Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Show Girls of G-Star

A booth wouldn't be complete with out some show girls. This is very common when marketing products in Asia. These were the girls working at Razer's booth. I think they had some of the coolest outfits in the entire convention.

These ladies were packing heat. Keep in mind I was the only woman spectator taking pictures. 
These ladies had a wall of photographers waiting in line to take pictures.

Yet again, I guess it doesn't get old and it draws in the crowd. 

This was towards the end of the day and the booth was closed so the women created a barrier into the exhibit. 

Umm...where can I get one of these headbands??

This booth employed so many show girls.  At the end of the day they lined the parameter of the booth and bowed to everyone in thanks. It was impressive.

G-Star Video Game Convention

Kwang had to help man a booth for Razer at G-Star which is Korea's exclusive video game convention. It took place in Busan so I took the bus on down to meet him there. On Sunday morning the crowd had already started to line up outside the convention center. Thank goodness I had a VIP pass!

This is Razer's booth. People could come and test out their products, play Starcraft and get free Razer removable tattoos of the tri-snake logo. The black and electric green logo really attracted the crowd.

Have a question? This good man will help you out. He was very proud to be part of the team.

Here are some of Razer's newest products that were on display. 

Engagement Ring(s)

It's official! Kwang and I are engaged. As usual we are not exactly doing everything in the traditional way. In Korea many couples exchange promise rings. These are rings that both the bride and groom wear before getting married. There is a section of Seoul that specializes in these coordinating rings and when I say coordinating I mean coordinating. If the bride gets some bling so does the groom. As much as I would have liked for Kwang to sport some sparkles we didn't go that route. We had been looking for something that represented Korea and found this ring set. The rings are made by a Korean designer and when placed on top of each other create a chrysanthemum flower. It reminds me of our differences and yet our ability to fit together. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

North Korea Attacks

Tuesday afternoon while I was working at school we got word that there had a been an attack on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong. This area has been a hot bed of tension as it lies near the boarder. In the past disputes had occurred between military ships on the open sea, never on S. Korean soil. In March the Cheonan, a S. Korean ship, sank in this area due to a missile strike that was later identified by an international investigation to be of N. Korean origin.

A picture from after the attack. Heavy artillery was used against the island. 

It was discovered today that there were two civilians casualties from yesterday's events. When talking with my adult students about the situation some were quite open and frank about their opinions and why N. Korea had attacked. Others refused to have a discussion because in their minds there was nothing to discuss. The attack happened and it was meant to provoke. South Koreans have worked so hard rebuilding their country from the rubble of the Korean War. When I look around Seoul I try to think how to paint a picture of this city that's filled with skyscrapers, people who work 60 hour weeks, modern art,  schools on every corner, and an impressive infrastructure that accommodates the 11 million people that live here. You can get cell phone reception on the subway here, you can't even do that in New York City. Hell, why would I want to talk on the phone when I can watch TV or the baseball game on my commute home.  It's an  economically strong country that proudly boasts about paying off their debt early to the IMF after the Asian Economic Crisis of 1997. To engage in war would shatter the foundation they've built. However, to be bullied around continuously poises the blatant threat.   

The attack happened about 90 miles away from Seoul.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

We May Not Have an Oven, But Don't Feel Too Bad for Us!

Since most apartments or houses do not come with an oven, Korea has adapted by have delicious bakeries located on practically every corner. Kwang and I have started the habit that on Sundays we go to the bakery and get pastries and lattes. Well it's usually me who gets out of bed to walk the short trek over to the shop, but it's well worth it. Anything filled with apple, raspberry, or cream cheese is sure to make it into our Sunday breakfast routine.

Pepero Day 11/11

Pepero Day in Korea is when children, girlfriends or boyfriends give pepero, chocolate dipped bread stick snacks, to their loved ones on November 11th. The date 11/11 looks just like these skinny cute snacks. I've been told that the holiday originated in Busan where school girls gave pepero to their friends with inspiration that their bodies would mimic the ultra slender snack. Sort of ironic consider it's a cracker dipped in chocolate.  Let's be honest, it's a made up holiday in which Lotte, the manufacturer of pepero, set out to gain more sales. And that they do with pepero day making up around 60% of their yearly sales.

I decided to indulge and buy some pepero for Kwang and my kindergarten students. I tried to sneak the big box on the right into Kwang's messenger bag so that he would have to embarrassingly share with his co-workers, but he caught me.

This was the typical scene outside of convenient stores around Korea on 11/11. There were pepero gift baskets, pepero bouquets and finally my favorite pepero stuffed animals.

Besides plain chocolate dipped there are other varieties such as chocolate dipped with almonds or peanuts. There is also a naked pepero that is a bread stick filled with chocolate.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Korean Wedding #2

My co-worker Katie got married a couple of weeks ago. Before entering the wedding hall there are lots of pictures the couple had taken together. They usually picture the couple in pre-canned romantic or humorous poises. The cheesier the better is typically the norm. I think this one is pretty cute.

This photo montage was really funny. I'm thinking Kwang and I will be opting out on this type of photo shoot though it's entertaining to image what type of pictures we potentially could take. 

Their ceremony was quite grandiose with these two ladies in their power blue outfits stealing the show with their swords. I don't believe this has anything to do with military service. It was a great way to spice up the ceremony though. 
One of the more modern traditions in a Korean ceremony is to have friends of the bride and groom sing to couple. These friends do not have to be professionals and often times this point is blatantly obvious. These sweet singers had to restart the music due to nerves. I would be shaking in my shoes if I had to sing up there. 

At the end of this ceremony the couple and their families cut the cake together. I though this was a nice gesture of family unity. They also drank champagne and did a toast with the rest of the guests.  Afterward everyone made a beeline to the buffet. Every dish imaginable was served at this wedding, fresh sushi, noodle soup, marinated and grilled meat, assorted Korean dishes, 6 different kinds of kimchi, even some slightly western dishes. I was ecstatic to find salmon with capers and horseradish on the table. 

Stuffed Animal Game Machines

There are a ton of game machines in Korea. They are often placed outside of convenient stores and even bars. I guess people are more apt to risk a little pocket money when intoxicated. With that said I'm still drawn to them in fascination. Kwang approaches the taunting machines with vigor and an eye for the challenge. In my entire life I've only managed to win one stuffed animal out of a machine and it was only after inserting $10, not realizing these machines don't give back change.

This particular machine was filled with giant stuffed radishes. Who doesn't want one of these??!! So cute, so weird. I especially love that they are in plastic bags. I wonder if this hinders the giant claw's ability to grasp the radish. Just another obstacle for Kwang...a tricky one at that as alas we did not go home with a giant radish.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hiking Gwanak San

Kwang's company planned a hiking day instead of spending Saturday in the office. I was invited to tag along. We got off the bus at the base of mountain only to be greeted with this crowd. Seriously, when there are this many people hiking there is only a certain amount of de-stressing and being one with nature to be had.

This rock formation lined the trail at one point. It is good luck to balance a rock on top of the many piles that have been started around the base. With that said it is bad luck to have any of those piles fall. 
When we reached the top this was the view. 
There was a Buddist Temple at the top of the hike. We had to climb over large treacherous boulders to get to it. Many people were outside praying and bowing when got there.

After climbing on rock ledges and watching old women being passed on the ledges my impatient men we  got to this steep, smooth incline. Miraculously on the far left of the hill there was a man selling cup of noodles and rice wine. I passed on the rice wine as I was worried I wouldn't be able to get back across the boulders in one piece. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Nonconventional Use of My Rice Cooker Take 1: Steamed Pumpkin

Before I met Kwang I had never owned, used or lived with a rice cooker. Of course this all changed and no longer am I allowed to make rice on a stove top. However, this machine perplexes me as so much other food could be prepared within its non-stick steam pot.

Pumpkin is hugely popular in Korea. It's used in baked goods, rice dishes, bar food and soup year round. I love it because it's sweet and reminds me of acorn squash. I decided to take a stab at steaming some pumpkin in the rice cooker.

I flavored it with some pepper, hit the switch and 20 minutes later had super soft, tender pumpkin to eat. I don't quite understand how the rice cooker switches from cooking mode into warm mode, I'm assuming some sort of internal thermometer meter, but the pumpkin didn't need to cook quite as long. Overall, it was a success! The outside skin peels right off and the sweet pumpkin was delicious.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Wade Kids Academy Celebrates Halloween

Witches and wizards were the hit costume this year. Actually, from past Halloween pictures I've seen from my co-teacher costume choices don't deviate much from this norm.

Most of the kids wore costumes that were bought from the store. It's a same that homemade costumes are not the rage here. Perhaps this will be my new business!

I've seen more adults wearing these exaggerated bow headbands, perfect for Halloween and a ballerina.

My wardrobe was sort of lacking Halloween inspiration this year. I decided to be a cowgirl since I had a straw hat left over from laying on the beach in Vietnam. Not one of my students got my costume, cowboy boots and all, until I explained it. Just another reason why my costume business would be a hit, time to give these kids some non pre-canned creativity.

A witch cackling at the camera. She spent some time in the US and is the only student I have that feels the need to pinch other students...hmmm, just saying.

Here's Michael and his class getting into their Halloween poises. The kids were definitely scared of his zombie blood.