Tag Archives: Korea

Why Korean food should be on your menu

butternutWhether you are a student, living alone, living with others, bringing up a family or, y’know, just need to eat, we can all agree that eating well these days is more effort and expense than ever. We’ve become so used to being fed garbage food that claims to be good for us, while slowly poisoning us with colours, flavours, preservatives and other chemicals we need not ingest. It is alarming how we are becoming less and less aware of the contents of our food with every year and so many people don’t even beg the question of what they are putting in their bodies.

No wonder the modern world is plagued with cancer, obesity and other illnesses that would have been rarely seen once upon a time.
Now, I could go on about the evils of big corporations and how they manipulate their products in order to control their consumers, but I’m more interested in helping you find solutions.

Now, as you have probably come to realise from the blog, I am a massive lover of Korean food. While being generally quite enjoyable to make, it also has other benefits:

Flexible

I am yet to find a Korean recipe that has one fixed method of preparation. Everyone seems to have their own little tricks and variations on the recipes that I have not come across a single recipe that I haven’t enjoyed.
There is room to play with your ingredients and method that you have so many ways to make your recipe suit your needs.

Relaxing

IMG_0456.JPGI know in our “all go” age we rarely stop to enjoy the process of doing day-to-day tasks but, speaking as someone who is often in a rush and eager to finish the task at hand, I find Korean cooking incredibly relaxing.
There’s nothing quite like the meditative state I slip into while rolling Hobakjuk balls or the calm of chopping the vegetables for kimchi. I love it and I feel all the better for taking that little bit of time to enjoy the moment.

Delicious

Korean food is, in my opinion, the tastiest food there is. I have never been as satisfied as I am when I eat Korean food as it is the perfect balance of taste, texture and temperature.
The grilled meats are to die for and the vegetable dishes have given me a love for some vegetables that I had hated for 20 years!

Healthy

As well as tasting incredible, so many Korean dishes are actually really good for you. despite loving their salt, Korean food is some of the best you can have. Kimchi, a side dish that is eaten with almost every meal, has recently gained recognition around the world as a super food that is known to be insanely good for you.
Also, if you prepare your meals from scratch, you are also aware and in control of what goes into your food, such as salt and sugar.

Cheap

11696527_850932034991471_1306743554_nPossibly the biggest draw of all, Korean food is generally very cheap to make. I can make easily enough Hobakjuk (Butternut squash rice porridge) to last me a week for £5 or less, because the recipe is so simple. And £5 can easily keep you in supply of kimchi for weeks (or months, depending on how much you eat).
Korean food is such an easy hobby for me because it’s so fantastically cheap, which also makes it accessible for anyone. What money you could spend on instant noodles and burgers that offer little to no nutrition, can go an incredibly long way with the right recipes and storage.

So, there are just a few of the benefits of cooking and enjoying Korean food. If you have any questions on preparation, ingredients or storage of Korean food or want some recipe suggestions to suit you, I will be more than happy to help!
I will have more Korean recipes coming very soon! In the meantime, have an excellent day and take care! Xx

What is ‘Oppa’?

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Since Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ went viral worldwide in 2012, more people around the world have been aware of Korea and its pop culture. With that comes the typical questions that come with exploring a country with a completely different language and culture.

One part of Korea that a lot of people are still baffled by is the word “Oppa”. I see a lot of people asking “What is an Oppa?” and there is a lot of confusion about the word due to the cultural differences between us and Korea.
An Oppa isn’t a husband, actor, crush, classmate or a boyfriend, but at the same time it kind of is.
“Oppa” (오빠) means “brother” but is used by women to address older men of a close or similar status as them, so you would say it to an older brother, and older male cousin, an older male classmate or co-worker whom you are close-ish to, and older male friend, a boyfriend (some older women call their younger boyfriends ‘oppa’ to seem cutsy) a husband or even just an older man. You can simply call someone ‘oppa’ or attach it to the end of their name (For example, “Hyunseung-oppa”/”현승오빠”). One of the issues with understanding this word is that there isn’t really a direct equivalent in English, so it is a new concept. If you will, you can kind of imagine that words as like a much less formal “sir” that you can use throughout a whole conversation/interaction.
Photo 08-03-2015 02 19 10It has a lot to do with respect and friendship and knowing when it is and isn’t acceptable to use can be quite tough for non-Koreans to understand sometimes. When in doubt, you can simply ask whether it is okay to call them “oppa”. If you are learning about Korean and Korean culture, pay attention to learning good manners, but Koreans will often be understanding if you make a few errors, so long as they know that your heart is in the right place.
‘Oppa’ is one of 4 very commonly used words of this kind.
You are already aware of ‘oppa’ as the word for brother which applies when a younger female talks to an older male. Along this same strain, you have the word ‘Hyung’ (형) which is the equivalent for a younger male in addressing an older male.
And, if you switch the genders, a younger man talking to an older woman would use the word ‘Noona’ (누나) while a younger woman talking to an older woman would say ‘eonni’ (언니).
Make sure that you use these words with care. Some people don’t like being called by them and you should make effort to respect people’s preferences, especially when you do not have a deep and practiced understanding of the language to guide you.
Do you have any more questions about English, Japanese or Korean? Share your questions and I’ll do my best to answer them for you! Leave comments in the section below, or come join us on Facebook and Twitter! Xx

Kim Woo Bin Is Sharing The Secrets Of His Talent Now?!

 ©SBS
©SBS

South Korean acting sensation Kim Woo Bin has revealed one of his secrets for how he chooses and develops his acting roles, and his system goes to show how doing your homework really pays off.

Known for his roles in School 2013, Heirs and his most recent film The Technicians, Kim Woo Bin doesn’t fail to deliver on his committment to his roles. While some actors can sometimes let their masks slip whilst they are on camera, Kim Woo Bin’s seamless embodiment of his characters has audiences dazzled by his authenticity and has managed to become hot property in the acting industry as a result.

In a recent interview with Chosun, he shared one of his practices of when he is preparing for a new role and how he can so well understand his character’s feelings and motivations.
In the interview, he shared his important method, “No matter how small or big a role, I always make a list of 100 questions about the character I have to play. The questionnaire starts with simple questions, such as the character’s name,” he said about his method “By creating a list and filling in the answers, I often get a real feel for the character.”

Kim Woo Bin can certainly play tough, but is this method a bit hard on the roles? “I wouldn’t say that I’m picky,” Kim said “I just don’t want to be complacent. I want to make progress steadily, little by little.” It would seem that his method works as he has taken on some cracking roles before, and it’s a good way to ensure that he won’t play a role that he doesn’t believe in or find challenging or interesting.
About his progress, he said “If I continue to work this way, maybe I will be at the top one day.”

 © Vogue Girl
© Vogue Girl

He very clearly shows that has a dedication to skill over just popularity- a strong morale discipline that will certainly come in handy in his climb to the top of his craft and ensuring a long and happy career.

About his stardom, the heartthrob did not see himself as a star and understands the fragile position of fame. He said “It could come overnight, but go quickly. It would only be natural if the popularity I’m enjoying disappears the way it came.”

As a man very aware of the situation is in and how he got there, he added “I try to be grateful and not take what I have now for granted. I want to replay what I received. I don’t want to disappoint those who supported me”.

So, what is next for Kim Wo Bin? Who knows, but we can all rest assured that his next roles will have to pass his rigouous 100 question screening.

Want to see Kim Woo Bin at work? Watch him in The Heirs over on Viki.com!
Viki has a wide and ever expanding range of dramas and movies from Korea, Japan, Thailand and more and I would highly recommend it! Their community of subbers and translators all work really fast to bring you the shows you want in your language.
(Source: Chosun)

I hope you have enjoyed this article. As ever, if you have any comments or questions (or just gush about how great Kim Woo Bin is), please share them in the comments or join us over on Facebook and Twitter. See you there! Xx

Using Kdramas To Learn Korean

©SBS
©SBS

Learning Korean is fun and rewarding, but it isn’t the easiest language there is to learn. This means that we need a helping hand where possible, and television can be really useful. As well as studying Korean in textbooks and online, I use Korean dramas to reinforce my learning. It is really useful to have a casual and native source of dialogue where there is little to no risk of being taught meaningless phrases – which has happened to me a number of times.
A lot of foreigners use British and American television for learning English, so it makes sense that it works in the reverse.

Really listen

I know it’s easy when watching the dramas to kind of glaze over the words being spoken (with the usual exception of ‘oppa’, ‘eonni’, ‘eotteoke’ and ‘jinjja’) and just watch the subtitles all the time. You’re going to have to curb that habit and pay attention to the dialogue. Listen to the words and try to learn the individual words and phrases.
If a phrase sticks out at you that you understand, write it down and try to listen out for when it pops up in future.

Compare

Korean books 2When you study Korean in the textbooks, try to listen out for each of the phrases you learn in the dramas you watch. Some of them, like “남대문 열려있다”/”namdaemun yeolyeoitda” (Translation: “The south gate is open.” Meaning: “Your fly is open”) will not occur very much, but listening out for the Korean you know will get you hearing and beginning to comprehend the dialogue you are hearing.

Turn off subtitles

When you are beginning to find your feet in the language, try turning off the subtitles and watching the drama without them and seeing, from the amount of Korean you know, how much you understand of what is going on in the story.
It might not make a ton of sense for a while, but you’ll start understanding more and more with time, practice and immersion.

Personal taste

Just like anywhere in the world, people’s voices can differ hugely and that can be a big help to hear and identify little details in the language that you many not have noticed before. Listen for the way individual actors speak as a way of helping your comprehension and pronunciation. Lee Min Ho speaks Korean quite differently from his former ‘Heirs’ co-star Kim Woo Bin and Kim Soo Hyun’s voice isn’t the same as Bigbang’s T.O.P (Choi Seung Hyun).
Also, pay attention to the little bits of emphasis in the words. Those could go a long way to helping you remember the meaning, the way to convey emotion in the voice as well as help you to hear every sound in the word (which comes in very handy when you’re learning to write in Hangul)

Getting it right way ’round

One of the things that listening to Korean dramas helps with the most is sentence structure. Because the speaking is so natural, but slower than the usual conversation between Korean people (which is incredibly fast), it is easier to hear which order the words come in for more complex sentences than you are often taught in textbooks. In textbooks, the phrases you are taught are often very basic, but dialogue is a lot more complex, and thus great for learning practical skills needed for natural conversation.

Overall, try to focus on the language with as little relation to English as possible. It is its own unique language, and the less you try to understand it with regard to a totally different language, the better grasp of it you will develop in time. Understand that also a lot of words and phrases don’t directly translate to English. For example, the phrase “힘내요” is used to say “It’s okay” or “Don’t worry”, but often it is translated as “Cheer up”, which can mean that it is often misused and seems weird when used in the correct context, because it doesn’t match up with the English “meaning”.

I really hope this piece helps you to improve your Korean study (and perhaps give you a good excuse for more Kdrama marathons). Let me know what you think of this piece in the comments below and come join us on the Facebook and Twitter! X

Why Kim Soo Hyun And Lee Min Ho Will Go To Military Service (And Why That’s A Very Good Thing)

In the international Kpop and Kdrama communities, there is a lot of speculation about whether Lee Min Ho (이민호) and Kim Soo Hyun (김수현)will enlist in the military in the coming year.

There is a lot of uncertainty about whether they will even go through the dreaded 2 year of service, but the answer is quite simple. If they should wish to remain as employable and popular public figures in Korea, they have only one option. They’ll go through with their military service.

 

A lot of fans of the stars (and many other male artists yet to serve) have expressed their wishes for them not to go through with military service, not realising the consequences of such a decision.

In Korea, military service is considered almost a rite of passage. Any man who shirks his duty to his country is considered not a real man and the severe public condemnation is a painful price to pay, especially for those ever-watched public figures.

Yes, there are some circumstances where people are excused from their military service, but they can be difficult to prove or, in some cases, completely overlooked. Some people go as far as to fake mental illness or even the extreme of inflicting physical harm upon themselves in order to gain the pardon they desire.

However, the cost of doing something like this is massive. When people go to such extremes to avoid serving, you can imagine how seriously people take it and how bad it is when word gets out that they deliberately tried to evade it. It is hard for those who are excused from military service, but the life of those who are falsely pardoned or caught lying is even worse. You are treated like a criminal, a traitor to your country and the chances of finding good work, especially in politics or entertainment, is grim.

The social condemnation is a huge weight to bear that is not easily, if ever, lifted and it has driven some to flee to other countries just to escape the punishment.

I know that life during military service is unpleasant (I will cover that in a future piece) but would you wish the alternative on any of those people you admire? Trust me, they will go through it and come out the other side, like all others before them, and continue with their careers after. It is not the end of the world and I know that they will want it over and done with even more than their loyal fans.

So, in answer to the question, will Kim Soo Hyun and Lee Min Ho participate in their mandatory service? I fully believe that they will.

Will they make it through and be okay? Yes.

Is it better for their career if they don’t go? Nope. They’re better off serving.

Is there anything you can do to help them? Show them the same love and support you would of any of their other work and just be patient. It’s their life, their path and their choice.

 

I hope this piece was helpful and educational to you. If you have any questions, you are (as always) welcome to share them in the comments below, on any of our social media (Facebook and Twitter) or send me a message using the contact form below!

 

Images copyright of original owners.

My top Korean Textbooks!

lwa photo tag

Recently I did a piece on my top Japanese books and that went down a treat with you all. Well, I also own a LOT of Korean books too, and so put together another list of learning materials that have really helped my learning!

 

Teach Yourself: Complete Korean

This book is fantastic and the first (good) Korean book I bought. It is informative and challenging, without being too much. The wide vocabulary that the book teaches is useful and encouraging. It isn’t simply a phrase book, it teaches a WIDE range of words and phrases as part of the lessons.The book starts off by teaching you Hangul and doesn’t really rely on Romanizations. It’s fantastic for teaching and reinforcing the information so it REALLY STICKS!

 

Korean From Zero!

From the same makers as Japanese from Zero, this book is just as satisfying as the Japanese original! Full of helpful exercises, from vocabulary, to grammar and handwriting, the exercises are fun and challenging to help you remember each topic as you study!

This book also comes with access to free MP3 downloads to aid your study!

 

Mastering Conversational Korean: Korean For Beginners

Funny, clever, informational and supportive, this book is a must have for a Korean learner. With a handy Hangul chart inside the front page, a free audio CD as well as fantastic materials, this book is one of my favourites. It is well written with humour and great insight that makes it so easy to take in. It also teaches you the valuable information of what NOT to do in Korean and some of the aspects of the language that can catch you out. The book is very well organised, with well laid out chapters, illustrations and relaxed and relatable language, you feel very supported – the author even uses emoticons and references Korean personalities!

Korean books 2

These are my 3 favourite Korean learning books. If I buy more (Which I most definitely will) I will share them on here so keep checking in!

Are there any books you’ve been considering buying? What are your favourite learning materials?

 

Join us over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (where I post a ridiculous number of selfies!) and join in the conversation there! Xx

 

Korean Phrase of the Day! 무서워(요)

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Today’s KPotD was inspired by my favourite internet cutie Yebin, in this video where her Mom teaches her how to say when she is frightened

This is a useful phrase for anyone travelling to Korea, as you can seek help from natives in dangerous or frightening situations, even if you don’t know enough Korean to describe the problem!

I’ll be back with another Korean Phrase of the Day very soon! Meanwhile, come connect on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! Xx

 

Meet Yerin and Yeseo! Does Yebin have competition?!

 

©Youtube/Drama Fever

 

It seems like the whole internet is going mad for the gorgeous little cutie Yebin, who’s character and innocent charm keeps us hooked video after video. But it seems like little ‘baby Yebin’ may have some competition on her hands!

Thanks to the brilliance that is Youtube’s ‘suggested videos’ bar, I stumbled across a channel for two little Korean girls Yerin and Yeseo, run by their adoring father.                                                 ©Youtube/Drama Fever

The first video I saw was from 3 years ago of the elder girl, Yerin, battling between the joy of looking at her mother and her sleepiness.

The two sisters are so adorable and are absolute rays of light, clearly cherished by their parents. Their parents said that the aim of the channel was to “share the joy that my little girls brought to my life”. Mission accomplished!

One particular video had me near tears with cuteness, was this one:

(The older sister, Yerin, is saying “고맙습니다”/“Thank you” to her parents for the ice cream. However, the younger, Yeseo, is still very young and has difficulty saying it, so just chimes in at “다” with her sister.)

So, Yebin isn’t the only cutie on the block!

 

There is also a cute meaning to the name ‘Bobaepapa’, as ‘Bobae’ (보배) means ‘treasure’ in Korean. So cute!

Be sure to follow ‘Bobaepapa’ on Youtube, Twitter and Instagram as well as joining their fan club on Facebook and follow their blog!

 

Let me know what you think of this post. Send me a message using the contact form below, or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! X

 

Tattoos and Tattoo aftercare

As I mentioned in one of my recent posts, I have 3 tattoos that I love very much that all carry very strong meanings to me.  They’re important and I want to make sure they last well.

A lot of people ask me

“Wasn’t that really painful?!”

firsttattoo1Personally, if you are worried about pain, probably best to leave getting a tattoo for a while. When I got my first one, I was very scared of the thought of the pain and almost chickened out a bunch of times. Then I laid down on the tattoo bench, and when I sat up I had a tattoo — it really wasn’t that bad!

I will be honest, some points hurt a bit and different areas hurt more or less than others, the thought of the pain hurt more than the pain itself, and the sting of getting a tattoo disappears very quickly.

“Aren’t you worried about regretting it?”

In life, there are some things that we just know and I knew that all of my tattoos were good ideas. They all had very strong messages behind them and I went into the tattoo room absolutely confident in my decision. Trust me, I’m not going to mark myself for the rest of my life if I’m unsure about it.

tat2“Did you get that for a boyfriend/ex?”

No. Getting tattoos like that is a very dangerous idea. Even if you and your partner last a lifetime of love and commitment, you might not always want a tattoo of their name/face/starsign/whatever stuck on you forever!

I 100% recommend against getting tattoos for friends or someone you are in a relationship with. There are so many ways it can go wrong!

“Are you worried about employability?”

Maybe once upon a time, people in western culture couldn’t have tattoos that were visible in the workplace, but times have changed. As long as the tattoos aren’t offensive in any way, then there isn’t much to worry about.

Yes, in other countries tattoos can be an issue, but more and more countries are learning to accept tattoos, especially on those from a culture where they are commonplace.

“There’s this band I love and -“

NO! Please, stop right there. Regardless of how much you love a tv show, band or movie, you don’t need a tattoo from it. Again there are so many things that could go wrong.

You could decide that show sucked, a horrible revelation could be found about someone involved in it, the band could go downhill and your opinion could change — those are just to name a few!

If you are so pushed to get a tattoo of something entertainment or pop culture related, sit on the idea for a good long while before you go through with it.

“So, does that mean you aren’t an actor now?”

So many actors, performers and artists have tattoos. They are a form of self-representation and artistry which artists often can’t get enough of. So many actors, from Justin Chon to Jackson Rathbone to Angelina Jolie, have tattoos and love them! If they have tattoos and can survive as actors, so can I! 🙂

“How do you take care of your tattoos?”

tat3So, the best advice I can give for caring for your tattoos is

1) Don’t sweat it – Seriously, try not to sweat on it too much. Keep that sucker clean and dry(ish)

2) Don’t scratch it – Scratching is can really damage it and cause some serious irritation

3) Careful of allergies – When I got my first tattoo, I used Bepathen  the baby cream to soothe my tattoo. However, I soon realised that it actually felt a lot worse AFTER I applied it and later realised that I am allergic to one of the ingredients in Bepanthen (Lanolin). So, watch out for stuff like that and find something that isn’t going to make you itchy as heck later on!

4) Keep children away – I don’t know how or why, but children have the amazing ability to locate and exploit your weak spots. With every tattoo I have had, some kid (or about 20 kids one time) have managed to cause me eye-watering pain by punching, pinching or scratching my fresh and delicate tattoo. Until it’s healed, keep ’em away!

 

To clean a tattoo, don’t use any drying or irritating product that contain alcohol. You want to keep your tattoo fairly dry, but you don’t want to damage or crack it. Just use gentle soap and water and then dab it try with a CLEAN towel.

If your tattoo shows any signs of infection, contact your tattoo artist and a doctor immediately and see if you need to be put on antibiotics. I have been incredibly lucky with all of my tattoos not to have had any complications, but it’s always better safe than sorry!

 

I hope this piece has been interesting and helpful to you. As always, we want to hear from you, so drop us a comment or send us a message on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #learnwithamy!