Will You Help Get Me to Korea?

2015 K-Culture Field Trip

2015 K-Culture Field Trip

I know, I know…

I have always said that actually visiting Korea wasn’t a top choice in my life. That’s only because I can think of more tropical, colorful…browner places I’d rather go, but I don’t take classes at the Jamaican Cultural Center, okay. So hear me out.

Picture it: Los Angeles, April 2015…

When classes for the current session started at the Korean Cultural Center, a table was set up in the lobby. I saw it was for a tour trip and immediately ignored it. After all, I don’t do tours because the destinations seem dull. Besides, they usually cost thousands of dollars and you’re forced to deal with yuckos, right? So, I spent the past 4 weeks, just walking past the table. I didn’t even look at the brochure because I just figured it would be some silly “let’s visit Gangnam and do a kpop tour” kind of thing.

Big mistake.

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It’s Not Enough to be Bilingual

quranic arabic

I can read the Qu’ran & that’s it

As most people know, I’m currently learning Korean. I’ll get into the myriad reasons later, but it amazes me when people–especially those who only speak English–ask me why I’m learning Korean. As if it’s a waste of time. No matter where you live or your target language, it’s never a waste of time to learn. Even though some people from all around the world are able to speak English, often there are not enough resources or high enough demand to translate media to English. There is also the shortcoming of missing out on key details of the language when translating. People like to say words or phrases just can not translate, but humans aren’t all that different and I’m sure there’s a matching colloquialism in the foreign language.

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In Appreciation of Han Gong Joo in ‘Angry Mom’

Red Queen

Red Queen

In kdramas, we’re often introduced to characters who seem completely flat or altogether too real. This is more noticeable when it comes to the 2nd leads and their personalities are flattened to the point of being almost a caricature of a human. In Angry Mom, a 16 episode drama currently airing on MBC, we have Han Gong Joo who seems to hold all of these features at the same time. (Watch Angry Mom with English subtitles.)

Go Soo Hee gives Gong Joo depth as a comedic sidekick and gravitas as a caring human being looking out for her friend. Ms. Go has an uncanny knack for this as seen in her role as Kim Jang Mi in Sunny.

Angry Mom is a story about Jo Kang Ja who finds out her daughter is being bullied at her prestigious high school. After finding her daughter collapsed on the street, bruised and bloodied, Kang Ja decides to enroll in the school herself to take on the bullies. To get the correct paperwork in order, she visits her old friend Han Gong Joo who runs an adult nightclub. At this point, we learn than Kang Ja isn’t the average kdrama mom. This is a mom with a criminal past. A lady who was considered ‘iljin‘ in her teen years, a term, I’ll define loosely as a ‘thug’. Continue reading

Lunar New Year at the Korean Cultural Center

새 해 복 많이 받으세요! (Saehae Bok Mani Badeuseyo!)

새 해 복 많이 받으세요! (Saehae Bok Mani Badeuseyo!)

Yesterday marked the beginning of the Year of the Sheep/Goat/Ram and there have been celebrations going on all over the Los Angeles for the past couple of weeks, with most wrapping up this weekend. On Tuesday, the Korean Cultural Center of Los Angeles cancelled classes and hosted an event to ring in the new year. This was my first time attending a Korean even for Lunar New Year. That may seem odd in a city like Los Angeles, but 설날 (Seollal) is a time for family in Korean culture.

Just from watching TV, I learned that on Seollal Koreans visit family and pay respect to ancestors, play folk games and eat. The food is very important. Not only the food that is eaten by the family, but also the food prepared for the ancestral table. The first thing done on the morning of Seollal, placing the food on the ancestral table and eating ritual foods. We didn’t have an ancestral table at the Korean Cultural Center, but there was definitely food and games. I tried to get my kids to give me a deep bow, but they wanted money and I only had 67¢ on me. There were other interesting things we were told, but you can learn more about Seollal on Korea.net.

My family had a great time at the event. My son really liked the yutnori game. I can’t believe that after 3 years of trying to explain the game to him, he finally understood it within minutes. You can see our fun in the photos below:

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Farm Life in South Korea Seems Interesting

Last night, I was watching The Human Condition (인간의 조건) a South Korean variety show where the cast members are given a mission regarding life such as living without something or eating healthier. The episode I watched was the summer special which featured both the male and female casts. On this particular episode, they visited a farming village. (Watch Volunteer Farm WorkPart 1 and Part 2)

If you’ve watched Korean variety shows, you’ll know that visiting the farming village is fairly common among them. The first show to introduce me to Korean farming life was Family Outing. On that show, the cast members spent 2 days at a residence in a farming village. They played games to determine what farming chore would go to which team/member. Continue reading