Sunday, December 29, 2013

1000 Won Versus Cold Winter- The Warmth of the Korean Hotteok (호떡)

To bundle up is the only option to beat the below 0 degrees temperature of Winter season. It is during these days when people love to eat spicy and hot food just to warm up the stomach as a counterpart to a very cold weather. And speaking of warm food, let me introduce to you to the most famous Korean food during winter, the Hotteok (호떡).

If Mul-naengmyun is the King of the summer, Hotteok is the Queen of the winter. In the busy street of Sindang station of South Korea, I was introduced to this delicious winter food. Hotteok is a Korean street food with warm sugar syrup filling that could warm up your body during the cold season. It is usually priced as cheap as 1,000 won and you can see this all over Korea. The filling is made of melted sugar. It is similar to a doughnut when you eat it but it has no thick frosting making it more easy to chew. The filling is very dense because the melted sugar is almost syrup like, so vendors usually put it inside a plastic cup so that it will not mess up when you eat it.

The dough is made with a glutinous rice mixed with water, milk, sugar and yeast. Without the filling and all, I think this would be similar to a regular pancake.

When I ate it, I can feel the warmth of the filling and it has indeed help me ward off the coldness. It is also very delicious and I can't believe that is priced for only 1,000 Won. A very cheap weapon against winter.

Anyone, if you happen to wander along the streets of Sindang, Namdaemun, Dongdaemun, and any other familiar places in Seoul during winter, you can see this Hotteok almost anywhere. Why not stop for a while, spend some 1,000 won and eat Hotteok? You will feel it's warmth inside your stomach plus a very tasty filling and melt in the mouth dough. I think this Korean street food is awesome and must try too.

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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

5 Pinoy Trademarks in Christmas Celebration of Filipino Community in South Korea

Do you ever wonder how Filipinos in South Korea, or abroad in general, celebrate Christmas? This year is my first year to celebrate Christmas away from home, let alone, away from my home country. I used to wonder what Filipino expatriates are doing during the Christmas season. Now that I am one of them, I have got the chance to get a glimpse of their way of commemorating the birth of our Saviour particularly here in South Korea.

The celebration of Christmas is so special not to mention sentimental for the Filipino. This is the time of the year when family, companies, churches and communities in the Philippines gather together for a Christmas party. Here in abroad, the spirit of Christmas is alive, albeit the ambiance is quite different. Or I guess it is just me being nostalgic.

I had attended a Christmas Party of Sinwoldong Sungkyul Church Foreign Ministry (신월동성결교회), one of the many Filipino Christian Churches here in South Korea. It is a small church community in Seoul ministered by Pastor Jerry Yusi and it has awesome members with positive energy and kind spirits. I love their community because they made me feel at home and everybody is just like fun to be with. So for anyone near Seoul or near that area looking for a church community to join with, feel free to join Sinwoldong Sungkyul Church Foreign Ministry every Sunday on their worship service. Just add their Facebook account to inquire for the exact location.

Photo Credit to Sinwoldong Sungkyul Church Foreign Ministry

During the Christmas Party, I temporarily forgot that I am in another part of the planet. I felt like I am just celebrating Christmas in the Philippines because eventhough we are here in South Korea, we have celebrated Christmas in a Filipino fashion. The Pinoy trademarks are very apparent in the whole duration of the party. If you still ever wonder how pinoy abroad celebrate Christmas and how they integrate Filipino trademarks on this special event, let me show you a mini sample.

1. Celebrate Christmas with Filipino food

Photo Credit to Sinwoldong Sungkyul Church Foreign Ministry Facebook Profile

I guess this is not only applicable in South Korea. I believe that all Filipinos around the globe are celebrating Christmas with traditional Filipino food on their table. Christmas is not without the usual food we see in the table of a Filipino family. At least it is this time of the year that we can keep ourselves away from kimchi and other spicy food. I think it’s strange to have Kamjatang or Samgyupsal in a Filipino style Christmas party.

2. Celebrate Christmas with Music

Christmas party is not without music for the Filipino. The likes of Videoke, caroling, Christmas cantata and whatnot are very apparent during this event. I think Filipino are musical in nature and you can’t get it away from them regardless of whether they are hitting the right note or not. I can’t think of a lively party without music though and I found out that group singing is more enjoyable than singing solo in the karaoke because in a group singing, you can go sharp or flat unnoticed.

3. Celebrate Christmas with Parlor Games

Parlor games are the King of the party for Pinoy because these make the celebration fun and lively. Whether the prize at stake is a crispy 50 pesos or one pack of candy, it doesn’t matter. It is innate for the Filipinos to be competitive; it is after all an honor and a pride to win a game. So even here in South Korea, we have played a lot of parlor games and yeah, it was fun.

4. Celebrate Christmas with Exchanging of Gifts

Yes you bet it, even in abroad, Filipinos do exchange gifts. I guess it’s a Christmas tradition that will never be eliminated from generation to generation.

5. Celebrate Christmas with Worship Service

I think praying, singing songs of praise and giving worship to God will always be a part of Filipino Christmas Party. We are Christians after all, and if there are people who have really the right to celebrate Christmas, it is us the believer of Christ. What has gone wrong with Christmas is that, people tend to see it in the façade. They just want party, loud noise, gifts and the merriment brought about by Christmas. But we Christians know the real meaning and the important reason why we celebrate Christmas. Whether you are in the Philippines, in South Korea or in any part of the world, Filipino will always acknowledge the birth of the Saviour Jesus Christ.

What I learned from my first celebration of Christmas here in abroad is that, our being Filipino will always remain in our hearts and minds. The things that we used to do during Christmas party in the Philippines will apparently manifest wherever we go. After all, nothing can beat the way Filipino celebrate Christmas party.
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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

5 Reasons Why "TALK TO ME IN KOREAN" is the Best Online Korean Language Resource

Korean Language is one of the most interesting languages in the world. I realized this when I arrived here in South Korea a few months ago. When I was in the Philippines, I studied Korean language through Youtube because I need to pass the exam in order to go to Korea. The only reason why I studied the language is because of the exam. To cut the long story short, I passed the exam and I came here in South Korea with mediocre knowledge of Korean language, not even enough to help me survive a daily conversation with Koreans. I felt the need to learn their language more so I enrolled in this free training program designed for expatriates by the Human Resource Department of South Korea.

At start, learning phase is very difficult. But if you will get the hang of it, you will find it very interesting and you will be eager to learn more. Aside from the Sunday class, I found this very reliable and informative website that teaches nothing but Korean Language. This website is called "TALK TO ME IN KOREAN" or abbreviated as TTMIK. I was so excited to learn again on my own, so I watched the videos, downloaded the audios and read the PDF files on the website. I really enjoyed learning Korean language through their platform, so I am sharing this to everybody who are interested to learn Hanguk Mal. To make it clear and easy to understand, I will state my five reasons why TALK TO ME IN KOREAN is the best online resource using the abbreviation TTMIK.


As time goes by, language is also changing and Korean language is not exempted about this fact. There are some words that have been altered by new generation Koreans. Although it is not bad to speak using those standard words, but in a colloquial conversation, it is still better if you can express your thoughts using the improvised way of saying words.

There are some Korean Language tutorial tools available online but I find most of them bookish. I don't want to sound like a textbook talking to Koreans. TTMIK have a lot of lessons that tackle information about how to converse in everyday Korean. The lessons are very realistic and it will teach you how to speak naturally. Through the help of proper conjugation, pronunciation and enunciation, TTMIK can help you speak the way modern generation Koreans speak.


TTMIK introduces lessons in a timely manner without compromising the technicalities. There are still some textbook rules that must be followed and must not be altered, that's why you will get a lot of lessons about conjugation rules, spacing rules and playing with the verb ending sentences. These, despite the evolution of Korean language, could not be taken for granted.


Studying with TTMIK will never be boring because it does not stick to only one application. It has a lot of fun elements that you can choose to enjoy while learning. If you want to study through videos, there are video lessons available. If you are too busy and you just want to listen to podcasts, you can download their audio lessons. And if you want to read and familiarize the spelling of the words and the sentence structure, you can download their PDFs. You see, you have multiple choices and you just need to choose in what manner you want to study.


You can chat with the hosts and staffs, you can ask questions through comment box and you can even "Ask Hyojin". That is how interactive the website is. It is not just a one way learning process. TTMIK is a platform where you can ask questions and get relevant answers. They also have a Facebook Group where you can interact with other K-language enthusiasts too. I once posted in one of their Facebook groups and I got answers from fellow members immediately. TTMIK is one big online community and I think that is one of the big factors why it's more fun to study with them.

Kind Hosts and Staffs

I once went through the recorded video chats available in the website and I really like the people behind TTMIK because they are all humble and kind. When I listen to their audio lessons, the voices of Kyeong-un and and Hyunwoo are very heart-warming that you can still feel relax eventhough they are discussing complicated sentence structures and conjugation. I know they are kind people through their voice. You can check out the profile of the team here.

On that note, I would like to salute all the people behind TTMIK. Thank you for giving us free and relevant information about Korean Language. Personally, I am now more than interested to master the language because you inspire me to do so. I haven't completely explored TTMIK website just yet but after applying some things that I learned from the website, I got compliments from Koreans because I can speak the language in proper structure. I couldn't find any other resources online that could teach Korean language in Timely manner, Technical, Multivalent, Interactive and with Kind Hosts and Staffs.

TTMIK 감사합니다.
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Saturday, December 7, 2013

4 Best Places in Seoul to Buy Specific Items

You could probably buy anything you need and everything you want anywhere in Seoul, or in South Korea generally. This country is one big shopping arena, that is why most tourists love to shop especially in the Seoul area.

What better way to buy items in Seoul is to find a place where it is actually nested. Sure you can drop by any stations or any malls to satisfy your shopping craving, but if you want to really get the best item at a very reasonable price, buy it in an area where you are supposed to see it.

Since we are in an online era, some buyers usually get to order their items via the internet portal called GMarket. This is where people, in and outside Korea, can buy Korean items online. But if virtual shopping is not your cup of tea, consider the following places in Seoul where you can buy specific items.

1. Musical Instrument at Nagwon Instrument Arcade

I was planning to buy a keyboard and I was looking for a place where I can select variety of brands. I found this place in Seoul called Nagwon Instrument Arcade.

This is branded as Korea's largest collection of music store. There are hundred of independent music stores in this building and you can find almost, if not all, types of musical instruments that ever existed in this world. Countless of musical instruments including pianos, wind instruments and string instruments. You can also find great variety of amplifiers and speakers in this place.

Direction to go to Nagwon Instrument Arcade:

Take Subway Line Number 1, 3 or 5 to Jongno-3ga Station. Go to Exit Number 5. Once you have exited, you will see this big building. The second and third floor of this building is the Musical Instrument Arcade.

And oh by the way, they're closed on Sundays.

2. The Camera Shops at Namdaemun Market

My eyes drool every time I see new units of camera being displayed on some malls. However, I find the cameras, especially the DSLR units very expensive here in South Korea. When I bought my first ever DSLR, I searched for the best place in Seoul to buy and I found the Namdaemun market. There is this area in Namdaemun Market where you can see a lot of independent shops that sell nothing but cameras. Think of any brands and units you want, new or second hand, and you can find them all in this place. The prices are generally reasonable, but with soft talks and some persuasion, you can ask for a discount. They are kind enough if they'll find you interesting and good customer. :)

Direction to go to The Camera Shops:

Take Subway Line Number 4 to Hoehyeon Station. Go to Exit Number 5 then turn right as soon as you have exited. Go through the Namdaemun Market until the end, it will take about 5 minutes before you can reach the end of the market. There you can see this haven of camera shops.

3. Gadgets And Appliances at Techno Mart

Cellphones, Tablet Computers, and other electronic gadgets you can think, you can find it all at Techno Mart. It is a very large shopping mall located at Gangbyeon and this is a haven of great selection of electronic devices and appliances. You can buy smart phones and tablets at the cheapest possible price.

Direction to go to Techno Mart:

Take Subway Line number 2 to Gangbyeon Station. Go to either Exit 1 or Exit 2.

4. Computers and Laptops at Yongsan Electronic Market

Situated near the Yongsan train station, the Yongsan Electronic Market offers a large selection of electronic gadgets. But if you will buy something from this place, I will only recommend the PC and laptops. Why? Because you can just select any brands or if you want the new or secondhand units. Aside from that, the price are really affordable. Although I heard some "horror stories" about buying some PCs and laptops from this place, you can select an independent store whom you think you could trust. As for me, I would recommend this store called "Laptop Professional". This is where I bought my laptop and I am so far happy with the item.

Direction to go to Yongsan Electronic Market:

Take Subway Line Number 1 to Yongsan station. Go to Exit Number 2 and you can directly go to Yongsan Electronic Market from there.

There are a lot of great shopping spots in Seoul where you can buy items at a very reasonable price. Shopping in Seoul is not really expensive at all if you are practical and wise.
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