Monday, January 21, 2013

Hot Springs: Why Too Much of a Good Thing Can Be Bad

More people head to natural hot springs to soak their bodies and rejuvenate themselves when the cold winter weather kicks in. But while they are known to be effective in treating neuralgia, skin diseases, digestive ailments, arthritis, and rheumatism thanks to the various minerals in the water, they can be harmful to patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases, kidney dysfunctions, diabetes, or severe hypertension.

The act of soaking the whole body in the water, except for the head, is equivalent to being subjected to 700 kg of high water pressure. This can pose a health risk to patients with cardiovascular diseases or hypertension as it raises the blood pressure and causes an accelerated heartbeat. As such, people with these ailments should only submerge the lower part of their body.

Although hot springs are known to be good for treating dermatological diseases, those with dry skin can find their problems exacerbated if they soak for a prolonged period. Hot spring water contains sulphur, which causes dead skin cells to melt away and can lead to dryness, redness and itching after a time. However, if used sparingly, the hot water can help make the skin smooth and soft.

Those who suffer from redness or swelling of the face should avoid hot springs entirely as bathing causes the capillaries to expand and can make the symptoms get worse.

Top Tips for a Tastier Coffee

Coffee consumption reached the level of 338 cups of coffee per person in Korea last year, according to data released by the Korea Food and Drug Administration.

As this brewed beverage increasingly becomes part of people's daily routine, firing them up for the day ahead and keeping them fueled to get through the day in one of Asia's hardest-working cultures, here are some simple tips to make a tastier brew.

One of the most important things to remember is the so-called 3-3-3 rule. After roasting coffee beans, leave them for three days, then brew the coffee within three minutes of grinding the beans. The drink should be consumed within three minutes of reaching the boil.

Additionally, use fresh and cold water rather than that which has already been boiled. It is also good to put coffee in a warm cup. Coffee should ideally be served at a temperature of between 82 and 85 degrees Celsius. Once brewed, it should not be reheated; otherwise, it will lose its native taste and have a burned flavor.

Photo Exhibit Shows Designer Lie Sang-bong Up Close and Personal

An exhibition of photos featuring renowned fashion designer Lie Sang-bong will be held at Keumsan Gallery in Seoul from Jan. 23 to Feb. 16.

Lee Yeob, who has been photographing Lie's works for the last decade, has now turned the lens on the designer himself.

Lee said he wanted to create a sense of intimacy and make viewers feel as though they are almost engaged in a personal dialogue with the designer when they visit the gallery. Furthering this theme, he has also included some nude portraits of Lie.

The gallery is closed on Sundays and there is no charge for admission. More information can be obtained by calling 02-3789-6317.

So Yu-jin Ties Knot with Franchise Tycoon

Actress So Yu-jin and restaurateur Baek Jong-won got hitched at a private wedding ceremony held at The Raum in Yeoksam-dong, Seoul on Saturday.

The groom is 15 years her senior, but So said age is just a number. "I hardly feel the age difference, let alone a generation gap, because he is so kind and nice," she said.

/Courtesy of Asia Bridge Contents /Courtesy of Asia Bridge Contents

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Warming Food for Cold Winter Days

Food considered "warm" in Oriental medicine can be a blessing during the cold winter temperatures. "Eating warm-natured foods improves blood circulation and metabolism," said Lee Mi-young, a professor of the department of food and nutrition at Jangan University. "It also helps prevent diseases as immunity increases."

◆ Spicy Food

Most spicy food is warm in nature, said Lee Jin-moo at Kyunghee University Hospital. Notable warm foodstuffs are spring onion, ginger and garlic.

They boost circulation as they dilate blood vessels and increase the blood volume. Good circulation keeps bodies warm. "Foods like cucumbers or watermelons, which are watery and feel cool when being eaten, constrict blood vessels," said Lee. "When people whose bodies are cold eat these kinds of foods in winter, their bodies tend to become colder because the blood vessels constrict."

Besides spicy vegetables, radish, burdock and pumpkin also help warm the body.

◆ Warming Food Recipes

Radish Soup: Radish stimulates digestion, thus improving the flow of energy and blood circulation. It is better eaten cooked, with spring onion, chives and garlic and seasoned with salt or soy source.

Burdock cooked in soy sauce: Boiled burdock can warm the body and is a good side dish in winter. Boil it in with soy sauce, starch syrup and cooking wine, and add spring onion, minced garlic and green peppers.

Pumpkin porridge: Pumpkin is not a warm-natured vegetable, but when cooked with glutinous rice can boost metabolism.

Boost Energy with Mussels on Cold Winter Days

Winter is the high season for mussels, which in Korean means chiefly red clams. Mussels can be poisonous after May, when they spawn, hence the adage that they should only be eaten in months ending in "r."

In a Chosun-era encyclopedia, mussels are described as unique because they are the only seafood that is not salty, which indicates the special esteem in which they were held.

Thanks to their mineral content they are said to help prevent anemia and improve skin health.

A clear soup of mussels is rich in taurine and effective for recovering stamina -- a delicate way of saying it is traditionally eaten as an aphrodisiac.

Unlike some foods whose flavor and nutrients are destroyed by drying, dried mussels are good to eat and often used in Oriental medicine.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Actor Uhm Tae-woong Weds Ballerina

Actor Uhm Tae-woong of The Man of Equator Serial and ballerina Yoon Hye-jin's wedding pictures were released. The happy couple tied the knot at the Conrad Hotel in Yeouido, Seoul, on Wednesday afternoon in front of 1,000 guests.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Recipe for healthy blood pressure

By boiling chicken with red tea, you can get rid of the greasy taste and smell of chicken. The astringent taste of red tea will make up for the bland soup in this recipe.

Hongcha samgyetang: Chicken soup with ginseng and red tea
Nutritional facts
Calories 746 kcal
Salt 1 g
Sodium 487 mg
Cholesterol 156 mg
Carbohydrates 37g
Protein 60g
Fat 39g

Ingredients    You will need a pullet, weighing approximately 300 grams, 30 grams of brown rice, 20 grams of garlic, 10 grams of fresh, undried ginseng, 10 grams of scallions, and a teabag of green tea, approximately 4 grams. You will also need 2 grams of Dong quai, or Korean angelica root, 2 grams of sansuyu, or corni, 8 grams of jujube, 1 gram of salt and some water.

Step by step      1. Get rid of the fat around the neck and the tail of the chicken, and remove the guts.

2. Wash brown rice and soak it in water for around 30 minutes. Chop scallions in 0.2 centimeter length.

 3. Put brown rice, garlic and fresh ginseng into the torso of the chicken, and cross the legs.

4. Make red tea with warm water. Boil chicken, Dong quai, sansuyu and jujube with the red tea.

5. When soup boils, skim the oil and scum and continue boiling for about an hour. Serve it in a bowl with chopped scallions on the chicken. Salt will be served in a separate small dish.

Tip  You can use chapssal, or glutinous rice, instead of brown rice. The dish has somewhat high calories — 746 kilocalories. You can cut 170 kcal of it by taking only half of the dish and supplementing it with two thirds of a bowl of multigrain rice.

This is an excerpt from “Best Recipes to Fight High Blood Pressure” by professor Chung Nam-sik at the Severance Hospital of Yonsei University Health System, the Nutrition Team at the hospital, and CJ Freshway, published by Vita Books.

Stars Sue Cosmetic Clinic for Unauthorized Advertising

Half a dozen stars such as actor Jang Dong-gun are suing a cosmetic clinic for W120 million in damages for using their pictures without permission (US$1=W1,064).

According to the Seoul Central District Court on Monday, they include actress Song Hye-kyo, actor Kim Nam-gil, singer BoA, and Jessica and Tiffany of Girls' Generation.

The clinic in the affluent Gangnam area in Seoul posted advertisements on its website featuring their photos and names without their permission, they said.

/Courtesy of SM Entertainment 
/Courtesy of SM Entertainment
Last month, Wonder Girls, Jessica of Girls' Generation and actress Su-ae filed a similar suit against a dental clinic in Yeoksam-dong, Seoul, seeking W220 million in damages. On Dec. 1, in a suit filed by Shin Eun-kyung, the Seoul central District Court ruled an Oriental medicine clinic has to pay the actress W35 million.

Korea Ranked 19th-Best Country to Be Born in

Korea has been ranked the 19th best country for babies to be born in by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a think tank affiliated with the business magazine.

The think tank ranked 80 countries. Korea scored 7.25 points ahead of Japan in 25th (7.08 points), France in 26th (7.04 points) and China in 49th (5.99 points).

Germany and the U.S. shared 16th place with 7.38 points.

The 11 categories of the ranking were geography, demography, social and cultural characteristics, public policy, gender equality, political freedom, health, job security, violent crime rates, the state of the world economy, and future income projected for 2030.

Switzerland came first, followed by Australia, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

The Washington Post blog reported on Monday that per-capita GDP alone "explains some two thirds of the inter-country variation in life satisfaction, and the estimated relationship is linear."

But some of the wealthier countries such as the U.S., Germany, Japan, and the U.K. failed to make the top 10. China, the world's second largest economy, is way below economically struggling European countries like Italy, Spain and Greece, which ranked 21st, 28th, and 34th places.

Nigeria was the worst country to be born in out of the 80 included in the ranking.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Train Tour Offers Chance to Enjoy Magical Winter Scenery

Seungbu Station, a tiny train stop in a small village called Bonghwa in North Gyeongsang Province, is renowned for having the most breathtaking winter scenery in the region.

If you're planning on driving there, you'd better leave your car behind and hop on a train at Cheongnyangni Station in eastern Seoul as Seungbu Station sits in a part of Korea that is tough to reach by road. Trains have been ferrying tourists there since 1999 during the winter and offer better views than if traveling by car.

"People come here to enjoy nature at its purest due to all the beautiful, untouched scenery, and they get a pleasant surprise as soon as they step off the train," Kim Jin-hee, who manages the train station, said in a heavy Gyeongsang accent.

Instead of fancy restaurants and attractions, visitors immediately find themselves surrounded by nature. The area is so quiet that the only sound to be heard at this time of year is that of the snow being crushed under your feet. Before long, the frozen Nakdong River comes into view in front of the station, as well as the mountain on the far side of it blanketed in white snow.

As such majestic scenery slowly reveals itself, it becomes apparent that Kim was not exaggerating and there's something special about Seungbu Station.

A monument from which travelers can enjoy the views of the surrounding scenery is located about 50m from the station. The hill on which it sits also affords a picturesque view of the snow-covered station, especially when trains pass through a tunnel there.

KORAIL runs special trains to Seungbu Station through December and January. For more details, log on to its website (

What Does 2013 Hold for Korean Film?

Korean films drew more than 100 million viewers over the past year, but there are a number of concerns if they are to sustain their momentum. Here are five of the top issues for this year that have insiders speculating about the future of the movie industry.

◆ Can Korean Movies Break the 100 Million Mark Again?

In 2012, domestic movies set a new record by attracting 115 million moviegoers. With many much-anticipated films out this year, the question is whether the industry can repeat that milestone.

Potential blockbusters include "The New World" directed by Park Hoon-jung, which revolves around a cop who goes undercover into gangland and Kang Woo-suk's "Fist of Legend," based on a webtoon.

Other releases include a Korean version of "True Lies" by Yi Seung-jun, and Won Shin-yeon's new film about a delivery man who draws upon his experience in the North Korean special forces when he is falsely accused of the murder of a company CEO.

◆ Can Korean Directors Capture Global Audiences?

Korea's most noted directors are debuting in Hollywood. Kim Ji-Woon's Hollywood debut "The Last Stand" starring Arnold Schwarzenegger will be released in North America this month. In February, "Stoker," directed by Park Chan-wook and starring Nicole Kidman, comes to cinemas around the world, and in the second half of this year, the W40 billion (US$1=W1,062) production "Snow Piercer" by Bong Joon-ho will hit screens in North America.

◆ Kim Hye-soo or Jeon Ji-hyun?

The stars of "The Thieves," the biggest local box office hit of 2012, will compete against each other with their new films. Jeon Ji-hyun appears in "The Berlin File" by Ryu Seung-wan, set to be released in January. It also stars Han Suk-kyu, Ha Jung-woo and Ryu Seung-beom. Kim Hye-soo co-stars with Song Kang-ho in Han Jae-rim's period movie "Fortune," which will be released later this year.

Kim Yoon-seok will return to screens with "Run to the South" by Lim Soon-rye and "Hwayi" by Jang Joon-hwan, while Kim Soo-hyun landed his first starring film role in Jang Cheol-soo's "Covertness."

◆ Are Co-Productions the Way Forward?

A Korean-Chinese co-production, will hit theaters in China in the second half of this year. The movie tells the story of a girl from a circus troupe and a gorilla joining a Korean professional baseball team and growing into superstars.

The Chinese distributor covered more than 25 percent of the production costs of W22.5 billion, and the movie is expected to secure at least over 5,000 screens in China.

◆ Will Hong Sang-soo Finally Land Int'l Festival Prize?

Hong Sang-soo's feature film "Nobody's Daughter Haewon" will compete in the official competition at the Berlin Film Festival in February. Hong has entered international film festivals 242 times since he debuted with "The Day a Pig Fell Into the Well" in 1996. This is his fifth time in competition in the world's three major film festivals -- Cannes, Berlin and Venice -- but so far he has not managed to win an award.

Cheong Wa Dae steeped in history

Main building of Cheong wa dae (Cheong wa dae)
Cheong Wa Dae has been at the center of Korea’s modern history, from Japan’s colonial rule, through a succession of dictatorships and to the grueling struggles for industrialization and democratization.

The site for today’s presidential complex in central Seoul was once occupied by Japan’s colonial governor and then by the U.S. military administrator before South Korea’s first president, Syngman Rhee, took it for his official residence in 1948.

Its history dates back to the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) during which King Sukjong set up his secondary palace on the site.

During the ensuing Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), the royal villa turned into a backyard of Gyeongbok Palace, which was established in 1395 as the residence for King Taejo, the founder of Joseon.

As King Gojong renovated the site in 1868, he built a series of state facilities, including those for administering national exams and practicing martial arts.

During the dark period of Japan’s colonial occupation from 1910-45, the Japanese Government General of Korea occupied the palace. The colonial governor used the current Cheong Wa Dae site for his official residence.

Following the country’s liberation in August 1945, U.S. military governor Lieut. Gen. John Reed Hodge lived in the site for a little more than two years as he led the U.S. forces to disarm Japanese troops and help establish the government system south of the 38th Parallel, a line drawn by the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

After the Republic of Korea was founded in 1948, President Rhee set up his office and residence in the site. He named it “Gyeongmudae.” The name is a compound word with “Gyeong” from Gyeongbokgung Palace and “Mu” from Sinmumun Gate, the northern gate of the palace.

As President Yun Bo-seon was sworn in following a 1960 popular democratic uprising against Rhee’s prolonged rule, he changed the name of the presidential residence to Cheong Wa Dae ― the house of blue roof tiles that symbolize peace ― as Gyeongmudae bore the negative public image of a long-reigning dictatorial ruler.

The basic structure of the presidential complex took shape during former President Park Chung-hee’s 18-year rule. He built a series of presidential facilities including ceremonial venues, dining facilities, rooms for receptions, official conferences and press meetings and buildings for security staff.

During his presidency, calls persisted for changing the name of the presidential office to “Hwangwadae” or the house of yellow roof tiles. Some argued that emperors in history wore yellow costumes and their palace was topped with yellow roof tiles.

But Park rejected such calls as he was opposed to changing the name of the crucial presidential site so often.

As the country’s global recognition increased with its economic growth and successful hosting of the Summer Olympics in 1988, President Roh Tae-woo paid more attention to sprucing up his residence and office.

The renovation work also came as the Seoul government realized the lack of facilities to accommodate foreign leaders and their delegates when an increasing number of them came to Korea for state visits.

The presidential press center of Chunchugwan was built at the entrance of the complex in May 1989. The main building housing the presidential office was built in 1991. It stands in the line that links Mount Bukaksan, Gyeongbok Palace and the Gwanghwamun Gate, adding to its majesty.

Following a North Korean assassination attempt on former President Park in 1968, access to Cheong Wa Dae was blocked for decades. But as access to part of the presidential district has been granted since the early 1990s, the complex has been one of the capital’s most popular sites bustling with tourists.

During the presidency of Roh Moo-hyun, most of the areas surrounding Cheong Wa Dae including some major hiking courses along Mount Bukaksan were opened to the public. Observers say the opening reflects the progress of Korea’s democracy.

Joseon’s erotic paintings to go on display

Exhibition at Gallery Hyundai also features genre paintings that offer glimpses of daily lives in Joseon


“Unudocheop” (The Album of Cloud and Rain Painting, early 19th century) by Kim Hong-do (Attributed). (Gallery Hyundai)
Erotic paintings by two great masters of Korean painting will go on display at an exhibition that sheds light on the daily lives of people in the Joseon era.

The exhibition at Gallery Hyundai features two complete collections of erotic paintings made by prominent painters in Korean history Shin Yun-bok and Kim Hong-do, as well as genre paintings that are being shown to the public for the first time.

The original Joseon erotic paintings, called “chunhwa” (literally means spring paintings), weren’t revealed to the public until recently as owners are usually unknown and hesitate to disclose them to the public.

But after years of planning and using all her “connections,” Park Myeong-ja, the president of the gallery, finally pulled off the project.
“Geongonilhoecheop” (The Album of the Joining of Heaven and Earth, 1844) by Shin Yun-bok (Attributed). (Gallery Hyundai)

The highlight of the exhibition is Kim’s “Unudocheop” (The Album of Cloud-and-Rain Paintings) and Shin’s “Geongonilhoecheop“ (The Album of the Joining of Heaven and Earth).

“They have high artistic value because they managed to keep artistic factors while explicitly depicting erotic scenes,” said Yoo Hong-joon, former head of the Cultural Heritage Administration and author of the best-selling book series “My Field Trip Diary to Cultural Heritage Sites,” at the guided exhibition tour on Friday.

The paintings show erotic scenes of people in Joseon. Kim’s paintings depict sexual scenes of commoners with a touch of humor. Shin mainly portrayed intercourse between a man of noble birth and female courtesan, or gisaeng.

Yoo explained how erotic paintings are reflections of each country’s sentiment and society.

“Many Mongolian paintings have sexual scenes taking place on horses. There are many yoga poses in Indian paintings. Chinese paintings have exaggerated actions like the actions in Chinese martial arts movies. In Japanese paintings, you don’t recognize who is the man and woman because they are in full costume with their genitals accentuated,” he said.

“Korean erotic paintings are full of lyrical depiction. You can see it in paintings in which a man and a woman are making love beside azalea flowers in full bloom and lush willow trees. What’s notable in Korean erotic paintings is that background landscapes take up significant portion of the paintings, he explained.

Paintings of sexual scenes were secretly “made-to-order” in the conservative society with deep-rooted Confucian values. It is also said that Shin was expelled as a royal painter for making sexual paintings.

“The Korean erotic paintings of the 19th century have sarcasm and humor toward the hierarchical and conservative society. The charm of Korea’s erotic paintings is that it can be romantic and humorous at the same time,” wrote Lee Tae-ho, a Myongji University professor, in the exhibition review.

Erotic paintings of Korea emerged later than those in neighboring Japan and China, where such paintings appeared in the 16th and 17th centuries “because of the deep-rooted Confucian values in the society and the late commercial development,” according to Lee.

The exhibition also reveals 50 genre paintings of the commoner painter Kim Jun-geun for the first time.

Kim’s paintings are widely exhibited at major museums in the world including the Berlin Gallery in Germany and the Smithsonian Museum in the U.S. as they were purchased by foreign visitors to Korea who bought them to add to their collections.

His paintings will be shown at Dugahun Gallery, located behind Gallery Hyundai.

Kim’s paintings, considered to have high artistic value as well, offer glimpses into Korean people’s lives and culture featuring scenes of wedding, funerals and other ceremonies and rituals.

The exhibition “Refined and Tasteful Life of Joseon Dynasty” will run from Jan. 15-Feb. 24 at Gallery Hyundai in Jongno, Seoul. Admission is 5,000 won for adults and 3,000 won for children and teenagers. The second floor exhibition featuring the erotic paintings are open to those 19 and up. For more information, call (02) 2287-3591.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Eventful start to Year of the Snake according to the Korean

Mountaineers climb a long and winding trail on Mount Cheongtae in Hoengseong County, Gangwon Province. The tracks left by their lantern lights seem to show the past eventful year. 2013 is the Year of the Snake under the Chinese zodiac. The zigzagging of a snake might look like slow detouring but could be the wisest way of advancing. The incoming government to be launched in the New Year is hoped to care for all classes of society, even if it means taking a winding detour.

2013 Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Lunar Year of the Snake: Lilith 
Country: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Issuing year: 2013
Face Value: 5 Won
Metal: Ag.999, Silver
Diameter: 38.61mm
Weight: 20 grams
Condition: Patinated
Mintage:1,000 coins
Specialty: Zodiac coin with an original 3D True-color-Holography nickelshim embedded

Lilith and Eve represent the two types of women who are in psychology and literature between Heaven and Hell. Holography is a technique that allows the light scattered from an object to be recorded and later reconstructed so that when an imaging system (a camera or an eye) is placed in the reconstructed beam, an image of the object will be seen even when the object is no longer present. The image changes as the position and orientation of the viewing system changes in exactly the same way as if the object were still present, thus making the image appear three-dimensional.
 To celebrate the Year of the Snake according to the Chinese zodiac, a variety of events and discount offers are available at theme parks, leisure facilities and department stores at Korea.

Everland, the nation’s largest theme park in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, is holding an exhibition of rare snakes through March 3.

Visitors can see an albino Burmese python, a yellow colored snake which is 2.5-meters long and weighs 20 kilograms. They can touch the snake and have it hung around their shoulders. A ball python is another species in the exhibition, which has dark brown markings and is often raised as a pet.

“For people to learn more about snakes, zookeepers will give explanations about the characteristics of the species,” an Everland official said.

Seoul Zoo in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province, alsohas a snake exhibition until the end of February.

The zoo collected cast-off skins and is displaying them — an adult snake casts off its skin eight times a year, while an immature snake sheds it 15 times. In a specially designed glass enclosure, visitors can also watch snakes crawling above their heads.

The I’Park Department Store in central Seoul presents a chance to make snake-shaped toys, cushions and floor cushions through Jan. 27 for free.

Various discount options are also offered to people born in the year of the snake, for example 1953, 1965, 1977 and 1989.

In Everland, people born in those years can get a 60-percent discount for admission to the theme park and Caribbean Bay water park until the end of this month. Their companions can also have 30 percent off for Everland and 20 percent for Caribbean Bay for up to three people.

Another theme park in Gyeonggi Province, Seoul Land, offers tickets to such people at half price through March 3, with the discount available for one companion, too. To get the benefit, they are required to print a discount coupon from the park’s website and submit it to the ticket booth with an identification card that can prove they were born in a year of the snake.

Ski resorts are not an exception. Jisan Forest Resort in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province, offers 40 percent off for ski lift and rental fees to people born not only in the year of the snake but also in the year of the dragon until Feb. 10, which is New Year’s Day according to the lunar calendar. The year 2012 was the Year of the Dragon.

“We’ve held such an event since 2011, and gained good feedback from skiers. We plan to continue the event every year,” a staffer of the resort said.

Pine Resort in Yongin, provides a 50-percent discount for ski lift and rental fees to those born in the year of the snake until the season ends.

Tips for a Tastier Coffee with this new year eve

Coffee consumption reached the level of 338 cups of coffee per person in Korea last year, according to data released by the Korea Food and Drug Administration.

As this brewed beverage increasingly becomes part of people's daily routine, firing them up for the day ahead and keeping them fueled to get through the day in one of Asia's hardest-working cultures, here are some simple tips to make a tastier brew.

One of the most important things to remember is the so-called 3-3-3 rule. After roasting coffee beans, leave them for three days, then brew the coffee within three minutes of grinding the beans. The drink should be consumed within three minutes of reaching the boil.

Additionally, use fresh and cold water rather than that which has already been boiled. It is also good to put coffee in a warm cup. Coffee should ideally be served at a temperature of between 82 and 85 degrees Celsius. Once brewed, it should not be reheated; otherwise, it will lose its native taste and have a burned flavor.