear accident.

While calling for the strengthened cooperation of all states in the attainment of the objective identified in Washington, the high level forum in Korea is set to delineate more concrete action plans to put into practice by adopting the Seoul Communiqué.

President Lee Myung-bak (right) attends the first session of the summit in Washington (photo courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae).

This March, the Korean Government has officially launched the Preparatory Secretariat for the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, headed by Foreign Minister Kim Sung-Hwan, to ensure the successful organization and thorough advance preparations -- in consultation with the United States, the host of the first summit, as well as a group of experts.

The Eminent Persons Group, which has been established to support the success of the second summit and offer valuable insights and advice, converged in Seoul on November 29 at the invitation of President Lee Myung-bak, the chair of the upcoming summit.

The members of the Eminent Persons Group -- including former Indian President Abdul Kalam, Honorary Senior Minister of Singapore Goh Chok-tong, and former Secretary-General of the IAEA Hans Blix, among other eminent figures in the field – exchanged ideas and thoughts about preparations for the success of the event.

The participating figures, which equally involve renowned dignitaries at home such as honorary professor at Korea University and former Foreign Minister Han Seung-ju, drew the Joint Statement embodying suggestions for the successful hosting of the Seoul Summit.

President Lee Myung-bak meets with former Indian President Abdul Kalam (left) and other members of the Eminent Persons Group at Cheong Wa Dae on November 29 (photo courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae).

In the Joint Statement, the group expressed its expectations for the Seoul summit to “enhance public confidence in nuclear energy, which has been undermined since the Fukushima nuclear accident.” Noting the seriousness of the risks and consequences posed by radiological terrorism, the group also urges the summit participants to draw up cooperative measures to reduce this threat along with that of nuclear terrorism.

During the meeting, President Lee stressed that blocking the access of terrorists to nuclear materials is as important as assuring international nuclear nonproliferation and asked for the group’s full-pledged support and keen insights in making the summit an important milestone in advancing nuclear security.

* About nuclear security
Nuclear security refers to a series of preemptive measures set in place to detect and prevent threats, sabotage, and illegal acts related to nuclear materials, radioactive substances, or relevant facilities. With a heightened international awakening since the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and the possibility of terrorists misusing nuclear materials, the role of nuclear security has been further highlighted in combating nuclear terrorism.

For more information on the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, please visit the official website at: (Korean and English).


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Former 'Comfort Women' Hold 1,000th Protest at Japanese Embassy

The COMFORT WOMAN ISSUE is still lingering in Korean World starting from annexed of Korea by Japan. I have encounter this term during my history paper of Korea. During the war time many have been devasted and ruined. In this connection I did some research in Nanjing messacre and other relevant topics. Time to time women specially the Korean women raise their voice and demanding thier rights.

Kim Hak-sun, a former "comfort woman" forced to work in brothels serving the Japanese military during World War II, said in a press conference in August 1991 that the sight of the Japanese imperial flag "still makes me shudder. Until now, I did not have the courage to speak, even though there are so many thing I want to say." She recalled the painful memories of being dragged away to China by Japanese soldiers when she was just 17 and forced to have sex with four to five soldiers a day.

In the early 1990s, the Japanese government flatly denied the existence of comfort women, but Kim's accounts cast light on the atrocities, which could have been buried forever in the past.

A memoir was published later containing the chilling accounts of 15 former comfort women. "After I was raped, I was in so much pain that I could not even walk," one recalled. "Soldiers formed long lines in front of brothels even during air raids," said another. "They beheaded my friend simply because she spoke Korean," said another. The women said they would not be able to find peace until they received an apology from Japan and were compensated for the atrocities.

On a bitterly cold day on Jan. 8, 1992, former comfort women gathered in front of the Japanese Embassy in downtown Seoul ahead of state visit by then Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa to Korea. The women demanded the Japanese government make an official apology and pay compensation for their war-time atrocities. But all they received was a verbal apology from Miyazawa. That prompted the women to continue their protests in front of the Japanese Embassy every Wednesday.

The Wednesday protests have continued for 19 years and 11 months, and this Wednesday marks the 1,000th protest. The angry voices of the former comfort women have gained the attention of Koreans and become a forum revealing the atrocities committed by Japan during World War II. Kim Bok-dong joined the demonstrations on the seventh protest and is now 87. "I never thought it would take this long," she said.

The former comfort women skipped a protest only once, during the Kobe earthquake in 1995. During the disaster that hit eastern Japan this spring, they held their protest in silence. In the beginning, 234 former comfort women took part in the protests, but 170 have since died and only 64 are left. Their average age is 86 and their time is running out. Is this what Japan is waiting for?

Souce: The Chosun Ilbo

Facts about Korea: Dark side of marriage

During the Joseon era, to be young and single was considered strange. No matter how old a male was, unless he was married, he was considered to be nothing more than a boy. Celibacy, especially in men, was abhorred. Marriages between children were not unheard of and, in fact, were encouraged. Often these marriages were political or financial in nature and, naturally enough, were filled with unhappiness and strife.

Women were expected to be subservient to their husbands and were guided by seven commandments that they were expected to follow. They were to be obedient to their husband’s parents, bear sons, avoid stealing, gossiping, committing obscene acts, and displaying jealousy of their husband’s concubines and to not contract malignant diseases such as venereal diseases ― a strange demand considering that if they did contract a venereal disease, it was likely from their husband.

Despite the unhappiness, divorce ― unless the woman failed to keep the commandments ― was out of the question and for an unhappy bride, the death of her husband did not grant her the opportunity of another marriage based upon love but rather doomed her to a life of chastisement and loneliness. Widows were not socially allowed to remarry.

Thus, it is no surprise that fortune tellers were often consulted prior to a marriage. If the fortune teller announced that the young bride-to-be would be widowed at a young age, drastic measures were sometimes taken.

According to Homer Hulbert, an early Korean historian, on the day prior to the wedding, a young boy would be lured into the bride-to-be’s home where he would be forced to take part in a mock wedding. Once the sham ceremony was concluded, the boy was quickly strangled in the belief that his death fulfilled the prophecy of the woman becoming a widow. The boy’s body was then later smuggled out and either buried or left in the open for wild animals and dogs to feed upon. The young bride-to-be was then able to marry the next day rest assured that her own future and marriage were safe.

But not all women were married and for this they were punished ― not only while they were living but also after they had died. Unmarried women in Jeolla Province were sometimes buried in the middle of roads and paths. As one writer described it, “the life of a girl who dies unmarried is an utter and complete failure, a disappointment only; therefore it is to be expected that in the next world her spirit will be restless and revengeful. To prevent this, she is not buried on a hillside among those whose lives have been happy and prosperous, but in the center of the public road, where all passers-by may trample her spirit under their feet and thus keep it in subjection.”

Facts about Korea: Joseon Korea’s Seven Great Wonders

Up until the late 19th century, very little was known about Korea other than it was an ancient kingdom. Much of the information that made its way into the Western press came primarily from Chinese and Japanese sources which were often exaggerated or outright manufactured to make Korea seem more mystical and foreboding.

In the early 1890s, American and European newspapers published a series of articles that they had gleaned from an English-language Chinese newspaper detailing Korea’s seven great wonders. It is unclear how the Western editors of the Chinese newspaper learned of these wonders. Except for perhaps a brief visit, none of them spent any great amount of time in the country. Nonetheless, here is their list of Korea’s great wonders.

The first was a hot mineral spring near a place identified as Kin-Shantao. It was said that the Koreans believed the healing properties of this spring were miraculous and “no matter what disease may afflict the patient, a dip in the water proved efficacious.”

The second great wonder was a pair of streams ― one on each side of the peninsula ― that were completely opposite one another. When one stream bed was full the other was nearly empty. The water in the full stream was “pure and sweet” while the water in the other was bitter. Every so often the conditions of these streams would reverse.

The third wonder was a great cave from which perpetually blew a powerful wintry wind that was so strong that no man could stand before it.

The fourth was a forest of giant pines that could not be destroyed. Even if the trees were cut and burned they immediately sprouted up again like phoenixes from ashes.

The newspaper claimed the fifth wonder was the most wonderful of them all. It was a “floating stone” that was located in front of a palace that had been built for it. The stone, described as “an irregular cube of great bulk” appeared to be resting upon the ground ― unsupported in any way ― but according to the article, “two men at opposite ends of a rope may pass under the stone without encountering any obstacle whatever.”

The sixth wonder was a great “hot stone” on the top of a high hill that radiated heat. Allegedly, the stone had lain there glowing since the “remote ages” and its origin was unknown.
\The final wonder was more religious than natural ― a drop of Buddha’s sweat. The article claimed that the influence of the relic is so powerful that “for thirty paces round the temple in which it is enshrined not a blade of grass will grow. There are no trees or flowers inside the sacred square. Even the animals decline to profane a spot so holy.”

While the descriptions of these wonders and their locations are somewhat obscure, the first and last wonders seem to have some elements of truth. Hot springs are scattered throughout Korea and are often attributed as having healing properties. As to Buddha’s sweat ― in his book, “Korea: A Religious History”, professor James Huntley Grayson, relates that in 1662, several wooden statues of Buddha in Jeolla Province were discovered to be covered with moisture. The local population claimed it was the “sweat of the Buddha.” Concerned that a superstitious cult would spread, the statues were destroyed.

Source: The Korea Times

Exclusive Report : Western culture sees boom in N. Korea

Isolated North Korea is embracing Western culture more and more with restaurants and cafes popping up in major cities despite the country’s ongoing food woes, a source familiar with the matter said Tuesday.

Establishments serving hamburgers, pasta and pizza have increased markedly over the last decade, with several formed through ventures with foreign firms, despite Pyongyang’s long held aversion to outside influences, the source said.

Among recent examples, Austrian company Helmut Sachers Kaffee helped open a bakery and coffee shop in Kim Il-sung Square. The firm invested in the shop and trained its staff. It is said to serve mostly foreign residents.

That followed the opening last year of a hamburger joint called Samtaeseong with investment from a Singaporean firm. Selling waffles and beer, the establishment has also opened a stand at Kaeson Youth Park in Pyongyang. Several street vendors selling fast-food have also appeared.

Hana Electronics JVC, a joint venture with a European firm has opened an upscale sauna facility and restaurant in the capital city.
Observers said ordinary citizens more than likely have had little access to such restaurants and shops as Pyongyang and other major cities are highly concentrated with North Korea’s elite class ― those that hold high-level government positions.

The United Nations says 66 percent of North Koreans suffer from poor food consumption amid ongoing serious concerns over malnutrition.

Pyongyang, which has called for international help to cope with food shortages, often instructs its people to resist Western influences and instead embrace a philosophy of self-reliance and militarism.

Though the new initiatives reflect efforts made by the foreign firms, they could also be tied to Pyongyang’s ongoing efforts to spruce itself up ahead of next April, when it will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of its later founder, Kim Il-sung. It has promised its people prosperity by the landmark date.

Fueling doubts that the regime may find it hard to convince its people of such progress, observers said it would be exceedingly difficult for the average North Korean to afford to stop by the Austrian-invested café, where a cup of coffee costs 2 euro.

Such a price was far out of the reach of ordinary citizens, who make around 3,000 North Korean won, or 22 euro a month according to reports.

Some groups with lines into the North say the general populace is growing increasing skeptical of the regime’s push for prosperity, citing a wide divide between a growing middle class able to run businesses and most of the rest of the impoverished country.

In line with the push, the regime has been busy giving the capital city a facelift, including new semi-high-rise apartment complexes featuring 3,000 units in the Mansudae district, complete with cultural amenities and upgraded street lights and signs. A water park that can accommodate 4,000 fun-seekers was said to have opened this summer.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Exhibition reinstates beauty of Joseon paper flowers

What is a rose without fragrance? Artificial flowers are widely regarded as substitutes that can never fully replace real blossoms, but traditional Korean paper creations — “jihwa” — were appreciated for aesthetic values and cultural symbolism of their very own.

Fine art photographer Koo Bohnchang and jihwa researcher Kim Tae-yeon have teamed up for an exhibition that sheds new light on the Joseon craft — and a time-honored culture — that has slipped into oblivion.

Though mostly forgotten today and occasionally mentioned as a genre of “hanji” (traditional paper) crafts, jihwa have held important symbolic meanings in Korean culture, according to Kim.

During the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910), various types of jihwa were part of royal protocols as well as Buddhist and local shamanist rituals. The papers eventually took on more than just stately or religious meanings and became central to the everyday lives of not only the nobility but also laymen.

During a time when it was difficult to procure flowers off-season, jihwa served as versatile decorations and centerpieces of which the color and form could be tailored for different occasions. As such a wide variety of jihwa and production methods were developed, and the Joseon Kingdom saw the emergence of “jangin,” or master crafters.

“As the country underwent rapid economic development and industrialization, however, jihwa were eventually replaced by a plastic, mass-manufactured equivalent. They were no longer considered artful creations but an export item, and drifted further away from our everyday culture,” said Kim.

The showcase, which opened Friday at the Kokdu Museum in Seoul, displays some 10 paper crafts by Kim. Kim, who has been creating traditional jihwa from ancient pictures and texts, shares works that were used for diverse purposes, from religious ceremonies to banquets. Many of the paper petals look so real that they could easily be mistaken for actual flowers, while others possess strikingly modern, conceptualized forms that inspire awe at the fact that the designs are centuries-old.

The displays are accompanied by six of Koo’s never-before-seen photos that capture the unique beauty of jihwa.

“I learned about the existence of jihwa by chance and became acquainted with Professor Kim. I paid her a visit and was able to see a large collection of jihwa. I was able to discover shades of color I’d never seen before, and I was inspired to work on a photography project because the colored palettes were so beautiful,” Koo said.

Moreover, the series of works, which include images of jihwa placed inside “baekja” (Korean white porcelain), points to a continuation of the photographer’s 2006 “Vessel” series.

The esteemed artist, who is currently photographing the Joseon baekja collection at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum, demonstrates his knack for a restrained sense of beauty in the photos; featured flower arrangements are far from fancy and vibrant but emanate a subtle simplicity and grace.

“As is the case for my ‘Vessels’ series and many of my pieces, I wanted to breathe life into non-living objects, to give them (the weight of) existence. Jiwha may not be real flowers but I hope they can gain a life and spirit through my photos and that many people can appreciate their beauty.”

During the exhibition period through Jan. 29, visitors can take part in a hands-on experience making paper lotus pop-up cards. “Jihwa” is being held at the Kokdu Museum, which is located on the second floor of Dongsoong Art Center, near Hyehwa Station on subway line 4. For more information, visit or call (02) 766-3315.

To learn more about Koo, visit; visit for more on Kim and the art of jihwa.

Introducing Lorean Zen to the West

One of the most effective means of globalizing Korean Buddhism or introducing it to the West is through good books.

“Open the Mind, See the Light” by “Seon” (Zen) master Jinje is highly recommended for anyone who is interested in learning more about topics related to Korean Buddhism and meditation in everyday life.

Ven. Jinje is a leading monk of the Joyge Order of Korean Buddhism and one of the greatest living masters of the practice of Seon. He was awarded the title of “daejonsa,” meaning “most eminent monk,” by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism in 2004.

A book containing Ven. Jinje’s latest interviews and Dharma talks was published in English last month. An impressive feature of this book is that it was translated and edited by non-Korean experts who are exceptionally knowledgeable about Korean Buddhism as well as the Korean language.

It was translated by the American monk Ven. Hyongak, popular author and translator of several books related to Korean Buddhism. He is the leader of a Korean Zen center in Munich, Germany.

In addition, the book was edited by Prof. Robert E. Buswell, a distinguished professor of Buddhist studies at UCLA and founding director of its Center for Korean Studies. In 2009, he was awarded the prestigious Manhae Grand Prize, a major national prize in Korea, in recognition of the monk-turned-scholar’s pioneering contributions to establishing Korean Buddhist studies in the West.

“Even in Korea, Jinje Sunim (monk) is the last of his kind and seeing him is like meeting in the flesh one of the classic Zen masters one otherwise finds only in books.” Buswell wrote in the preface of the book. “Jinje is widely acknowledged as being one of the two most eminent teachers of Korean Seon meditation. Most South Korean Buddhists, in fact, know that adage ‘Songdam in the north, Jinje in the south.’”

Ven. Songdam is a well-known seon master who teaches in western port city of Incheon, while Jinje is the most renowned seon master in the southern part of Korea as the spiritual leader of Donghwa Temple in Daegu.

The combined expertise and fine scholarship of Ven. Hyongak and Buswell have produced a fresh, reliable reading material for those who follow Korean Buddhism.

The contents of the book are from a recent historic visit the 77-year-old monk made to the U.S. in September. The first half of the book is in Korean and the second half is in English.

Meditation in daily life

The English part is the translations of talks and interviews from Ven. Jinje’s New York visit, centering on how meditation practice can be incorporated into daily life and what kind of effects they can have on peoples’ lives.

Shortly after the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack at the World Trade Center, the Korean monk gave a Dharma talk at an unlikely venue — a huge Christian church in New York City.

A video of Ven. Jinje’s speech is available on YouTube. But this book is more useful if one is interested in learning about Ven. Jinje’s teachings beyond the 20-minute speech, as it contains additional materials, including an in-depth interview with renowned theologian Paul Knitter of the Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York.

“This mountain monk has come to this sacred site not to compare different religious traditions and figure out which one is superior, but simply to introduce the spiritual culture of Asia as one step in the process of fostering world peace,” Ven. Jinje said at Riverside Church. “All religions must become like friendly siblings and good neighbors who cooperate in purifying the inner life of human beings and making the world a better place to live.”

Letters of welcome from former U.S. President Bill Clinton and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg were featured ahead of the talk that drew 2,000 people at the Riverside Church, a venue that has a history of uniting religions and races. Respected leaders like the Dalai Lama, the late Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela had once spoken at the church as well.

“For 500 years, Seon has been practiced only by monks and nuns in the mountain, not by laypersons. So I had made up my mind to teach this good seon practice to all citizens and people of the world,” Ven. Jinje said.

“When you practice seon meditation steadily in your everyday life, you will be free from all inner conflicts and will live a carefree life; your family and the whole world will live in peace.”

International Conference for the topic Arirang

What does “Arirang,” a traditional Korean song loaded with sentiments unique to Korean history, mean to those outside the country?

The Academy of Korean Studies and Korean Traditional Performing Arts Foundation will hold the International Conference for Arirang on Wednesday and Thursday to examine “Arirang” from various perspectives.

This is the first event to invite scholars from around the globe to focus on the music.

On Wednesday, following the opening ceremony, music scholars will analyze “Arirang” as a purely musical piece.

Professors from Korean universities will discuss its influence on Korean literature and the rapidly expanding K-pop.

Then, a panel including Chang Ik-sun, professor at Yanbian University in China, will analyze the song’s meaning to North Koreans and Koreans living overseas.

On Thursday, Asia-based scholars such as Yukio Uemura, a professor at the Tokyo University of Arts, will give presentations on the significance of the music in the context of Asian culture.

The last session will invite professors based outside the continent— Jean Kidula from University of Georgia, the United States and Simon Mills from Durham University, the United Kingdom — to review the Korean song from a non-Asia perspective.

The conference will be held at the auditorium of the Academy of Korean Studies in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province

Face of Embassies is Korean

A special report:

The first face and the first voice the Korean public will meet upon visiting the vast majority of the foreign embassies here is a Korean one.

In this way, the real face behind any foreign embassy in Seoul is Korean.

The reason is simple: The Korean language and culture is formidable to non-Koreans. So, most embassy staff are hired from among locals here.

Partly because of the politically sensitive nature of the work at foreign missions, locals hired in Seoul exhibit a lot of pride in their profession. Local staff share a feeling of camaraderie, too.

So much so, they have organized a number of professional and social clubs, the oldest of which is the rightly named Embassy Staff Club (ESC).

“The local staff act as a bridge between embassy diplomats and Korean society,” said Kim Jeong-sook, a local official at the Gabonese Embassy and president of the ESC, at the club’s November meeting. “Our job description is really expansive. We have to do many things depending on the culture and the embassy.”

Kim, who has been president since 2008, said the club began in March 1991 and was born out of the friendship and sense of esprit de corps local staff felt, due to the “common environment of our work.”

The work of the local staff at foreign diplomatic missions in Korea makes it possible for foreign diplomats to interact with the Korean public, the press and, in many cases, even the government.

Others at the meeting said the work of the foreign diplomatic missions operating here crucially depends on the expertise of their local staff.

“The nature of the work place, our work, it is very confidential, we are often providing personal help to ambassadors, solving problems no one else can do,” Kim said.

ESC has 200 members currently. Among them are Bae Mee-soon and Kim Myeong-hee at the Egyptian Embassy, and Hong Mariclaire In-sook at the Morroccan Embassy. Kim Ki-jeong who has been a staff person at the Cote d’Voire Embassy for 13 years joined some 20-30 ESC members for the club’s special November meeting at Lotte City Hotel.

The hotel was inaugurating its grand opening in a week-long promotion by taking them to a room inspection of the eight-storey building.

A lot of chatting went on among the ladies ― almost all embassy staff are women, during the hotel’s requisite 20-minute-long presentation.

(Lotte City Hotel has Naru restaurant, conference rooms, banquet halls. Express metro services were launched this month to Kimpo Airport and the new hotel and commercial area making the trip from Hongdae and Yeoido possible in about 15 minutes.)

Intimate relationships have developed among club members. Many of them have known each other for over a decade.
The ESC has had six club presidents in its 20-year history. A unique aspect of the embassy staff work is its high retention rate.

The embassy sees ambassadors and diplomats come and go, but the local staff remain. Many of them have stayed on with a single embassy for 10, 15, sometimes even 20 years or more.

Choi Hyun-kyung, a veteran 20-year staff person at the Qatar Embassy, was the ESC president for 11 years, its longest serving president.

Other club presidents included Lee Sook-ki, staff at the Oman Embassy, who served a two-year term as the club’s first president in 1991-1993. Cho In-ja, local staff at the Mexican Embassy, was the club’s second president in 1993 and Park Mi-jeong, at the Portuguese Embassy, was president from 1995-1997.

“Local staff are important because they are messengers, liaisons, between the diplomats and the Korean public, government personnel and the local press,” said Koo Anna, who has been with the Ghanan Embassy for 11 years.

How hard is it to get a job at a foreign diplomatic mission? Nowadays, it’s hard.

For the job itself, one must have considerable language skills and organizational ability par none. As way of compensation, the job is stable, the salary is good and employees get weekends off, a rarity here, even in this era of the supposed five-day work week.

“The economy is bad these days, so the competition is greater and for fewer spaces because even fewer people are leaving,” said Kim of the Cote d’Voire Embassy.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Korea News : 2012 Korea Tourism Calendar Giveaway!

The first 3,000 foreign nationals residing in Korea to call the 1330 tt call center (Seoul), a multilingual travel hotline operated by the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), between November 23rd and December 31st, 2011, and leave their name and address will receive the 2012 KTO table calendar for free. For more information on how to call the main 1330 tt call center in Seoul, please see the information below.

2012 Korea Tourism Organization Table Calendar Giveaway

☞ Event period: November 23-December 31, 2011
☞ Eligibility: Foreign nationals residing in Korea (3,000 people on a first-come, first-served basis)
☞ Instructions: Call the '1330 tt call center' and leave your name & address
* The 2012 KTO table calendars will be sent out on 4 different dates
(2011: December 12, 19, 26 / 2012: January 2)

Source: Koea Tourism Organization

Dongmun Fisheries Market in Jeju Island

Visitors looking at the seafood.

Jeju Island is the largest island in Korea, known for its beautiful landscape.

The volcanic island and its lava tubes are included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Jeju is also designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and was recently provisionally selected as one of the New7Wonders of Nature.

Its scenic beauty and academic value as a volcanic region has already attracted tourists from across the world. But a loaf of bread is better than the song of many birds, and visitors find the greatest delight in the island’s delectable food.

As Jeju Island is situated on the open sea, seafood is its specialty. Jeju Dongmun Fisheries Market is one of the best places to experience the freshness of the local products.

It is full of freshlycaught fish and other items from the coastal waters. The market is only 10 minutes away from Jeju International Airport and attracts more than 3,000 customers a day.

Open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., the market features a variety of seafood from fish to shellfish and salted goods on the 3,250 square meter site. It also provides a shipping service and eating area where customers can taste what they buy.

For more information, call (064) 752-8959 or visit (in Korean).

Fisherman empty a net full of yellow corvina from a boat just returned from a sea at a port near jeju Dongmun Fisheries Market.

A merchant moves fish he purchased at the morning auction. Freshly caught fish are brought to Jeju Dongmun Fisheries Market everyday.

An Arrow Squid swim in a tank.

Often spotted at Jeju Dongmun Fisheries Market, Silver Cutlassfish are a specialty of Jeju Island along with Tilefish.

To the King’s Garden (South Korea)

The world praises the beauty of Versailles garden. By the way, do you know that Korea also has a beautiful royal garden which will fascinate everyone in the world?

(Source: Korea Tourism Organization)

Royal garden is not well-known even though it is truly beautiful. What is the reason? Is it because the garden was a forbidden place which only allowed King and Queen? Royal garden is believed to be the best of Asia. Let’s take a closer look at gardens in Royal palace.

The Garden of Changdeok Palace, Hidden Beauty of Joseon’s Gardens

Huwon, the backyard garden of Changdeok palace, is a model of garden culture of Joseon dynasty. Considered the best garden in Joseon and harmonized with nature, Huwon has a fundamental frame of Asian garden style and a variety of plants and spring water. It is simply the best garden of Korea.
Changdeok palace is located in natural hillside of 198,000 square meters and that nature of garden is more beautiful. Huwon is built by Yin-Yang element theory. Called northern garden or forbidden garden, Huwon starts from the hill of Kajeongdang.

< Autumn of Buyongjeong, Garden of Changdeok palace > (Source: Korea TourismOrganization)

Probably the best known garden in Changdeok palace is Buyongji. In the middle of pond which is 28.4 m wide and 34.5 m long, there is a pine tree. The garden is made by Yin-Yang element theory that says “sky is round and earth is square”. Two pillars of Buyongji are put into water. It is considered as human who sticks to earth and looks at the sky. Yeonghwadang stands over the altar named Sajeongbigigak in the west and Chundangdae in the east. In addition, Chuhabru is located over five story flower steps in the north. Depending on your angle you could see some changes because each structure has a different size, shape and height.

You will meet forever young gate as you pass by Yeonghwadang. After the gate you will see Aeryeonji which means lotus flower pond. Unlike Buyongji, there is no island in the middle and the pond is surrounded by rocks. It is very unique style that water flows just as waterfall.

Aeryeonjung is a pavilion which was made at 18th year of King Sukjong. Its eave is longer than other structures. In addition, there are carp-shaped roof tiles. This architecture is based upon Yin and Yang element theory that water prevents fire. Each side of pavilion has a floor and windows which make you appreciate the nature.

Natural curve shaped Banwolji is very beautiful. There are Kwanram pavilion and Seungjae pavilion near Banwolji. When you cross the stone bridge, you will meet Chondeok pavilion. The area is surrounded by forest so you may feel comfort.

(Source: Korea TourismOrganization)

You will get to Okryucheon stream as you take a walk over the northern hillside. The stream meets with Changkyung palace. There is spring water called Eojeon which is above Soyo pavilion. Underneath, the spring water rotates and creates a beautiful nature. Okrucheon site is very deep inside in the palace. You may feel pure nature that includes the human arts.

You may wonder if there are any secrets in the Asian garden which is hidden behind those huge and tall buildings.

Hyangwonji and Hyangwonjeong, Garden of Gyeongbok Palace

Gyeongbok palace is the major palace which has 390 buildings and 47 gates. Its garden is not as well-known as garden of Changdeok palace because it is located outside of the palace. It is fair to say that Mt.Bukhan is a garden of Gyeongbok palace which ismore natural and spectacular.

(Source: Korea Tourism Organization)

Gardens of Gyeongbok palace refer to Hyangwonji site and Amisan site. Hyangwonji is made in the south of Geoncheong palace, which is a pond of 460 square meters. You will find lotus, water plants and carp. There are many trees by the pond such as zelkova, locust, maple, hawthorn, willow, elm and pine trees. Hyangwonji water flows into a pond of Gyeongho pavilion.

There is a round island and Hyangwon pavilion in the middle of Hyangwonji. Hyangwon means the fragrance flying over the sky. Azazlea and maple trees are planted by the pond. The bridge to pavilion is Chihyanggyo meaning amazed at scents. Chihyanggyo is the longest bridge at ponds during Joseon dynasty as a wooden bridge. The bridge was originally located in the north near Geoncheong palace but it is in the south now.

This site is easily found in many of calendars or photo galleries. You can find beautiful scenery when mountain, pavilion and bridge are reflected into the pond. In addition, Asian beauty will be found through whole year.

(Source: Korea Tourism Organization)

Amisan garden, which is in Gyotaejeon, the chamber of queen, is made for the queens’ spare time. In 1412, King Taejong widened the pond and made Gyeonghoiru for a party for congressmen and diplomats. After digging the soil to make pond, he made Amisan hill garden with that soil. That garden is 55 meters from east to west and 30 meters from north to south. The hill was made and various trees were planted.

Huwon of Changgyoung Palace, A beauty of Traditional Garden

Changkyung palace is not as luxurious as others. Did you know there is a traditional garden? It is near Tongmyeongjeon and Chundangji. The garden is located behind Tongmyeongjeon. When you pass through Hamyang gate, you will get to garden of Changdeok palace.

The garden of Changkyeong palace is in the north. Hillside of Tongmyeongjeon and Yanghwadang is good place for the rest.

(Source: Korea Tourism Organization)

Tongmyeongjeon is a queen’s chamber and well-known as a story of Changhuibin and Queen Inhyeon. It was burnt down and rebuilt several times. There is a pond and arch shaped stone bridge. The pond is surrounded by rocks because spring water spilled over in rainy season.

Spring water flows as waterfall through water road made of stone. This pond is believed to be beautiful most. When it was first made, water pipe was made of copper. Later it was changed to stone pipe because coppered pipe is lavish.

When you go deep inside forest after Tongmyeongjeon, you will meet Chundangji with small and big ponds. It was rice paddy but changed to a big pond during Japanese occupancy. We could meet rice paddy of four seasons if it were still rice paddy. This site is well preserved downtown in Seoul so natural monument, love birds visit very often.

(Source: Korea Tourism Organization)

It is enjoyable to look at the well-managed nature in royal palace garden. However it is more valuable to learn human minds on nature. You will have a glimpse of ascendant’s mind which wants to be harmonized with nature. The garden was a healing place for ruling the country through deep thought and meditation.

Please come to see a beauty of Asian garden made of heaven, earth and human all together. When you are stressed out, come to the garden. The King’s spirit is still alive in the garden. Their spirits which cared so much about their people will refresh your mind.