Korean Music

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My First Korean Weekend

My apologizes for those reading my blog about the lack of update. It's honestly been very very crazy here as it was YFU orientation week which meant I was literally gone Monday-Friday from 7:30 am until 6pm.

So let me wrap up this past weekend starting with Saturday.



Saturday:

Saturday we went to the DMZ. It was so....eerie. Since the Gyeonggi-Do province is part of the border to North Korea it is heavily protected. On the way to the Unification Observatory that borders North And South Korea there was a long gate on the right side of the road with barbed wires and every so often posts with a guard ready with their gun to fire if need be. Like I said, it was so eerie and yet, I can honestly say that I have never felt safer in my entire life. :)

The ODU is huge and spans across the border for a while so you can literally see 360 degrees around you. Appa and Eomma and Jiwonie and I went together and I had a lot of fun. Keep in mind that I had only been there a total of 3 days so we were still virtually strangers. We got down to the gift store and Appa started talking to this lady in Korean and then 4 minutes later Appa handed me this package and said it was a present. I told him that it was okay, he didn't have to buy me anything but he told me that it was a memory. :) hehe.

As we were leaving we saw these people making popped rice and Eomma asked if I liked them. I told her I never tried them before so she reached into her pocket and grabbed like, 1,000 won (1 USD) out and gave it to her. Let me tell you. Popped rice is amazing. :)

After that we went to this amazing bbq place that Jiwonie and I had seen on tv earlier and I said it looked good. :) They seriously spoil me here. We then went to this shopping district (I forgot the name) and Jiwonnie and I went on a 4-D ride!! It was so scary! As well as getting some sticky photos with each other.

Sunday

Sunay we had church at 10 in the morning. Jiwonie and I went thereand we had so much fun!! I met 2 of her friends and we ended up all going out to eat at ramen place. YUMMY!! :) Then we went home and Eomma and Appa had me go with them to Hamoni's house to meet Appa's brothers. I was there for four hours.... It was sooooooo sooooo long. Eomma could tell I was getting restless so she made a random phone call and then she tells me to get into her car... I obviously follow. We end up at her best friends house who has a daughter who is top in her class and turns out...she's in my grade (2) and MY CLASS (10)!! I was so happy! It was so awkward at first... Korean's, especially Korean gils, are VERY shy towards strangers/foriegners. So.... it was awkward. But then she takes me into her room and shows me this packet...It was MY APPLICATION PACKET MY HOST FAMILY GOT REGARDING ME! And she was pointing to a picture of me at prom asking me if that was my boyfriend! haha. It was funn!!

That is pretty much all that happened last weekend. My next post will be about YFU week and the weekend. :) That will be up by tomorrow!!! yakksuk (promise!)

Saranghae!

Friday, June 25, 2010

In Korea- Incheon, Seoul, Ilsan, & Paju

Annyeong!

I apologize for the lack of update since my arrival but so much has happened and I haven't found a time to write about it. :/

Uhm... Lets see. I left off with one day left before I went to Korea and I was getting pretty nervous. Which is a totally ridiculous thought now. :P

I got to the airport at Omaha and was wedged between two freakin' sumo wrestlers and when I got off Denver I sort of got lost. :/ My plane was supposedly on time to Denver but I think I'm going to have to disagree as I was supposed to have an hour and a half layover at the Denver Airport but ended up with only having a 45 minute layover....psh. :P

Then I left for San Francisco..... That airport is huge as was the plane I went on... I got off the plane only to be greeted by 3 YFU people, one of which being Taylor, my Facebook friend and fellow YFU Summer Korea student. :) We stayed the night at a hotel but YFU only provided four starving teenagers with one pizza and two...yes TWO, small bottles of pop. :/ [By the way, people in San Francisco don't call pop pop. They call it soda...Which sounds completely weird.]

Anywho, the next day we got to the airport but was almost killed by this freakin' chinese bus driver who shouldn't even have his license...He did a U-turn in the middle of the street....WHAT THE HECK!?!?

We got to the airport and went through customs and scary security...which I passed. :) We had like, two hours to kill, so we just went to this ridiculously expensive airport food place where a botle of pop was 2.90.. I'm sorry but I have a hard time forking over 1.50 for a bottle of pop, much less 2.90....

Then we went and sat downstairs by the gate leaving for Incheon...
I swear I have never. ever. seen. so. many. Koreans. in. my. entire. life. O_0
Taylor and I go onto the plane which was a two story plane by the way, and we were wedged right by the mini-kitchen. :/ And I sat behind this Canadian guy who was so disrespectful and had his seat laid back so I couldn't even move...And then he had the nerve to ask me to stop hitting the table attatched to the back of his chair.... UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

But 11 hours and 19 minutes later we finally landing into Incheon International Airport.
It was about 3 pm in Korea when I landing making it about 1am in Omaha. And yet, I wasn't even the least bit tired. :)

We get off the plane completely lost as no one was there for us.... So we do what any normal person would do...Follow the wave of people... Which led us directly to a train.... WHAT?!
Apparently this mini subway train takes you directly to Customs and Immigration and returns every 5 minutes.... Now I have a question: Do you enjoy being crammed into a small box like cattle off to the slaughter house? Then riding the Korean subway/bus system is for you.

We get to the other side only to find a ridiculously long line of people....Who knew that many people entered Korea every day? 45 minutes later we pass through customs and go to the airport termina and we met this outrageously nice Korean boy who is living in America but visiting home for a month.. But then, all Koreans are outrageously nice. As long as YOU show them respect.

Then, we pass through the doors going into the front of the airport where people are picked up. Immediately upon passing through the doors we are overwhelmed with the strong crowd of Koreans peering in through the doors trying to see their loved ones... Taylor and I see a sign that her Eomma is holding up...

This was a huge suprise for us; We thought we weren't going to meet our famiy until Friday but we ended up meeting them on Thursday! I was honestly pretty bummed.. I was like, oh! Taylor's Appa and Eomma are here...Did mine forget about me? Attempting to push that thought out of my head, I slowly followed her but continued to look around just in case my Eomma would be here... I didn't see her... Until this happy Korean Eomma comes running up to me and grabs me in her arm taking my bag and putting her arms around my shoulders... It was my Eomma. :)

The rest of that night passed in a blur. I wasn't tired so Eomma and I stopped by Cosco... Cosco here is nothing like Cosco in the USA. They have an escalator for your carts. 0_O

Then I went home and Jiwon was waiting for us... I gave her a hug. :) I wanted to stay up and wait to meet Appa and Donghwa (who is in school until 11pm).. but I fell asleep on the couch waiting for them. :/ So Eomma sent me off to bed and I missed Appa. :( But I woke up at like, 12:30am and ran into Donghwa. I hugged him too. And we ended up staying up until 3 am on the computer and talking. Oppa skyped Donghwa but didn't know I arrived in Korea yet and was very....suprised...to see me there. :) haa. We had a lot of fun.

Which brings me to yesterday.

I woke up and Eomma and I were the only ones at home... She made us lunch which consisted of Kimchi (most famous Korean dish) and 고기 and some spicy soup... It was delicious. Not at all as spicy as I would have thought and nothing like anything I have ever tasted before. Jiwon came home at 1:30 and then Eomma, Jiwon, Eomma's friend, and I went to Haiti(?) It's basically this art village and museum village with this god-like bookstore in it. There is one thing I believe every person should know about Korea- They are always eating. Jiwon had an orange and offered me one. Then we had some cake and tea (nothing like American tea) then we had another orange as well as some hard rice.... I don't think I have ever been so full in my entire life. 0_o it was so amazing though.

When we got back home, Eomma went out to meet a friend and Jiwon and I went to a... NORABANG. :) It was a 10 minute walk...We got there and turned back because Jiwon left her money in her other wallet. :/ haha. It was so much fun though.... Oh! And I don't think I have ever been stared at as much in my life. :/ hah. Koreans attempting to speak English= priceless. :)

So off to the norabang. Oma! Probably my favorite thing I've everdone in my life.

This sounds weird, but I think it was a bonding moment for us. I felt extremely close to her afterwards and we went home with our arms linked. But this time, we took the bus home.

ugh. Korean buses. we get to the bus stop and since it was about 10:15ish a lot of students were going to another cram school so there was easily 40-50 high school students at the bus stop...All of which stared at the two of us... They were probably thinking why in the world is that Korean girl touching an American and who in the world is that American girl... haha.

We got home and Eomma was back. :) We watched music bank and a rerun of music core...Dance partyyyy!! :)

At 12:30 Donghwa came home from visiting our cousins in Seoul. Appa was out with friends because apparently it is very very common for businessmen to go to norabangs and out with friends on Friday nights....Celebrate the end of the week or something.

Jiwon fell asleep and Donghwa, Eomma, and I stayed up until....FOUR am talking and such. :) Another great memory I have. :)

Appa came home around 2 am and we met for the first time. I bowed to him and he gave me a hug... He is a great Appa.

I woke up at 9am this morning to a completely quiet house...No bueno. :)

I showered and shaved my legs!! Oh! And last night, Donghwa came home from Seoul with two gifts for me: A Korean red devil bandana and a Korean red devil t-shirt for the big game tonight!! :) AWWW!! Koreans take soccer (football) very very seriously. They are known as the red devils and the Red waves for the SEA of Koreans wearing red in support of the Nations team.

So right now I am wearing capris and my red devil shirt and my bandana, though I'm using it as a headband. :) Jiwon is up as well as Eomma and Appa...Donghwa is still asleep. :/ tiss tiss! :P

Appa says we're going to the DMZ today.... YIPPY!! :)

I'll update more in a couple days!

Saranghae.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Pre-Departure Jitters

I'm getting nervous.
Not like... "Oh, I-wonder-if-they'll-like-me-nervous" but rather, "I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS THAT NO ONE SEEMS TO KNOW THE ANSWER TO AND I LEAVE IN LESS THAN 24 HOURS!!!!".... That kind of nervous. :)

I spent my last day in the US finishing errands. :)
And I got my eyebrows waxed... :/ hah.

Uhm.
yepp... :) I got to spend the day with my parents too. :) I had suprisingly amount of fun... I'm going to miss them so much!

Sorry.. I'm pretty scatterbrained tonight...
I just can't believe that it's almost here.... The wait is almost over. :)

So I guess when I get to Seoul on the 24th, I am going to stay there for the night and *maybe* go to the US embassy the next day (If what holds true with YFU Japan is the same for YFU Korea). Then, later in the afternoon on the 25th I'll be on my train to meet my family: Appa, Eomma, Donghwa, Jiwon, and later, Oppa.

I PROMISE you that I WILL keep this updated regularly with tons of pictures and posts to satisfy you.

Ya'll should check my facebook too for the other pictures that I can't put up here.

So I guess I'll see ya'll in Korea!!

Saranghae. :)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Music Programs, Fanclubs, Among Other Things

I can't believe the weekend is here. My last weekend in the US until August. :)

Omaha actually had a horrible rainstorm last night.... I hate storms... It was all hot and humid and this random downpour of rain started coming and then the sky turned yellow... Yet I could still see the sun across the street. That is Nebraska weather for you. :) I had to work last night too.... I went to go clean the girls bathroom and when I came out our front doors were open and massive amounts of water were creeping into the store. :)

1-2 more posts before I leave. 1 will discuss my host city and the other will probably just tie up some last minute things before departure!

To kick off the start of my weekend (though I work tonight at 5 and tomorrow morning) I spent the day with one of my best friends, Carly!


Carly and I at our school

We went to a noodle place that I absolutely adore and then just creeped at borders for like, an hour before coming back to my casa and just hanging out. I finally set her up on skype so she could talk to me over there. I'm kind of sad because I know this will be the last time I see her until I get back. :( It's times like these that I'm glad I'm not gone for a year.. I'm honestly not sure I can handle a year right now. Next year, sure!

Now onto my main discussion: Music programs

I started ranting about this last night but I held myself back. ;) But let me continue.

Like I said last night, it's really hard to describe Korean music programs to an American. Koreans take their music very seriously.

Here's the deal. Every week they have music programs- there are 4. Thursday night is M-Net, Friday night is Music Core (MBC), Music Bank on Saturday Nights (KBS), and Sunday nights have Inkygayo (SBS). All the "promoting" artists show up on these network shows to perform to their fanclub with the hopes of winning the weeks number one sales. It's pretty confusing and hard to get unless you've seen it.

Which brings me to point number one. The main difference between Korean bands and American bands. The volume of noise their fans emit. Korean fans are well known for making up chants with the song. It seems odd but trust me, it sounds perfect if done properly. Established groups with well known fanclubs such as Super Junior (ELFS) and DBSK (Casseopia) and SNSD (SONES) have amazing chants that flow with the song. They also often sit and listen to the song or sing along- in perfect unison. It's almost eerie how amazing it sounds.

This topic basically introduces me to my next post on Fanclubs among Idol groups. They all have them. But these fanclubs are named and you actually have to apply to become an official member of the fanclub. Since Korea holds a lot of joint concerts it can be hard to tell who belongs to which fanclub. Thus they have specific colors assigned to them. Super Junior for instance, is pearl sapphire blue. Other idol groups can't have that same color as another active group. However, they can have, for instance, pearl sky blue. Get it? They are all just shades of the same color. Two colors are currently off limits for any group. Orange and White- in recognition for the two most legendary idol groups of all time, Shinhwa and HOT. Those are renowed for gaining recognition of Kpop to the world.

Do I love kpop? Yes. :) Think....Boy bands without the drugs. I just...love Korean music in general. Donghwa is supposedly in love with music over there so I hope I can go with him to see some live concerts!

Do I officially belong to a specific fanclub? Nope. I am an "unofficial member" in 4 fanclubs though!

This is my only post on music I'll have. I just wanted to share it with you because I think that music shows a lot about a country and especially since Korea is the leader of the Hallyu wave, Kpop is seeing an increasingly popular growth in other countries.

Remember Rain in the American movie, Ninja Assassin? Guess what! He's one of the most popular singers in South Korea. Wonder Girls has also recently entered the American Market. It's only a matter of time before the rest of America is introduced into the Korean music realm.

Saranghae.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Top 10 things to See

Annyeong! :) So this post is mainly going to focus on my top 10 things I want to see while I'm in Korea. These are all Seoul specific places as Paju is a mere 40 minutes North of Seoul (20 minutes by train).
At the rate of things I want to discuss before I leave, I imagine I will have a suprisingly 2-3 more posts before Tuesday! :)
So lets start things off! :)
1. Gyeongbokgung Palace

The Gyeongbokgung palace was the largest and main palace of the 5 grand palaces built during the Joseon Dynasty. It was the residence of the queen and king and their royal subjects throughout the years until the Japanese government came and destroyed nearly all of the palaces. Heavy reconstruction began to recreate the palace to original state. It is open to the public and serves as a museum. :)

2. North Seoul Tower

I don't really have a reason behind why I want to go here, I just do. :) haha. It's in a lot of dramas and couples often come here to....well, I'm not exactly sure what. But it is supposed to have a gorgeous view. ;)


3. Dongdaemun Market

Okay. You all know I'm not a shopper. But I think I may have to make an exception. DDM is basically a series of malls and shops spanning over 10 blocks. There is approx. 26 shopping malls in this market with over 30,000 speciality shops. There hours consist mainly of times opening at 10:30 am and closing at 5 am with some stores being open 24 hrs. Uhm.. heck yes I'll be going there!

4. Cheonggyecheon

It's a river for those who are wondering. :) It runs through the heart of downtown Seoul. You know that area in the Old Market in Omaha? There is a little stream down there surrounded by artwork and trees? It's just...gorgeous. Thats what Cheonggyecheon reminds me of. I really want to go there and take some pictures. Especially at night!


5. Everland

Okay, this is a long shot by far on my exchange. I honestly don't expect to achieve it but I certainly hope to go there someday. It's an amusement park. It has everything; A zoo, a haunted house, dozens of roller coasters (some ranking in the top 10 highest in altitude in the world), music, and shops. I saw a variety program where the people went there and it looked like so much fun!!



6. Dragon Hill Spa

I don't necessarily want to go to this spa exactly, but rather, just a bathhouse in general. Most Americans don't get it. Bathhouses in Asia aren't what spas are here in the USA. For admissions as low as 5 USD you can enjoy a day at the spa including steam rooms, baths, massages, and food. It's honestly a real family setting. And no, you don't have to be naked in order to attend. Often you wear undergarments or really cute outfits (blue for boys and pink for girls of course!). Oppa said he'll take me here with his friends if I wanted... :)


7. Korean Folk Village

This is a very popular place to go to see the traditional way of Korean life. This place is lined with traditional games and activities, complete with old style food and shops!

8. The Korean War Memorial

This place will bring tears no doubt. I want to go to see as close to person as possible just what Korea has gone through. Most people look down or even past Korea and think of it as "another country." Korea has a rich history full of tragedy. This museum shows first hand the hardship its been faced with; and has overcome.

9. Music Program

This one isn't exactly location specific but rather, just something I want to do. So in Korea music programs are huge..... It's hard to explain to Americans because we have no real equivalence to a music program in the US. I suppose you could call MTV a music program by Korea's standards...but not really as MTV focuses on music videos... Music programs in Korea- eh, you know what, I'll save this for another post. hah. But regardless, I do want to attend a music program!


10. Olympic Stadium/World Cup Stadium

Both these stadiums hold a special place in Korea's heart. The first was built for the 1988 Olympics and the later was built for the joint World cup ownership with Japan in 2002. I think these stadiums are must sees, regardless if I enter them or just drive past them. :)

As you can tell, there is so much to do in Korea! There is so much more I want to see/do but I attempted to narrow it down to my top 10 must sees! :)

Expect a post tomorrow, probably about my rant on music programs. hah.

Saranghae!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Host Family Presents

Annyeong! :)


So I have six days left before I leave!


I'm starting to worry about how everything is going to come together. There is still so many little things I need to get. XP Also, even though I get 2 suitcases and 1 backpack I can take, I'm opting to only take one giant suitcase and 1 backpack. I'll just buy another suitcase while I'm there and fill it with gifts to bring back. :)


Anyway, I've been buying gifts here and there for the past month:

This book is basically a collection of photographs taken throughout Omaha for the Director at YFU Korea. I was strongly encouraged to include him in my gift giving. :)

a book on Warren Buffet- My Appa is a businessman and Warren Buffet is obviously one of the richest men in the world AND he lives in Omaha.


I bought my Eomma a Nebraska Cookbook because she adores cooking. :)

My Oppa and Donghwa are getting matching Nebraska hats... It is so hard shopping for boys. XP Plus I know that Oppa likes to wear hats.... I bet Donghwa does too. ;)
I found Jiwon the most adorable little bunny rug! I think it's perfect for a younger girl! (I did get her another gift pictured below.)


I also got her a cute little panda bear from Panda Express. :) I don't know for sure who I'll give the other two too... I guess we'll have to wait and see.



I bought all three of my siblings various rubber-band shapes. They're super popular here and I know Oppa really likes them (the giraffe is for him!) and I KNOW that Donghwa will like them too. :)


These are various pins I got for my classmates. From everyone I talked to I should bring pins or something for my classmates as they'll shower me with little gifts. :) I cannot wait to meet my classmates!
These are just various items I bought for my host family and maybe classmates... Nothing really big, just cute local items.


I love these Husker earrings! Once again, I'm not exactly sure who I'm going to give them too but I imagine I will find someone. :)

Lastly, this is the husker season for this year. I just felt like showing how important football is to us. No real gift giving reason for them. hah.
So thats pretty much it! :)
I'll have at least one more post before I leave! I cannot WAIT for next Tuesday... I'm not sure it's ever going to come! :/
Saranghae.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Countdown Begins




Work:
These past three weeks I have been working like crazy putting in 30-some odd hours a week. But I suppose hard work pays off. My check that I will be receiving Friday will be HUGE. Probably around 500-600 dollars. :) yippy!

Panda Express also opened a new store in Iowa on Wednesday and dozens of Panda peeps from the USA have flown in to help open the store. They call this Panda Support. I call it making the employees' ridiculously nervous. :) I have been working at Panda almost a complete year now- I have the most seniority at my location and yet I am the youngest worker- the baby of the group.

I absolutely love my coworkers. These people are some of the nicest and funniest people I have ever met in my entire life.


These are the original Panda Women at Store 1802.

(from left to right) Susie (Sujan), Lusia (my boss!), Me attacking Julie, and Jenny.

As you can tell, we're all really close. I am going to miss them when I leave for Korea. But they all have been encouraging me and helping me with my Korean along the way (Kpop fans in the house!).

School:

So I received my report card last week. All A's (even AP classes) AND a got an A in Chemistry! :) I worked so hard in that class and struggled time and time again throughout the year, starting off with a 4- and ending up with an A. Good things do happen to those who work for them. I do have to thank my chemistry teacher, however. He taught me a whole new way of thinking as weird as that sounds. I mean, you can learn something and memorize terms for the test, then forget about them. With chemistry you actually have to apply what you know into test problems.

Also, the ACT was this morning. I took the regular test as well as the writing portion. XP I suprisingly think I did better this time, but I guess we will have to wait and see. This actually brings me to my next topic- My host family.

Host Family

I love them. I honestly do. My Appa and I email on a regular basis and my oldest host brother (Tony/Donghee) talk on the phone/Skype a couple times a week. Which actually lead to the problem I had this morning. Oppa (Tony) called me last night around midnight. I almost didn't pick up the phone- I knew he was visiting family in Maryland and I didn't think I would be hearing from him and to my suprise it WAS him! Anyway, we ended up talking on the phone for FOUR hours. We didn't hang up until 4 am (5 am his time). I had to get up at 7am to get ready for the ACT. It probably was not my brightest move but whatever. It was totally worth it. We talked about everything under the sun and back. He is currently staying in Michigan as a host student and returns home exactly one week after I arrive. So I only get 6 weeks with him but oh well. You make the most with what you got! More on specifics on Korea later.

World Cup

I wish I could watch it. I work so much that I miss the games. But I will find a way to watch the match between Greece and Korea again. KOREA WON! Victory, Victory, Victory, KO-Re-A! :D (It's a song...) Anyway, I wish them the best of luck to their next match! :) If there is one thing that Koreans do have, it is National Pride. They breathe soccer the way Americans worship football. :)

I will be back at least two more times before I leave! :) And I PROMISE picture spams will be coming! :)

Saranghae

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Flight Departure Information

Last week my official flight information came into the mail! :)

So here it is:

Tuesday, June 22nd:

-Depart Omaha: 4:45 pm
-Arrive Denver for immediate plane change [no time given]

-Depart Denver
-Arrive San Francisco: 8:27 pm

Total time: 5 hr. 43 min.

Stay Tuesday night at a hotel with a YFU rep due toflight scheduling conflicts

Wednesday, June 23rd:

-Depart San Francisco: 11:08 am

Thursday, June 24th:

-Arrive Seoul at Incheon International Airport: 3:05 pm

Total time: 11 hr 57 min.

There ya go! :)
Oh! And I have a little under 14 days left before I leave!!!