Sunday, September 30, 2012

Chuseok (추석)

This weekend in Korea is Chuseok, it includes the Monday also so we have a three day holiday at this time.  The actual day of Chuseok this year is Sunday the 30th September.

Also this year Wednesday is another Korean holiday so most schools have given the Tuesday as a holiday too.  This means that we get a five day holiday including the Saturday and Sunday which is very nice.
What is Chuseok?

Chuseok is one of the most important holidays in the Korean year and is often referred to as the Korean Thanksgiving.

It is traditionally a harvest festival which is celebrated on the brightest full moon of the year (it is the 15th day of the 8th month on the lunar calendar - the date changes every year).  In modern Korea families return their ancestral hometowns, there are traditional activities such as ancestor worship rituals and visiting tombs to tidy and clean them. Many of these kind of pastimes are still a big part of Chuseok. Some people still participate in traditional folk games whereas others may simply spend time with family, talking, playing card games or watching TV.
Food is a big part of the celebrations and families will prepare a big feast with meats, fish, vegetables, sweet rice, dumplings and fruit.  The traditional beverage for Chuseok is rice wine.

One of the most well know food dishes for Chuseok is Songpyeong (송편), and is a rice cake. It is made with rice powder dough and filled with things like beans, chestnuts or sesame. It is then steamed with pine needles. Songpyeong is usually shaped in a crescent - tradition says that you make a wish as you fill the Songpyeong and then fold it into the crescent so the wish does not fall out. There is also a Korean saying that a person that makes beautiful Songpyeong will have a good spouse and children.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Music Monday #17

A long long time ago my best friends, older sisters, boyfriend (I know, I know) gave her a dubbed double sided tape that changed both of our musical tastes forever.  On one side of the tape was Pennywise and on the other side was Rancid - it was some of our first real introduction to Punk music and it lead to seeking out more bands and trying to get hold of more copies of this awesome music (it was harder to find in NZ as it was not popular when we first started getting interested in it, if you could find it in stores it was expensive because it was not imported in bulk like popular music). 

The thing I loved most about it was it was so short and energetic.  We grew up on rock, grunge and metal - while I liked that stuff the main thing I did not like about it was the instrumentals.  I like vocals, I don't know much about music so I'm not really going to wonder at someones great guitar skills in a 1 minute long interlude.  Punk was short, sharp and to the point.

In honor of that first tape today's Music Monday is a Rancid song and is one of my favourites although to be honest the whole album '...And Out Come the Wolves' is pretty good. I really liked their earlier stuff but have not really continued with them into the newer albums as I did not like the sound as much. Ruby Soho is from '...And Out Come the Wolves', which was Rancid's third album released in 1995 (the video is from this time so shows a very young looking Rancid).

Rancid - Ruby Soho

Monday, September 17, 2012

Music Monday #16

I thought I would do another Korean music one for Music Monday today.  This is a Kpop song that is doing the rounds at the moment but with a bit of a difference as this one is sung all in English. With Kpop having such a limited audience with its Korean consumers often if they want to broaden their appeal groups/singers will release albums in other languages.  Most notably in Japanese as Kpop is hugely popular in Japan but also sometimes in English.

Kim Junsu or Xia (pronounced shee-a) as he is know is a popular figure in the Korean media. He is an actor and a well know Kpop musician for groups both current and past. He has also recently branched out into solo work with his music. As you might have gathered from previous posts I'm not a fan of Kpop - it's just not my thing.  However I do live in Korea and this blog is about living in Korea so I feel that I should show some of its music along the way.  I chose this one because I wanted to show that many Kpop artists are recording in English, it's not perfect or anything but he gives it a good try and it works out fine for the song. The video for the song is pretty silly too but like I said, he gets points for singing the whole song in English.

Kim Junsu (Xia) - Uncommitted

Monday, September 10, 2012

Music Monday #15

Music Monday this week is a bit special because it's 'one plus one' as they say over here in Korea  - which means buy one get the second one free.

In my last post I talked about how one of my favourite childhood movies turned 25 last week.  In honor of that I'm going to give you a preview of some of the songs from the soundtrack. The soundtrack to 'The Lost Boys' is one of the better ones that I have heard, I'm not usually a fan of soundtracks but in this case it just fit the movie so well. It's a great reflection of the times too, with the ballards and the rock and its quintessentially 80's vibe.

I like lots of the songs on the soundtrack but the two I have chosen are probably my favourites - one is the theme song 'Cry Little Sister' by Gerard McMahon (aka. Gerard McMann or G Tom Mac) and the other is really like an unofficial theme song as it is almost as recognisable - it's by Foreigner frontman Lou Gramm and is called 'Lost in the Shadows'.

G Tom Mac - Cry Little Sister (Theme Song from the Motion Picture)

Lou Gramm - Lost In The Shadows

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Lost Boys - 25 Years On

I just read online that it has been 25 years since the classic vampire film - 'The Lost Boys' came out. I loved this film, it was a bit scary when I first saw it, I'm pretty sure I did not see it for a while after it first came out.  If I had seen it in 1987 I would have had nightmares, I still remember the sleepless nights after watching 'Gremlins' with my family.

I have an older sister and brother so they would probably have had the video out from the video store and at some stage I would have been allowed to watch it too. It is one movie that stuck in the mind - it was sexy and cool, it had so many cute guys in it and awesome lines.  "You'll never grow old Michael, and you'll never die.  But you must feed!" - David

It also had an awesome soundtrack, I know my sister had that on tape and I remember dubbing it and then listening to it many times during my early teenage years.

I'm just so very glad that I grew up in the 80's when Vampires were badass and didn't sparkle in the sun.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Gmarket Haul #2

A new 'Gmarket Haul' today, I received this haul a while ago and took the photos but only just loaded them onto the computer.  It's all beauty products so it actually works out better as I have had a chance to try these products and can tell you what I think.

Everything I ordered on this purchase was from the one seller and was 'Etude House' products. It all came nicely packaged in the one box and everything was well wrapped as you can see.  After unwrapping everything, the second picture is what I got in the box.

These three above were the 'service' or 'freebie' products that I received with my purchases, one cute Hello Kitty fan and two small tubes of hand creme.  Very nice gifts.

On the left is 'Wonder Pore Freshner' - it is basically a toner.  It smells nice and is very refreshing. It says it is a 7 in 1 Total Pore Solution and comes in a 250ml bottle. The price was 8,100 won on sale, it is usually 9,000 won.

On the right we have a 'Blackhead Heating Deep Clean Gel' removal scrub. It's a heat pack type gel that is activated by your skin, it warms up and supposedly draws out any bad stuff. I quite like this one, it feels like it is doing some good. The size of the tube is 50ml, you don't need much so it should last a while. The price was 7,200 won on sale, it is usually 8,000 won. And also some cute little 'Cat Tweezers' cleaning eye brow, I got these because they were cheap and cute and I was getting other stuff anyway. The price was 2,250 won, on sale it is usually 2,500 won.

Above we have 'Goodbye Pore Ever' pore primer stick. This is a correction or filler type product for under your foundation or base. Its supposed to smooth away imperfections like pores and make your skin nice and smooth. It's OK, not sure if I see much of a difference however. The price was 7,200 won on sale, it is usually 8,000 won.
The other product in this photo is 'Bling Bling Eye Stick' in white shooting star color. It comes in other colors but I wanted the white for under my eyes, makes them a bit wider and brighter looking. It's a good stick, goes on easy and is nice and sparkly. The price was 3,600 won on sale, it is usually 4,000 won.

That's it for this haul, I will try and put another one up the next time I get some goodies.

Please Comment:
What do you buy on Gmarket and how do you find it? I would love to hear some other experiences.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Music Monday #14

Another punk one this week, one of my long time favourites that is still going strong.  This song is off their latest album "Laugh Now... Laugh Later" which came out in 2011.  I've got many favourites from this band but I thought I would pick a newer one this time as I really liked their new album. I might put some of their older ones up in the future.

Please note the video here is not that great, I don't think it really goes with the song very well but it's the official video so we will go with it.  Also it has violent themes so if you are sensitive to that kind of thing please don't watch it.

Face to Face - Its Not  All About You

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Food and Drink Korea #2 - Convenience Store Drinks

I have some more drinks to share with you today, these are some that can be found at your local convenience stores or supermarkets in Korea.  The last two are a bit more rare as they are only new additions to the market.

1. Shikhye (비락 식혜)
Made by a company called Paldo (who also bring you number 5 on this list) this is a traditional drink made from rice. The label says Nostalgia Drink. Shikhye Since 1993 and then the rest is all in Korean, it comes in a small 238ml can. Shikhye is a sweet dessert drink for after meals - it is supposed to help with digestion. It is a clear color with a hint of yellow to it, and it has little bits of rice floating in it. You need to shake it first before opening because it settles at the bottom of the can. It's quite sweet and tastes kind of like rice cereal. I did not like it, I think it's one of those flavours that you need to grow up on to enjoy however I'm sure some non-Korean people out there like it; I think it could be a nice refreshing drink but it was just not my thing.

2. Oriental Raisin Water
Like the honey water I tried last time I figured  - I like raisins and water so this could be OK. Boy was I ever wrong, all I can say is uggg (with shudder for good measure).  I did not like this one, actually I smelt it first and knew I would not. I did however proceed to take a couple of sips just so I could advise about it here  - the rest of this one is being tipped down the sink. It's called Oriental Raisin Water - that's in English on the bottle, but it does not taste like raisins or grapes or any other fruit.  It tastes kind of like wheat infused water, it's a clear brown color like the color of tea. If anyone knows what is in it exactly please put in the comments

3. Milkis (밀키스)
Milkis is one of the most well known Korean soda drinks, its made by the company Lotte which is a large local conglomerate. Lotte owns a chain of supermarkets, an amusement park, baseball teams, hotels and some movie cinemas to name but a few of their enterprises. I've taken a long time to try this one as I just never really thought that putting milk in a soda was a good idea.  I finally thought it was time to bite the bullet and try it.  It's sweeter than I thought it would be but not hugely so and only faintly tastes of milk, it's a bit like Sprite with a bit of yogurt flavor mixed in.  It looks pale and white and is carbonated so it really is a 'milk soda' kind of drink. It's kinda hard to describe so if you get a chance try it yourself.  It's OK for a try but I don't think I will be drinking it on a regular basis.

4. Angry Birds Taurine Ssoda (타우릴 쏘다)
This one is a new soda that is taking advantage of the Angry Bird mania that has swept the Korean nation.  As a teacher I really see the permeation of this, the kids are all Angry Bird this and Angry Bird that - they have toys and t-shirts and usually can't go one lesson without mentioning it in some context. This soda is clearly labeled 'Caffeine Free' on the can  - I am guessing that it will appeal to kids so it would be bad to have caffeine in it.  The taste also shows that it's probably marketed towards kids, it tastes like sweet candy.  I think it was raspberry in flavor, the color was pink so it was one of those flavors (could have been strawberry but it had a bit of a tang to it).  I thought it was quite nice but I do like really sweet fruity tastes. I probably would not buy on a regular basis but would drink again happily.

5. Pow (파우)
According to the label on this one it is actually made in Austria not Korea but I thought I would add it here because I wanted to try it anyway.  It is one of an Avengers series that recently came out and apparently according to another blog I read there are six different cans.  There were only three at the store I found them at - Ironman and Hulk from the Avengers and then Spiderman.  I bought the Hulk one as I thought he was a good role model for energy drinks. Anyway this one is labeled as an Organic Energy Drink - not sure what that's about as the ingredients are all in Korean, it does have caffeine in it however as that warning is in English.  It tasted of a kind of citrus flavor - maybe lemon or lime I would guess.  I did not really like it that much but it was OK enough to finish the can, probably not a repeat thing even if the cans look pretty cool.