Sunday, February 27, 2011

Korean Flora and Fauna

The Korean Peninsula which are divided into 38 parallel is rich in varieties of plant life typical of temperate regions. More than 3,000 species, some 500 of them unique to Korea, have been noted by botanists. Warm temperate vegetation, including camellias and other broad-leaved evergreens, predominate in the south and on Jeju Island.

Zoologists have identified more than 130 freshwater fishes, 112 breeding birds, 49 mammals, and 14 reptiles and amphibians on the peninsula. Bear, wild boar, deer, and lynx still are found in the highlands, but the shrinking of the forested area has reduced the animal population in recent years. Migratory water fowl, cranes, herons, and other birds are visible on the plains. Noxious insects and household pests infest the warmer regions, and aquatic life is generally infected with parasites.

largest and the oldest fruit bearing tree in the world is located in Korea, known as the gingko tree. It was planted in the 10th century by a Shilla prince on the temple grounds of Yongmunsa Temple. Its trunk circumference is 54 feet and its height is 175 feet.

Ginko tree

The flora and fauna of Korea have inspired Korean artisans over the centuries. Their paintings, ceramics, embroidery, sculptures and wood carvings have reflected their close affinity to their natural environment. The tiger, turtle, deer, crane and carp along with the lotus, pine, bamboo, and plum are some of the more popular symbols used in traditional Korean art. Some folk art symbols are the figment of the people’s imagination such as the dragon, hactae, and the fungus of immortality called pulloch’o.

Close-up take of Mugunghwa flower

The national flower of the Republic of Korea is a species of the hibiscus called the Rose of Sharon. Koreans call the blossoms “everlasting flowers” or mugunghwa as the bush readily grows again when cut down. It became a symbol of Korea, reflecting the historic tragedies of the nation often being cut down by larger nations but still surviving.

Koreans have had a historical long connection with the lotus. There is a saying especially among the Poets " the blossoms that speak and appear as the “king’s maidens bathing.” Buddhists regards the lotus as a symbol of the purity, pure land in a heaven called Nirvana. The roots are edible and the seeds and the petals provide wonderful tea and tonic.

In Korea wild chrysanthemums are seen throughout the countryside and the flower shop. All along the highways of Korea, cosmos have been recently planted. With a variety of colorful hues they beautifully decorate the roadways.This also provide an incredible tea and famous among the Asian countries.

Koreans have found that most plants and flowers have medicinal or edible value. Probably the most mysterious plant of Asia and the most interesting of the herb medicines is the ginseng plant. Korean ginseng has been the most famous throughout the world for almost 2,000 years. The production of commercial ginseng is now a government monopoly. Today ginseng tea is well known in the western world whereas korean people eat with chicken brooth for the health purpose and their is a beleif that it can strengthen and stimulate the body specially in the winter season.

wild plants

Thodok of Ullangdo

Animals found on the peninsula are the boar, bear, wildcat, wolf, hare, weasel, badger, tiger and leopard, though now some of these animals are very rare, one of them and may be found only in the high mountains. Even though now there is a ban on hunting in most regions of the peninsula, poachers continues to hunt these animals as they are highly valued for medicinal use by Asian herb doctors. Goats are raised for their medicinal value rather than for meat or milk. The native horse that is predominantly found on jejudo, is small but strong which is also an important item.

A wide variety of water species, shellfish, turtles, crabs, oyster, squid and fish in the oceans surrounding the peninsula have stimulated a numerous fishing industry. The turtle is a symbol of longevity and has been depicted profusely in art and literature over the centuries. In Korea squid is one of the most famous sea food that attract many foreigners. Ullangdo is the place where Squid can gather millions.

Two hundred species of butterflies have been identified. Recently honey bees have made honey production an important source of income. Over 50 species of animals, birds and insects have been designated as natural resources or endangered species and are protected.

These storks, which are Korean National Monument 199 and are on the verge of extinction, were spotted at Seosan in South Chungcheong Province.

The flora and fauna of Korea have inspired Korean artisans over the centuries. Their paintings, ceramics, embroidery, sculptures and wood carvings have reflected their close affinity to their natural environment. The tiger, turtle, deer, crane and carp along with the lotus, pine, bamboo, and plum are some of the more popular symbols used in traditional Korean art. Some folk art symbols are the figment of the people’s imagination such as the dragon, hactae, and the fungus of immortality called pulloch’o.

The Korean tiger once was quite prevalent on the peninsula. In one respect the tiger became a spirit to be worshipped, but was also a creature to be feared.Recently, the Korean tiger came to the forefront as an international symbol of peace and cooperation between nations. This cute and humorous folk tiger was chosen as the official mascot of the 1988 Olympics. With the name of Hodori the Korean folk tiger has emerged into the limelight of the sport’s world.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Incredible Korea and its Flora and Fauna : Water Deer

Deer are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. Species in the Cervidae family include White-tailed deer, Elk, Moose, Red Deer, Reindeer, Roe and Chital. Male deer of all species, except the Chinese or Korean Water deer, and female Reindeer grow and shed new antlers each year.
The word "deer" was originally broad in meaning, but became more specific over time. In Middle English der (Old English dēor) meant a wild animal of any kind .

The Water Deer (Hydropotes inermis) is superficially more similar to a musk deer than a true deer (Cervidae - order Artiodactyla). Whereas, it is classified as a cervid despite having tusks (downward-pointing canine teeth) instead of antlers and other anatomical anomalies. These unique characteristics have caused it to be classified in its own genus (Hydropotes) and its own subfamily (Hydropotinae).

Native to China and Korea, there are two subspecies: the Chinese Water Deer (Hydropotes inermis inermis) and the Korean Water Deer (Hydropotes inermis argyropus).

Water deer are indigenous to the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, coastal Jiangsu province (Yancheng Coastal Wetlands), and islands of Zhejiang of east-central China, and in Korea, where the demilitarized zone has provided a protected habitat for a large number. They frequent the tall reeds, rushes along rivers, and in tall grass on mountains and cultivated fields as well as swampy regions and open grasslands. They have also been known to inhabit swamps, and when the cultivated fields that they occupied are cut, they may be found lying in the furrows and hollows of the open field.
A proficient swimmer, water deer can also swim several miles to make use of river islands.

The water deer has narrow pectoral and pelvic girdles, long legs, and a long, graceful neck. The powerful hind legs are longer than the front legs, so that the haunches are carried higher than the shoulders. They run with rabbit-like jumps. In the groin of each leg is an inguinal gland used for scent marking; this deer is the only member of the Cervidae to possess such glands. The short tail is no more than 5–10 cm / 1.9–3.8 in. in length and is almost invisible, except when it is held raised by the male during the rut. The ears are short and very rounded, and both sexes lack antlers.

The coat is an overall golden brown color, and may be interspersed with black hairs, while the undersides are white. The strongly tapered face is reddish brown or gray in color, and the chin and upper throat are cream colored. The hair is longest on the flanks and rump. In the fall, the summer coat is gradually replaced by a thicker, coarse-haired winter coat that varies from light brown to grayish brown. Neither the head nor the tail poles are well differentiated as in gregarious deer; consequently, this deer's coat is little differentiated.

Young are born dark brown with white stripes and spots along their upper torso.

A stuffed specimen of H. inermis illustrating its tusks at the National Museum of Natural History.The water deer have developed long canine teeth which protrude from the upper jaw like the canines of musk deer. The canines are fairly large in the bucks, ranging in length from 5.5 cm / 2.1 in. on average to as long as 8 cm / 3.2 in. Does, in comparison, have tiny canines that are on an average of 0.5 cm / 0.2 in. in length.

The teeth usually erupt in the autumn of the deer’s first year at approximately 6–7 months of age. By early spring the recently-erupted tusks reach approximately 50% of their final length. As the tusks develop, the root remains open until the deer is about eighteen months to two years old. When fully grown, only about 60% of the tusk is visible below the gum.

At the end of the male's first winter, his canines will be about half their full size; final length is reached after about 18 months. These canines are held loosely in their sockets, with their movement controlled by facial muscles. The buck can draw them backwards out of the way when eating. In aggressive encounters, he thrusts his canines out and draws in his lower lip to pull his teeth closer together. He then presents an impressive two-pronged weapon to rival males.

It is due to these tusks that locals colloquially refer to this animal as a "vampire deer."

CommunicationWater deer are capable of emitting a number of sounds. The main call is a bark, and this has more of a growl tone when compared with the sharper yap of a Muntjac. The bark is used as an alarm, and water deer will bark repeatedly at people and at each other for reasons unknown. If challenged during the rut, a buck will emit a clicking sound. It is uncertain how this unique sound is generated, although it is possibly by using its molar teeth. During the rut a buck following a doe will make a weak whistle or squeak. The does emit a soft pheep to call to their fawns, whilst an injured deer will emit a screaming wail.

During the annual rut in November and December, the male will seek out and follow females, giving soft squeaking contact calls and checking for signs of estrus by lowering his neck and rotating his head with ears flapping. Scent plays an important part in courtship, with both animals sniffing each other. Mating among water deer is polygynous, with most females being mated inside the buck's own territory. After repeated mountings, copulation is brief.

Water deer have been known to produce up to seven young, but two to three is normal for this species, the most prolific of all deer. The doe often gives birth to her spotted young in the open, but they are quickly taken to concealing vegetation, where they will remain most of the time for up to a month. During these first few weeks, fawns come out to play. Once driven from the natal territory in late summer, young deer sometimes continue to associate with each other, later separating to begin their solitary existence.

At one time water deer used to occurred throughout the wetlands of eastern China from Guangdong to Liaoning, and in all of Korea, but much habitat has been lost in recent years due to hunting . Now found in most of the central and eastern river valleys in China between latitudes 28-35°N and east of about longitude 111°E, and in the lower reaches of all large Korean rivers except those in the northeast.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chinese FM due in Seoul for talks on N. Korea, bilateral relations

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi was due in Seoul on Wednesday for talks on North Korea and bilateral relations as the two countries differ over how to cope with Pyongyang's new nuclear program based on enriched uranium.

Yang's two-day visit coincides with a U.N. Security Council meeting, set for Wednesday in New York, which is expected to debate over whether to adopt an experts' report that the North's uranium program constitutes a violation of U.N. resolutions.

South Korea, the United States and other like-minded nations want to endorse the report, but China is against it over concern that it could aggravate tensions. Beijing insists that the North's nuclear program should be discussed at six-party talks.

The report, in the unlikely outcome that it is adopted, would represent the international community's first official recognition of the illicit nature of the uranium program that the North claims is for peaceful purposes despite widespread belief that it is part of Pyongyang's nuclear weapons ambitions.

The issue is expected to be one of the top agenda items for Yang's talks with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan set for later Wednesday. Yang is also scheduled to pay a visit to President Lee Myung-bak later in the day.

North Korea revealed in November that it was running a uranium enrichment facility, adding to international concerns about its nuclear capabilities. Uranium, if highly enriched, can be used to make weapons, prodiving Pyongyang with a second way of building atomic bombs after its existing plutonium-based program.

Pyongyang says the purpose of the facility is to produce fuel for a power-generating nuclear reactor and that the country has the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy. But few believe the claim by a regime that has pursued nuclear ambitions for decades and conducted nuclear tests twice.

South Korea and the U.S. have called for a tougher international response to the North's uranium program, including taking the case to the Security Council, saying the move violates U.N. resolutions banning the communist regime from nuclear activity.

Other issues on the agenda for Yang's talks with Kim include boosting bilateral ties.

Seoul and Beijing established diplomatic relations in 1992. Since then, the two countries have made strides in their economic and trade relations, with China overtaking the U.S. as South Korea's No. 1 trade partner.

But their political and security relations have not moved forward enough to match the flourishing economic ties, with China still seen as reluctant to exercise its influence to rein in the provocative regime in Pyongyang.

Seoul has tried to strengthen diplomacy toward China as it apparently feels limits in its ability to cope with the important neighbor that is becoming more assertive in regional and global issues in tandem with its rising economic influence.

Source: Yonhap News

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The famous Korean Tea Ceremony

The Korean tea ceremony is called 다례. The purpose of the ceremony is to create a relaxing atmosphere for conversing and enjoying tea. A normal tea ceremony includes a host and guests. The host heats the tea, and while the tea is heating, small talk is made. The Korean tea ceremony has been greatly influenced by Buddhism, especially in terms of meditation. Tea ceremonies are still in practice today, especially among college clubs.

Tea Museum at Insadong displaying varities of tea.

Depending on the season, different types of earthenware cups are used. In the winter, the cups are typically taller so as to prevent the tea from getting cold faster. Traditionally, tea leaves were rare and only available to the upper classes. With the ready availability of tea leaves, more people are now able to enjoy a Korean tea ceremony. Green tea (녹차) is the preferred choice, but black tea (홍차) is also served as well.

People enjoying at the tea house Insadong

The Korean teas are categorized by taste, smell, and consistency. Teas are served in coordination with the season, the occasion, and the region. Mostly, natural well water is used. However, in Jeju island, the tea may have a certain saltiness as the region is surrounded by ocean water. The qualties of the tea should exude are the Buddhist principles of tranquility, respectfulness, simplicity and purity.

People still beleive that the man most responsible for developing the craze for tea ceremony in Korea is a monk by the name of 효당(whose civil name was Choi Beom-Sul) . He is officially the foremost famous Korean tea master. He devoted his life to furthering the awareness of tea and tea ceremonies. The first Korean book on tea was published by him, and he founded the first tea association in Korea.
He was the Buddhist monk, the advocate of an independent Korean cultural, national identity, the founder of schools, the quiet opponent of dictators, the friend of dissidents, the communitarian visionary and of course the tea master .

Monday, February 21, 2011

Korean Wind-Chime and its significant

Wind Chimes and Korean Culture

Korea is situated on a peninsula between the powerful China and highly developed Japan, Korea has been a cultural cross roads since the time immemorial. The style of Korean handicrafts is reflective the country's unique cultural heritage and close ties with surrounding nature.

Traditional Korean wind chimes (풍경) are made of copper and bronze and are basically smaller versions of the multi-ton sounding bells found in mostly Buddhist temples throughout the country. In fact, one of the easiest ways to find Korean wind chimes is by visiting a the Korean temple. Wind chimes and a common decorative element hung below the cascading eves, and are sold by temples as souvenirs to raise funds and beleive to keep away from the evil spirits and bring fortunes.

The sail used on traditional Korean wind chimes is usually a piece of copper fashioned into the shape of a fish. Fish never stop moving and this is a very symbolic meaning. A characteristic much revered by Buddhists as it symbolizes their constant earthly struggle to reach Nirvana.

Modern manufacturing techniques have given rise to an increasing assortment of wind chimes manufactured in Korea. They are sold alongside wind chimes imported from other countries at festivals and handicraft markets across the country. Insadong is the place to go in capital city of Seoul. An arts and entertainment district tucked up against the mountains, Insadong is a feast for the senses, and a veritable shopping paradise for the wind chime collector.

Those visiting the Korean port city of Incheon (about an hour drive from Seoul) will want to drop by the Word Ceramic Center, the fitting home of the world's largest ceramic wind chime.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The people of Korea

The Koreans belong to one ethnic family speaking one language. Linguistic and anthropological studies as well as legendary sources clearly distinguish Koreans from the Chinese as well as from the Japanese. Sharing distinct physical characteristics, they are believed to be descendants of several Mongol tribes which migrated onto the Korean Peninsula from Central Asia. The Koreans were a homogeneous people by the beginning of the Christian era. In the seventh century A.D. they were politically unified for the first time by the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C.-A.D. 935) and subsequently witnessed a great cultural flowering. The Korean people struggled successfully for millennia to maintain their cultural and political identity despite the influence of neighboring China and the more recent aggressive inclinations of the Japanese. They are a proud people with one of the longest national histories in the world.

The Republic of Korea had a population of 46.85 million in 1998 and registered a density of 471.5 persons per square kilometer. The population of North Korea was 22.08 million in 1999. Fast population growth was once a serious social problem in the Republic, as in most other developing nations. Owing to successful family planning campaigns and changing attitudes, however, population growth has been curbed remarkably in recent years. The annual growth rate was 0.92 percent in 1998.

A notable trend in the population structure is that it is getting increasingly older. The 1999 statistics showed that 38.4 percent of the total population was under 25. The number of people of productive age, 15 and above, rose from 36,655,817 in 1999 to 33,872,000 in 1994. Another distinct but unwelcome phenomenon is the continuing migration of rural residents to cities, resulting in heavy population concentrations. Currently, one out of every four Koreans lives in Seoul. Specialists predict that the urban population will increase to 86.4 percent in 1999, up from 74.4 percent in 1990. To cope with the growing urban problems caused by such an imbalance, the Government has prepared a long-term manpower development plan. The plan aims at dispersing population to provincial areas through the relocation of economic activities and balanced land development. Minority groups are almost nonexistent in Korea, apart from some 13,640 Chinese who are mostly long-term residents in the capital area.

Let me introduce the Mystic Korea to you all .

Korea ( 한국 / Hanguk )is a territory of East Asia and a region in north-eastern Asia that was formerly unified under one state, but now it is divided into two separate states South and North Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, it is bordered by China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the east by the Korea Strait and the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

The word "Korea" derives from the Goryeo period of Korean history, which in turn referred to the ancient kingdom of Goguryeo, the first Korean dynasty visited by Persian merchants who referred to Koryo (Goryeo) (고려) as Korea. Koryo/Goryeo is also the name of Goguryeo, which changed its name to Koryo (Goryeo) in the 5th century (during the reign of King Jangsu of Goguryeo). Korea is now commonly used in English contexts by both North and South Korea. In the Korean language, Korea as a whole is referred to as Hanguk/한국 in South Korea, and Choson/조선 in North Korea. The latter name, also Romanised Joseon, is from the Joseon Dynasty and the earlier Gojoseon. "The Land of the Morning Calm" is an English language title for the country loosely derived from the hanja characters for Joseon.

Korea is located on the Korean Peninsula in North-East Asia. To the northwest, the Amnok River (Yalu River) separates Korea from China and to the northeast, the Duman River (Tumen River) separates Korea from China and Russia. The Yellow Sea is to the west, the East China Sea and Korea Strait is to the south, and the Sea of Japan is to the east.[37] Notable islands include Jeju Island (Jejudo), Ulleung Island (Ulleungdo), and Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo).

The South Korea:
The southern and western parts of the peninsula have well-developed plains, while the eastern and northern parts are mountainous. The highest mountain in Korea is Mount Paektu or Paektusan (2,744 m), through which runs the border with China. The southern extension of Mount Paektu is a highland called Gaema Heights. This highland was mainly raised during the Cenozoic orogeny and partly covered by volcanic matter. To the south of Gaema Gowon, successive high mountains are located along the eastern coast of the peninsula. This mountain range is named Baekdudaegan. Some significant mountains include Mount Sobaek or Sobaeksan (1,439 m), Mount Kumgang or Kumgangsan (1,638 m), Mount Seorak or Seoraksan (1,708 m), Mount Taebaek or Taebaeksan (1,567 m), and Mount Jiri or Jirisan (1,915 m). There are several lower, secondary mountain series whose direction is almost perpendicular to that of Baekdudaegan. They are developed along the tectonic line of Mesozoic orogeny and their directions are basically northwest.

Unlike most ancient mountains on the mainland, many important islands in Korea were formed by volcanic activity in the Cenozoic orogeny. Jeju Island, situated off the southern coast, is a large volcanic island whose main mountain Mount Halla or Hallasan (1950 m) is the highest in South Korea. Ulleung Island is a volcanic island in the Sea of Japan, whose composition is more felsic than Jeju-do. The volcanic islands tend to be younger, the more westward.

Because the mountainous region is mostly on the eastern part of the peninsula, the main rivers tend to flow westwards. Two exceptions are the southward-flowing Nakdong River (Nakdonggang) and Seomjin River (Seomjingang). Important rivers running westward include the Amnok River, the Chongchon River (Chongchongang), the Taedong River (Taedonggang), the Han River (Hangang), the Geum River (Geumgang), and the Yeongsan River (Yeongsangang). These rivers have vast flood plains and provide an ideal environment for wet-rice cultivation.

The southern and southwestern coastlines of Korea form a well-developed ria coastline, known as Dadohae-jin in Korean. Its convoluted coastline provides mild seas, and the resulting calm environment allows for safe navigation, fishing, and seaweed farming. In addition to the complex coastline, the western coast of the Korean Peninsula has an extremely high tidal amplitude (at Incheon, around the middle of the western coast. It can get as high as 9 m). Vast tidal flats have been developing on the south and west coastlines.

Demography or population:
The combined population of the Koreans is about 73 million (North Korea: 23 million, South Korea: 50 million). Korea is chiefly populated by a highly homogeneous ethnic group, the Koreans, who speak the Korean language. The number of foreigners living in Korea has also steadily increased since the late 20th century, particularly in South Korea, where more than 1 million foreigners currently reside.[39] It is estimated that only 26,700 of the old Chinese community now remain in South Korea. However, in recent years, immigration from mainland China has increased; 624,994 persons of Chinese nationality have immigrated to South Korea, including 443,566 of ethnic Korean descent. Small communities of ethnic Chinese and Japanese are also found in North Korea.

Modern Korean is written almost exclusively in the hangul script, which was invented in the 15th century. While hangul may appear logographic, it is actually a phonemic alphabet organised into syllabic blocks. Each block consists of at least two of the 24 hangul letters (jamo): at least one each of the 14 consonants and 10 vowels. Historically, the alphabet had several additional letters (see obsolete jamo). For a phonological description of the letters, see Korean phonology. Hanja (Chinese characters) and Latin alphabets are sometimes included within hangul texts, particularly in South Korea.

Culture and Arts:
In ancient Chinese texts, Korea is referred to as "Rivers and Mountains Embroidered on Silk" and "Eastern Nation of Decorum" . During the 7th and 8th centuries, the silk road connected Korea to Arabia. In 845, Arab traders wrote, "Beyond China is a land where gold abounds and which is named Silla. The Muslims who have gone there have been charmed by the country and tend to settle there and abandon all idea of leaving.

Korean festivities often showcase vibrant colors, which have been attributed to Mongolian influences: bright red, yellow, and green often mark traditional Korean motifs. These bright colors are sometimes seen in the traditional dress known as hanbok.

One peculiarity of Korean culture is its age reckoning system. Individuals are regarded as one year old when they are born, as Koreans reckon the pregnancy period as one year of life for infants, and age increments increase on New Year's Day rather than on the anniversary of birthdays. Thus, one born immediately before New Year's Day may only be a few days old in western reckoning, but two years old in Korea. Accordingly, a Korean person's stated age (at least among fellow Koreans) will be one or two years more than their age according to western reckoning. However, western reckoning is sometimes applied with regard to the concept of legal age; for example, the legal age for purchasing alcohol or cigarettes in the Republic of Korea is 19, which is measured according to western reckoning.

Confucian tradition has dominated Korean thought, along with contributions by Buddhism, Taoism, and Korean Shamanism. Since the middle of the 20th century, however, Christianity has competed with Buddhism in South Korea, while religious practice has been suppressed in North Korea. Throughout Korean history and culture, regardless of separation; the influence of traditional beliefs of Korean Shamanism, Mahayana Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism have remained an underlying religion of the Korean people as well as a vital aspect of their culture; all these traditions have coexisted peacefully for hundreds of years up to today despite strong Westernisation from Christian missionary conversions in the South or the pressure from Communism's Juche government in the North.

According to 2005 statistics compiled by the South Korean government, about 46% of citizens profess to follow no particular religion. Christians account for 29.2% of the population and Buddhists 22.8%.

Islam in South Korea is practiced by about 45,000 natives (about 0.09% of the population) in addition to some 100,000 foreign workers from Muslim countries.

The title "Mystic Korea"

Hi frens ,

My name is Renuka (yai-sana) and I am student specializing on Korea and East Asia. I love travelling, making frens and writing blog. Yes I do love photography also. Well this new blog of mine is specially dedicated to Korea as I am so attached with the people of "Hanguk", culture, nature , food habits, music and the maginificent places of Korea.

I wanted to dedicate this blog to my frens of Korea and those frens of mine whom I mate at Korea. They were so beautiful and wonderful people who always taught me an ample knowledge and compassion towards frenship bonding and humanity.

I wanted to share my ideas about Korea, my experience, my quest and of course to know get frens help me to support this blog of mine .

Thank You All