Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Shining in Seoul

Well, that is what the Romanian man D told me when we met last week - "You seem to really shine here in Seoul". Here are some random photos from this month:

From what I read, this is the largest Christmas tree in Korea,

Located at the Times Square Mall:

A modern version of a sundial - The Shadow Clock. Pretty Cool!

A huge exhibit of cows, in front of COEX mall:

A strange building I found walking in Gangnam. I've nicknamed it the "Swiss Cheese" building:

Finally, the first course of an all-vegetarian dinner I had Sunday at a place called 채근담 Chaegundaam. I understand this is monk-style vegetarian food, and it was delicious. No more photos of the rest of the food, I was too busy stuffing my face.

Whatever Ails You

I thought I blogged about this years ago, but I can't find it. One of my favorite Korean wines, SANSACHUN, has recently changed their bottle style. Along with the change, their label has been remade. I happened to have one last bottle of the old style. Since the old label was one of my all-time favorites, I took a photo to remember it:

If you can't read it closely (the English, that is), it says:

"Sansa is a fruit bearing, broad leafed, plant belonging to the rose species. Red and a pleasant scent. Good for treating weak stomachs, backaches, and cut"

I never was sure, are you supposed to drink the wine if you get a cut? Or pour the wine over the cut?

BTW, my dictionary says this SANSA plant is in English a HAWTHORN, which still doesn't help me because I've never heard of either term.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Golden Disk

Last night I was lucky to have my former neighbor G invite me to the 2009 Golden Disk Award show, something similar to the MTV Awards or Grammy Award show. It was broadcast live, but I hope to catch it in re-runs, too (if I watch it on TV, I can see the captions and graphics, which really helps when you barely understand the language).

Here's G, his mother and her friend, who are visiting Korea for a couple of weeks:

Here's me and G. Either I am over-dressed, he is under-dressed, or both.

The award stage. Really impressive, and very high-tech. We had rolling platforms, several elevated platforms, trap doors, spectacular lighting, fog, and even fireworks.

Let the show begin. Started off with the new hip-hop girls group 4minute, here they are receiving their award and performing. In my opinion they seem to be just a 2NE1 copycat, but I really don't know.

Next came another girl group, T-ara (pronounced "tiara", as in the crown). Receiving their award,

and performing, front view,

and back view (no, this is NOT Kara)

Next came one of my favorite singers, Baek Ji-young. unfortunately, I only got a photo of her receiving her award. But her performance was great. She sounds even better to me live than on TV or CD.

Next up was the group SG Wannabe, which stands for "Simon and Garfunkel wanna be". They almost lived up to their namesake, putting on a great performance, even though one member was limping with a crutch.

I had never heard this band until last night, but they were great. I will definitely get their CD soon. Jang Gi-Ha and The Faces. They were full of energy and got the crowd involved in their songs. The lead singer (Jang) was so funny in his singing and dancing style. Very entertaining.

Here he is, with The Faces:

working the crowd,

and wrapping up the act. The whole rear platform rolled offstage!

Epik High receiving their awards, with a super up-beat performance that had the crowd out of their seats

Davichi receiving their award, and performing on an elevated stage. Sometimes on the monitors in the auditorium, we could see a bird's eye view of the state, and the floor of this platform was a huge LCD screen with images and patterns!

Here are some of the crowd waving their light sticks during a slow ballad song

We noticed on entering the auditorium there was a sign indicating no beer and no hamburgers! I really could have used a hamburger, since I didn't eat dinner (but G's Mom gave me a few crackers). I didn't see any beer, but some girls came by eating hot dogs on a stick. And the lady in front of us was eating a huge bag of tangerines:

An old singer from the 60's/70's (?) Song Chang-Sik was given an award, I guess a lifetime achievement award. He didn't sing, but some of the younger singers performed some of his songs, to everyone's delight

After this, they did a short tribute to Michael Jackson, complete with an excellent moonwalk:

Son Dambi receiving her award and singing her 80's disco-style song "Saturday Night". Check out that elevated stage!

Here comes Drunken Tiger (aka Tiger JK). He also put on a wonderful performance, worked up the crowd, and also had his wife Yoon Mirae (aka "T"), an execellent singer in her own right, come on the stage and sing with him.

Here is the huge 50+ member girls group SNSD, or Girls Generation receiving their award:

Another long time singer, Lee Seung-Cheol sang a ballad, complete with heavy, dense fog. You can see it enveloping the other entertainers at the tables set below the stage (Lee is on the VERY far left of the photo)

Wrapping up the program, the top two awards of the night were given to SNSD Girls Generation and Super Junior.

Here both groups are walking the runway, singing "Sorry Sorry Sorry" with the crowd.

It was a really fun evening, and thanks to G for inviting me and getting us such good VIP seats.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

All That Jazz

I was introduced to a nice Romanian couple tonight in Itaewon, D and M. They are on a business and vacation trip through Japan and Korea. They just arrived in Korea, and we had a nice dinner, giving them their first taste of Korean food.

After dinner, we went to a live Jazz club, All That Jazz. I have only been there one time about 2 or 3 years ago. I need to visit more often, it was great.

Love that upright bass!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

After 40 Years

A few months ago, I had a chance to reconnect by email with a friend from elementary school over the internet. My friend GE had transferred to another school the last year of elementary school, and we had not see or contacted each other since then. We exchanged a few emails, and then I learned he was coming to Seoul this week! I went to pick him up at the bus station, and spent Friday afternoon and Saturday morning sightseeing, enjoying Korean foods, and catching up on the last 40 years. GE is a professor, and was giving guest lectures at a few Universities here in Korea. I attended his lecture yesterday afternoon, and was then invited to a nice dinner hosted by the department head. We had a great time, it was so fun to meet him again after so long.

We went first to the Gyeongbok Palace, after walking all over the neighborhood in search of a place to eat. We finally found an interesting cafe whose hamburgers were made like pieces of artwork! (sorry, no photo). The burgers we ordered were huge towers, without the usual hamburger buns. It was definitely required a fork and knife to eat, rather than using your hands. Then we took a tour of the palace, and the amsll Korean Folk Museum beside the palace. And finally we enjoyed a delicious grilled Korean beef dinner (where the above photo was taken).

Saturday morning we went to the National Museum of Korea, and afterwards a brief tour of Itaewon. He was interested in some Korean pottery, so I took him to Mr. Lee's Koryo Ceramics shop, where The Stumbling Mom bought a nice piece of pottery during her visit in 2007. While Mr. Lee makes most of his pottery using various traditional techniques, he showed us a couple of pieces he was experimenting with because of the Christmas Holiday. I almost bought this one (big one on the right).

We ate a Chinese lunch, at a place I had heard about called "Ho Lee Chow". It was a nice place, and food was great. Since I don't know the area well, I find it hit-and-miss when it comes to Itaewon restaurants. But this place was definitely a hit. After Itaewon, he had to get to the University for this lecture. They really were promoting this lecture - there was a banner over the street with his name announcing the event! Here we are at the University right before his lecture.

After the lecture, the University director and some staff and students took us to dinner, where we all had a great time. For me, I got an interesting glimpse into the inner workings of the academic world.

From what he told me, his visit in Korea was very good, and everything we very well. I'm actually a little jealous, because he got to see some of the country side down south, where I've never been. Anyway, I'm glad we were able to meet after all these years.