Sunday, 27 September 2009

Polish community in Seoul

My social life in Seoul is improving instantly. Thanks to the Korean course I know more and more people, including one very nice polish family. I think it is the best occasion to describe the polish community life in South Korea.
Agnieszka & Radek are very nice people. On every friday their home is always open after 7 p.m. and enourmous hospitality of the hosts makes this home always, really always full of people. There are no better like polish parties. Not many things are needed. Enough to move the table to the balcony and 30 people can have fun crazy dancing until the very down. And if someone is too tired to go home, finds his place to sleep too. This is called polish hospitality.
Speaking of the hospitality, recently I have paid a visit to the polish pallottine church and small monastery situated south - east from Seoul in the woodlands and mountains of Yangdeogwon. For the information of the unfamiliar ones - it is near the Vivaldi Park.
However it is very difficult to escape from very overwhelming civilisation impact in Korea, there is a place to experience contemplation and silence. Built for many years step by step by step it is almost finished now. Enourmous amount of work has been done by many volunteers and helpers led by priest Paul, a very funny guy.
We got there with my friends and spent a really nice weekend, only far too short. Eventually I was requested by priest Paul to do some photos at the celebration of kids first communion. However I am still looking for my ways with God, I was really happy to do that. Some of the result is above.

Next post is coming soon.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Country of engineers

South Korea is a country of engineers. With it's average salary in the sector reaching 27000$ annually, it is a leading country for engineer's jobs in the whole region.
Normally in all anglo-saxon background  financial white collars doing their stock exchange hocus pocus are the best paid sector. And we can see the result in recent crisis.
Here unlike in many countries, engineers who are responsible for growth and development are the best paid. If not for their inventions there would be nothing.  
It is visible everywhere, with scyscrapers, roads, and amazing constructions just like the one above. The fountain is attached to one of the bridges and there is a free music & light show every single evening in the summer.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Food, fiest & life.

Koreans are very social people. This is very impressive and it is the fact I would always emphesize while remembering my trip.
Lunch is a sacred time even in the corporate background known of spying own employees elsewhere. Of course any joining labor unions is prohibited but if it comes to the free time during work hours, lunch time is when everybody goes off the hook of any bosses surveilance,

Does not matter what one eats or where one goes, what is important are people to be in touch with and talk to in aim of maintaining social ties. In the evening, despite of quantities of work left to be done for the other morning everyone meets with friends for a Sojo or rice wine somewhere in the nice small or bigger restaurant. People talk laudly, laugh, tell stories... end yeah, go eventually drunk. Really drunk, despite of the age or social background.

Recently someone told me that it is because that Far East Asian Cultures did not develop crop eating heritage and therefore the digestion system cannot stand alcohol that much. Nevertheless they gather together and noone sits and eats alone and..if this happens it is considered awkward.

The conclusion is that I maintained all my social ties in Europe instantly. Connected back even with people who I had not seen for years.

Dear reader. If you sit alone in the evening and there is noone to talk to, start from talking to others yourself.

This is all for now. Next post is coming soon.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

An-nyong Hasseyo

I have recently started my korean course, first level. I can say "hello" and "thank you". Wow, I can even order the meal in the restaurant.

Rice rolls- my favourite- are called "gimpap" in korean. The language itself is of an unknown origin. Isolated, spoken mainly in South and North Korea and the Chinease Province Yanbian.
Some 80 million people use this language in the world. Some of them live in the ex Soviet Union area, some in Brazil, and some in USA apart from Korean natives. This is a Subject Object Verb language which means that I can say: I apple ate. It was supposedly invented by King Sejong the Great of Joseon Dynasty, or more precisely his Royal Academy is credited for that. Indeed it was early XV century when in the Far East one of the rulers regularly gathered scholars and advisors to know their opinions. To compare, it happened in Poland as late as XVIII century and still was considered innovative for then time Europe.
An-nyonghi- kesseyo. Till later.
Next post is coming soon.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Seoul Subway

Seoul has got magnificent and very efficient public transport system.
Especially I recommend subway for everyone to use as it is impossible to get lost.
There are a lot of stations with numerous exits and very detailed neighbourhood maps displayed every corner of the station.

Seoul Transportation Card can be easily charged at any self service machine which is as well very very easy to use. You only need to place the card and choose the amount of money to be charged. Usually 10 000 KRW is sufficient for a weekly usage with a "go there and back" routes.

Unlike in many cities I have been before, Seoul subway is very well protected indeed. Like at Sadang or Gangnam stations, almost everywhere the automatic doors open as the train arrives.

This is how the city fights with suiciders.... Indeed plenty of people commit suicide here in Korea. Even ex president lately did so due to some corruption accusations. It is an easy way out with long tradition in asian cultures.

There might be several other reasons to that as well. There is no welfare system here. There are no retirement solutions, and the state neither takes care for handicapped people. People have got lots of money as long as they work, but if the health declines... or there are job cuts due to any economic crisis...

In other parts of the world there are social research works done on an instant to investigate possible reasons to any of the patology which occurs in the society.

I cannot say that there is no research done here in Korea as I simply did not ask anyone about it yet. From myself I can only say that closing the subway tunnels is not a solution. Solving social problems is.

Next post is coming soon.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Bugak Mount

Cheongwadae - Blue Roof/ Blue House Presidential Residence

Situated near Insa - dong the Government Area with the Presidential Palace is a must see spot in Seoul. Therefore I was taken there by my Korean friend, Youna as one of the first attractions.

The name Cheongwadae more resembles the "roof" not the "house" as I was informed. Several buildings in the area have indeed blue roofs, as it was a sophisticated color to paint high standard buildings.

The very surroundings of the palace are guarded by the cctv police monitoring and plenty of police around, all very nice but as well ready for intermediate and brutal action on the spot if they see any sign of danger. Photos of people are forbidden to take, especially with a camera like Sony Alfa of mine. There are two or three spots marked as "This is the best place to take a photo" where just everyone uses the opportunity. One of the spots is in front of the main gate - as above shown on the photo.

It was a very hot day. Humidity reaching 80 % and temperature of my favourite 38-40 in the sun. We didn't enter any palace on that day and as well a livery parade was not the one to attend due to some renovation spoiling potentially the photographs to take.

Therefore we hit the Bugak Mount, the one in the background of the photo. Koreans believe that the best place to place the important buildings are in the naturally guarded spots as the one resembled here. This is so universal instinct of people worldwide, enough to mention medieval castles and cities always "hugged" to the safe mount or rock site.

On the Bugak Mount, or more presicely, next to the top of it, is a famous caffeteria with a nice view to Seoul and it is the top point of the trail where people are allowed to go. We had a nice peppermint and lemonade drinks. However the most favourite drink of Koreans is the rice drink in the hot days. One of the small but important things is that almost nowhere tables are provided with paper towels or tissues which is a standard in the western countries. So it is good to have that always in the handbag, otherwise we have to show off with mouth full of fat around on the way to the restroom.

Koreans are very romantic people in a way. The caffeteria itself is famous due to the drama series being shot there several years ago. Now everyone wants to experience that romantic athmosphere pictured in the movie. As soon as I know the name of it, I will place it here.

This is all for now. Next post is coming soon.

Copyright: Agnieszka Piasecka 10.09.2009