June 30, 2011

KPOP Friday

Happy Fourth of July weekend Friday!

This is one of the first summers of my life that I will (A.) not be in America and (B.) not be on Martha's Vineyard for the fourth. Fourth of July weekend is now one of the only times of the year that I get to see all my Martha's Vineyard friends together (now that we all have jobs that don't allow us to take the entire summer off.)

I miss all of them so much and it really sucks that I am going to be missing this weekend in Chilmark. Have fun at Lucy Viencent, the Store and Derek's guest house. I miss you guys!

In order to celebrate America's finest holiday properly in Korea, we are heading down south to the second largest city in Korea, Busan.

I have actually been to Busan before (blog post), for Chuseok vacation all the way back in September. It was not very warm then , so we could not enjoy this beach city to its fullest. Therefore, we are going back to try and celebrate the fourth on the beach in Busan! (plus we are celebrating my friend Brian's birthday, should be a solid weekend.)

This weeks KPOP Friday song is called "Time is (L)Over" by Jang Woo Hyuk.

Jang Woo Hyuk was a member of a popular Korean boy band H.O.T. His boy band was popular in the 90's but disbanded in 2001. Since then he was in a smaller boy band called JTL with two other former members of H.O.T; however JTL also disbanded in 2003. After he finished his military duties in 2009, Jang Woo Hyuk began working on his Solo album, "I am the Future."

The biggest hit off of Jang Woo Hyuk's solo album is this song, "Time is (L)Over." I like the song and music video, plus I am happy Woo Hyuk could make a come back. For some reason this song reminds me of Enrique Inglesias: the Korean version. The video has some great Korean Man-fashion and lots of group dances. Watch for a good time.

Happy Fourth of July Friday and I hope you enjoy Jang Woo Hyuk's "Time is (L)Over."

June 28, 2011


I went on a weekend trip to the city of Chuncheon, the capital city of the Gangwon province.

The Seoul subway system actually just connected Seoul to Chuncheon with the opening of a new line this past winter (2010). We took the Seoul subway for about two hours through some beautiful mountains to cross into the Gangwon province and end at Chuncheon station.

We stayed at a cheap love motel near city hall for about 30,000 won. We dropped our backpacks off and set out to find the island of Jungdo.

Jungdo is a large island in the Soyang River and you can get to it by taking a boat from where the International Mime Festival takes place (Yes there was a massive, "very famous" mime festival in Chuncheon). It takes about 30 minutes to walk to the dock from downtown. The boat runs every thirty minutes and cost 5,500 won.

Jungdo Island is known as a weekend getaway for Chuncheon locals. Many companies and family have parties and camping trips here. You can enjoy the outdoors while riding bikes, playing games, and cruising on boats. We liked our time on Jungdo, however, it lacked real natural beauty but it has great character and energy.

We found a dock that had wake boarding, water skiing and boating available and most of the group hopped on the water sport train.

A group of us were also invited to participate in a game of Jokgu (a Korean game that resembles soccer, tennis and volleyball mixed together). Jokgu is a very popular sport and played all over Korea by people of all ages. Whenever I walk by the park near my apartment I see tons of games being played and anytime we ever express interest in playing usually someone lets us try!

Watch this video to get a better sense of the game.

After we played a little Jokgu, we were invited to join their group party. We soon learned that they all worked for the Chuncheon government office and this was their office party. They offered us copious amounts of conversation, beer and soju. We became fast friends!

After our day on Jungdo Island we were hungry and decided to head back into the city to eat some Dak Galbi on Dak Galbi Street.

Chuncheon is world famous for their Dak Galbi. Dak Galbi is a popular Korean dish made of marinated diced chicken stir fried in chilli peppper paste, cabbage, sweet potatoes, onions and tteok (Korean rice cakes).

I was not the biggest fan of Dak Galbi in Seoul (too spicy for my taste) but after having some in Chuncheon I became a believer. Chuncehon Dak Galbi is less spicy and has more chicken. Also in Chuncheon many people wrap the Dak Galbi in lettece wraps, which I LOVED.

The next day we made our way to one more island close to Chuncheon. Nami Island can be reached on the Seoul subway by getting off at Gapyeong Station (six stops before Chuncheon) and then taking a taxi to the Nami Island Immigration.

Nami Island is a major tourist spot in Korea and gains over 1.5 million tourists every year. People and couples come to the beautiful island to get away from the city and enjoy the outdoors. Many people bike and ride boats and walk along the beautiful tree lined path ways that are all over the island. You can even water ski, bungee jump and zipline on Nami Island.

The island/ theme park also decided that if they were to make themselves a sovereign nation, it would draw more tourists. Weird. So now Nami Island calls itself "Naminara" and you have to go through immigration and purchase a passport to get onto the island.

Nami Island is also very famous because one of the most popular Korean dramas "Winter Sonata" was filmed here. The couple on the show shared their first kiss on the island. Visitors from all over Asia come to the island to see where the kiss first happened. When we were there we saw many Japanese tourists who loved "Winter Sonata" snapping pictures of the first kiss location.

To continue with the romantic feel of the island we decided to rent swan boats and coast on the Han River for a little. Great idea. Things shaped like birds are just more fun.

Chuncheon is a great place to go to get out of the big city and enjoy some countryside activities. It is close enough to Seoul and very accessible via the subway system. We had a great time being outside and eating Dak Galbi, I would recommend this weekend spot to all!