Friday, December 19, 2014

X-mas tree shines for all religions at Jogyesa Temple

Buddhist monks and a children’s choir pose for a photo during a lighting ceremony for a Christmas tree at Jogyesa Temple in Jongro-gu, Seoul, on December 17.
Buddhist monks and a children’s choir pose for a photo during a lighting ceremony for a Christmas tree at Jogyesa Temple in Jongno-gu, Seoul, on December 17.

On December 17, the lights of a Christmas tree at the Iljumun, the main gate to Jogyesa Temple, were switched on, emitting an array of colorful lights for the season.

With Christmas Eve just a week away, the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism held its Christmas-tree lighting ceremony at its main temple.

“Let us celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, whose name is sacrifice and love,” said the Venerable Jaseung, head of the Jogye Order.

“Let us treat our parents, siblings and neighbors like our Buddha and let us live like Jesus, caring for others’ pain and suffering.”

Members of a children’s choir call out, 'Merry Christmas,' and wave to the audience in front of a lit Christmas tree at the main gate to Jogyesa Temple on December 17.
Members of a children’s choir call out, 'Merry Christmas,' and wave to the audience in front of a lit Christmas tree at the main gate to Jogyesa Temple on December 17.

The switch-on ceremony was attended by General Secretary Kim Young-ju of the National Council of Churches in Korea and the Most Reverend Hyginus Kim Hee-joong of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea, as well as monks from the Jogye Order.

During the ceremony, a children’s choir from the temple sang Christmas carols, celebrating the birth of Jesus.

“I am so thankful to all of you for celebrating the birth of Jesus together with us by illuminating the temple with lights on a Christmas tree,” said the Most Rev. Kim Hee-joong.

Since 2010, the lighting ceremony at the temple has been held every Christmas as a symbol of harmony between different religions in Korea and showing a true Christmas spirit.

By Jeon Han, Sohn JiAe Staff Writers
Photos: Jeon Han

A Christmas tree is switched on in front of the Iljumon, the main gate to Jogyesa Temple, as a symbol of unified religions, on December 17. Next to the tree are large lanterns in different shapes, including a smiling child monk, a snowman and a penguin.
A Christmas tree is switched on in front of the Iljumun, the main gate to Jogyesa Temple, as a symbol of unified religions, on December 17. Next to the tree are large lanterns in different shapes, including a smiling child monk, a snowman and a penguin.

Representatives from different religions and a children’s choir sing Christmas carols during the lighting ceremony for a Christmas tree at Jogyesa Temple in Seoul on December 17.
Representatives from different religions and a children’s choir sing Christmas carols during the lighting ceremony for a Christmas tree at Jogyesa Temple in Seoul on December 17.

'Dokdo is the proper name'

Representative Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said on December 6 that "Dokdo" is the proper name to refer to Korea's easternmost islands.

Royce is known to have said that, "We have to understand history and what abuses occurred, because it is relevant to our understanding of today," during an interview with the Yonhap News Agency at a public hearing.


Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said that 'Dokdo' is the proper name for Korea's easternmost islands. Pictured above (top) is Seodo, the western part of Dokdo, and (bottom) Dongdo, the eastern part.
Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said that 'Dokdo' is the proper name for Korea's easternmost islands. Pictured above (top) is Dongdo, the eastern part of Dokdo, and (bottom) Seodo, the western part.

According to Yonhap News, the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs chief came to learn about the history of the islands and, more broadly, the history surrounding Japanese colonization of Korea, in 2008 when the U.S. Board on Geographic Names made a decision to change the name it used for these islands following lobbying efforts by Japan.

"We should all just admit history as it occurred. The part of getting the future right is acknowledging what went wrong in the past," he emphasized.

Regarding the Abe administration's denial that Imperial Japan pressed Asian women into sexual slavery for the Japanese Army during World War II, Royce asserted that the historical record about sexual slavery is unambiguous and that Japan's excuses are unworthy of a moment's consideration.

He pointed out that it's just as terrible as the Holocaust and that it is similar to when people deny the massacre of Jews.

He also showed an interest in North Korean human rights issues, mentioning the role of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry's (COI) report on the issue. Introducing H.R. 1771, the body of U.N. legislation calling for the strengthening of financial sanctions against North Korea, he promised that he would make an effort so that the matter gains approval from Senate.

Regarding the possibility of a change in the U.S.' policies toward North Korea, Royce said that there has been no conclusion despite the past 20 years of effort, since the 1994 Geneva agreement. He also added that the House would seek another approach by giving information to society so that the authorities and people in North Korea can access and change their perceptions.

By Wi Tack-whan, Lee Seung-ah
Photos: Wi Tack-whan Staff Writers

The joys of photography in Korea: when you've got a camera in your hands, anything can happen

I never knew I would fall in love with photography when I came to Korea almost seven years ago. What started out as a simple hobby has turned into one of my greatest passions. Being a photographer in Korea has made it an even bigger joy.

For me, having an endless variety of things to photograph is inspiring. From mountainside temples to dynamic cityscapes, there’s always something interesting to capture. I’ve seen bamboo forests, cherry blossoms, desolate beaches, snowy hilltops, rice paddies, bustling markets, ultra-modern skyscrapers, and colorful foliage.

It’s not only the diversity of subjects that makes Korea such a great place to shoot. Probably the best thing is the spirit and sense of camaraderie surrounding photography here. It’s not uncommon to see groups of 20 or more photographers trying to capture a beautiful scene.


More often than not, it’s at some remote place before the sun rises, like on a mountain peak or ocean shore. Everyone sets up their gear and then chats, shares some food or drinks, and socializes. It’s easy to feel like you are part of something bigger. Documenting daily life becomes a major event.

I always try to portray the essence of a place when I take photographs. It doesn’t matter if I’m taking a picture of a cityscape from the rooftop of a building or someone’s portrait. I want to represent what is particular to Korea and share that.

Shaman on the Mountain

An experience that was particularly memorable for me was when I saw a Korean gut, or shamanistic ceremony. One day my friend and I were hiking up a mountain to photograph Busan. We passed by a small temple on our way. There was a group of shamans and their followers dancing and singing. Curious, I pulled out my camera as we walked closer. I had always wanted to see one of these ceremonies. They spotted us and invited us in. I asked if I could take photographs and, surprisingly, the shamans agreed.


I thought we would just sit against the wall and observe until the head shaman pulled my friend aside and started questioning him. “Do you have any pains—mental or physical?” she asked. After a few more questions, she gave her otherworldly prognosis: “You have the ghost of a dead relative inside you. It must be exorcised.”

She performed an ancient ritual to rid my friend of his demons. It was like something out of a documentary movie. Afterwards, they invited us to eat with them. We ended up spending the whole day. I’ve already been back two more times to visit.

I think that’s one of the things that makes taking photographs in Korea memorable. At any moment the unexpected can happen. A stranger will invite you into their home or to share a meal. Living in a foreign country, it’s easy to feel like an outsider. To be a good photographer, though, you need to get close to your subject, to know them as a human being, not just as an object in your viewfinder. The openness of the people has allowed me take photos I normally couldn’t.

Korea has much to offer the avid photographer: beautiful landscapes, opportunities to learn, and the sense of belonging to something bigger. However, it’s the relationships I’ve created here that I will cherish most.

Written by Peter DeMarco
Illustrated by Kim Yoon-Myong

Seoul selected 'best biz meeting city' for 3 years

Seoul has been recently chosen as the best city for business meetings by readers of Business Traveler. The above photo shows a bird's-eye view of Seoul from the peak of Namsan Mountain.
Seoul has been recently chosen as the best city for business meetings by readers of Business Traveler. The above photo shows a bird's-eye view of Seoul from the peak of Namsan Mountain.

Readers of a well-known international travel monthly have selected Seoul as the best business meeting venue for three years running.
Business Traveler announced in its December 2014 edition that Seoul has been picked by its readers as the "Best International Business Meetings Destination" in its annual Best in Business Travel Awards.

The "Best International Business Meetings Destination" category was introduced to the awards in 2008 and has been awarded to such U.S. cities as Dallas, Honolulu and Las Vegas. Seoul has won the award by outperforming these prior winners for three consecutive years, since 2012, winning recognition as one of the leading international business cities.

The U.S. edition of Business Traveler has named Seoul the Best International Business Meetings Destination three years in a row. The above image shows the U.S. edition of the magazine announcing its Best in Business Travel Awards 2014.
The U.S. edition of Business Traveler has named Seoul the Best International Business Meetings Destination three years in a row. The above image shows the U.S. edition of the magazine announcing its Best in Business Travel Awards 2014.

“To receive one of these awards is to be recognized among the elite in our industry by your most demanding customer, the frequent business traveler. That’s what makes the Best in Business Travel Awards so meaningful. Our readers, your customers, these travelers, are the ones evaluating – and voting on – every aspect of every trip,” said Dan Booth, editorial director at Business Traveler in a media kit offered to the award recipients.

Apart from Seoul, the magazine named Korea’s Incheon International Airport as the "Airport With the Best Duty Free Shopping" in its annual awards. It also picked Asiana Airlines as the airline with the "Best Overall Inflight Experience in the World" and as having the "Best Overall Customer Service."

The director-general of the Tourism Policy Bureau in the Seoul Metropolitan Government, Kang Tae-Woong, said, ”We will make efforts to secure infrastructure and develop tourism packages in order to make Seoul the best 'Meetings, Incentives, Conventions & Exhibitions' (MICE) city in the world. We will focus on increasing the number of business travelers who make business trips to Seoul more than once by strengthening our hospitality that targets the overseas business traveler.”



Two year-end movies to warm your heart

The year end is just around the corner. Two recently released heart-wrenching movies are being recommended for the season. The two movies share one thing in common, that both are documentaries based on the daily lives of real people.

The first is "My Love, Don't Cross That River," a story revolving around an old couple that has been together for as long as 76 years. The other is "The Hospice (목숨)." It deals with patients in a hospice preparing for their final moments in life. It's long been believed in both the box office and among movie-goers that documentaries can rarely succeed. These two films, however, have broken those perceptions and are on a steady rise.

"My Love, Don't Cross That River" tells the story of an old couple who have loved each other for their whole lives. The protagonists are husband Jo Byung-man, 98, and wife Kang Kye-yeol, 89. Wherever they go, the couple wears Hanbok in matching colors and walks with hands tightly clasped.



"My Love, Don't Cross That River" shows the romantic daily lives of an old couple.

In the spring, the couple picks beautiful flowers together and pins them in each other's hair. They play with the water in the streams in the summer and in the fall, enjoy the autumn foliage together, even throwing leaves at each other. In the winter, they make snowmen together.

With the passage of time and age, Jo becomes increasingly weak and separation draws near. "I really wish I could go with you," the wife cries in the movie, bringing tears to viewers' eyes.


"The Hospice" shows the lives of patients and their families at a hospice. It's sad, yet heart-warming.

"The Hospice" tells the story of patients at a hospice who, on average, have 21 days left to live. They are all a special someone to their fathers, mothers, spouses or children. The movie pictures the final moments of the patients in their deathbeds, a time that nobody can avoid, moving the hearts of viewers.

The message that the two movies both pursue is the true meaning of life. It reminds us of things that we have forgotten, but which were never meant to be.

Director Jin Mo-yeong of "My Love, Don't Cross That River" said, "It seems that people of all ages and sexes have sympathy for the love story of the old couple. They've recommended the movie to their parents and family, drawing even bigger audiences."

Director Lee Chang-jae of "The Hospice" said, "Thinking about death and having only 21 days left to live is both sad and scary. However, the movie shows happiness and love as much as it scares you. This movie will give you the time to turn your eyes to things that you have missed out on for some time, such as the preciousness of yourself, your family and your acquaintances."

Both movies bring you to the intersection of life and death, encouraging you to think about "how to live."

Major theaters across the country will be screening both documentaries.
Source: The

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Korea land of rising sun is also a land of coffeeholics


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 very special cups of coffee

1. Turkish Coffee

Café de Fazenda

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

2. Decaffeine for every menu

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

3. Different flavors of Vienna coffee

Julius Meinl

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

4. 1L Ice Americano

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

Museum displays Buddhist painting


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

By Baek Byung-yeul / The Korea Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Do you also eat vicariously?


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

Food-centric TV shows becoming hot trend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Following Japan?

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

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

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

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

Throwing new light on old treasures (Korean Culture)


“Human Figure,” China, early 8th century

National museum’s latest acquisitions highlight traditional Asian art 

By Baek Byung-yeul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love is __?


institute invites complaints from sexual minorities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Should we define love?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, March 23, 2014

North Korean Defectors Ambivalent About Life in the South


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: The Chosun Ilbo English News

Cherry Blossom to Bloom Later This Year


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

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


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Samsung unveils upgraded Galaxy


Shin Jong-kyun, president and CEO of Samsung Electronics’ IT and Mobile Communications Division, gives a presentation on the flagship Galaxy S5 smartphone at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Tuesday. Samsung unveiled the Gear Fit, a fitness band, Sunday, in a move to strengthen its presence in the wearable devices market. / Courtesy of Samsung Electronics

S5 armed with fingerprint scanner, heart-rate sensor

By Choi Kyong-ae
BARCELONA ― Samsung Electronics Monday unveiled its latest Galaxy S5 smartphone equipped with a larger screen and fingerprint scanner.

At the “Unpacked 5” event held at the Mobile World Congress here on Monday, the Korean technology giant introduced the new flagship phone which focuses on basic features such as photo-taking, download speeds and battery life.

It comes with a 5.1-inch display, wider than the 4.99 inches of its predecessor, the Galaxy S4. Features such as waterproof and dust-resistant capabilities and a fingerprint scanner are newly added to the latest model.

Analysts say the lack of wow factors may disappoint some consumers because top-tier players such as Samsung and Apple have surprised the world with bold innovations in their flagship phones.

How the new phone is taken by the market will determine Samsung’s future earnings growth in an ever-saturating smartphone market.

Samsung’s decision to adopt a fingerprint scanner in the Galaxy S5 was hailed by some participants at the event. But others said they were not impressed by the “familiar” technology as they expected something more dramatic from it.

Apple already introduced the finger-scanning function in its iPhone 5S last year. The technology allows users to unlock their phones with the press of a finger. 

“Innovative features do not mean everything … but I expected bold features such as an iris scanner,” a project development manager at Inatel, Brazil’s state-run telecom institute, told The Korea Times on the sidelines of the annual trade show, which lasts through Feb. 27. 

However, Samsung went practical this time with the new phone given what its mobile chief said during the event. Samsung apparently came up with a streamlined product by eliminating some flashy but little-used functions.

“People are easily excited about the newest and latest technology, and we are working on that too. But our philosophy is to listen to consumers,” said Shin Jong-kyun, president and CEO of Samsung’s IT and Mobile Communications Division.

“What we have learned is surprisingly simple in this ever-changing industry. We can only succeed when consumers choose us. Our consumers want durable design and performance, yet powerful cameras, faster and seamless connectivity and to stay fit,” he said.

To meet the demands, Samsung has improved camera functions, enhanced wireless capabilities and bolstered fitness- and health-related apps in the Galaxy S5.

The new smartphone comes with a 16-megapixel camera which enables a user to take a picture in 0.3 seconds, as well as other functions available on the digital SLR cameras favored by professional photographers.

The “download booster” function linked with the Long-Term Evolution and Wi-Fi services will help boost download speeds by nearly five times. And the Galaxy S5 has a heart-rate sensor, the first of its kind for a smartphone, for a regular checkup by the user.

Last but not the least, Samsung introduced Gear Fit to take the lead in the wearable devices market. The fitness band came on the heels of the release of the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo. The two computerized wristwatches are powered by the Tizen operating system being developed by Samsung and its partners to challenge the dominance by Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. All Samsung phones run on Android.   

Still, wearable devices won’t likely to be an immediate growth driver for Samsung though Apple and Google are expected to join the wearables market later this year. Sony is also a leading player in wearables. Another worry for Samsung is cheaper smartphones offered by Chinese competitors.

Given everything, betting big on the Galaxy S5 does make sense for Samsung. It remains to be seen whether the new product will help boost slowing smartphone sales.

Samsung sold 320 million smartphones last year, followed by Apple’s 153 million units and Sony’s 38 million units, according to Strategy Analytics.
Source: The Chosun Ilbo