Saturday, May 25, 2013

8 Featured Wild Spring Flowers of Korea

It's my first time to experience Spring season. Coming from a country where there are only two seasons, I am excited to experience the famous four seasons of Korea.

Spring is a perfect season after winter. Imagine a dull and all white environment magically turn into colorful ambiance. I like spring because it's not too hot like summer and it's not too cold like winter. But what I love about Spring is the flowers. It is during this season when beautiful flowers of Korea start to bloom. You can see all these beautiful creations of God all over.

Those mainstream flowers have already captured the eyes and heart of Koreans and foreigners. What we don't know is that there are a lot of beautiful wild flowers that grow somewhere. Wild flowers are the one unnoticed, unappreciated and most of all being stepped on without the feeling of guilt. Today, I will give these wild flowers the chance to shine. These wild flowers just sprout anywhere. Nobody intentionally planted these species, they just grow by itself and you can find them in the farm, forestry, sidewalks and even in the creeks. I don't even know if they have names but let me introduce them to you using fictional names.

1. Bluish Wings

This one I saw beside the bus stop while I am waiting for the bus. I call it Bluish Wings because it looks like wings and it's bluish.

2. Mini Sunflower

A very very small yellow petals that grow everywhere in the sidewalk of South Korea. They look good together with green meadows. It's like sunflower and it's very small so I call it mini sunflower.

3. Christmas Ball

Nobody notice this because it's so small. If you will look at it closely, you'll appreciate its beauty. I wonder how it looks like when there are a lot of it growing in the field.

4. Purple heart

This one is my favorite. It's like a heart and it's color purple.

5. Cotton Balls

Very light and fragile flower that grows everywhere in the sidewalk of South Korea. If you will blow it, it will scatter all over. 

6. Blue Petals

Finally found something blue in one corner of Korea's forestry. It is very small so nobody gets to notice it.

7. Pretty Yellow

This one looks familiar to me. I think I saw this in the Philippines.

8. Purple Hair

Hairy cotton ball with purple hue. I like it because it's furry. 

I know there are a lot of wild flowers in South Korea left undiscovered. I have high regards with them all because they do not rely to a caretaker to grow and bloom beautifully. I hope we will also like wild flowers, we grow and bloom to reflect the beauty of God's creation and we remain strong and beautiful despite being stepped on and neglected.


Monday, May 20, 2013

6 Recommended Buys At Namdaemun Market

I visited the Namdaemun market last weekend and I drooled over great but cheap items. A lot of people visit this place to buy Korean goods and the market has a festival ambiance. Namdaemun market is located at Namdaemun, Seoul, South Korea.

Before I recommend what to buy at the market, let's take a quick tour first around Namdaemun. Let me do the honor to tour you around.

This is Namdaemun. It is one of the eight gates in the fortress wall of South Korea. It is also known as Sungnyemun which literally means Gate of exalted ceremonies. You can reach Namdaemun through the Hoehyeon Station which is located in Namchang-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

What you can see at this place are these awesome sculptures and places.

I looked around and this is so far the tallest building I saw. This is their post office building. I wonder how many snail mails they are receiving per day for having this tall building as a post office.

If you go there, you can stay at the park and relax. Feel the nature-inspired ambiance of the park.

And if you want to go shopping, you can shop at the underground mall called Shinsegae. This is a mall adjacent to the subway station.

Entering the underground mall is just like entering a tunnel or a bat cave, but instead of bats and stalactites and stalagmites, you will be greeted by this well-lit passage with a very attractive interior design.

I have a lot of things to say about Namdaemun but let's just focus on the Namdaemun market. Korea is best known for their quality products. If you want to buy something, these are the 6 items I would recommend you to buy at the Namdaemun Market.

1. Clothes

If there is something I would recommend you to buy, it's the clothes. Korea's clothing are stylish and fashionable. They may be an unknown brand but you can get the same quality as expensive branded clothes.

You can find children's clothes at Namdaemun Market. Prices range from 3,000 won to 5,000 won (approximately 100 pesos to 180 pesos).

For fashionable ladies, you can buy these clothing with modern designs for only 10,000 won to 15,000 won (approximnately 300 pesos to 500 pesos).

For sporty, you can get these good quality sports clothes for only 5,000 won to 10,000 won (approx. 150 pesos to 300 pesos).

For women, you can have one of these for only 17,000 won to 20,000 won (approx. 600 pesos to 750 pesos)

I have also spotted some branded clothing for women worth 20,000 won to 25,000 won (approx 750 pesos to 850 pesos).

2. Kitchen wares

Moms would surely love this place because you can find all variety of kitchen wares here at a very affordable price. And again, quality is not compromised with respect to the price.

These marble made frying pans cost 30,000 won (approx. 1100 pesos) to 35,000 won (approx. 1300). Smaller frying pans can be purchased for only 25,000 won (900 pesos).

They also have beautiful designed set of plates.

The spoons come in different sizes and designs. By the look of it, you know that these spoons can last up to three generations and you can only buy it for only 600 won (approx 20 pesos) per piece. Bigger spoons with high quality can be bought from 1,000 won (approx 35 pesos) to 2,000 won (approx 70 pesos).

Everything you think about kitchen, you can find it at Namdaemun market at very low price.

3. Beauty Products

For vain, you can see beauty product stores almost everywhere in Korea. I don't know what are these but I know girls would love these items.

And you an get it with discount.

4. Bags

These bags do not have mainstream brand but since it is made in Korea, I know I can recommend this too. It costs only 5,000 won (approx. 180 pesos).

But I have also spotted some branded bags in one corner of the market.

5. Shoes

If there's something in Korea that you must buy, it should be shoes. Just like the bags, if you disregard the brand, you can buy these stylish shoes at a very cheap price of 20,000 won (approx 600 to 800 pesos).

Tennis and sports shoes cost from 35, 000 won (approx 1,300 pesos) to 45,000 won (approx 1700 pesos).

Oh my God, Imelda Marcos would love it here.

6. Street Food

If you are tired shopping around the market, there are a lot of food stalls where you can buy something to eat. 

You can buy fresh fruit juice for only 2,000 won (approx. 70 pesos).

And some Korean street food like Kukul Tarea which cost ranges from 5,000 won (approx. 180 pesos) to 7,000 won (approx. 250 pesos).

There are also foreign street food like this Kebab made by Iraqi.

Namdaemun market is just like any traditional markets. But what make it different from others is that aside from the cheap but quality products, Namdaemun market has an ambiance of old days. It's like travelling back in time because the market has been built during the time when cars and mobile phones are not prevalent. However old it is, Namdaemun market is still on the bandwagon of modern marketing. So if you happen to visit Namdaemun market, you know what to buy.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

7 Simple Steps to Inquire for your NPS or Kukmin Contribution Online

The National Pension Service or 국민연금 (read as Kukminyoenkeum) is a public pension fund in South Korea. If you are in South Korea to work, you are obliged to contribute monthly for your NPS. It is similar to the Social Security System (SSS) in the Philippines. The mechanic is when you pay your monthly contribution to your NPS, your boss will contribute the same amount to your NPS account. So for example your monthly contribution in 84,000 Won, your boss will pay the same and that would make a total of 168,000 Won under your account.

This scheme is very favorable to the workers in South Korea because after your sojourn in the country, you will get the lump sum of your contribution. Imagine if you are contributing monthly for three years, that would make a handsome amount of money after your contract, something you can use to start a new business in the Philippines.

If you want to update your total contribution to your Kukmin, you can do it online. Just follow the steps below to inquire for your Kukmin or NPS contribution:

1. Go to

2. Click the Language scrollbar and select the desired language, i.e. ENGLISH.

3. A new page will open, click Q&A box:

4. At the Q&A page, browse to the bottom of the page and click WRITE button.

5. Tick the two boxes as highlighted in the image below and click SUBMIT button.

6. Fill up the form. Make sure you enter your correct Alien Card Number and you have a valid email address.

7. Click SUBMIT button found at the bottom of the form.

After you have followed the 7 procedures above, wait for 3 to 5 days for an email from NPS staff. You should be able to receive an email that look like this:

You have all the right for your NPS contribution. It's good if you will update yourself and to also make sure that your respective bosses religiously deposit the money to your NPS account.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

4 Facts About Gamjatang- A Korean Food

This is Gamjatang or pork bone soup in English. Gamjatang is now officially one of my favorite Korean dishes.

We went to Munsan today and saw this Korean restaurant with a big name that reads "GAMJATANG". After an 8 hour overtime work, our stomach were looking for something yummy to devour, so we've decided to try this resto and we ordered their specialty which is Gamjatang.

Like an ordinary Korean restaurant, Gamjatang restaurant has several tables on set without chairs. The ambiance is cool and I have nothing to say in terms of cleanliness. The name of the restaurant is quite good enough to understand that their specialty is Gamjatang. Without any further endorsements and understatements, they presented their food with the promise that it can satiate us.

I have asked so much about the food and I discovered these 4 quite interesting facts about Gamjatang that I thought you too would like to know.

1. Gamjatang "maybe" derived from the word Gamja which means potato. However, I couldn't find a single potato on the soup, so nobody could confirm that it was indeed named after Gamja. Our samunim sometimes served us Gamjatang with potatoes, but most of the time, no potatoes at all. I take it that it is still a debate whether Gamjatang got its name from potato.

2. It is made of soft pork spine or ribs. It has been boiled in a very high temperature to make the meat very soft, as in melt in the mouth and I think that what's make it very interesting.

3. This can be served as a midnight snack. Yes, a soup for a midnight snack. Usually, Gamjatang is best for lunch and dinner but oftentimes, this is served during the midnight.

4. Warning: Very spicy. Not surprising though as most of the Korean foods are spicy. The red-ish color of the soup is already an evidence.

Gamjatang is a Korean food but this is now very common outside Korea. If you happen to pass by a Korean restaurant in your area, wherever you are in the world, Gamjatang could be one of the food you can order.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

5 Things an E-9 VISA (EPS worker) Must Bring in the Training Center

So you have acquired an E-9 Visa and you are now ready to go to South Korea for work. You have paid your plane ticket, signed your contract, paid your OWWA membership fee, attended a 6 days training at POEA and you have all your documents compiled in one envelope. All your bags are packed and you are now ready to go. Excited much? Nervous? Happy? Sad? Yeah, it's a mix feeling. I can relate to that as I have experienced that before.

But wait, you may need to double check your baggage if you have missed something. You may have packed everything you need in preparation for your tenure in your respective company, but have you brought something for your 3-day stay at the training center? When you arrive here in South Korea, you will not go directly to your respective companies, you will stay in the training center for 3 days for more orientation, information and briefing. In fact, staying in the training center is the first challenge you will face here in South Korea.

This is one of the training centers for E-9 Visa. 

Like us, you too will undergo 3 days training here. During these days, you will start to adjust yourself to new environment and you will feel homesick. To avoid more hassle, I have noted the 5 items below that you must bring to at least reduce your burden during this adjustment period. This may not make sense for now, but believe me, you will see how important these items are when you are in the training center. You can find these handy when need arises.

1. Notebook and Pen

Yes, you read it right. You will undergo series of briefings and seminars during the 3 days. Although I don't think it is really important to take down notes, some speakers require it. It could be because they can get your full attention when you are taking down notes. I remember how I pretended that I am taking down notes so as not to be reprimanded. Our instructor was randomly checking us and whoever found to have no notebook, he put them into an awkward situation. So for formality purposes, bring notebook and pen to avoid trouble with your  선생님.

2. Bottled water or tumbler

Call it OC but a bottled water or a tumbler or a  bottle of the water is very important in the training center. Why? Because they don't provide cups or glass. Yes, there are a lot of water dispensers in the center, but if you have no container, you couldn't drink. There are paper cups available but they don't supply that often. When we were in the kitchen, we lined up and took turn to drink at the drinking fountain. Imagine sipping water directly from the faucet whilst somebody already did it ahead of you. If you have a bottle of water or a tumbler, you can just easily get water from the dispenser and drink with gusto.

3. Biscuits

Remember Korean food is way different from your food in your home country. You may not be able to eat the food well as you are still adjusting. Dinner at the training center is as early as 6 pm. An early dinner may make you hungry at midnight and you can have your biscuits for the rescue.

4. Mobile phone with roaming sim

The first thing you must do when you arrive here is to inform your family that you have landed safely, and you can only do that if you have a mobile phone. I can still remember how my colleagues asked favor from me to send message to their family. A smart phone is also recommended so you can connect to Facebook and communicate with your love ones. In the training center, there are installed pay phones, but you have to wait for your turn to call and the calling card costs 13,000 won. It is very inconvenient whilst you can easily text or send message through Facebook if you have Mobile phone. 

5. Male plug

For your mobile devices and other gadgets, you must bring a male plug. You can buy this in Hardware stores and it is not expensive.

You can actually survive without the 5 items I mentioned above, but as per experience is concerned, life could be easier in the training center if you can bring them. It wouldn't take as much space in your baggae anyway.