Monday, May 28, 2012

Daegu: Of Summer, Life, Happiness, Korean Photo Studio and KNU Festival

This will be my last post of the month, exam's nearing and early preparations are essential to achieve my desired results. Now, it is summer in Korea, there aren’t any cherry blossoms to be seen blooming or cool weather to be felt anymore. It is also highly unlikely that I can wear my favourite outer every time I am outdoors.

Goodbye Spring...

Exercising under humid and warm summer weather has become a physically demanding routine. I felt I am now at my peak of physical capability. I used to run 12 km every day. My love for sports and running began after I realized I had grown a lot fatter since arriving to Korea in 2009. 

My weight was 76 kilos and in just less than 2 months, I ballooned to 82 kilos (Argghh)! Then, I felt I need to do something about myself. I started walking, and walking, and finally running. Now, I am 67 kilos but I used to be 64 kilos. What about you? There's nothing to be embarrassed talking about weight. ^^ 

The worst thing about losing weight was I couldn't wear most of my cloths. Every cloth I have now is either new ones or bought after I shed kilos. In Korea, the most common concern for the men was height issue. The taller you are, the better your "status" is. 

However, it's very amusing to see some people who purchased elevator shoe just to look taller. When I see short guys wearing basketball sneakers, high heeled boots or shoes with padding, just to look taller, I can only wish for them to be contented with whatever features they have.

Platform shoe

I am taller than the Korean national height average of 1.74 m but even if I am shorter, I couldn't care less. My height? Ahem, secret. When I was in high school, I always dread going to the school assembly because I felt teachers are always looking at the tall guys first before looking at others. Come on! Isn’t it so obvious? 

So, I learned to discipline myself by paying attention during assembly, this leads to paying full attention in classes and somehow, not liking to be distracted while focusing on a task. Frankly, I am also not very tall but during my "formative" high school years in Malaysia, I was among the "above-average" or "tall" in height. I never knew height was such an important issue until I was in Korea.

The Spiciest bun ever eaten in Korea! 

After living and mingling with the Koreans, I discovered that most of them are generally more sensitive and more concerned about how they present themselves to others - Are they good enough? Are they comparable with others?, etc. This is why Koreans are very obsessed with rankings. 

Rankings among the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries as the most technologically advanced country, ranking on YouTube on the latest pop culture (The K –pop), and the nomination of Jeju Island as the seven natural wonders of the world and so forth. They are very proud and happy.

However, by being too engrossed in the chasing after rankings and material wealth, they do not know how and when to be satisfied with what they had. Not many Koreans would like to be farmer because they always assume farmers earn very little. However, once they obtained high paying jobs, they are still dissatisfied because of the unending monotony of their job. They also work long hours. 

But they are never happy. Yet, they want their children to get high paying jobs like they themselves. How ironic isn’t it?

Recently, I attended a class but instead of normal lesson, we watched a video on a lecture about “Happiness” conducted at Harvard and a short slide on happiness. I was attracted to the slide presentation more than the video. It was about “What is Happiness?”. There are 3 types of happiness. 

The first one is “The Pleasant Life”, it is about being in a place and spending your time doing things you like. The second is “The Good Life”. This means doing something you are good at and when you lose track of time such as spending time with the people you love or your job. Finally, it is “The Meaningful life”.

Lets have a meaningful life... 

This means knowing your strength and using them in the service of something higher than yourself such as volunteer service. There are many occasions whereby I am happy because I am doing things I like, being on special place and helping people. 

When I think of “The Pleasant Life”, I felt I am always happy when I am inside my room, looking at the greenery outside the window just after it rains and eating a variety of cakes - fruitcakes, layer cakes and chocolate cakes. Yummy..


In Korea, taking photos is an essential activity for many occasions. 100-day boyfriend-girlfriend anniversary, class picture and even a plain-looking group shot are all taken in a photo studio. In Daegu, I would suggest going to a photo studio at Banwoldang Subway Station (반월당역). It is located at W427 near the Hyundai Departmental Store and opens from 10 am till 9 pm.

PhotoFun - Taking photos is fun? I don't think so..

"Hey, remove that ugly pimples!!!"..

What's next? Photoshop!

This studio is highly recommended because the price is affordable and for around 4~5,000 Won each person, you can get a set of photos. However, my only problem with Korean studios is that they photo shopped most photos all the time! 

Most of the time, they will make a fat guy appearing thinner on photo, a chubby lady suddenly having a coca cola bottle looking slender waist, dark skinned to a fairer skin (Sigh…), and some other basic retouching like removing wrinkles and pimples.

Tadaaa!!! (Don't ask why I had to pose this way... -_-") 

I love and very contented with everything I have.


Stalls (주막) selling you-can-get-them-cheaper-elsewhere alcohols and food

From the top of my dormitory, wow! 

KNU festival was held from last Wednesday to Friday, I attended on Wednesday but fell ill on Thursday and was too exhausted for Friday. I slept early but I watched the fireworks display on the most romantic spot in my dormitory. The open space on the highest spot is where you can see stars, moon and sun, if only the girls can enter the guys dormitory… 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

17 May 2012

Ed Sheeran

The A Team by Ed Sheeran

"Stuck in... daydream.." 


Friday, May 11, 2012

Photo of the week - Smoke gets in your eyes

Few weeks ago... A day before the closing date... I saw this on my Facebook's news feed.

So... I sent this entry...

Title: Smoke gets in your eyes (Location: Myeongdong)

And today, I received this email...

Most probably, my prize will be forfeited because I don't think I can attend the award ceremony. I have to attend a lecture (still undecided)... 

However, I am proud to win it. I always felt like I am not very good in taking photos but today, I realized I can also take good photos. Finally, I achieved my New Year's Resolutions goal no. 6. :) 기분이 좋아졌어 ㅎㅎ

Happy weekend.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Festival to Remember: Lunar New Year in Malaysia

Chinese New Year or better known as Lunar New Year is widely celebrated in Malaysia. During the days approaching Chinese New Year, there will be an exodus of cars from all over the country to my hometown. This is because there’s a huge ethnic Chinese population residing in Penang, my home State. 

The outstation or overseas Penangites (Penang people are colloquially called) will be back to usher New Year together with their family members.

Kek Lok Si Temple lighted up for Lunar New Year

On the eve of Chinese New Year, the traffic during the evening is said to be less congested as compared to normal days. This is because most of the ethnic Chinese would be busy having reunion dinners in their respective family homes. Reunion dinner is viewed as one of the highlights leading to Chinese New Year. 

It is an important occasion for the Chinese as it provides a venue for family members to meet and to foster closer ties with each other. Family members from all over the country would meet to have a meal together. 

A typical reunion dinner at home comprises traditional dishes like Kiam Chye Ark (Duck in salted vegetable soup), Peranakan curry chicken, Jiu Hoo Char (Dried cuttlefish fried with mixed vegetables and mushrooms), abalone with pig’s trotter soup, Lor Bak, pickled fish or pickled lemon.

When I was young, the best part of reunion dinner was playing with firecrackers after a sumptuous meal at night. At that time, the display of firecrackers was not prohibited in Malaysia. Even after the ban in Malaysia, firecrackers can still be heard exploding with unending intensity in my city. It is customary for the Chinese community to start the New Year with a big BANG followed by prayers to welcome good tidings for the year. 

On the first day of the Lunar New Year, most Chinese will visit their relatives and give “Ang Pow” (red packet) to the unmarried member of the family. “Ang Pow” with cash inserted in the packet, represents good luck to the receiver. Money in the form of the word “four” (e.g. 4, 44) is not given because it is deemed inauspicious.

Lion Dance 

The corporate sector also adds to the merriment by inviting lion dance troupe to perform during Chinese New Year. It is a belief that lion dance wards off bad omen and the performances seldom fail to amuse the crowd. The lion performing acrobatic stunts on poles, prancing around and finally unfurling from its mouth a banner wishing the crowd a happy and prosperous new year was exciting to watch.

“God of Prosperity”

On the ninth day of the Chinese New Year, the Hokkien community in Penang celebrates “Thi Kong Seh” or “Jade Emperor God”. The festival is to commemorate the Hokkien’s escape from the invading force by their hiding in a field of sugarcanes. 

Thus, the significance on the presence of sugarcane stalks decorating the table, offering a variety of delicacies to the deity. Prayers will begin at midnight with devotees in their New Year attire asking for blessings and luck for the year ahead from the deity.

During Chap Goh Meh

The fifteenth day of the Chinese New Year heralds the end of the festival. In Penang, the Hokkien Chinese celebrated “Chap Goh Meh”, in Fujian dialect meaning the fifteenth night. It is also a State tourism event celebrated with the usual pomp and festivities. The unmarried ladies seeking prospective husbands will line the sea carrying basket of mandarin oranges with their names and contact numbers on the oranges. 

On the other side, the guys in “sampan” or small boats will try to net the oranges thrown into the sea by the pretty maidens. It is a fun-filled event with many participants and spectators. Occasionally, the oranges end up in the hands of the old uncles or aunties watching and waiting at the shore. The oranges collected probably ended up in their respective mouths. 

(This article was written by me as an ASEAN-Korea Weblog Correspondent. You can find various interesting articles on various countries in ASEAN and Korea in this link.)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Then and now – Korean Wave reaching Malaysia

Korean wave first touches the shore around South East Asia almost a decade ago, and in Malaysia, it got to be the successful airing of Winter Sonata. Winter Sonata was the first or should I rephrase, the first very well known Korean drama shown on Malaysian TV channel. It was starred by the hunky Bae Yong Joon and the pretty Choi Ji-woo as the main characters in this drama.
Winter Sonata, a classic (Photo from KBS Winter Sonata Official Poster)

I remembered the drama quite clearly because even at a very young age then, I love snow. Winter Sonata was filmed during winter (the title of the drama is “winter”!) and one can easily see snow most of the time in this drama. The drama started with an introvert young man (the main character) falling in love with his classmate during his formative high school years. 

Fate or not, they were separated by a cruel accident when he lost his memory of her due to it. After many years, they met again but he still could not remember his former sweetheart. Fast forward, he finally remembers her but when they were reunited, he was already sick. With such a good screenplay and drama full with interesting plots, Korean dramas have gradually become part of everyday TV channel. 

This is how I think it started. 

These days, there are more Korean movies, songs and dramas churning out at an amazing rate. Recently, my favourite Korean group – The Big Bang releases their brand new single, “Alive” after a hiatus of almost a year. Big Bang is one of the main catalysts in the K-pop scene and their commanding presence on stage means expensive concert for most audience who wish to attend their concert. 

Luckily, we can buy the CDs. 

What is Big Bang? Is it a theory about the development of universe? Nope and yes if you are referring it scientific-wise but to K-pop fans out there, you are lucky to come across this piece of article. This group consists of T.O.P. (Choi Seung-hyun), G-Dragon (Kwon Ji Yong), Taeyang (Dong Young Bae), Daesung (Kang Daesung) and Seungri (Lee Seung-hyun).

Big Bang (Source YG Entertainment) 

They first started out in 2006 with little success but in 2007, they struck their first success and until today, the lead single remains a hit. The rest is history and with their seniority and experience in the K-pop industry, they remain the number one most successful Korean pop group in history. In my country (Malaysia) as with almost everywhere, this means the emergence of K-pop supporter clubs, forums and even dancing groups.

SHINee World Malaysia Forum 

There are plenty of forums about the SHINee (Google SHINee World Malaysia and you will be surprised with more than 286,000 results!), Big Bang (of course!) and so forth. Not to be left out, there’s a dance cover group called Epsilon dancing to the tune of Miss A, 2NE1 and other exciting Korean pop groups.

Epsilon YouTube page

The arrival of Hallyu or Korean wave means more choices for the audiences. Instead of listening to the same song or watching the same dramas over and over again, why not we have a change in preferences, to see which is better? Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to watch this Korean TV series called Running Man now..

(This article was written by me as an ASEAN-Korea Weblog Correspondent. You can find various interesting articles on various countries in ASEAN and Korea in this link.)

You might also like..

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
"This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning" ~Winston Churchill~