Tuesday, May 30, 2006

tuesday night

Tuesday has come and gone so quickly, but Monday night was a long long evening...As I was here typing and uploading pictures, our little group dispersed to find adventure, Sun, Margaret, Kristy, and Carolina took off for a jaunt in Seoul; Rochelle, Megan, Jairo (now nicknamed "Ghandi" by our Korean friends) and Jeremy (now nicknamed "Lex" as he looks like the Lex Luther character from Smallville) had an evening soiree (drinks) at J&J's, and Dave, Paula and Jim (from what I've heard) set out for Chinese food and an evening at a gentlemen's club (what exactly is that? hmmm...). Later, Kristy (my roomy) and I stayed up until past 3am chatting and Lex, Ghandi, Megan, Margaret and Carolina went to visit our new friend Serabi (sp? - a grad design student at Hanyang's room/studio at the design center) for more late-night frolicking. Suffice it to say, it was a LAAATTTEEE night! And believe it or not, we all groggily crawled out of bed by 6:30am and set off for a day with Prof. Choi and 20 of his seniors and a few grads. Our day consisted of a tour of LG Chem - a design company (you've heard of LG). Afterwards, we were treated to big mac's and fries at the National Museum (http://www.museum.go.kr/eng/) - a truly amazing structure, that houses many antiquities. Then back to Seoul and dinner with some of the seniors. Dave and Lex were considering going somewhere to eat live octopus (yes, I said LIVE - PETA won't be too happy) but the event won't be occuring tonight. (I'll keep you posted.) It is past 9pm and I still have to pack for tomorrow - what a day!

I may not update for a couple of days as tomorrow we will be going to Kyung Ju - a city 4 hours (by train) to the south of us, to view historical sites. That's about all I know about it, like most things here, we are kept a bit in the dark until we're actually in the thick of things. This dynamic keeps us all guessing and also keeps things fresh, allowing us to experience the moment first hand, rather than through a retelling or planning. (Sometimes, it also makes us a bit crazy.) We leave at 6am for Kyung Ju and will check out of the Hanyang Guest House (HGH) for one night and spend the night in the new city. We should be back here and checked back in to the HGH by Thursday evening. Friday, our wonderful Sun departs and two new students, Satenik and Nar will arrive. I have no idea what is on the agenda for Friday, but I do know Saturday and Sunday are free days YAY! I'm thinking...shopping! I think that is what is on most of our minds as handicrafts, textiles, and fun kitschy items abound. Sunday, Jim and Dave return home :(. It has been an amazingly fun dynamic with them here and personally I will be and am already sad at the idea of them leaving - please petition them to stay on longer through the workshop. If you'd like to email them to ask them on your behalf to keep handing out w/ us in Korea through the 11th...(dave.y.moon@csun.edu). :)

About trips like this one...if you are a student, I highly recommend applying for the next workshop, first of all, you'll never get a better deal for 18 days to Korea. Secondly, the amount you learn about the world and yourself is well worth it and then some. The group dynamic is an interesting one. Each person brings something to our team of 9 (soon to be 10). I think when spending this much time with people, you start to notice quirks, some quirks become a challenge and others become endearing. It is part of the territory, but in the end each person learns from the others and from themselves in how they deal with and adapt (or don't) to new situations. Sometimes, you just have to take a break and check back in with yourself for a moment of silence in the busy blend of day/night and sometimes you just have another soju and laugh your head off. (The latter tends to be more fun.)

So I asked Sun for some of the names of the foods we've tasted thus far, it is not a complete list (and spelling may vary as I spelled them phonetically), but if you'd like to go to Korean restaurant (and use this as an interactive blog), here are some things I can recommend:
Kimch'i - great with everything and comes in many varieties (I've heard it even cures bird flu!)
Su gu gitopa - spicy beef and rice
Keye bidabop - not so spicy beef and rice
Bibin bop (sp?) - a mix of rice, meat, and much much more, a really essential food here! Eat it, you'll love it!
Hamul Pajath - Seafood pancake (I also recommend the Kimch'i pancake)
Raminyan (spicy ramen soup)
Dok Manduku - Dumpling soup (not spicy)
Pou gugi - korean beef-meat bbq (there is also rib bbq)
Hootah - a 'snack' like a donut but w/ a nutty, cinnamony, almost-like-apple-pie, made fresh on the street vendor carts for ~$0.50. Really really really wonderful!
Kimpap - a seaweed roll - I think this is also like a snack or appetizer

A few other things of note - to Jane and the art dept gang, we all send big smiles and we're taking good care of Roro. She's having loads of fun (I think she bough a purse for S).
To our families, we are safe and on a new adventure each day, we are treated extremely kindly by all the people we meet and by eachother...& we do miss you.
& Hello to Megan's mom who posted. It is my pleasure to keep you updated. Thank you for your thank you. :)

Something amusing - today (& what seems like everyday thus far) I have been stopped by Korean kids asking to take a picture with me, when I asked why, I was told they had never seen a foreigner before...lol -- parents beware, kids need more outings and less tv! Just FYI, we have an International-melting-pot-American crew (Philipino, Chinese, Taiwanese, Colombian, Korean, Italian, Irish, Guatamalan, Latino and Iranian (w/ Armenians on the way). Something that is of note to mention, from my first posting where I wrote about the plethora of wars over Korea and on Korean soil, it is lovely to see how proud and stong a culture this is. Each person I meet is truly proud to be a Korean and to live in this country, this is especially of note because of the troubles we have over this issue in the USA. Anyway, something to think about...what do you and how much do you appreciate your life and who you are and where you live?

Smiles from our Korean-crew to yours...

Monday, May 29, 2006

Day 3

Being just in here this morning typing some info from our harried day (yesterday), here's a quick update for what we've been up to today...Today was the formal reception with Hanyang University's Vice President, Dean Park and Professor Choi. We entered the VP's office (like a dignitary's room) and were invited to sit down at a long beautiful wooden table (on large leather couches) and have tea while the VP and Dave spoke a bit about our school and theirs. It was quite an event and very telling of how much education and educators are valued here. (Any prof's thinking of moving?) Afterwards, we took a campus tour, Hanyang is a private university heavily into research. The campus we are at houses the strong engineering and design programs. Later, Prof. Choi presented some background information on the design school, Hanyang's other international programs, and some brief information about our workshop next week...a collaborative poster project dealing with images of Korea.

(Btw, I 've included a pict of the banner for our workshop, officially titled "Hanyang International Design Workshop" - fancy, n'est pas?)...followed by lunch on campus and then a crazy adventure to the bank to find an ATM that would actually work for our foreign bank cards. Today has been a little slower than previous days and we have a little time off. It is nice to have a small breather, but for my part, I love the challenging schedule we've been keeping and the adventures we've had. Dave has been an excellent host and it has been a pleasure to be on this journey with him. Also, thanks so much to Sun for being our amazing cultural and linguistic interpreter -- she is leaving us to return home on Friday and will be sorely missed.

A quick factoid about Korea: Korean boys have to do a mandatory year military service.
Another: There is no differentiation in food for breakfast, lunch & dinner - (eg - no eggs & bacon for breakfast) we eat the same type of foods for each meal.

Monday Morning

I have so much to write and so little time to tell it. I've been having trouble posting to the blogspot, so Joe is uploading for me - please excuse any delay in updates...that and our breakneck pace that keeps us awake from 6am-past midnight. We've been here three full days and it feels like we've already learned and experienced so much! Korea is lovely. If any of you can come here, do...food is excellent, people are kind, the streets are clean and there is public transportation everywhere.

A quick recap of yesterday before I have to meet the group this morning - we went to the Korean National Palace - amazing! Then to the National Palace Museum of Korea (http://www.gogung.go.kr/eng/) to see a Nam June Paik exhibit, then Isadong (I'll check spelling later) - and back for a wonderful dinner of Korean Bbq and karaoke! (Yes, and Dave sang!) Details and stories of testing out street vendor food, handmade noodles, art galleries etc to follow, hopefully at the end of the day....

Sunday, May 28, 2006

first full day

I can vaguely remember the beginning of this day - a faint sound of raindrops on the window, Kristy's alarm clock's BUZZZZZZ, and wondering what to wear on our first full adventure day in Korea...it has been grey, slightly warm (70s) with sprinkles of rain through the afternoon - turning into heavy rain and fully sheltered skies by 5pm. It is now 8pm and, Carolina, Margaret, Jairo, Jeremy, Kristy, Megan and I are busily typing away at computers on the 3rd floor of Cyberland - one of the many (5 in one block!) locations to access the web. We're pretty tuckered out today and I'm feeling my age and then some. Sun is neatly tucked away in the room while Paula, Jim and Dave are back at the ranch.

Back to the day gone by...today we went to the Korean Folk Village (visit the website: http://www.koreanfolk.co.kr/folk/english/), accompanied by three lovely graduate students from Hanyang University who were a pleasure to have as our hosts/company/friends. The Korean Folk Village is a tourist site (think Disneyland meets the Hunnington (sp?) Gardens), from what we know (& right now we're pretty tired) it is a recreation of a traditional, historical Korean village including houses, a jail, gardens, livestock, Korean dogs and games/activities. We watched a dramatization of a traditional Korean wedding and some trick-riding on horseback. There is also an accompanying theme park flanking the village where you can take a break from tradition and go straight to kitsch, bumper-stuffed-animal-cars, rides, a merry-go-round, and then some. We tasted rice wine, potato pancakes, fresh blended fruit juices, and a plethora of pickled vegetables (familial off-shoots of kimch'i). We walked !
through the lush green pathways by the river and of course, like the good consumer's we are, did our best to give back to the Korean economy through shopping at the many scattered stalls of stuff. It was truly a lovely day (thank you Dave!) and timed perfectly, because just as we got on the bus to return to our abode, the rain really kicked in. Tonight, I think we're leaving here to go and have a little get-together in Jeremy & Jairo's room (they have moved in a second couch) and tomorrow we're off for a full day of walking during our Seoul tour.

Right now, I'd love you to meet the students and read a little directly from them...

Q: What are you studying at CSUN?
Margaret: I'm studying Graphic Design and I'm finishing my junior year.

Q: What has been the most interesting thing for you in Korea thus far?
Margaret: There are marts and PC places everywhere! But I think the most interesting thing for me so far was visiting the Folk Village. I think I can say for the most of us that it was a great way to see traditional Korean living. It was also pretty cool to run into a family from Seattle, WA who've been living in Korea for three years. It goes to show how small the world really is.

Q: Favorite foods in Korea?
Margaret: I can eat Kimchi any day, but my favorite so far has been the potato pancake. The sauce that accompanies the dish is perfect.

Q: The deep questions...your dream future/opportunity/career?
Margaret: I'm going to continue to work on my portfolio and start looking for internships during the summer or fall. I can use the experience that will help me later on. I'm very interested in branding and corporate identity, and editorial design.

Q: Random thoughts...
Margaret: Can't wait to go to Seoul!

Friday, May 26, 2006

If all else fails...point

We're here! After a 11 hour flight to Narita (Japan), a 2 hour lay-over, a 2.5 hour flight to Seoul & 1 hr+ bus ride, we were dazzled by the amazing high-rise guest house (more like apartments or a hotel) awaiting us -- the Hanyang University Guest House (visit the school's website: http://www.hanyang.ac.kr/). The rooms are beautiful and as the facility is newly constructed, we are the first guests (the grand opening is June 23rd). We are each sharing a 2 bed suite, including one bedroom, a kitchen and an attached living area w/ couch/tv et al. After a brief look-around, a group of us took off for an adventure at the neighborhood and stopped at a restaurant. When we asked for the menu (all in Korean script) we realized that there was no way to order - except pointing of course. So like good tourists w/o a translator we stepped outside and pointed at the pictures of food. Of course, although this technique is not glamorous, it is time-tested, and it worked. So just remember, wh!
en stranded, sleepy, and hungry...if all else fails...just point.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Hello, this is Niku and this is my first entry...a little scattered with packing, but I thought it important to give you some pre-Korea-conceptions...

It is the evening before our anticipated departure, questions and packing/repacking abound. As exciting as the journey ahead will be, this evening is more about anticipation, confusion and wonder. One of the bigger challenges will be packing light but packing the right things -- always a concern when traveling abroad.So, after many internet searches, asking every person of Korean descent and Korean traveler I've met and heard stories from (the last 2 days alone include Carol at the bank, Mike at the shoe store, Kim Abeles' husband [used to teach in Korea], a family friend also named Carol, my cousin Shahab - not to mention the plethora of students at CSUN, Yong, Jihyun, Sun), I've concluded, we are in for some hot, some temperate, and mostly humid weather mixed with a few days of drenching showers. We'll be experiencing fantastic foods full of flavor at every turn and beautiful textiles (handmade papers, fabrics, etc.).

And now for a touch of background...
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +9
South Korea borders: North (N. Korea), West (China, West Sea/Yellow Sea), East(Japan, East Sea/Sea of Japan), South (Korea Strait)
Currency: Republic of Korean Won (W)
Electricity: 220V 60HzHz

Korea was first inhabited by tribes from central and northern Asia, Korean mythology dates this at ~2333 BC and in the 1st century AD, Goguryeo, Korea's first kingdom was formed. In the next four hundred years, in the period known asThree Kingdoms: Goguryeo (N), Baekje (SW) and Silla (SE) - arts and cultureabounded and Buddhism was introduced. In the early 13th century the Mongols invaded. After the collapse of the Mongol empire, came the Choson Dynasty and the creation of Korean script. Since that time Korea was repeatedly invaded and occupied by China and Japan until the end of WWII when the USA occupied the southern peninsula while the USSR occupied the northern - the war that followed (theKorean War) lasted until 1953. By the end of war the country was officially divided and millions had lost their lives. By 1972 the south declared martial law and spent the next decade+ between this and democracy. In 1998, president Kim Dae-jung a non-conservative began to lead South Korea into economic and democratic reforms. In 2000, in order to improve relations with the north, Kim made a historic visit to North Korea to shake the hand North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, and was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Today, Korea has a republic government with a Prime Minister/Head of Government (LeeHae-chan) and a President/Head of State (Roh Moo-hyun). Despite all the years of occupation and war, South Korea, has managed to rebuild and maintain it's traditions while becoming one of the most significant international cities -- we look forward to seeing and experiencing it!

Tomorrow, the airport... & Friday evening (after a 17+ hour travel time) we'llbe arriving at our destination. Personally, I am excited to get to know my fellow travelers and the adventure we'll have ahead.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

t-minus 48 hours

testing... testing...
We (well not Joe, sad that I will be not going) are about to embark upon a journey to Korea for the next 2 1/2 weeks for a workshop at Hanyang University and then a full load of sightseeing.

Niku Kashef will be updating the blog from there and Joe Bautista from CSUN. So check back often to see what Professors Dave Moon, Paula DiMarco & Jim Kelley along with students Niku, Kristy, Jeremy, Rochelle, Carolina, Margaret, Jairo, Satenik, Nar, Megan, & Sun are up to.

Have fun everyone!