01 December 2009

Korean Buddhism

I found a website about Korean Buddhism. I'm currently in college taking different courses in religious studies, which will be one of the subjects I'll be teaching in school after I graduate in the spring of 2011. I've only taken a course in Buddhism in general with no focus on the Buddhism practiced in Korea, which is why finding these articles made me happy :)

So anyway, take a look at these related articles on this site.

23 November 2009

South Korean cram schools

In the interest of my future profession as a teacher.
I recently stumbled upon an article about the Korean "cram schools".
Compared to the Swedish school system (and probably that of other countries) the Korean cram schools seem completely crazy. The amount of pressure put upon each student who failed to get into college the first time they applied is unbelievable. To earn good money by the age of 50 in Korea you appearantly need higher education. So if a student fail to be accepted their first year, they apply for a cram school and when accepted they move to the school. Now, all their focus is on their studies, seven days/ week, 6:30 a.m. til past midnight. They are "forsaking the pleasures of teenage life", that is, magazines, girl/boyfriends, internet and television etc.

Appearantley college entrance exams determine 70-80% of someone's future. In Sweden, going to college is free and there aren't any entrance exams, except for some educations (although in many cases there should be some sort of exam to see if a person is suited for whatever they're applying for).

What really caught my attention in this article is the fact that suicide is the second most common cause of death among young people. Traffic accident is the most common one.

Anyway, take some time and read the entire article.

15 November 2009

The Subway

In Seoul, the subway is the easiest and fastest way to get around. Reminds me of the London subway, however, if I'm able to remember the name of ONE station I'll be very proud of myself.

Point in case:
Eleven different lines to choose from, I'll probably pick my favorite color and see where I end up. Although I would like to go to Bukchon and look at the Hanok village - which is a village of traditional korean -style houses.

12 November 2009

Renaissance art from Korea

I just came across this slideshow of pictures of Renaissance Art from Korea.

And here's the article to go with it "Treasures at a Korean Crossroad". Take a few minutes and read about the history of Korean art forms.

Sungha Jung

Watch and listen to Sungha Jung, now 13 years old, playing the guitar like no one else. He's just amazing, the first video I ever heard was a cover of U2 - With or Without, which now has over 5.000000 views on Youtube.

This video below was posted a few days ago.

For more videos check out his official website or his YouTube Channel.

09 November 2009

Single parenting in South Korea

Watch this slideshow of unwed mothers with their children in South Korea.

Asian encounters

I thought I'd share with you this past weekends' Asian -related encounters with three different people. Sometimes I wonder if being Asian, automatically puts a big red sign on your forehead that says in bold letters: "Please come talk with me and share your life story". Usually I don't mind people talking with me about my heritage or their own or sometimes talking with me because of the fact that I'm born Korean (with exception of those guys who use it as a really bad pick -up line while totally wasted).
This past weekend has been full of those small encounters with people and most of them have been weird and quite awkward, so I thought I'd have to share them.

I had my first encounter with a what I believe to be fellow adoptee at 05:45 am waiting for the bus to go to work on Saturday. First off, the reason why it was very awkward was because I have no idea if she was somewhat mentally disabled or just totally wasted ( my pick is actually a little bit of both). Anyway she basically came down the street running after me and shouting for me to stop, so for some reason I did. She told me how she was going to take the bus to go visit her mom and dad for Father's Day and that her sister was going to join them, as well as her niece. She told me in detail how she was proud to be an aunt. Then I left to go to the next bus stop. Little did I know that she would come back. This time around she again told me about her being an aunt and how her mom had bought her the purple/black scarf she was wearing. Then she just kept staring at me for about 30 seconds before she left.

My second encounter happened at work where a customer who was from China asked me in really bad Swedish if I was too. I told her I was from Korea and her whole face lit up and she started ramble on and on about how her grandchildren no longer look like Asians, all while her Swedish husband tried to get her to keep quiet. (he was obviously embarrased, although there was no reason to be)

Of course another customer overheard the entire conversation and decided to become my third and final encounter of this past weekend. He was a Swedish man and he asked me if I was, really from South Korea. I said yes. He then said; oh you're not, you're just ashamed of being from North Korea. My mind went (????!???!!?) So I had to tell him again that I wasn't and then I told him that even if I was I would not be ashamed, sure North Korea makes political decisions and go through with actions that aren't what people expect or agree upon, but because of it I as a person would not be ashamed. Those are not my actions and I'm not saying that I agree with any of them. And besides, I'm from South Korea and who is he to say that I'm not, I was a little bit pissed off. Then he paid for his bread and left.

I still think it's weird when people come up and talk with me before even saying a proper hello. Sharing their life with someone they don't even know by name, only because ones appearances are the same or similar. I think it's strange but I don't mind. Well sometimes I do, but I think most people would mind strangers coming up to you and talk like you're their own personal diary, without having asked for it.

Although, there are those encounters that are just cute and nice, like this one, it happened earlier this summer. I was walking around with my dear friend Ell and all of a sudden we hear a "Ni hao" and we turn around and there's a group of Chinese tourists, sooo cute. I guess I look like a huge questionmark because then they say "Are you Chinese" and I say "No" and they gently walk away, while smiling.

08 November 2009

The London Korean Film Festival 2009

Had I known about this earlier I would have bought myself a plane ticket to London to watch the 25 feature films and and four animations from Korea. How awesome is this? 18 days of Korean movies in Europe.

07 November 2009

Today's Korean "news" in Swedish newspapers

The following could be read in a Swedish newspaper today:

"Woman passes 950th driving test" - passing 60 out of the 100 points needed.
Although she still has to pass the practical driving test before getting her license.

It's a good thing that the internet exists, otherwise how far will I have gotten in exploring the Korean culture if this is all I have access to in the Swedish newspapers.

Well, I know for sure that the day I visit Korea I'll mostly be walking around by foot.

The beginning.

I was born on January 21 1986 in Seoul, South Korea and I was adopted to Sweden on July 8 1986.

I was given the name Eun Young Chang in Korea and I spent my first months in a foster home.

I've had a great childhood and upbringing, nothing but the best.

However, I have a feeling that I can hardly describe, of something missing, lacking, and unknown, probably similar to many fellow adoptees.

I'm fortunate enough to have a bunch of papers and information about my first 6 months and about my birth parents. A search would probably not be hard to do and the collaboration between the Swedish adoption agency and the SWS in Korea is well developed and there's a clear structure of how to proceed and go through with a search.

Probably, this frightens me to some extent. You hear of searches that take years and because of it you're given time to process, I'm concerned about the fact that my search might only take a couple of months and I don't know if I'm quite ready to discover all that it might bring.

All I would really have to do is pay the fee of 3000 SEK + some extra fees and off I go.

I'm not quite there yet.

In the meantime I'll share my thoughts with you in this blog while exploring the Korean Culture and gathering information that hopefully will bring me closer to being prepared for this life changing experience.