Friday, December 23, 2016

Philippine Ambassador to Korea Raul Hernandez is the Ambassador of the Year 2016 in Korea

Congratulations to our very own Philippine Ambassador to Korea Raul Hernandez for being the Asia Society Korea’s 2016 Ambassador of the Year. Last December 9, 2016, the 60 year old non-profit organization recognized Hernandez for his effort in improving the ties between the Philippines and Korea.

Ambassador Hernandez humbly accepted the award from Asia Society Korea Center Honorary Chairman and former Prime Minister Dr. Hong-Koo Lee, and Asia Society board member and former Foreign Minister Dr. Sung-Joo Han during the End of the Year Dinner at the Crystal Ballroom in Lotte Hotel in Seoul. In his speech, the ambassador greatly expressed his gratitude for the award given to him.

“I hope to have somehow contributed to your mission of deepening cooperation among countries in the Asia-Pacific region in the areas of arts and culture, business, policy, and education.”- Ambassador Raul Hernandez.

Aside from his accomplishments as Philippine Ambassador to Korea, he is also active in participating in different activities of the Filipino Communities in South Korea. Despite his hectic schedule, he always finds time to attend events, seminars and meetings of the Filipino Organizations in Korea if his presence is needed.

Everytime Ambassador Hernandez delivers his speech in an event to a group of Filipinos, he never fails to encourage and support the Filipino migrants in Korea. He is somebody that we OFW can lean on because his heart is with the people. Ambassador Hernandez is constantly doing his best for the welfare of the Filipinos in Korea. In fact, he proposed to the Minister of Employment and Labor of Korea to increase the age limit for foreign workers from age 38 to 45. Eventhough it was not approved yet by MOEL, his effort was greatly appreciated by the Filipino workers in South Korea.

Once again, to our dear Ambassador Raul Hernandez, we congratulate you for the award your received. You truly deserve it!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Signs That You Have Been “Koreanized”

When you live in a foreign land, it is inevitable to immerse in their culture and tradition. Whether you like it or not, if you stay in one country for a long time, converse and interact with the locals in a daily basis and adapt the culture, tradition and values, sooner or later, you will become one of them without intending it. For countries like South Korea who has a strong identity when it comes to culture, it is not hard to adapt the traits and culture of the locals. If you will catch yourself someday doing the following mannerisms, well guess what, you just have been Koreanized. So here is the list of signs that you may want to check if you have caught the Korean Virus.

1. You automatically bow to your superiors or greet “annyeong haseyo” effortlessly

Bowing in Korea plays a significant role in showing respect to the elders, friends and even your superiors at work. Everytime you meet them at random places, it is necessary that you bow to them and they will also bow in return. Most of the time, bowing is accompanied by a greeting “Annyeong Haseyo” which means you are telling that person to “Be at Peace”. If you do this effortlessly, like you don’t need to be reminded to do this, then you have been Koreanized. The greetings “annyeong Haseyo” becomes so natural to you that you don’t have to say it as clear as possible, sometimes people will just say “…nyong haseyo” or “nyonghaseyong….” Or something like that.

2. You just don’t say goodbye, you bow too

After meeting a person, you just don’t say bye or goodbye or wave your hand, you also bow as a sign of respect.

3. When you take selfies or picture, you either make a peace sign, a saranghae pose or give a heart sign

Before, the peace sign was associated with both Japan and Korea, and there’s also a Saranghae sign where you put your two hands on your head forming a heart sign. The latest version of this is a heart sign by overlapping your thumb with your forefinger. It will form a small heart sign and Koreans usually use this when they take selfies or photo. If you do any of these poses, then you have somehow gained influences from the Koreans.

4. You use the expressions “OMO” or “Aigoooo” or “Aisshhhh” or “Otoke”

I am so guilty of this!!! Koreans have a lot of expressions that foreigners can easily adapt especially if you hear them in a daily basis. “Omo” is like a Korean version of “Oh My God!”. Aigoo is like an expression when somebody is disappointed or surprised. Aissshhh on the other hand is a prelude to a bad Korea expression “Shhhiiiibaaaalll” which means “F*ck You”, Koreans usually use this when they’re angry. And Otoke is something I often use, when I don’t know what to do or confused or if I am in a difficult situation, literally, otoke means “how”

5. You wear couple shirts

One of the quirkiest but cutest Korean traits I see is the couples wearing couple shirts, or if winter, they wear couple jackets. No matter how masculine the Korean guy is, he eventually looks mushy if you see them with their girlfriends wearing the same shirt or jacket. Some foreign couples in Korea also follow the couple shirts trend as it looks so romantic and cute.

6. When receiving or giving something, you use both hands, or if you use one hand, your other hand touches your elbow

There’s so much to say about hand gestures in Korea, but the most obvious one is their rule when it comes to receiving or giving something. You just can’t receive or give, there’s some hand gestures to follow so you will not appear rude or disrespectful.

7. In drinking, you don’t pour your own drink, you instead pour for others

Drinking is a community activity for Koreans. If you found yourself pouring the drink for others, then you have been Koreanized.

8. You do things in a hurry

Pali-pali is one of the many words you often hear in Korea. Pali Pali means, hurry up!!! Koreans don’t want to waste time, so they really insist on making things in a hurry. If you live in this country, you will soon catch yourself doing things in a hurry.

9. Your Meal is not complete without KIMCHI

Kimchi is a very important side dish in a Korean meal. When you are in Korea, a meal is not without kimchi. Aside from adding taste to a regular Korean food, Kimchi provides a lot of health benefits.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Slide and Glide at Yeouido Hangang Park Ice Skating Rink (한강시민공원 여의도스케이트장)

Yeouido Hangang Park Ice Skating Rink (한강시민공원 여의도스케이트장)

For this year 2016, the ice skating rink at Yeouido Park was opened last December 9, 2016. It will be operating until mid February next year. After a failed attempt to try ice skating in Korea last Chinese New Year, we made sure to really try it this winter, so at the second day of its opening, we went to the Yeouido Park to scrape the ice, I mean to skate!

The first timers at ice skating

We arrived a little late in the venue, we started at around 12 noon and there were few people skating, mostly kids. As first timers, we hesitated a little bit, but the weather was good, it was not too cold and the atmosphere was inviting us to have some fun, so we excitedly grabbed our ice skates at the rental booths. The ticket for the ice skating rink is only 2,000 won and it includes rental of the ice skates.

Ice Skate Rental shop

After we got our ice skates, we went to the locker booths to leave our bags and shoes. The locker booths only costs 500 won, the person in charge for the keys of the locker collected 1,000 won for every key. He promised to return the extra 500 won when we return the key.


It was not crowded that day; it was not difficult for us to change our shoes into ice skates. The difficult part though was on making ourselves comfortable wearing the ice skates. At the entrance of the skating rink, there's a box full of safety helmets; we scavenged for the helmet that perfectly fits our respective heads.

When we entered the rink, we don't know what to do. Instead of skating, we were scraping the ice off the floor with our ice skates. It was our first time, so it’s like walking in the dark alley. You know how it feels to walk in the dark, where you see nothing and you walk so careful just to make sure you won’t hit on something, that’s exactly how I felt like when I first stepped into the rink.

With a little help from a friend who knows how to skate, I gradually got the hang of it and I just found myself enjoying it. I like how organized they are in the skating rink. People go into one direction to avoid bumping into each other. There are personnel in charged to make sure people are following the one direction rule. They also make sure that everybody’s safe, and they always come to the rescue to people who lost their balance.

Benches inside the rink

For people who want to practice and control their balance, the rink boundary which is a glass wall can be used as a bar. You can hold on to it while you walk on the ice until you find your balance. If you are too tired or afraid to stand up on ice, there are benches inside the rink where people can sit down. The skating rink is big enough to accommodate up to 500 people.

The glass walls of the rink can be used as a bar

If you are searching for some adventure this winter in Korea, why not try ice skating at the Yeouido Hangang Park. Aside from ice skating, they will also install a sledding hill and a snow playground for everybody to enjoy. It’s a one stop park to enjoy winter activities in Korea.

To go to the Yeouido Hangang Park Ice Skating rink, get off at Yeouido Station on Seoul Subway Line Number 5, go to Exit 3 and walk straight for about 5 minutes to the Yeouido Park.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Words That Only Pinoy in Korea Can Understand

1. EPS

One of the most common questions of a Filipino to a fellow Filipino in South Korea is “EPS ka?”. If you are not familiar with EPS, you would definitely be puzzled by the question.

EPS is actually not a word but an abbreviation. It stands for “Employment Permit System”. But the abbreviation EPS became extraordinary adjective for Filipinos in South Korea. It translates to “Factory Worker” because every pinoy who works in a manufacturing industry in Korea must go through the “Employment Permit System” to get a working visa. So instead of asking “Factory Worker ka?”, Filipinos would tend to ask “EPS ka?” most of the time. It does not makes sense if you will literally take the meaning of the abbreviation, but as time goes by, people keep using it, and it became acceptable replacement. You can interchangeably use “Factory Worker” and “EPS”.

2. Sincere

Everyone knows what sincere means. As an adjective, it means genuine feeling. In Korea, Filipinos have different meaning of SINCERE. If you are sincere worker, that means you genuinely worked for one company all throughout your 4 years and 10 months stay in South Korea. As a reward, you can be granted a Sincere Worker status by your boss, which means you can go back to Korea and work in the same company without going through the whole process of examination again. So if people in Korea say that you are SINCERE, it does not exactly mean that you have a genuine feeling, it simply means that you remain faithful in one company for your whole tenure in South Korea.

3. Artista

We refer them as Actors and Actresses, but in Korea, Filipinos have different meaning of Artista. Basically, they are undocumented aliens in the country. Filipinos in Korea who work without legal working visa are called artista. Others call them “Polpop” which is a Korean word which means illegal.

4. Mig Mig

Just when you think it’s a friendly slang word, think again. Mig Mig simply means immigration, they are the agency responsible for cracking down illegal aliens. Mig Mig is a code name used by Filipinos to warn the Artistas about their operation. They can be anywhere, watching, waiting and inspecting every foreigner they meet for the alien registration card. If you can’t show anything, then I guess you’re in trouble.

5. Release

Release means to let go. In Korea, in conveys the same meaning, but only pertaining to work related issue. Release is a term used by Filipinos in South Korea if they want to resign in the company they’re working. By resign I mean, quitting the work and find another company as a replacement. There’s a lot of process to get released by the company, you cannot just simply decide to quit and leave because you need the approval of your boss. If there’s no approval, either you stay and rot in the same company or you go home. Release is a word you often hear from factory workers who are sick with their boss or the company they’re working with.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Jusangjeolli Cliff (주상절리) is Nature’s Masterpiece of Jeju

What makes Jeju really beautiful is the fact that it is an island made by nature. Who would have thought that a disastrous eruption of magma that formed in the sea that happened more than 1 million years ago has now turned into an island inhabited by thousands of Koreans nowadays? Nature has a lot of masterpieces in Jeju, and one of them is the Jusangjeolli Cliff (주상절리) which is located in the Seogwipo City.

The Jusangjeolli cliff

Jusangjeolli or columnar joints is a rocky cliff, and the reason why it is called by its name is because the rocks in the cliff are formed into polygonal columns. This columnar joints is about 2 km long which runs from the coast of Jungmun-dong up to the Daepo-dong.

Big waves beating against the cliff and the rocks

If you will look at it at one glance, you may think that these joints are man made. The columns are perfectly arranged, some have 5 sides, some have 6 sides and it formed as if some architect or engineers have planned it so it will look that way. The truth is, the nature created this awesome cliff. Some 140,000 to 250,000 years ago, the lava flowed from the Nokhajiak Scoria cone. When the lava cooled down, it was solidified and then these polygonal columns were formed to make an amazing cliff.

View from the trail

When we went to the Jusangjeolli cliff, the waves were so big, and everytime it beats against the rocks and the cliffs, it’s so beautiful, it was like we were watching a show that only nature can do. The cool breeze and the sound of the splashing wave made our visit even more memorable and fun.

At the end of the trail, an ahjumma selling raw seafood is waiting for the hungry visitors. She’s actually cleaning them in front of the customers. While the waves and the columnar joints were busy entertaining the visitors, she has a show of her own too.

Ahjumma cleaning her raw seafood

Entrance to the Jusangjeolli Cliff is only 2,000 KRW per person. It is open all year round, from sunrise to sunset. It is located at this address:

216, Jungmungwangwang-ro, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
제주특별자치도 서귀포시 중문관광로 216 (중문동)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Filming Locations of Legend of the Blue Sea (푸른바다의 전설) in Korea and How to go there

The Legend of the Blue Sea (푸른바다의 전설) is the newest Korean drama craze in the world of Hallyu. It stars Lee Min Ho and Jun Ji Hyun and the story is all about a mermaid named Sae-Wa played by Jun Ji Hyeon who falls in love with the son of Joseon noble family Dam-ryeong played by Lee Min Ho during the Joseon dynasty. Then they find each other in the modern times as SIm Chung (Jun Ji Hyun) and Heon Joon-jae( Lee Min Ho), a doppelganger of Dam-ryeong from the Joseon dynasty and he works as a skilled conman. As their world intertwined in the modern world, Joon-jae shows Shim Chung the ways of the new world and later on find themselves in love with each other again. It is another love story about two people coming from two different worlds trying to fight the hurdles between them. Will love still wins despite the fact that Shim Chung finds it hard to keep up living with humans in the modern weird world? Will Heon Joon-jae can use his skills as a conman to trick the world and gets in his way to save and love Shim Chung? This Korean drama will show once again that love will always win. 

The drama has been shot at different locations in Korea and even outside the country. They filmed some underwater scenes in Palau, the casts and crews also went to Spain to film in A Coruna, Lugo, Ribadeo and Castell de Santa Florentina. However, the interesting shooting locations are of course the places they featured in Seoul and other parts of Korea. What made it interesting is the fact that the filming locations they selected are tourist spots. So if ever you are going to Korea, you might want to include some of these places in your itinerary.

1. Pocheon Art Valley

From Episode 2, there's a scene where Dam-ryeong shows up on his boat floating in a very beautiful and calm water to meet Sae Wa after hundreds of lanterns appeared all over the area. This location is at Pocheon Art Valley.

To go to this location, take an intercity bus and get off at Pocheon Bus Terminal (포천터미널), then from there, you can take bus number 67 or 67-1 and get off at Pocheon Art Valley Bus Stop.

2. Gangnam

When Sim Chung first set her foot in Seoul in Epsiode 3, she's wandering at Gangnam, the most sophisticated and expensive district of Seoul. This is a place where you see corporate people busy walking in the street, enjoy shopping and fashionable Koreans. 

To get yourself lost in the Gangnam district, when in Seoul, you can take Subway Line number 2 (Green Line) and get off at Gangnam Station.

3. Aqua Planet of 63 Building

To continue her search for Joon-jae, Sim Chung went to Aqua Planet 63 in Episode 3 of the series. She had her buffet in the aquarium and she became an instant star of the mermaid show.

If you want to visit Aqua Planet 63, take Subway Line Number 1 or Blue Line in Seoul, get off at Daebang Station and go to Exit 6. You can either take Bus number 11 or take the free shuttle bus to the 63 Building. 

4. Boseong Green Tea Plantation

A scene taken from outside of Seoul. In the Episode 4 of this series, Sae Wa is seen walking at the green tea plantation during the first snow of winter.

Boseong is actually far from Seoul, it is located at Jeollanam-do. It's address is at 763-67, Nokcha-ro, Boseong-gun, Jeollanam-do 전라남도 보성군 보성읍 녹차로 763-67. You can take the intercity bus from Seoul Central City Bus Terminal (Express Bus Terminal Station, Subway Line 3, 7 & 9), take an express bus bound for Boseong Intercity Bus Terminal. From Boseong Terminal, take a local bus bound for Yulpo and get off at Daehan Dawon Bus Stop. Travel time is about 5 hours.

5. Yeouido Hangang River Park

Another scene taken in Seoul is at Yeouido hangang River Park. Annually, every October, a fireworks festival is held in this park. Joon Jae and Sim Chung witnessed the fireworks at this park located in the heart of Seoul

It is very easy to go to Yeouido Hangang Park when you are in Seoul. Take Subway Line number 5, get off at Yeouinaru Station and go to either Exit 2 or 3.

There are several scenes taken at the Hangang Park. In Episode 8, Heo Jeon Jae met Sim Chung at this park. We visited the place and made our own version of the scene at the exact spot.

This is also a place where Sim Cheong scavenged for her potential dinner only to get interrupted by a fellow merman.

6. Namsan Seoul Tower

This tower appeared several times in the series. If you are wondering what is that well and beautifully lit tower you see on the background, that is N Seoul tower. If you are in downtown Seoul, it is impossible you would not see it in daytime and in night time. In Epsiode 5, Sim Chung and Joon Jae supposed to meet here during the first snow.

It is easy to go to Namsan Tower, you can read my previous post about N Seoul Tower HERE for the instruction on how to go there and for the fun activities you can do.

7. Vivaldi Park Ski World 

Another scene shot outside Seoul is at Vivaldi Park Ski World in Hongcheon, Gangwondo province. In episode 6, the couple is enjoying the ski park after Sim Chung requested to go to a place where there's snow. 

To go to Vivaldi Park Ski World, from Seoul Sangbong Bus Terminal or Dong Seoul Bus Terminal, take a bus to Hongcheon Bus Terminal. From Hongcheon, take Bus No. 70-1 or 70-2 to Vivaldi Park (travel time: approx. 1hr 30min)

8. National Palace Museum Of Korea

In episode 9, Joon Jae met up with Si Ah in the museum to see the relics they found in the house of Dam Ryeong. That museum is in the National Palace Museum of Korea.

It is easy to go there when you are in Seoul. Take Subway line number 3 and Get off at Gyeongbokgung Station. Go to Exit 5 and walk for about 5 minutes from there.

9. Myeongdong

A lot of the scenes were shot at Myeongdong, one of the famous shopping places in Seoul. The exterior of the house of Heo Joon Jae is in this place. It is located near the exit 3 of Myeongdong Station. When you go out of the Exit 3, you have to pass by the Pacific Hotel, turn right and walk straight up to Sogong-ro 4 gil street. The front door of the house is located near the passage way to the Namsan Tower.

The scene where Sim Chung was kidnapped by Ma Dae Young was also shot in Myeongdong. The big Christmas tree is located at the Shinsegae Mall in Myeongdong.

And in front of Shinsegae mall in Myeongdong, you can also see this Christmas lights which arched the walkway.

To go there, just go out of Exit 4 of Myeongdong station, walk straight for 5 minutes until you reach Shinsegae Mall.

10. Riverland Spa

The whole Sauna scene was shot in Riverland Spa. To go there, you can take Seoul Subway Line 2 and get off at Gangbyeon Station.