Who are regarded as the Korean mermaids?

The answer is: Haenyeo (해녀) of the Jeju Island.

Literally, the word “hae” (해) means “sea” and “nyeo” (녀) means “female”, and haenyeo are female divers who make a living by harvesting marine products like abalone, conch, octopus, sea urchins, oysters, clams, seaweed, etc. from the sea. Recently, there has been news that Jeju’s haenyeo culture is likely to be added to the UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.  What’s so special about Jeju’s haenyeo?  Let’s talk about them in this post. Continue reading

K-Movie Series – 2012 to Present

In the last blog post, we mentioned that the Korean film industry experienced a doldrum starting from mid-2000’s.  This situation continued until 2012 which was a turning point for the Korean film industry.  After suffering the lows in late 2000’s, the Korean film industry started to come up with better films which have helped attract more audiences since 2012. Continue reading

K-Movie Series – 1990’s to 2011

In this blog post, we will continue with the development of K-Movie in the period from 1990’s to 2011. In the 1990’s and early 2000’s, Korean film industry enjoyed satisfactory growth and K-movie has become one of the components of Hallyu (Korean Wave) which began in the early 2000’s. However, the popularity of K-movie started to decline after mid-2000’s due to declining quality of films, surging costs, and relaxation of the screen quota. Continue reading

K-Movie Series – 1970’s and 1980’s

In this blog post, we will continue with the K-Movie Series and talk about the situation in the 1970’s and 1980’s.  After the Golden Age in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the Korean film industry underwent a depression in the 1970’s with the tightened control by the authoritarian government.  Fortunately, the control loosened in the 1980’s which contributed to a transformation of industry. Continue reading

K-Movie Series – Golden Age in the 1950’s and 1960’s

In the last blog post, we talked about the birth of Korean movie.  In this blog post, we will continue with the development of K-movie in the 1950’s and 1960’s which could be considered as the Golden Age for K-movie. Continue reading

K-Movie Series – The Birth of Korean Movie

In 2007, Korean actress, Jeon Do-yeon, won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival for her role in the movie, Secret Sunshine  (밀양), and in 2014, she was named as a member of the jury of the Cannes Film Festival.  Korean movies also won a number of awards at international film festivals, e.g., Best Director award won by Im Kwon-taek’s Chihwaseon (취화선)(2002) at the Cannes Film Festival, Best Screenplay prize won by Lee Chang-dong’s Poetry (시)(2010) at the Cannes Film Festival, Golden Lion prize won by Kim Ki-duk’s Pietà (피에타)(2012) at the Venice Film Festival, etc. It is no doubt that Korean movies have gained worldwide attention.  So, I am going to write a series of posts talking about the development of the K-movie.  In this blog post, I will first talk about the birth of K-movie. Continue reading

Korean hand-made paper – Hanji

Hanji (한지) literally means “Korean paper”.  It is hand-made paper made from the inner bark of paper mulberry (which is also known as dak tree in Korea). When the Mugujeonggwang Daedaranigyeong (literally “Great Dharani Sutra of Immaculate and Pure Light”) hidden in a casket in the Bulguksa Temple for nearly 1,200 years was discovered, the hanji on which it was printed remained perfectly intact. Medicine made from the ashes of burnt hanji are said to be used as medicine to help stop bleeding.  In this blog post, let’s talk about this wonderful paper, hanji, which has a history of over 1,000 years. Continue reading

Which song is regarded as the unofficial national anthem of Korea?

Q: Which song is regarded as the unofficial national anthem of Korea?

A: Arirang (아리랑).

Significance of Arirang to Koreans

Arirang is a very popular traditional folk song among Koreans – virtually all Koreans, whether in South Korea, North Korea or abroad, can sing at least part of this song.  As a result, it has the power to unite all Koreans.  Throughout history, Koreans has sung it in both times of happiness and sorrow and this song is deeply rooted in the emotions of Koreans.   Continue reading

Let’s have a drink! – A look at the Korean drinking culture

A scene often appearing in the Korean TV dramas is people drinking alcoholic beverages and getting drunk. When you travel to South Korea, you can often see people drinking alcoholic beverages in green bottles called soju. According to a survey by the Korea Alcohol and Liquor Industry Association, in 2010, 93.8% of men and 83.8% of women said they regularly consumed alcohol. Alcohol is indeed an integral part of the Korean life.  Let’s talk about the Korean drinking culture in this blog post. Continue reading

Korean martial arts culture – Taekwondo

Before talking about taekwondo, I wish you a happy White Day as tomorrow (14 March 2015) is White Day in South Korea. What is White Day? On Valentine’s Day (i.e. 14 February), the females give chocolate as gifts to their lovers and on White Day (i.e. 14 March), the males reciprocate by giving candies to their lovers.  Actually, to the South Koreans, there is always something to celebrate on the 14th of every month – for more detail, you may refer to my blog post dated 14 January 2015.

In this blog post, I will talk about one of Koreans’ national sports – taekwondo (태권도).  In fact, taekwondo has a long history and is a kind of sports which most, if not all, Korean males have learnt.  Koreans in their 30’s and 40’s may still remember a popular cartoon robot character called Taekwon V which was good at taekwondo. Nowadays, taekwondo is a form of martial arts practised by more than 70 million people in 188 countries.  Continue reading