The aftermath of the ferry accident in Korea

During the horrible accident that happened on 16th of April many high school children drowned as result of the incomptency of the captain and his crew members, whom unfortunately only knew how to save their own lives. The results are catastrophical and you might have heard that the prime minister resigned due to the issue. The inhabitants of South-Korea are demanding structural changes in how the government is regulating the industry.

The information on the subject is in abundance, a quick Google leads to many search results could provide one a more in-depth look at what actually happened. Today I am not going to write about the accident, as every news channel informs you about but rather the aftermath of the accident affecting everyone.

  • All public festivals are cancelled due to the accident
  • All “free” major tourism activities are on hold until furtner notice (i.e.Banpo rainbow fountain)
  • Many institutions are announcing that they are taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of their workers and customers.
  • My dormitory has officially announced that they will increase the amount of uninspected room checks and are holding mandatory fire drills. To check where we are regularly.

The sad part about these changes is that none of them actually fundamentally changes that way companies such as these operate. This is just my personal opinion and it is not an attack on South-Korea itself, but the government over here is still quite corrupt and company’s can do whatever they feel like due to the power that the “Chaebols” (family run business) have. All of these measures are in my opinions just ways for those in high ranking position to secure their own job and calm down the population.

Surprise room check

I knew about this already, unannounced room checks could be held at any time. I was waiting until this would happen and last week it finally happened. They checked whether we were in our rooms or not and at 1:15 AM nonetheless. They probably thought it was a good idea, since the mid-term week was already over and most students go out for a drink or enjoy a break in their own way. Apparantly, this a was a great reason for the housing office at Sewhahall to catch us in the act ;)

Seriously, being 22 and still having to deal with announced and unannounced room checks in the middle of the night, how childish and immature.

An invitation from the Dutch Embassy

About a month ago. I along with the other Dutch exchange students received an invitation from the Dutch embassy in South-Korea. A reception would be held in honor of the Kingsday celebration in the Netherlands on the 25th of April. The dresscode was business suit/smart casual (explicitly no jeans).

As I did not bring a suit with me, I unfortunately only had jeans in my wardrobe. So being the stubborn person I am I decided to wear jeans anyway, but then a nice pair khaki jeans that are often worn at offices in combination with a woolen sweater. I orginally intended to buy a nice suit over here in Seoul, believe me: the designs are really beautiful. The Koreans over here basically clone the style/look from well-known brands such as: Prada, Hèrmes, Gucci & D&G and sell them for about 120 to 150 euros for a 2/3 piece suit.

The reason why I did not purchase a suit over here is because I have had a lot of bad experiences with clothes that were made in Korea from many different stores, after wearing it two times the fabric starts plushing like crazy and that has really let me down. The only products that I do like over here are the T-shirts because the quality still seems quite decent.

But back to the point, I went to the embassy with a friend of mine. The reception was quite formal and extravagant. I met many Dutch expats that were employed in Seoul, there were some noteworthy people attending the event such as the CEO of LG corp, the chairman of Heineken Korea and of course the ambassador himself. The mood was friendly, but still a bit stiff at the beginning. Nothing that a bit of wine/beer could not take care of.

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A little bit of home

Mid-terms are finally over, all the stress that has piled up has been released. So time to have some fun and get out of the dorm once again. This time we decided to visit Bucheon ecological park, near Kkachiul station. It is a small mid-sized park full with tulips, fountains and a small hiking trail. It is located in the outskirts of Seoul, it is a very popular area for kindergarten classes. The Bucheon ecological park mainly consists of tulips, well we all know in which country we can find many, many tulips. :)

Here are some colorful photo’s of the beautiful park.

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10 Things I have noticed during my stay in South-Korea

So it has been already 1.5 months since I started studying in South-Korea. By now I’m becoming more and more aware of things of the small details that are different about what I am used to in Europe. The newly magic has worn off for a bit, so I decided to compile a list of things I have noticed up until now in Seoul that are quirky, funny or just note-worthy.

People randomly bump into you and just keep on walking

People really just bump into you, while they are looking at their cellphones and don’t expect an apology because most of the time you won’t get one. Most of the people are too busy with their smartphones or the streets are too crowded. Most of the time people don’t walk on the left or right side, but take any side that is free.

Kimchi, kimchi everywhere and with anything

Whenever you eat Korean food, you will always receive kimchi and picked rice radish with it. As long as it is Korean food it will be on your table, unless you are at a self-service restaurant of course, then you have to get it yourself.

Smacking and slurping people

Quite a common sight, smacking and slurping Ajussi’s & Ajumma’s. Nothing strange or different than other parts of Asia in this department. Many youngsters also do this by the way.

For every mirror, there are 10 Koreans checking if their hair is still in style.

This happens at every mirror that there is, I am not even talking about the girls. Pretty much all of the guys do it too, checking whether their hair is still in style or if they have some dirt on their faces. I notice it when I am in the elevator, stores, public restrooms or on the street when they are carrying around mirrors.

Parisian bakeries, Dutch coffee and Danish Milk

In South-Korea bakeries often refer to themselves as Parisian. Dutch coffee is apparantly quite well known and Denmark produces the best quality milk. Not too sure how much that is true, but this is the general view of the South-Koreans.

Selfie & beauty obsession

You thought taking selfies are bad in Europe and the U.S.? Come over here and look around. Selfies, anywhere, anytime and regardless of age and gender.

Couple clothing

It is a trend over here to wear couple clothing and it is actually quite cute! Many couples  wear the same outfit to show everyone else that they are a happy couple.

Smartphone addiction with cracked screens

Koreans use their cellphone a lot more than we do, they use it to watch TV, play games and Kakaotalk. Most of them have spare batteries or portable charger and the phones are glued to their hands. Cellphones over here are quite expensive and therefore pre-paid is very rare. Most of the phones come with a contract plan. Because the cellphone is so important over here, people use it a lot therefore increasing the chances of dropping the phone, combine that with a busy city and you will see many so many people walking around with cracked phone screens.

Creditcards that do not need signature verification

Most Koreans use creditcards, but they don’t necessarily need to sign their signature to verify that the card is theirs. Usually stores just scribble anything in that area and the transaction gets accepted. It is fast and efficient, but far from safe as anyone could use your card if you lose it.

Diabetes burger anyone?

After strolling around in Hongdae for a while, we came across the burger bay. What immediately drew our interest was the huge king size burger. It was placed next to a hamburger the size of a regular Big Mac. This burger is about 30 cm in diameter and looking at the pictures, it is a challenge to eat it by yourself. There are many pictures of celebrities and customers taking on the challenge.

The burger itself looks quite awesome, but I guess unless you are really hungry it is best to share a burger like that with some friends.

It is strange, but for some reason the burger is tempting me to try it.

IMG_1718Note: the smallest burger is abou the size of a big mac.

 

Jogyesa Temple ~preparation for Buddha’s birthday~

Jogyesa Temple is the center of Zen Buddhism in Korea, and is famous for being located in the city. The first thing you will notice at the temple are the lovely trees. These locust trees and baeksong trees in front of the Daeungjeon, the main temple building, are about 500 years old. The temple was first established in 1395, at the dawn of the Joseon Dynasty; the modern temple was founded in 1910 and initially called “Hwanggaksa.” The name was changed to “Taegosa” during the period of Japanese rule, and then to the present name in 1954.

Jogyesa came to the attention of the international news media in December 1998 due to several monks occupying the temple in a power struggle between factions of the Jogye Order. In the end, riot police were called in to take control of the temple and oust the protestors after they had occupied the building for more than 40 days.

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Mid-term weeks are coming up!

So my first period of tests at Kyung Hee University are coming up, surprisingly I don’t feel stressed at all. I feel quite confident about it, I am studying more over here in Korea than I did in the Netherlands. This is most likely due to that the teachers over here really teach each chapter of the book.

Whereas in  the Netherlands the teacher summarizes the most important parts and asks us to challenge the theories and give our own objective views, with a decent theory to base it upon of course. But since the tests are eventually based on the textbooks, I feel that I have been rehearsing the theory more.

As for my own schedule, I will have 5 tests in three days. Most of the tests will be multiple choice questions with some additional open questions and essay questions. Oh well, time to hit the books again I guess………

The beauty of the Han river

The Han river is a large river that streams through the city of Seoul. Many families, friends, tourists and couples visit it every year. It is a very scenic place in South-Korea, where many outdoor activities that can be held at. This is my second visit to the Han river and I still can not get enough of it, the sight is absolutely beautiful and there are just so many things one can do there. I am really looking forward until the temperature rises a bit, as it is still quite cold in Seoul. Furthermore the Han river has many played many important historical roles, but I won’t be going into that in my blog post. If the history of the Han river does have your interest. [Click here]

As soon as it gets warmer I still want to do the following things at the Han river:

  • Play some ball sports at the park
  • Swimming (yes, there are some open swimming pools near the Han river)
  • Biking/rollerblading through the Han river
  • Picknicking with some friends
  • Sun bathing
  • Kite flying
  • Slap one of those annoying people whom force their delivery service flyer on to me

Map of Seoul by districts, My dorm is located at Dongdaemun-gublog_P1012412 blog_P1012413 blog_P1012415 blog_P1012416 blog_P1012418

It’s really beautiful, is it not?

Tasty silk worms anyone?

I love the smell of street foods in Seoul, I enjoy eating spicy rice cake, boiled fish pancakes and the fried goods they offer. I always am tempted to try food stalls (I tried grilled shredded squid last time), despite being a bit wary of the hygiëne of street foods. There always has been one traditional delicacy in South-Korea that I have not seen before in China, yes bbundaegi or also known as silk worm larvae’s. So we were with six people and all six gathered up their courage and we bought one cup and everybody took a bite of delicious proteins coming from insects.

Unfortunately it was not a success for everyone, only 2 out of six thought it was edible and did not find it delicious. Crazy Mike here ate the whole cup, while I was searching for water after eating only one. Hats off to this man!

Enjoy!

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