Monday, 27 February 2012

This should stop ! Enough of double moral standards!

"We in India mostly live in a blind hypocrite society basking in the glory of past superior culture fantasy." says Prachi, my Indian friend, on a recent gang rape case from Noida. 

Four youths were Sunday arrested for raping a Class 10 student after abducting her and forcing her to drink alcohol, police said. However, a senior police officer said that the girl had gone with them willingly and all that happened was with her consent.

Himanshu Sharma, 23, Rahul Kumar, 24, Sunil Singh, 22, and Saurabh Chauhan, 23, were arrested from near the Spice Mall here and a car used in the crime seized. One more accused, identified as Neeraj, is still at large.
According to Superintendent of Police (City) Anant Dev, the accused had raped the 16-year-old girl Friday night.
Victimised girl was returning from her father's shop in Sector-12 Friday when she met Himanshu, Rahul and Sunil, all whom she knew. They took her to a place where others waited.

She was later forced to drink vodka, and afterwards dragged to the backyard of one of the hotels and there young men took turns raping her. Later they dumped her near the spot she was abducted from.

Yesterday a 37 year old woman died due to excessive vaginal bleeding after being gang raped.  Her husband suspects the locals.

Foreigners are also very often assulted, and definately should not travel alone, especially in the capital district.

The most shocking is the statement of senior police officer who claims that the girl agreed to everything and that actually it was not a rape. It contradicts the prior official press release. 

Human reactions are no different. I found remarks like that women should dress differently, walk always under male escort, not walk at all, etc. Maybe they should seize to exist, would not this solve a problem?

Other comments are that sexual curiosity is normal for guys and rape is part of growing up, what's the big deal if a woman is from slums or low caste, or a foreigner for that matter.

My Indian friend Prachi comments on this: "My blood boils at such things! and then i have a spiritually inclined friend, she is asking why I even read such disturbing things it's all karma! I am telling that in this case law should go to dogs, no need of any law if it's all karma!!!" after a while she adds "We in India mostly live in a blind hypocrite society basking in the glory of past superior culture fantasy.". Indeed all I hear from Indian males is how the West is bad. 


Mumbai Mirror. “Ask the Doctor” column: “I’m a married man, and I have the opportunity to have sex with my neighbour when her husband is often away for work. What is your advice?” Invariably, the reply neglected to mention any moral implications. Instead, it was always along the lines of, “If you think you can handle having sex with two people, be sure to use adequate protection to avoid pregnancy or infection.”

Photo: Phoolan Devi, the Queen of Bandits.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Yodok Stories. A review.

Father, don't just go to South Korea! Father, come to Yodok too!

  • My girlfriend beautifully danced and sang ever since childhood. She dreamed of musical career. Her father was accused of espionage, all his family was sent to Yodok. My girlfriend was raped frequently and starved to death in the camp. My parents were killed because I escaped. 
  • You cannot sympathise with the inmates. If you take pity on them you will be punished just like they are. 
  • When I was in Yodok I looked at other people as animals. Imagined them as boars or pigs so I could eat them. Outside the camp I met two people that ate others. One man grabbed the girl on the street, skinned her and ate her. 
  • I was Kim Jong Il's personal bodyguard for 10 years. He treated us well, we did not miss anything. After 10 years I was released from the army and came back to my village. Nothing changed there, nothing changed for 10 years. I could see holes in the floor and people around me were dying of hunger. I escaped to China but was caught and this is how I ended up in Yodok. 
  • I was sentenced for the camp because I was a friend of Kim Jong Il's wife. I knew too much of his actions. 
  • Only picture of South Korea we see are homeless people and beggars on the streets. When I ended up at Incheon airport I could not believe I was there. I saw people were smiling at me. 

Can you imagine you can make a musical on these stories? Nightmare, starvation, rape, humiliation, death? And yet there was a musical made about the stories mentioned above and during preparations to the musical, a documentary called Yodok Stories was done by established documentary maker Andrzej Fidyk.

Fidyk’s film alternates between rehearsal sessions and testimonies by other former prisoners that flesh out the harrowing, invisible reality of camp life. 7 stories show former inmates and their memories from the camp. Life in the camp is shown on the stage and former prisoners teach actors everything about what they had gone through.

Everyone could end life in Yodok camp. Former Kim Jong Il's family friend, former personal guard, a person that said remark about scarcity of food, or even someone who did not put the Dear Leader image on the wall. 

Yodok Concentration Camp is oficially known as a Penalty Colony number 15. The only one from which few prisoners could get out after serving their sentence.  From others, Fidyk says in first minutes of the movie, noone goes out unless escaping. 

Group of defectors who took part in preparations to the musical combine several inmates, but also a guard. He says stories on how he was taught about class enemies and that inmates were evil people in his eyes and how he took pleasure in harassing them until his own father one day had few drinks too many and critisized the regime for food shortages. It was enough for the entire family to end up in the camp. 

Guards escape also because they can take no longer. They are forbidden showing human feelings, forbidden normal human reactions, they are taught hatred round the clock. 

They met in the restaurant in Seoul, all of them who defected and took part in the movie. Former inmates and former guard. Their talks reveal horrible stories but serve as reconciliation. 

The guard is later shown during preparations and try-outs between the musical as he teaches about life in the camp and beating methods. He is portrayed crying secretly when he watches the show. 

The rest of the movie is a must watch for everyone. Fidyk is a masterpiece maker. Music is great, idea of the musical made success both to the defected artist who directed it and to Fidyk who did not worry much for the music part of his movie, he used scores from the musical for most of it.. 

North Korean regime lasts because it is isolated. But also because South Korea is not happy about perspective of having 20 million starving people knowing nothing about modern life or economy becoming citizens. Hardly anyone in the South knows anything about what happens in the North.


War games on the Penninsula

Kim Jong Un threatened that North Korean army shall make pre-emptive strike if its territory is 0,001 mm violated. USA and South Korea start their war games tomorrow.

There is a lot of propaganda flying on both sides. South Koreans and Americans emphasise that military exercises are mostly defensive and computer based. North Korea claims that has only peaceful and defensive intentions.

The threat arrived day after special envoy to Seoul Glyn Davies said that before Washington talks to North Korea about any improvement in bilateral relations, first North has to improve its relations with the South.

Kim Jong Un said that during a visit to the unit that shelled the Yeongpyeong Island back in 2010.

Threatening South Korea is a regular habit between regular joint American- South Korean military exercises which happen usually once a year.

It is yet to be determined which way the new regime in North Korea goes. But what we see is likely inherited same old tale, threat and blackmail.

To those naive that think South may win the war: it may win it, but if attacked its core economic heart which is situated in Seoul and around it will be shelled by normal range tactic missiles. Their southern perimeter ends at the Ajou University Campus in Suwon.

This means that the two states actually checkmate themselves. Spoiled South Korean population ( with small exceptions) that is used to driving super cars and walking on cute high heels would not even support the idea of war if it meant sacrificing silver spoon lifestyle they have.

More on the topic:
Rice and Money - my amatour movie

Kimjongilia - Sundance Offocial selection 2009
had seen it in 2010 thanks to the kind invitation by Justice for North Korea at Gwanhammun Seoul,

BBC Access to Evil by Ewa Ewart

Yodok Stories by Andrzej Fidyk

Saturday, 25 February 2012

K-Pop update

What is K-pop? Why isn't it pop, just pop? Well admirers argue that it has really unique national trait. Indeed it has.

What is in common to Korean pop music are women or men that are really done in fashionized way and they are perfect dancers, both girls and boys.

They are really looking like on a stage one should look, like Western stars looked back in the 1980's.

Rythm is usually what makes it, rythmy, easy to dance music. Lyrics are all about love, seduction, and triangles: him picking one of the two, or vice versa.

They grow in popularity, mostly in Asia, adding to what is called Korean Wave. But K-pop has it's fans globally, some of them are my friends and I will make them posting here more about it. 

I love it when I do my gym at home. And it is also real pleasure to look at women who do not have this annoying "neighborhood girl" style but they are really totally made up, seductive and confident. Aren't you tired with women who do simply nothing to look better but still require admiration? Here is a rest for your eyes.

Enjoy my recent discovery:
Girls' Generation Run, Devil, Run

So, me off to my gym.

People say it is kitchy. Maybe, but it is one of the traits that make modern Korea.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Han Han and social media sales

While explaining this phenomenon editor says that internet is a perfect tool to make money, but provided that you sell both a very non-conformistic and easy vision of life. You need to engage with an illusion of not taking too much time, you also need to provoke.

Forbes Poland in it's newest online issue mentions Han Han as one among 20 people that can change the world.

Han Han is a Chinese blogger that writes about sex, cars, food, life, lifestyle, fashion, whatever else people would like to read about. His blog registered at Chinese equivalent of Twitter ( had exceeded 460 mln registered readers.

While explaining this phenomenon editor says that internet is a perfect tool to make money, but provided that you sell both a very non-conformistic and easy vision of life. You need to engage with an illusion of not taking too much time, you also need to provoke.

Well I have to apologise to you My Dear Readers for being such a boring person who writes long posts in decent English, hopefully with not too many typos. I do solemnly swear to provoke you once a while with harsh opinions.

I also promise some posts about K-pop, fashion, Korean soap operas and other of sort. 

Han Han Dude may be found at Wikipedia to read about him more :)

Monday, 20 February 2012


Am not sure if this one is going to sound nice. But recently I decided to give up political correctness. My friend Martyna was nominated to the Traveller of the Year Award Kolosy 2011 in Poland for her Asian experiences.

While reading her blog I discovered that Seoul transforms into a city with no soul. Hi Seoul! Soul of Asia! slogan says. But what does it mean to have soul. It means to secure and preserve the best of Asia, common sense tells.

I have already written about Seoul Mayor closing down street vendoring and moving these people to more and more less payable locations. This increases done by the new Mayor also.

Will Koreans ever understand that we are not coming there for artificial things?! Not for created on purpose artificial junk! Junk like Hanok houses pretending to be ancient and being in fact rebuilt from new pieces only recently?! European sophisticated shops like Zara in Coex Mall or touristy mass production in Insa Dong?!

I have asked many friends if they have old Hanbok ( traditional female dress) inherited from their grandmothers or great grandmothers. Guess what, noone has old Hanboks!

- Obsoyo! There was a war and we don't have them anymore. - this is the reply I hear often. War cannot destroy everything.
Even Brother Anthony from Sogang University, who is a genuine specialist in Korean culture, sent me off to some factory making modern "traditional" Hanboks, all very colorful and nice.

 Photo from wikipedia, free licence with attribution: 
Above: This is what is available everywhere, colorful, nice, modern touristy production. 

Problem is this is not genuine. I will give more space later to Korean traditional dress how it really looked not longer than 40 years ago. But here I will shortly say that 2% of society could afford these sweet colorful Hanboks. Does it make it "traditional" already? What about other groups, what about farmers? They had Hanboks too, but white/grey.

Dear Readers, I am in desparate need of white/grey farmers Hanbok! Dirty, old, but genuine!!!! If you know about anyone, anyone who may be a happy owner of some, please let me know!

If it comes to Nation Branding Korea rocks. It is only pity that instead of preserving truth they build up stories of how rich they had always been.

I am not saying that there is nothing genuine in Seoul. There are still street markets and shops with everything and nothing, ginseng, spices of the world, hand painters making art pieces on silk or rice paper, but it slowly slowly goes away melted in unified asian version of global consumerism.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Nation branding

I have already mentioned about Korean Nation Branding efforts and how they impress me. In more developed countries than Korea comprehensive nation advertising and public diplomacy took much longer time or is not that well organized.
This entry of the blog has been featured on Arirang TV in Today's Blog programm, Trend Zone.
Coastal Asia Unrevealed on Arirang TV
Please watch in Internet Explorer like all Korean sites. Forgive me my voice, it is not really top voice ever.

Part of it is Korean Wave which currently hits Japan, China and other Asian countries. Korean boysbands and girlsbands, so called K-pop music to which you may find links in the video corner is just an example. Korean dramas with Winter Sonata leading among them, singer BoA and many others.

This year Seoul was choosen as one of the must-visit cities by UNESCO as a result of long term action of the Metropolitan Government. Maybe it was this little creature, Haechi, which was designed as a Seoul brand based on a fictional good spirit, symbol of the city, which caused it? Who knows...

Whether Haechi himself had blessed the city with good spirits or not, he definately works as a brand developed back in 2008. Metropolitan government uses it as a symbol which helps promoting good businesses for tourists.

I was taken for a dessert to one of the restaurants in a Korean traditional house situated in a White Collar area, next to the COEX Intercontinental, the very site were G20 was held. The restaurant which name is Pulhyanggi serves all sorts of Korean food for very sophisticated set of clients who usually go there for business negotiations and incentives.

 Inside the Pulhyanggi...

Btw. did I mention that my favorite Korean food is a pancake with seafood which is called haemul pajeon and I can even make it myself?

And this is how restaurants are promoted with the city brand sign:
The Haechi drawing is based on the ancient creature I have already mentioned, which looks like this:
And Seoul area is full of them standing in all sorts of places, both very modern and traditional ones.

As a city Seoul tries to catch up with modernity but also save what is the best from it's ancient spirits. For this all sorts of different things are done, one of them is Cheonggye Stream near Gwanhamun Plaza, or Design Street near Toksugung Palace. There we may find interesting things like design chairs or sculptures as below:
All fitted in traditional historic environment.

Haechi is successful in promoting business as well. An idea which had not been followed by other cities so far as I know. As a brand Hi Seoul is shared by all sorts of small companies which are given support by Seoul Metropolitan Government. The partnership is perfect for both sides: the city promotes itself even better and business gets money and stable environment to grow.
Above is one of the example of the shared brand products. We visited the exhibition with the TV crew from Arirang and were given a gift set with very useful and very nice items including a pen with a flashlight which I use a lot right now.

Haechi itself is a legendary animal representing justice and integrity. The mythical creature distinguishes good from evil and was believed to bring fortune and luck and provide safety from disaster. The creature has been believed to serve as a guardian of Seoul for a long time.

At Gwanhamun Plaza the souvenir shop opened and the top sells are Haechi dolls in all sizes. I got myself the small one... maybe it will bring me the luck?

Just as I shared with viewers of Arirang I will repeat here. Despite constant threat from the North Seoul flourishes. Korea flourishes. South Koreans take steps foreward, round the clock, like a circle in a spiral... strive and persist.

Special thanks to Yoon-mi Jung and her crew who assisted me for more than 6 hrs on a freezing Friday in Seoul driving me around the city wherever I wanted. Thank you for your hospitality and patience. I love Korea! Although it was pictured more than a year ago I still remember the day and am very happy it happened :)

Links to explore:

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Saemul Undong - Korea's Receipe for Rural Development

 ‘Unless the residents have a desire of self-help for the change of their life, even if they wait for 5000 years, there will be no change. If the village residents try to change their life now, even with little support of government, they will be able to change their life in 2-3 years’. Park Chung-Hee

Korea was ruined by Japanese colonization and inter-Korean war. In 1950s, the plight of Koreans was miserable  and the nation was extremely poor, with very little food to survive. Harsh winters added to their miseries and ‘food n shelter’ was first priority for all Koreans. Per capita income was $79 in 1960, while that of Pakistan was $91 during the same Year.  Koreans studied Pakistani 5-year plan system and adopted it in 1962. They started seeing the results in shape of industrial growth and development of cities, but the rural areas were still lagging far behind.

Koreans soon realized that sustainable growth cannot be achieved without rural development. The standard of life in the villages was very low, with only 20% of the villages having electricity and only 20 % houses having roof.  Roads, infrastructure, tools and equipment for farming were missing altogether.  The only positive thing was that literacy rate was good and mandatory military service for all men above 18 produced a disciplined workforce.

In 1970, Saemul Undong (New Village Movement) was launched, aiming at improving the life of villagers. The idea was to pave the gap between rural and urban life, improving the living standard in rural areas and increasing the opportunities for the villagers to earn more. 

 The idea was to stop migration to cities. ‘A better village to live in’ was the goal of the movement.  The underlying spirit was to work with diligence, as the ‘early bird catches the worm’, there is no freebie in the world, so make an effort to achieve what you want.  The spirit of cooperation was also very important, as one cannot wash their face with one finger.

Government started with SMU in a unique way. They asked the villagers to participate in the program on self-help basis.  Three principles of ‘diligence, self help and cooperation’ were decided to be the basis of the movement. When the movement started, government was not in a very good financial situation, so they asked for the cooperation of residents of villages.  It provided 335 packs of cement to each of 33,267 villages in the country. Government suggested ten projects such as making roads, reforming roofs of homes, constructing public wells, making small water reservoirs and small bridges etc .Villagers had to decide one of the projects and then implement it.  They had to arrange the material such as sand and pebbles themselves, and had to work together to execute the project.  They had to select Seamaul leaders for themselves, who were volunteers, and would play the role of coordinators and arbitrators.

After one year of evaluation, the success ratio was about 50% .The performance of 16,600 villages was good, and they had completed their first task.  It was a turning point, the government decided to generate competition. They gave 500 sacks of cement and one ton steel to only these 16,600 villages, which were able to complete their first task, while remaining villages were told to do something with self-help and then government will decide accordingly.

This produced amazing results; a lot of villages improved very quickly, and more and more were joining the movement actively.  Based on this, government classified the villages into three categories according to their progress, and supported the outstanding villages more, which generated high competition.
The government established central council for the movement, to analyze and evaluate the performance. A training center was instituted to train the leaders elected by villagers. This helped in development of leadership at grass root level.  Women and youth were given equal participation, each village selecting a a leader, woman leader and young leader for the project. These voluntary leaders helped the government to plan, cooridnate and carry out the projects in a proper manner.

New projects were considered on the basis of their benefits to the entire community. The government did not interfere directly into the selection of projects. It was just overseeing the technical aspects and providing help with which the villagers couldn’t do themselves.

Soon they realized that without improving the income of villagers, their life could not be improved, so the next step was to improve the income level of villagers and eliminate poverty. Projects were focused to improve roads to the farms so that tractors and other machinery could be used in farming. Farmers were provided with basic tools and were trained for the better productivity. Irrigation system was improved and small water reservoirs were built to preserve water. Also green houses were developed to do farming in winters.  Investments were done in live-stocks and villagers were encouraged to grow live-stock for better income.
Agricultural complexes were made for profitable products such as mushrooms and tobacco, which helped to increase over all income.  Greenhouses allowed farmers to harvest during harsh winter season. Fishing villages changed their production methods from fishing to breeding fish. All of this improved the income level of villagers. As a result, agriculture household income was more than that of city workers. After only four years, the rural community household income was $674, more than that of urban household income of $644. This economic growth led to subjugate poverty and brought revolution in the mindset of people.

Residents were given the sense of ownership and they were the direct beneficiaries.  During initial stage, the focus was on improvement of thatched houses, heating system inside homes and agriculture roads. Then the focus shifted to more infra-structure reforms.  Electricity and water supply, agriculture machinery, irrigation system, all were aimed to improve the life of villagers with their involvement. The concepts of hard-work and self-help were embedded in this whole movement.

Due to proper evaluation system, government soon realized the mistakes of the movement.  Villagers lacked technical skills to build bridges and roads.  So government provided technical support and training required for the projects.

Grass root level leadership evolved as a reason of this movement, which lead to the development of Korea on many fronts. Corruption wasn’t a problem in this project, as population was involved in it, and the residents carried out the projects themselves. They also contributed financially to the extent they were able to do. The collective participation brought in transparency and better utilization of resources. The change went from rural to urban areas of Korea, whereas it is usually the other way around.

Korea today has become one of the top growing economies in the world, with national income of $ 20,014 per capita, (remember in 1960, Korea was at $79, and Pakistan was $91).  This is despite the fact that Korea has no natural resources, and it relies only on its human resource.  It is now one of the most advanced countries in internet usage, banking system and industrialized nation.

About ten Pakistani students (Masters/PhD researchers) attended this workshop. All of us had a consensus that this model cannot be copied directly considering our culture and traditions.  Our villages are usually big, and we lack consensus on leadership and projects. We are heavily divided and our women don’t work usually as labour workforce in building the bridges and widening the roads. So we need to make certain changes in this model and in our society too, for our growth and development.

In Pakistan, ‘actions must speak louder than words’, so the projects must be aimed at ‘doing more-talking less’ spirit.  The basic element in these projects should be consistency and continuity, learning from past experiences and improving with time. We can learn from these experiences as we are a resource rich country. We don’t have the problem of poverty similar to that of Koreans, our infra structure is not very up to the mark, but we do have something to build upon, so we don’t have to start from zero.

All we need is to participate on community basis, helping ourselves, and taking bold initiatives. When this movement started in Korea, a lot of people criticized it, but government continued persuading villagers to take part in the development process, and it yielded results. The evaluation of projects was step-wise and better performing villages were rewarded on the basis of merit. This helped a great deal in raising awareness and competition level.

Saemaul Movement members hold a briefing session with locals in Tanzania, to explain the concept and meaning of the Saemaul Undong

Korea has started to implement this project in African countries. While other countries prefer to perform charity work, Koreans are trying to engage villagers by asking them to contribute equally.  For instance, the project of establishing a goat bank is very good idea. Villagers are given goats, to raise, and when they breed more goats, the original ones are returned, thus establishing a live-stock bank.

Most important notion to learn is the reforms of the mind-set, to ‘we can do it’. Starting by simple, small projects, doing something tangible, will lead to something better and bigger eventually. We think of big projects first, but sometimes we need to think ‘small’ and ‘in the box’.  Making  roofs for homes, kitchens in houses, toilets, small water reservoirs, improving sanitary conditions,  building small bridges, improving water supply and sewerage systems- eventually the change will be getting bigger and visible which will help in improving the living standards.

Another point to focus is to increase the income of villagers, to stop urbanization. We believe in giving alms and charity,  but instead we should focus more on trying to make poor people earn more money. Increasing their income will change their mentality. As I mentioned earlier, Saemaul Undong wasn’t focusing on education and public health in the start, because people were mostly concerned about food and shelter, but as the movement went on to bring the change, people started thinking about education, health, learning opportunities and community life. Koreans did that successfully and now their rural life has almost all the facilities of their urban life so more and more people are preferring rural life.

In short, collaborative efforts will bring change, and rural development is the key to sustainable development even in the industrialized nations. Following are the words of President Park Chung Hee,
‘Unless the residents have a desire of self-help for the change of their life, even if they wait for 5000 years, there will be no change. If the village residents try to change their life now, even with little support of government, they will be able to change their life in 2-3 years’.
These simple words underline the spirit of the movement. No one will bring change for you, if you don’t want it yourself. And small consistent changes, will lead to a big and visible transformation. More importantly, ‘ do more, talk less’.

Courtesy Muhammad Saad Khan 

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

V Day wishes

This time universal, not about Korea only :) 
Anthropologist Fisher breaks love into three distinct brain systems that enable mating and reproduction:

    Sex drive
    Romantic love (obsession, passion, infatuation)
    Attachment (calmness and security with a long-term partner)

These are brain systems, Fisher said, and all three play a role in love. They can operate independently, but people crave all three for an ideal relationship.

Which is why we feel rather calmness with lifetime partner and we women secretly desire Domogarov to kiss us instead some decent boring but stable sort of chap. On the contrary what Dr Kulesza from Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities says, men clinge to peace of mind and do not tend to associate biggest passions and desires with lifetime partner.
But I am not sure if this applies to Slavic people. For some, maybe most of us passion is love and love is passion. Maybe we give it up for the sense of boring security or for social expectations, but for some reason women leave comments under this song:  Na krayu sveta/ The end of the world "oh how he kisses etc".

Don't divide life into your grey everydayness and fairy tales you think you cannot have. Go for your own fairy tale. Go through fire for what you believe in until you find it. Sometimes it is worth to go against the current.
Until you find all in one. 

And... don't apply too much science to it. Follow your heart.

With best wishes for V Day to all my friends from all corners of the world.

With love to those who are and always be important in my life.


Monday, 13 February 2012

Places to visit in Seoul

Seoul. Soul of Asia, the city slogan says.  Hi Seoul says the city brand. Bit of a guide what to visit once getting there.

I was recently asked for advice as to what to visit in Seoul if you are there for relatively short time.
This is indeed tough task to choose. So I will give a glympse on a few places that one may get to easily spending one day in Seoul.

If one had only one day it is better to start your day early.. Go to Gyeongbokgung station line 3 and take the palace exit. You will end up in front of the Palace Main gate. If you are there at 10 am you can experience a re-enactment of Korean military tradition - the Royal Guard Changing Ceremony - at the Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul. Palace gate guardsmen in traditional costumes end their sentry duty, present arms and parade.

My advice, don't buy the entrance ticket to the Palace, you will have better view standing somewhere in the courtyard. The show is not active on tuesdays.

Once you had seen the show you may proceed by walk towards the Kings statue that is not far away from the main gate.
Above is the King's Statue. He was one very smart person that invented one of the easiest ever written codes that can be for Asian language. Had troubles learning Chinese or Japanese? Korean is a piece of cake.

Since you already saw the King's Statue it would be nice to see some Temple and have a glympse of how they look inside and the feel of buddist calmness on your own.

For this you may pick any Temple that is situated in Seoul, the one situated near Insa Dong will do really great. When you enter the Temple remember to take off your shoes and remain totally silent. Switch your mobile sounds off just like you do in the church or a mosque. Inside you may do what others do, but it is better to just sit in the lotus position on the floor and simply take a reacess. A break from everything. Let your thoughts fly as they want, don't control anything. Meditate. 10' is enough and you will feel really great.

Buddha at Insa Dong. Normally it is not allowed to take a photo with DSLR but I broke a few rules. If I'd obeyed all the rules I would never have most of these photos anyway.

It's time for lunch. For lunch it is good to try some Korean Food. For a foreigner that is not accustomed to a lot of spices I recommend haemul pajeon for the beginning, which is a pancake with veggies and seafood. Good places for it are situated in the back alleys from Insa Dong main street. Also you may have a jamchi bibimpap which is a veggies mix with rice and tuna ( delicious).

To get to Insa Dong either go by subway to Anguk station line 3 or walk there on the left from Gyengbokgung main gate if you face the Gwanhammun.

As yoy see Insa Dong is also popular touristy stuff shopping mall. But in Korea it is very difficult to get something for genuine treasure hunters, and some things from there will be valuable souvenirs still.
Scroll paintings and celadon tea sets are those I would recommend the most. If you are rich you may try to get Korean traditional dress- hanbok - for yourself.

What to do with the rest of the time? Assume it is 2 pm and you have still some hours left.
You may visit Dongdaemun area for multicultural Seoul taste, this is where a lot of people from Central Asia and Russia live and run small restaurants or shops.

You may also go to Gangnam area to check whether the underground shopping mall is open. This is the place where you will enjoy traditional negotiations about the price of a product. However this does not apply for ladies shoes that are usually always discounted and available in all sorts of sizes and colors ( but sizes are mostly small).
Gangnam area.
Shops with shoes that are approximately everywhere.

For cheap shopping and street markets I recommend Nakseongdae/ Sadang area, there are a lot of shops in the neighborhood where a lot of different things can be purchased. These two are by the line 2. This is where you can buy ginseng roots and real seaweed ( not like the one at the airport). Seaweed is something I miss very much in poland and if someone brings me it I will be happy lol :P

Nakseongdae Street Market

You have probably realised I give guidelines how to originally spend your day. But if you prefer to go to the Museum you should visit the War Memorial by the Samgakji Station line 4 or 6. It is a short walk from exits 11 and 12, the cost 3000KRW per adult.

In the evening city looks nice from Namsan Tower which is visible from almost everywhere.
You can get there by a walk from exit 3 on Myeongdong station by line 4.
The link to a photo is here:
Seoul by night

Food varies from 3000 KRW snacks at street vendors to 30 000 KRW circa at more sophisticated places.
Subway card is 5000, and 15 000 KRW should be enough to go around the city for the whole day.
Tea pottery varies from pieces by 1000 KRW up till sets of 150 000 KRW.
Scroll paintings vary from 10 000 KRW to 60 - 100 000 KRW.

Getting there:

 If you are at the airport, you may get taxi. But you will pay a lot.
Buses are better and you only need to ask which one to take.

 Bear in mind your phone won't work there, so for a cheap stay use rental service available at the airport.
Welcome to Korea! Enjoy your stay ! :):):)

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Kim Jung Un Dead or alive?

Kim Jung Un has been told assasinated a day ago during his visit to Beijing.  As much as it may be a calculated hoax it still might be truth though. But such jokes in our modern world have real impact.
 Let's assume Steve Jobs has got a flue 10 years ago. It was actually a real event when flu of genius Apple brain caused huge stocks collapse overnight. No, what do I say, overhour.

Every power that has no nuclear or military potential to harm South Korea or is being checkmated by its allies can still do a web attack or for instance spread a false rumour about young "crown prince" from the North dead.

When Kim Jong Il died last year the event caused huge losses in korean stocks which started correction only in late December / January. It may easily happen this time too, even if the rumour is false. This is also an occasion to earn on forex if I am right.

It always made me curious how in so scientific and mathematical environment as cash and investing haste decisions and psychology of the crowds always took over. At first 30% and some more stocks in Korea are owed by foreigners. If there is any news that situation in the country becomes unstable foreigners get cold feet, at least financially. Second issue is more complex and is related to following the crowd like a blind idiot. If a dude that sits next to me removes I shall also sell and this way index goes down. Usually time shows that what was needed was a bit of patience and individualism. Traits which humanity lacks as such and always will.

Lol :P From my point of views it is cool to observe masses of people wondering, journalists racing to get the news first etc.

And you, how do you think, is he dead or is he alive?
Who may assasinate the guy? For what?