Hangeul – A look at the Korean alphabet

The writing systems of nearly all languages over the world have evolved gradually from long long time ago so it is impossible to trace who their inventors were. Hangeul (한글), the Korean alphabet system, is perhaps the only one still in use today that you can trace its inventor.  It was invented by King Sejong the Great (새종대왕) with the help of his scholars and was promulgated in 1446.  In my blog post dated 16 January 2015, I mentioned that King Sejong the Great (the 4th king of the Joseon Dynasty) had many significant achievements during his reign, one of which was the invention of hangeul.  In this blog post, let’s talk about some interesting information about hangeul. Continue reading

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

**Last updated on: 18 October 2020**

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 – in fact, almost 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 have 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

Koreanized Chinese Cuisine – Jajangmyeon (Black Bean Sauce Noodles)

Jajangmyeon (자장면) (Black Bean Sauce Noodles) is a Chinese cuisine adapted to the Korean style served in most of the Chinese restaurants in South Korea and has now become a favourite food among the Koreans.  You can often see people eating jajangmyeon in Korean TV dramas and variety shows. It is said that every day over 7 million bowls of jajangmyeon are sold in South Korea. This is also one of the foods I often ate when I studied Korean in Seoul.   Let’s talk about jajangmyeon in this blog post. Continue reading

Hansik (Korean Food) Series -Chimaek (Fried Chicken and Beer)

Korean Fried Chicken
Korean Fried Chicken

**Last updated on: 15 October 2020**

In the hit Korean drama, “My Love from the Star” (별에서 온 그대), the main female character, Cheon Song-yi, likes chimaek (치맥) very much.  Chimaek (or Chimac) is the short form for fried chicken (치킨 – pronounced as “chikin”) and beer (맥주 – pronounced as “maekju”) generally used among the younger generations. Due to the popularity of that Korean drama in China, chimaek has also become a popular Korean food there. It was said that customers needed to wait in line for 3 hours to order fried chicken at some Korean fried chicken restaurants in Shanghai and Beijing. Continue reading

Hansik (Korean Food) Series -Kimchi

If you ask, “What is the Korean food that Koreans can’t live without?”  I am sure a lot of people (both Koreans and foreigners) will say “Kimchi”.  Kimchi (김치 – fermented vegetables) is one of the staple food of Koreans – you can always find kimchi as one of the side dishes on the tables in most Korean families and restaurants in South Korea.  Kimchi can indeed be considered as one of the national symbols of South Korea.  Moreover, in South Korea, when taking photos, Koreans say “Kimchi” to make people smile (the equivalence of saying “Cheese” in English).  In this blog post, let’s talk about some interesting things about kimchi, including kimchi being used as a theme in Korean pop culture like TV drama and pop song. Continue reading

Hansik (Korean Food) Series -Bibimbap

In my last blog post, I mentioned a survey conducted by the Korea Culture and Tourism Institute according to which bibimbap (비빔밥) is the hansik eaten by most visitors. I am sure you will agree to this result – anyone who has tried hansik should have already eaten bibimbap.  Bibimbap is also sometimes served on Korean airlines.  Moreover, bibimbap best represents the metaphysical philosophy of hansik by combining the five colours (i.e., green, red, yellow, white and black) which represent the five elements (i.e., water, fire, wood, metal and earth) that make up the universe.  In this blog post, I will talk about this signature Korean dish. Continue reading

More tips on cherry blossom spots in South Korea…

I talked about some interesting Korean events, food and song related to cherry blossom in my blog post dated 24 March 2015. In this blog post, I will provide some more tips on the spots/events to which you may go to enjoy the cherry blossom season in South Korea. Continue reading

Here comes the cherry blossom season in South Korea…

The cherry blossom season is coming in South Korea! In Korean, cherry blossom is called 벚꽃 (beot kkot). In this blog post, I will talk about some interesting Korean events, food and song related to cherry blossom. Continue reading

Try the Korean way of dream interpretation…

To many cultures (including the Western, Korean and Chinese), dreams are believed to be predictions about the future and there are many people and books that help interpret the meaning of dreams.  However, given different cultural background, the same symbol in the dreams can mean different things to different cultures.  In this blog post, I will talk about how Koreans interpret the symbols of their dreams. Moreover, to the Koreans, apart from selling heat (which takes place on the Jeongwol Daeboreum, i.e., Great Full Moon Festival, as mentioned in my blog post dated 2 March 2015), on a daily basis, you may also sell your good dream to the others – an interesting custom which is unique to the Koreans. Continue reading