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.

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.

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.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Are you a warfreak?

Let's redefine the word warfreak at least for this article. Let's make it more positive. What I mean when I say warfreak is having an utmost desire to learn or study more about war. It is not about making it as a habit, but making the "study" about war as a hobby.

I think it's interesting to learn more about war because it's part of the world history, and when we talk about it, I mean the misunderstanding between nations, Korea is one of the many countries who took part in so many kind of wars in the world. As a Filipino who is working here in Korea, everytime I see statues, museum or anything related to war, it reminds me of the darkest time of South Korea but it gives me a jolt of pride since Philippines helped South Korea to survive during the momentum of chaos against North Korea.

If this subject is something that trigger your interest, let me bring you to The War Memorial of Korea (전쟁기념관). 

I spent one fine afternoon last summer at War Memorial of Korea or we could just call it a museum. This museum was not only built just to showcase the grandeur of Korean warcrafts and weaponries, it is also a tribute to the victims and to the people who participated to all the wars that involved Korea. There are a lot of interesting stories and artifacts that 2 hours is not enough to really savor what this museum has to offer. If you really want to know everything about the place, you must spend half a day. 

This "Statue of Brothers" built in the southwest part of the memorial park is not simply a stone built in human form and fixated in a cracked dome made with granite. There's a story behind this statue, a mere proof that the museum has a heart that could capture the attention of many tourists aside from the fact that it is the biggest museum in the world of its kind. This statue depicts the story of the brothers, one working for South Korea and the other one working for North Korea. They met in the battlefield in the middle of the war. This is a profound image that showcase the greatness of love over any hatred and misunderstanding.

Another Interesting sculpture at the museum is this statue made with bronze. I love the details of the sculpture because it does not only show an action of escaping but the expression on their faces conveys tensions and troubles. I don't have any idea about the story of this statue but I find it very interesting.

Photo credit to

For the pleasure of your eyes, if you are not really into history and you just want to see their weapons, you can visit the Large Military Equipment Exhibit where you can see 3 types of weapons they used during the war. The Large Military Equipment is just one of the many halls for exhibits you can see at the museum. 

You can see a lot of types of weapons. This one is obviously used for battles that take place in the sea.

There are also a lot of land based warcrafts being displayed in the large military equipment in the exhibit like this:

We tried to operate it like we are one of the armies, but of course this is just for the show.

And more acting like this.... LIKE A BOSS!!! :)

It was such an amazing experience to ride on every piece in the exhibit.

And of course, the air based equipment are all there too. They are all huge!!!

The stuff look so real, of course they're real, just inactive.

Look, everyone is taking poses together with the weapons.

I think this is just one way to remind people that all these weapons and equipment can be as fun as cars and stuff toys if not being used to something horrible like killing people. Nobody wins in war, but everybody can be happy to see these stuff if being used in some activities that could contribute to the progress of the nation, like in this case in the area of tourism.

For those who are curious enough and want to visit the War Memorial of Korea, you can take this direction:

Take the subway line number 4 or number 6 to Samgakji Station. Go out at Exit Number 12. The museum is just 5 minutes away from this station. The War Memorial of Korea opens at 9 in the morning until 6 PM.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

3 Benefits You Can Get After You Finished Your Contract as EPS Worker And How To Claim Them

One very important information you should know as EPS Worker of South Korea is that you won't go home penniless. That is the beauty of working as OFW here in South Korea, whether you have saved money from your monthly wages or not, you still have benefits to claim so when you go home, you have money to start up a new chapter of your life.

In case you don't know what are these benefits, I will share this information to you and how to claim them.

1. National Pension System (NPS)

This is known as Kukmin. This is you and your employer's monthly contribution and you can get the lump sum after your contract or your final exit. To check how much money you and your employer have contributed, click here and follow the procedure for online inquiry.

To claim your NPS or Kukmin, before you leave the country, go to the nearest NPS office in your area. Coordinate with your employer so they can recommend the nearest NPS office in your area. You must file a Lump-Sum Refund and present the following documents:

-Alien Card
-Bank Account Number
-Plane Ticket

Note that your lump sum refund will only be claimed when you are already in the Philippines.

2. Toejikgeum or Severance Pay

The company will pay you a severance pay if you have served for at least one year. Based on the new rule, every worker can receive a severance pay regardless of the number of the workers. One (1) year of employment is equivalent to one month basic salary. If you decided to leave after one year of service, you can get equivalent to one month basic salary as a severance pay.

To claim your severance pay, go and file the claim at the Philippine Catholic Center at Hyehwa-Dong. Present the following requirements:

-Alien Card
-Bank Account Number

3. Samsung Insurance or Return Cost Insurance

From your first ever salary as an EPS worker, you have been deducted the amount of 400, 000 won. This is actually for your plane ticket back to the Philippines. Whatever is the outcome of your career here in South Korea, you can surely come back home because of this Return Cost Insurance. You sure can buy a ticket back to the Philippines with this amount.

You can visit Samsung Fire and Marine Insurance Co., Ltd. office at Samsung Insurance Bldg., 87, Euljiro 1 ga, Choongku, Seoul.

In case you have finished your contract or you will about to take your final exit, don't forget to claim your benefits.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

16 Guest Ghosts in the Korean Drama Series The Master's Sun

I don't usually watch TV Drama series, let alone Korean Drama Series. It takes a whole lot of entertainment factor before a particular TV Drama series can catch my attention. This particular series entitled "주군의 태양"  or "The Master's Sun" has something interesting to offer to viewers that I easily got hooked into it. I religiously watched the show from Episode 1 up to Episode 17 because there is no really dull moment for every episode. Another interesting thing about this show is that it covers a lot of TV show genres. It is an infusion of horror, drama, comedy, romance, there's a little bit of action and fantasy.

Without the guest ghosts and other elements, the core story of the series is very ordinary. It's another story of a damsel in distress saved by a knight in shining armor. This is a story of a woman named Tae Gong Sil (Gong Hyo In) who apparently can see ghosts. These ghosts bother her to do their last will before they will get to heaven. The only person who can protect her by making ghosts disappear by simply touching her is the CEO of Kingdom mall named Joo Jong Woon (So Ji Sub). The problem arises when their personality is in conflict with one another. Tae Gong Sil is a sweet insomniac woman while Joo Jong Woon is a conceited CEO that measures everything through money. Together, they went through the journey of love and life proving that regardless of the differences, love can heal them.

What really makes me want to watch this show is that, every episode, they have guest ghost with interesting story. A story can be a source of valuable lessons that we, the living, can reflect upon. Let me introduce to you these 16 new friends I found from watching The Master's Sun online.

Meet Chaa Hee Joo. She is one of the most important character as the story progresses. She is the girlfriend of Joo Jong Won who died in a car accident while trying to escape from the authority after kidnapping her boyfriend Joo Jong Won with her accomplice. She seeks Joo Jong Won forgiveness and to reveal the big secret that would change the course of the ordinary story of this series. She appears from time to time during the whole duration of the series through the eyes of Tae Gong Sil, the only person who can see her.

Here's another ghost that is overly addicted to coffee. He keeps bothering Tae Gong Shil for a cup of coffee. In the later part of the story, you will find out that he has a mission. Somebody is using him to watch over Tae Gong Sil. He is a harmless ghost that wants nothing but coffee.

Let me introduce you to Halmoni Ghost. She is the first ghost to appear in the whole series. She can't rest in peace because she was not able to turn over her money which she secretly keeps to her children. She asks Tae Gong Sil to help her give the money to her family to at least use for her funeral.

The soul of Mi Kyong, the run away bride. She died because of a disease. She left her husband right after the wedding, and the guy was so depressed that he lost his interest in playing soccer. She could not just leave the earth without saying sorry to him and without encouraging him to keep on playing as this what makes him happy.

Of all the ghosts, I can relate to this ghost of a student who died after being hit by a car. Her name is Eun Sool. She was in the mall with her three friends when she was suddenly told to go home because they just don't want to be with her. With a heavy heart, she left the mall and crossed the highway while crying. She got hit by a car and she died on the spot. She returned as a ghost not to hunt or revenge her friends but to let them know that they don't need to feel sorry for her death. She's not blaming anybody because it was just an accident and that she just want to completely leave without making feel anybody guilty.

The ghost of Choi Yoon Hee who died in a car accident after running away from her boyfriend. She caught her boyfriend cheating on her and that she heard his plan of getting her out of the way. Choi Yoon Hee is a daughter of a rich businesswoman, apparently her boyfriend wants nothing but her wealth. Her soul could not live peacefully because she is worried for her mom. She just wants to protect her mother against the evil plan of her boyfriend.

 I call her the vain ghost. She's looking out for those girls who are too narcissistic and she will stick to her and whisper something to make a woman more obsess with beauty and become more vain.

 The brat kid, Ji Woon. He died because of a disease. He died deprived of the freedom to make friends, to go out and do what other teenagers are doing. That is because he has a very sensitive disease and that is also the reason why he died at an early age. The soul could not transport because he died unmarried. His rich grandmother hired Madam Go to find a soul of a woman that could fit in to Ji Woon's and organize a wedding of their souls. Ji Woon does not like that idea because he is waiting for that one special girl that he met. His soul will only be at peace if he will get a chance to talk to that girl.

The cutest guest ghost of the show, the ghost of the dog named Pil Seung who dances to the tune of Nobody. He is a military dog who died under euthanasia. His master, a military student, was too depressed for loosing the dog, run away from the military school and attempted to commit suicide. Of course, Pil Seung would never allow that to happen, so his ghost reappear and through the help of Joo Joong Won, the ghost of the dog saves his life's master.

The ghosts of the three kids who died because of abuse. They agreed to thrive in the doll and collect the ghosts of other kids who go through the same fate as them.

 This is the ghost of Kang Jil. She's not yet dead anyway. She's under comatose. Her soul decided not to go back to her body because her life as a ghost is way better than the real one. She can stay in the hotel, read magazines, eat anything she wants and watch fireworks in the pool side as a ghost. But after being persuaded by Taeyang, she goes back to her body and woke up with her family waiting for her.

She's the wife of a well known pianist. She just can't leave the world because her husband who is too much dependent on her is holding her to stay. She approached her husband by possessing Taeyang's body to let her go and let her rest in peace.

 The jar ghost. He is the ghost who can control somebody's attitude. If you feel like appreciating a jar as expensive piece of art, you will become arrogant, self centered and you will be over powered with pride.

The most controversial ghost of all, the ghost of CEO of giant mall. He was found dead in one of their rest houses in the midst of a room of a woman which suspected to be his mistress. The soul could not simply rest in peace because he has no mistress. He wants to divulge the biggest secret that he has been carrying since then, that he maybe a man who everybody respected, but his heart is a heart of a woman.

 The sad boy named Woo Jin. He died after being hit by a car. As there is no witness, the driver covered up the accident by hiding the boy's dead boy. He is sad for his mother because his mother went looking for him everywhere until exhaustion and depression. All he wants is justice for his death and for his body to be found by his mother.

The last but not the least, my favorite ghost of all, the trash can ghost. He is a ghost that does not move at all. If there is "A man who can't be moved", this one is "A ghost that can't be moved". He stays in front of this trash can and won't move at all. This is the trash can where he accidentally threw the winning lottery ticket. He wants to get it back, but he couldn't find it anymore. He died from depression because of that.

At first, I find these ghosts quite scary and at the same time awkward for a TV series. But Hollywood has done this before with their "Ghost Whisperer", so I am some kind of use to this kind of genre. As the story progresses, I find them cute and vulnerable.

Happy Halloween!!!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

4 Unique Properties of Samsung Galaxy Round

A new smartphone has just been launched by South Korea's leading smartphone manufacturer Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and they call it the SAMSUNG GALAXY ROUND.

After the brouhahas following the leaked photo of the said smartphone, Samsung finally revealed today that it is indeed existing with promising features that users will surely love. Samsung Galaxy Round runs Android and it offers new properties for a unique user experience. Here are the 4 properties that would help you decide whether to buy this phone or not.

1. The Curve Display

This is so far the first mobile device that comes in a curve display. The Galaxy Nexus has also a curve display but it is not as curve as this new product from Samsung. This is so far the most unique and important property of Samsung Galaxy Round as no other mobile device, including its rival iPhone, has a curve display. This step is so far experimental according to Samsung. They just want to gauge customer's taste when it comes to curve display. Aside from the unique design, the curve display will also make the phone more flexible and at some point, unbreakable.

2. The Roll Effect

The Roll Effect is a prerequisite to the curve display. Because of it having a curve display, users can actually perform a roll effect to their phone. And what exactly is the roll effect? It is the ability to push the phone on one side and it will show the default homepage information of the phone. To demonstrate on how to do this, watch this video:

3. The Gravity Effect

Another prerequisite to the curve display of Samsung Galaxy Round is the Gravity Effect. This effect allows you to interact with your phone display visually. For example, if you are playing music, by just tipping on the rounded handset of the phone, you can skip to the next track. You can also do similar effect to photos and videos.

4. The Side Mirror

Tilt the phone to either left or right and you can magically access your phone's gallery to checkout some saved photos and videos.

These new features of Samsung Galaxy Round will mark a new milestone in the world of smartphones. Competitors like LG Electronics and Apple are also brewing their answer to Samsung's challenge. LG Electronics is said to release their smartphone with vertically curve display while Apple is working on their Smart Watch.

The retail price of Samsung Galaxy Round is $1013.

Friday, October 4, 2013

5 Comparisons Between Namdaemun Market and Dongdaemun Market

For all of you shopaholics out there, if there are spots in South Korea to shop at an affordable price, I would gladly recommend the Namdaemun market and the Dongdaemun market. True that malls like Lotte and other store outlets can provide you with great selections of must buy Korean items, but if you really want to buy more, and by more I mean bulky, at affordable price, these two markets located in Seoul, South Korea would be great choices.

But if you are torn between these two markets and you need to choose only one, then let this review of mine be your guide to select which market you should shop.

1. Price

Ok, admit it or not, first thing you always consider when you shop, for practicality purposes, is the price. You, or we, always want to get the best item at a very low price. Based on my experience, both Namdaemun and Dongdaemun markets offer shoppers the products that can be bought at a very low price. At Namdaemun, you can buy RTW items like shirts for as low as 3,000 won up to 5,000 won. Dongdaemun however can offer as low as 2,000 won for a shirt or a sweatshirt. Although those items do not have a commercial brand name, quality is still not at stake because everything that made in Korea is of good quality. Since Dongdaemun can offer lower price than the Namdaemun, I will give 1 point to Dongdaemun.

2. Convenience

A market must be organized well so that shoppers can easily find the items they need to buy. It is essential for customers to go around shopping at ease to save time and effort. Both Dongdaemun and Namdaemun markets are very congested. People swarm to these two places to buy stuffs and it is expected that the crowd is so huge. However, Namdaemun market stands out in terms of arrangement. Unlike Dongdaemun, it is more organized because items are being arranged according to category. There is one side for bags, one area for kitchenwares, another area for RTWs, etc. At Dongdaemun, all items are displayed randomnly. Shopping at Dongdaemun would really take a lot of time because there is no specific area to buy specific items.  So  I will give 1 point for Namdaemun market for this aspect.

3. Quality

What you can see at Namdaemun market, you can see at Dongdaemun. Basically, all items are made in Korea, rest assured that all are of good quality. Although you can also buy rejected items (those with small damages) in these markets, you can choose to buy the good ones. As for the quality, I will give both of them 1 point, it’s a tie.

4. Ambiance

These two places have big difference when it comes to ambiance. Dongdaemun has a laid back environment considering the fact that it is a nature-inspired market while Namdaemun is more commercialized. If you are a shopper who wants to see tall and big buildings and a high end environment, then go to Namdaemun. But if you like nature, then Dongdaemun is for you. Personally, I will choose Namdaemun.

5. Accessibility

Look at the subway map of South Korea and you couldn’t find something about Namdaemun there. Only Dongdaemun station is in the subway map. I would say Dongdaemun is more accessible than Namdaemun because of its availability in the map.

Here is how to go to Namdaemun:

Take subway line number  4 to  Hoehyeon station and take exit #5.

Here is how to go to Dongdaemun:

Take Subway line number  2 to Dongdaemun History & Culture Park station and take exit #2 or 14.

And since Dongdaemun can be easily spotted, 1 point for Dongdaemun.

And for the summary:

Price: Dongdaemun
Convenience: Namdaemun
Quality: Dongdaemun and Namdaemun
Ambiance: Namdaemun
Accessibility: Dongdaemun

Total Score:

Namdaemun market: 3 points
Dongdaemun market: 3 points

Ok fine, I am just playing safe here. But shopping is based on your taste. You can refer to my review above to help you guide which market is best to shop based on your preferences.

Happy Shopping

Sunday, September 29, 2013

3 Beautiful Facets of Gyeongju

South Korea has a lot of very interesting places to offer to both tourists and expatriates. I have been to several places of South Korea and I was really amazed with the idea that all those famous attractions that I only saw on TV were standing tall right in front of my eyes. The most memorable place I have visited so far is Gyeongju city which is located in the Southeastern part of Korea in Gyeongsangbuk-do Province.

Photo station at the Gyeongju Historic Area acknowledged by UNESCO World Heritage

Almost Missed It.

Since I discovered that I have some acquaintances-slash-adopted-relatives-slash-neighbors-slash-aunties living in the southeast part of South Korea, I planned to visit them. The problem is, I don’t have ample time to do it because their place is almost 8 hours away from my place. During the Chuseok holidays, I have this 2 days opportunity to visit them at Gyeongju. It was my first time to travel that time and I almost missed that trip because I slept late the night before. I was with friends the previous day touring around Seoul and I was so tired the next day that I needed to exert too much effort to drag myself off from bed. The adventurous part of me reminded me that I don’t have any more chance to go to Gyeongju if I will let this day pass. I finally convinced myself, and the verdict is to pursue my plan to travel to Gyeongju and I left my humble abode that cold early morning.

The Start of the Journey.

Based on my readings (Thanks to Google for helping me out), one of the many ways to go to Gyeongju is to go to the Seoul Express Bus Terminal. The Express Bus Terminal can be reached via Seoul subway line numbers  3 and 7 and go to exit number 2. You can also take Line number 9 and take exit number 11. The fare from the Express Bus Terminal to Gyeongju City is 30,000 won. You can also take KTX at Seoul Station which is a little bit expensive than the bus. The day trip to Gyeongju from Seoul travel time is approximately 4 to 5 hours. I bought two bus tickets, back and forth. Good thing I can speak a little bit of Korean language so I was able to explain to the ticket vendor the schedule of travel I desire. Since I am expecting a long travel, I decided to come back the next day so I can stay there overnight.

Tickets from Seoul to Gyeongju

The Long Travel.

What was supposed to be a 4 hours travel turned out to be a 7 hours travel and I was reminded that Chuseok holidays usually is congested with people and cars. The main challenges are traffic and long lines in the public comfort rooms during the two stops. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the trip eventhough that some passengers have almost lost their patience and gone haywire because of the long travel. The ajumma besides me starts getting irritated with my constant question “Are we there yet?”. I think I asked her for the nth time, that was me being worried if I took the right bus and the right destination. We left at 11:10 am and we arrived at Gyeongju at 6:30 pm. That was a whooping more than 7 hours of travel.

Beautiful Gyeongju.

But all my worries had been wiped out and all my efforts had been paid off when I arrived at the well gated community of Gyeongju. My heart stopped beating for like 10 seconds in awe of the beautiful paradise that awaits me. I said, “Wow, this place is a real treasure”. You know and you can feel the Korean rich culture through the ambiance of the place. 

The entrance to Beautiful Gyeongju

My aunt was already waiting for me at the bus terminal when I arrived and it was nice seeing her after she left our hometown for more than a decade.

Fact about Gyeongju.

Gyeonngju city was the capital of Silla Kingdom from 57 BC to AD 935. That was more or less 992 years of ruling and it is considered the longest period of any dynasty in the History of Korea. Gyeongju was previously known by the names Seorabeol and Gyerim and adapted the name Gyeongju after AD 935. 

First beauty revealed: The Architectures.

What makes Gyeongju beautiful is the historic ambiance of architectures that you can see almost everywhere. It’s like an open air museum. In fact, you don’t need to go to a museum to experience and see the feel of the Silla Kingdom. The place contains all the historic places and historic houses and historic sceneries that you feel like you have traveled in time back to the days when this place was still the capital of the Silla Kingdom. And because it was the capital city, all the relics of Silla Kingdom have been scattered all around the city. 

Symbol of Silla Dynasty and Gyeongju. You can see these almost everywhere in Gyeongju.

The residents of the city upheld their duty to preserve their cultural heritage and you can see their efforts by just looking at the designs of their houses. Most of the buildings there still follow the design of the old Silla Kingdom. This is their way of preserving their historical pride. This makes the place an open air museum because by just walking down the lane of Gyeongju, you are already witnessing the cultural heritage of the city.

Buildings. Houses. Fences. All were built based on historic Silla Dynasty architectural designs.

Second beauty revealed: The Night Life.

Despite having a laid back ambiance, Gyeongju city have awesome night life to offer to those of you night owls. Since I arrived there at early night time, my aunt brought me to a group of Filipinos who are planning to go to Norae Bang that night for a weekend party. Norae Bang or Videoke Bar is one of the many things you can do at night time at Gyeongju. Although the place is not as loud as in Suwon and in Seoul, you can sing your heart out until midnight without having any troubles.

Norae Bang with Filipino Community at Gyeongju

Night time is simply beautiful at Gyeongju and pretty safe that we took along with us the kids to join us for that late night escapade. I really had fun spending my night with the Filipino Community at Gyeongju and I swear I could spend more nights like that without dull moments. 

Night Life at Gyeongju

Gyeongju looks different at night than in the daytime. It could be because of the colorful lights that it subdued the supposed to be historical feel of the place.

Third beauty revealed: The tourist Attractions.

There are a lot of Gyeongju attractions that tourists can enjoy that one or two days are not enough to explore the place. Several spots of Gyeongju are reflecting the history of the place that it receives a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. From a late night escapade last evening, we left the apartment as early as possible the next day because I have to go back to Seoul in the afternoon. Since I don’t have enough time, we visited the Gyeongju historic area situated in the heart of city, the nearest tourist attraction so far from my aunt’s place. In this park, I was in awe when I saw these humungous hills that scattered everywhere in the area. My aunt explained that these are not simply hills but grassy burial moulds that hold the tombs of Silla Kings. Wow, there are actually kings buried in these tombs. The Cheomsangdae Observatory was also there, it’s amazing that the old relic you just read from books is already right there in front of you.

The Tombs of Kings at Gyeongju Historical Area.

Aside from the tombs and the Cheomsangdae Observatory, the nature park is a place where you can sit and relax with nature. 

Cheomsangdae observatory

There are also numerous Buddhist temples and statues that you can see everywhere in the area and the chariot type of transportation is an additional tourist attraction. Tourists can experience the ride for a fee though.

All around the historic area

As I’ve said, one day is not enough to really savor the beauty of tourist attraction of Gyeongju. I should have visited the Gyeongju Anapji Pond, or the Bomun Lake, or get lost in the Gyeongju tower, and of course the most famous attraction of Gyeongju- the Bulguksa Temple.

I’ll be back Gyeongju.

If there is one word that could define Gyeongju, it is BEAUTIFUL. I have stayed there for merely 24 hours and I somehow fell in love with the place. I guess the formula for it being beautiful is the brave preservation of the place despite the world’s modernization and the value that the people have invested to their cultural heritage. No wonder several Korean TV series and movies selected Gyeongju to shot some of their scenes.  A thousand years have already passed after the fall of Silla, but you can still feel the air of the dynasty at Gyeongju. On that note, I will surely go back there, with more time and more preparation, I will make an extraordinary trip to Gyeongju next time.

Thank you to the Filipino community at Gyeongju who despite me being peculiar to them, they welcomed me and made me feels that I belong. Thank you to Auntie Remy Estonina and family and to Santiago family for adopting me for my two days stay there. Until we meet again.