Month: September 2014

Week 2 in the Netherlands – Tall People Problems! (Not a First-Hand Account)

Hanging out with your everyday 180cm girl and 195cm guy, y’know. Today I met another girl who is 180cm tall – I really am in Holland! By now I’ve met so many tall Dutch men that 195cm is sounding like the average man, but tall women are still amazing to meet. She talked of the terrible growing pains she had, of wearing sneakers all the time for her boyfriend even though she loves high-heels, and about having to fit in strange ways to be able to sit on the metro. The first really tall person I’ve met was my cousin’s cousin who is 193cm, and who at that time was really into wearing New Rock Boots (which add 5cms). This was back when I was visiting Holland ten years ago, in 2004! When I met him he was also standing on the top of a couple of stairs, so the visual impact was considerable… Our conversation today opener today? “You’re still really tall!” “You’re still really short!” Closing sentence: “Maybe we see each other in ten years …

Why Confucianism Is Alive And Kicking

   Toegye Yi Hwang and Yukgok Yi-i considered to be the greatest Joseon scholars Neo-Confucianism was adopted by the ruling class as a combination of political doctrine + religion + social norms in the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897). As opposed to the Buddhism-centered Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), the Yi ruling clan of Joseon chose Confucianism, mainly because of its weight on the intelligent and honourable ruler and general focus on the class system. The king was a well-read scholar, and it is documented they spent every day reading Confucianist texts and discussing them with the court officials. They also passed a large part of their youth reading, analysing and discussing Confucianism. Confucianism is known for its strict hierarchy between: ruler-courtiers, husband-wife, father-son, and so on. The society was divided into Yangban (scholars), farmers, artisans, and merchants, in that order. The very bottom class was composed of slaves, shamans, butchers and the children of concubines, who were barred from civil service exams. Buddhism in Goryeo grew more and more corrupt in Goryeo and enabled the elite to amass fortunes. Additionally, Yi …

Apgujeong in Photos (1)

Apgujeong is a fun place to scout, being full of people looking for brunch, shoppers, busy workers from nearby Nonhyeon or Seocho areas, and home to high-end boutiques and designer houses. Apgujeong is also a residential area Won Buddhist Temple at Apgujeong The building above this parking lot was an interior design boutique Somang Church is famous for its affluent members, including former president Lee Myung-bak (The letters read ‘Jesus Life’) Seoul Auction Near Hakdong Junction ‘Ello there! A building that looks Martin Margiela-ish A stylist and photographer, perhaps? Heights Park Apartments CGV Cinema / Seoul Auction Maison Hermès at Dosan Park Tweet tweet At an  abandoned building

Week 1 in the Netherlands – Welcome to Feeling Like a Midget!

At my cousin’s place in the countryside So far I have experienced the following things here in Noord-Holland: – Getting used to the sun setting around 9pm instead or at 7pm – “Korea” North or South?” (it was a very, very old man) – Met a hardcore fan/heavy smoker of ze greens/seen an escort advert on the subway – Been on a boat trip with my uncle demonstrating of how the sluis works – Successfully pronouncing sluis – Understanding tiny bits of Dutch that sound just like English and thinking “Aha! I understood! One Word! Of your conversation!” – Learning to use the words mooi, lekker, and gezellig timely – Having an internal debate between saying “Holland” and “The Netherlands” and eventually going “Meh, everybody in Noord-Holland says Holland, so meh”, Googling it, and then finding angry comments from Southerners – People accepting I can be the cousin of a completely Dutch person and not asking any further questions or having puzzled looks – Seen a “Smoke Your Weed Outside” sign – Had a conversation in English with 60+ Dutch citizens …

Week 1 in the Netherlands – Flying with Hello Kitty

A few days ago I traveled from Incheon to Taipei to Paris to Amsterdam to Wormeveer. It was a long trip involving 16 hours of flight time, 4 hours of train time, and about 6 hours of waiting in between. Anyway, the highlight of the journey was the Hello Kitty jet from Incheon to Taipei aboard Eva Air. I don’t have photos of them all, but the jet itself, the aprons of the flight attendants, the cutlery, the napkins, the playing cards, the pens, and everything was themed. I can imaging how popular they must be on their inter-Asian flights (my friend who is a huge fan was ecstatic and demanded I photograph everything I could!). Le Hello Kitty Jet! The signboards, registration screens and tickets were all themed as well (the man at the counter was slightly embarrassed when I asked ‘Am I taking the HK ket all the way to France?’) Yay! Kitty on screen! Kitty in Eva Air uniform! I didn’t take a picture, but the ‘sick bag’ was themed too Kitty …

Legoland or Bronze Age? Why not both?

 Crown Prince Frederik at event organized by Lego Korea Image source: News1 Kyunghyang Daily reports that over 101 dolmens, 926 housing sites (incl. 9 with high-rise flooring), and a canal, among others, were found on Jungdo Island, the construction site for Legoland Korea (LLK). LLK has since announced that they were aware of the site’s archaeological value, and blueprints show a historical museum had been included in the plan as part of the attractions. Main construction was set to begin this August, with completion aimed at 2016 for the theme park and 2018 for facilities including a spa town, outlet, water park, historical park and hotel. A bridge to the mainland has already begun construction with a 30 million KRW grant from the government, along with archaeological digging for the LLK’s planned historical park. Jungdo Island Image source: Hangang Institute via Kyunghyang Daily Approximately 500 billion KRW (500 million USD) is set as the budget for Legoland Korea. As one of the first recipients of the 2014 Foreign Direct Investment Act, LLK investors such as Merlin …

Cheongnyangni in Photos

August 2014 Cheongnyangni is a very interesting part of town. There are traditional markets, department stores, and a red light district, all adjacent to one another. It’s always crowded here. The elevators are (supposed to be) reserved for the elderly and those carrying heavy baggage Funny cloud alert An 80s-90s apartment complex Cheongnyangni is famous for its ‘entertainment’, adult karaokes, porn showrooms, love hotels, and right around the corner from the train station, the red light district. I once took a cab and the driver took a wrong turn. It was embarrassing for the both of us (well, more for him). ‘Hyundai Core Apartments’ It’s fashionable (and costly) to have your aircon hanging outside your window (I asked the interior designer who’s doing my grandma’s apartment). ‘Hot yoga’, ‘Hagwon’ ‘Office rentals’ ‘ Go lessons’ ‘Accountant Choi’ Koreans hate pigeons. I showed my friend this picture and she screamed. It’s because pigeons apparently spread germs when they flap their wings. To my knowledge, no one has been hospitalised for ‘pigeon germ flu’, just like no one has been …