Boryeong beach

20120321-091832 PM.jpgSpent a long weekend in Daejeon. Unfortunately, I got sick before I came to Korea, and it only got worse during my trip. So in the end I didn’t leave the house much. However, on Sunday we spent the day at Boryeong beach, a small fisher village at the west side of Korea. (famous for mud festival) After a walk we went for Sunday lunch. When we were eating barbecued oysters, the local police (off duty) came in and and did some soju (Korean Vodka) shots with us. The rest of the time we had some chances to eat.

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Korean exam on sat morning

Just 3 pages, should be easy!
한굴 세장, 쉽어요 하거 어려운?

Just finished my korean exam, it’s no official level or anything, just practicing thus language for fun, since my wife is Korean. Tried to study a lot this week but not sure if it went ok, because contrary to last years easy class, we now finished a complete book in just 3 months, making it hard to revise everything in time. Well at least made a big step in terms of enjoying and understanding basic Korean this year. Next weeks class will be a ceremony and hopefully celebration. On my way to 3rd semester…


Holiday in Korea with the family

I have been in Korea many times, but last week was also the first time my parents were in Korea. talking to Suna we had trouble finding the right things to do because there was so much we want to show them. So we made a tight schedule around our wedding and showed them as much as we could. The first days were in Daejeon and we went to Seoul. While staying in Daejeon, we climbed mountain Daedunsan. I have climbed this mountain before in 2008 but this time we took the cable car half way up. Even though it was a day activity for the two families. Surprise was that when we reached the top, we met two Germans also in Korea for a wedding. We had a Kimbab lunch on the top while aunt made some music on her harmonica.

Furthermore many great dinners during the week, starting with a duck barbecue, a grand dinner (bibimbab) at the house of my wife’s family and picnics (kimchichike) along the area’s we visited. Of course, there was also a lot of drinking involved. And speaking, during dinner Koreans really like to stand up and speech, for me it is nothing new but I saw that speeching capabilities of my family increase every day.

We saw some traditional Korean kimchi making and visited Temple or two, it was quite exciting for my aunt and uncle who never went to Asia before.

Then we went to Seoul, Seoul is more my town so I took basically took my whole family down the memory lane of Korean vodka and shopping streets. We went up the highest buildings and took a cruise over the han River. I think the best part was that our hotel, the Hyundai residence, had a rooftop terrace, so we finally got to sit down with wine and talk about what happened in the last few days.

Finally, we went to Dragon spa where I showed my parents the Korean Sauna culture. I think they like the outdoor swimming pool and I got to drink drink Korean rice (chike) drinks with my wife in the sauna. I got to spend some time with my sister, later in the evening I talked a lot with my uncle. It was a nice ending of the week the next day we had to get up at 5:30 so we went to bed early. When we got up at 5:30, we packed like crazy and went into the taxi we called in advance. We had to go to Incheon airport to drop my family off to go to the Netherlands before we were going to Gimpo airport for our own trip to China. It’s about one hour drive, so we would be there on time. Unfortunately, when we were out of the city and just on the highway, our taxi driver hit a piece of wood on the road and our tire blew! We were on the left lane and he had trouble maneuvering us safely past the trucks to the right side of the road and to a complete stop on the side. There we were, on the highway and barely visible because we were standing just after a corner, in the dark, without a Korean cellphone. Great start of the day isn’t it? The taxi driver told us it would be a repair truck coming to lift the van, instead of sitting in a car we decide to stand outside behind the safer guardrail, basically counting the minutes till another truck would slam against our taxi, we waited in the cold but with patience. Unfortunately when the truck driver arrived he thought the situation was too dangerous to do anything. In the end the (poor) driver fixed the tire by himself –if he told us before he had the tools to do it we didn’t had to wait all the time, but anyway… – we were on the road again, just in time for my family to catch the plane. Because our flight was later that day, Suna and I went to Seoul again, so we spend our day shopping at Myong Dong and eating famous Korean bone soup. (sulontang) arriving back in Shanghai we look back at a great but tiring week.

건배, I’m a married man!

When I was younger, I was always curious how my wedding would look like. I’m happy to announce that last Saturday, October 16, Suna and I had our wedding ceremony. It was nothing I could have imagined then,held in Daejeon South Korea, which is in the center of the country, we had a traditional Korean ceremony. Which actually is not common anymore in Korea most Korean people marry in western style, a white dress. Afterwards, many visitors told us they were impressed and want a Korean wedding as well. The night before I slept pretty good, just by not thinking about the ceremony too much. I woke up early due to realization and saw it was cloudy outside. I got op and then had a good breakfast with my sister, my parents and aunt and uncle. Then I left earlier to go to the ceremony place. While I was in my taxi, the sky cleared up and when I walked up the stairs to the wedding area the sun broke through.
Then I had to sit in the ‘makeup room’,, get my hair done and I put on our custom made traditional Korean clothes for the occasion. It was then when I realized, I was able to go to the bathroom easily until the ceremony was finished so I stopped drinking water. Later I saw my mom enter with her Korean clothes and suddenly I realized the wedding as really going to happen soon. Later I saw my family and friends also come up the stairs, from China, Korea and Netherlands. Needles to say, my wife had a lot of visitors from Korea, together there were about 500 visitors counted at the reception desk. Some even found us without an invitation, maybe because of a newspaper article written by the father of my wife about a Dutch wedding his Korean daughter. Everything seemed to be working out great, I saw smiles on people’s faces, and the weather also turned up for the best. For the ceremony, you can refer to my wife’s blog for detailed description of the different rituals of the wedding and different cultural customs. It always very quick for me, in Korea the bride is carried inside the wedding area by four men, usually these are friends of the groom, so I asked my colleagues and friends to join in.

On the ceremony itself it turns out that my friends also had to carry me, and I weight a little more then the bride, being carried inside by my friends, it felt like being in a movie with the traditional area, music and hundreds of people looking at us. Then the carriers had to walk back to get the bride, this was quite interesting, my dad had to pay the hesitant carriers (who take good care of the bride!) to take them further and further inside the wedding area, which is kind of a play, it made the audience laugh.







Finally, the real wedding ceremony started and there was a lot of bowing involved to both parents and each other, then part of the ceremony is to drink something. I was looking forward to this because I became very thirsty in the 22°C sun. I expected it to be Korean vodka but thankfully it was thirst settling Sprite.




Then one official announced our wedding to the spirits, burned his writings afterwards, and then it was time for my friends to release a live chicken in the audience. This was very interesting! It’s a tradition that the person in the audience who catches the chicken can keep it, now this is my type of wedding. I would never have thought of this when I was guessing about my wedding when I was younger. Read more about the wedding from Marc’s blog post about the day, check his Flickr page, or the news article at DT News in Korean. In the end there was a picture session – after all this is Korea – and then people dugg in to their food. Later we went to the wedding party. Let’s just say I won’t put up many pictures from that night, but we ended up dancing on the streets…

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For Tiroler ski, Muju Korea is Austria’s top export project

Last week we spent some time at Muju (무주) Ski resort in S-Korea. An Average area, with 25km of beginner and advanced ski slopes – aimed to host the 2010 winter Olympics, including four ski jump’s, fun park and half pipe. But that wasn’t what struck me most. It was the export of culture in this multi-million dollar ski resorts in the far east that blew my mind. Note before I continue: Obviously, this is a positive review. It’s probably the Korean eye for service for a great price that will demise this place to a packed tourist place within a few years, complete with screaming children, angry visitors and high prices… oh, well. Although the resort was sold to a US consortium for 130 million dollar in 2001, it struck to me how well the Austrian’s packaged and consigned the ski experience to Korea; including tiroler management and staff. Austrian’s have been doing this for over 15 years in Asia, with some minor projects in Korea, Japan, India and China.

Austrian styled:Tirol (!) Hotel, condo’s, castle,spa’s, Apres ski facilities. Austrian exported: beer,Austria Snow Sports Academy, Swiss/Austrian (Doppelmayr) made Funitel and Hybrid lift’s.,Ski rental gear, Ski/Snowboard gear (from sweaters to helmets), Preparation bully’s (I counted five, but their should be more), Artificial snow machine’s,Ski lights, slope accessories etc.

Finally, I few things that I noticed while out there:

  1. A lot of Korean, but also Chinese and Indian visitors, many of them can board/ski very well
  2. The resort guests are very friendly to each other, I’ve seen people bow to each other after a collision on the hill.
  3. Unlike in the Alps, professional gear is not equal to skills on the slope.
  4. I’m used to hit the slopes early, continue until four in the afternoon and then go Après-ski, but for a land with shopping malls close at 5am, the slopes are available for 18 hours a day, starting at 6:30.
  5. Excellent service at the resort, free warm tea handed out by Korean girls wearing German clothes, tissue dispensers around the slope
  6. Our hotel room was quite space-full, not to oexpensive, and we had a calming view on the slopes from our bed

Dutch culture trade in Korea, or Korean trade in the Netherlands? Jealous of the austria’s project opportunities (My German aczent © sucks), I started looking what the Netherlands (my homecountry) could export (and monetize) on. Koreans and Dutch embassy diplomats mentioned that Dutch are famous for their tulips, (cliche I know)… But putting up tulip show’s is big business, and the Netherlands is one of the rare area’s where the bulbs come from. Proof of concept can be found in Shanghai, where a 100 hectare (3 times bigger then the annual one in The Netherlands) tulip show is being held for the 6th time this year. What other concepts could do well in Korea? Football related events (All Korean men know the Dutch football team, but for that goes that most Shanghaiinese do as well) and beer – a beerfest? (there are German Beerhof’s spread around the country), Dutch artifactual buildings, like the one (although close) in Japan (pictures), what else could do well? I think that for project developers, there are more Korean trades to be ‘sold’ to Europe these days, including common things like Jimjilbang and Samgyeopsal; both increasingly popular in the US. Also, the concepts of restaurant ringers – allowing one to order or get bill with a button on the table, video on demand and key-less doors are things that should be standardized in European countries by now.

Korean Sausages Work Well as iPhone Stylus

Phones with Multitouch displays, like iPhone and Nexus one, require gestures with fingers. Most strongly remaked by Steve Jobs, as the ‘iPhone would be the end of the stylus’. He did not realize that Chinese characters are actually writen at much faster phase with a pen-like stylus. Steve, unlike me, doesn’t cycle to work every day, wearing gloves in the cold winter, unable to give comments without having to take the gloves off (and stop). So, stylus is not dead, phones like the iPhone could really use a stylus. But they are expensive, and I wouldn’t buy one. Koreans found a way to avoid all the stylus hassle, with a home style solution. They use fast food meat sausages. Now I know what you think, “Why so difficult, just use a pen!” Because these screens don’t work with pressure points, they sense the electrostatic load of the finger to the screen. A normal stylus, or pen wouldn’t work, but these sausages are perfect.. well, at least in functionality. And availability, for sale everywhere in the country for just 20 euro cents. According to a Korean news article, sales boosted 40% in January, due to the cold weather. Although, when I noticed a sausage this evening, and wanted to try it out (video), nobody seemed to be aware of the trend. Perhaps it’s all just a smart marketing trick? Can someone verify if this works with other items as well? Note:

  • People WILL stare at you when you do this. (but you will have warm hands!)
  • Buy the thicker one, as there is an iron tip that will scratch your screen with the thin one
  • No idea how to perform multi touch gestures, two sausages?