Tuesday, June 30, 2009



Monday, June 29, 2009

North Chungcheong

I was watching TV last night and I chanced upon a travel guide show featuring North Chungcheong, South Korea. I must admit that aside from the well-known provinces of Korea, such as, Gangwondo, Gyeonggido, and of course, Jejudo, Chungcheongdo is quite foreign to me. I think the only thing I know about the area, is that, it is the hometown of Ban Ki Moon, the United Nations Secretary General. And since I’ve started writing a blog on Korea, I decided to watch the entire show, which lasted about 15 – 20 minutes. Chungcheungdo is a great place to visit and has much to offer to a potential tourist. It is interesting to note, that this is considered to be the center of Korea and the only province which is not in contact with the sea. Here are some of the interesting snippets I remembered from the show:

Beopjusa Temple - home to the Palsangjeon (wooden pagoda), and the only one left in Korea. It has a bronze buddha statue, which i think stands about 33 meters high. I wonder which is taller, this one or the one I saw in Thailand?

Chungju Lake – a man-made lake and is the largest multi-purpose lake in Korea

Gosu Cave – a limestone cave with beautiful stalagmites and stalactites formations

Wine train – this is interesting for wine lovers

A herb and flower garden which I still have to recall the name, where in the adjacent area, they serve flower salad.

I think they also mentioned Taekkyon, a form of Korean martial arts, originating from the area.

Persimon is quite abundant in the area and they also make this into candies. I still have to taste this type of candy because I’m used to eating fresh persimmon. Nobody makes this into preserved candies in my country.

They also host the former presidential retreat house, the Cheongnamdae.

I guess that’s what I remembered from the TV show… till next time.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Mountains of Korea

Owing to the fact that mountains occupy 80% of the land in Korea, the country is blessed with many famed peaks. Climbing these peaks have been a major tourist drawer for both local and foreign tourists. You can climb these mountains any time of the year but to most, they say that autumn is the best time because the mountains are ablazed with astonishing colours but others say that winter is the best time since you will be inspired with the breathtaking snowscape. As for me, I still have no idea. So if ever I go to Korea and get a chance to climb their famous peaks, there are three (3) mountains which stands out in my list and would love to climb, namely Seoraksan, Jirisan, and Hallasan. I guess I’ve been watching too many Korean documentaries that these three reverberates in my head whenever I hear Korean mountains.

Among my limited Korean acquaintances, when asked what they consider as the most beautiful place in Korea, they are unanimous in saying that it is Seoraksan. Located in gangwondo, it is the third highest mountain in South Korea.

Jirisan, located in the south has been considered as a sacred mountain for Koreans since time immemorial. Its name comes from a saying that a fool will be able to become wise after living on the mountain. Why this is so will still be a topic of a lengthy orientation from my Korean friend one of these days and might be a blog topic for me.

And finally, Hallasan, this is the highest mountain in South Korea and is located at the center of Jejudo. I remember seeing a picture of Hallasan in a calendar. Its imposing figure amidst the beautiful azaleas was a site to behold. According to my friends who’ve been to Jejudo, you can see Hallasan from all places in the island. Wow… that’s what you call a real stand out!!!

Friday, June 26, 2009

What is your favorite korean dish?

For me, it has to be ojing-o bokum ((오징어볶음) , a spicy sauté of squid with julienne vegetables of carrots , onions, and mushrooms.

I first tried this dish about two years ago, when I invited my friends to lunch at a Korean restaurant. Aside from ordering the more common korean dish such as bibimbap, samgyeopsal, and galbi, which i order almost everytime i eat in a korean restaurant, the waiter suggested ojing-o bokum. Knowing a few korean words, i remembered that ojing-o is squid, so i tried it.

The dish was quite spicy, as most korean dishes are, thanks to the gochujang, but it was a hearty experience for me and my stomach.

Since then, whenever i eat in a korean restaurant, ojingo bokum is always present at my table.

How about you, what's your favorite korean dish?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A foreigner's view on korea

It is almost impossible to talk of Asia and not to mention South Korea at least once in that same discussion. Indeed, for over the past decades now, Korea has proven to be an economic powerhouse in East Asia. Their products are heralded as among the best in the world, even proving superior to their American and European counterparts. Just a mere mention of the brand names Samsung, Kia, Hanjin, Hyundai, LG, iRiver, Cowon, and the first thing that would come to ones mind are high technology gadgets, the leader in its field, and all the superlatives one could actually use to describe a particular brand or product. Even in the world of sports, Korea has produced world-class athletes such as KJ Choi, Se Ri Pak, Park Tae Hwan, Park Ji Sung, just to name a few.

Hard to believe, that 56 years ago, this country was ravaged by war. A war which is more commonly referred to as 6:25 or the Forgotten War, a major conflict of the 20th century that gets far less attention than World War II, which came before it, and the Vietnam War, which came after it. From the meager resources that they had left, they devised and implemented a success formula that caused a major turnaround, politically, socially, and economically. True to form, Korea is now one of the largest economies in the world. Much has been reported and written concerning this blueprint for development and growth, particularly in the realm of politics and economy. I, however, feel that this country’s transformation owes a lot to the efforts and attitude of the Korean individual. Citizens, from all walks of life, from the poorest and most deprived up to those holding sway to power have come together to accomplish a common vision of peace and prosperity. They have done this, knowing that more than a few sacrifices would have to be made. Such a display of selflessness, duty and singleness of purpose is what strikes me about Korea.