Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Magical Beauty of Hanbok

taken from here

There are many things that may represent Korea. One among them is the Korean traditional dress “hanbok.”

Although nowadays few people wear hanbok except on national holidays like New Year’s Day, the beauty and elegance of the garment is always amazing. 

Stitch by stitch, making a beautiful hanbok takes great craftsmanship, effort, and passion. It depends on how you choose the right combination of colors among infinite possibilities; how you cut, fold, stitch up patches of cloth together; how you sew patterns onto it, etc.

Hanbok has some magical quality about its color and texture that even the modern digital technology can’t really simulate on the screen. 

Patterns of flowers and butterflies sewn into the cloth radiate the artist’s craftsmanship and subtlety. Wearing hanbok, you can just feel the artist’s heart oozing out of it. There are no fixed set of rules or formula to follow in making hanbok. How the garment is rendered is solely at the discretion of the hanbok-maker.

Hanbok takes into account the wearer’s body shape, comfort, and beauty, all at the same time. It is one of Korea’s greatest assets containing its people’s indelible, age-long wisdom.

Despite the garment’s much fallen popularity among people nowadays, the passion and perseverance of hanbok artists endures.

Hats off to the hanbok makers – protectors of one of the most precious Korean assets.

Monday, May 17, 2010

One Fine Spring Day (May 2, 2010)

As many of you may realize, this year, spring came late to Korea. Usually the weather would be getting warm started from March, but this year, it even snowed on late March! But aside of the late coming, spring is always nice. Chilly breeze combined with a not-so-bright sunshine, it's a perfect day to leave the hibernating period and step outside ^o^

So, that day, my friends and I went to go for a walk along Hangang Park in Yeouido. As we expected, it was so crowded with people (and pets actually^^). We rode the bicycles, played at the fountain, stared at the river, and sat on the grass enjoying the breeze.

It's refreshing and envying to see lovers rode the bicycle, hehehe...

 Look! Even there were some families building tents there^^

After cycling for an hour, we took break here...
Sitting on the stone floor and put our feet in the water while watching the scenery of Han River, so peaceful that I forgot about my assignments for a while^^

That dome-like building is a cafe and we also spent some time there. 
This kid was playing with the fountain beside the cafe.

The identical buildings at the foreground are Twin Building (Twin Tower), the headquarter of LG Electronics, one of the biggest electronic company in Korea and in the world...and also the company I used to work for before^^
The brown building at the background is 63 Building, a very famous building in Korea.

Side note:
I really, really hope that Jakarta will have the facility like Hangang Park, where people can relax and enjoy the scenery for free and safely. I know that we have some facilities, but most of them are not free and not so enjoyable, some are not clean enough. I think we have a lot of potentials to develop something like this if people and government join hands together to create a better environment for the city. Go go Indonesia!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Seoul and Its Happy City Project

taken from here

According to the recent statistics of the Seoul Metropolitan Government, the number of foreign residents of Seoul is estimated at around 250,000, taking up 2.5% of Seoul’s total population.

This is an increase by 100,000 people within the last 3 years – a stupendous increase, indeed. This signifies just how fast Seoul is turning into a global and multicultural city.

Then how satisfied are the over 250,000 international residents living in Seoul?

According to the survey conducted in November 2009 on foreigners who had been living in Seoul for more than one year, their degree of satisfaction scored 3.8 out of 5 points, which is an increase for three consecutive years.
Foreigners at “Hi Seoul Festival” (

But of course, there are things to be improved. To that end, Seoul city has launched the “Happy City Project” which includes various support programs for foreigners in communication, multiculturalism, solving everyday problems and obstacles, and so on.

The project focuses on 15 foreigner-dense areas designated as “Global Zones” which include the Seoul City Hall area, Yeoksam, Samsung, Yeouido, Ichon, Itaewon, Hannam, Yeonnam, Seorae Village, Myeongdong, Insadong, Namdaemun, Dongdaemun, etc. 

Also, the construction of the “Global Cluster Building” will begin in May, which will include a one-stop help center for foreigners and chamber of commerce offices of various countries.
The “Global Business Help Center” will open in mid-May in COEX with the aim to help foreigners set up small to medium-sized businesses in Korea. And the on-site consultation service, where a batch of staff visits areas with high concentrations of foreigners, will be further streamlined.

Entrance to the Seoul Global Center

Last January, 14 additional multicultural family support centers opened in Seoul, which makes a total of 20 such centers. A web site ( designed to provide information on Seoul city and job vacancies for foreign spouses was launched in five languages including Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, English and Korean.

A support center for migrant workers has also been operating, providing Korean-language classes that put focus on industrial site-related vocabulary. There is also the International Student Forum, and the foreign students support desks at major universities that provide counseling and information on Korea for international students.

The Friendship Fair at “Hi Seoul Festival”

Various cultural performances will take place in Mugyo-dong “Global Street” near the Seoul City Hall, and flea markets for foreigners will be held at the Seoul Folk Flea Market in Sinseol-dong. Furthermore, the Seoul Help Center for Foreigners is going to sponsor 16 foreign community festivals including the Mongolian Naadam Festival and the Irish Folk Dance Festival.

For medical services, the current 11 medical centers for foreigners will be expanded to 17 by 2012, and a Global Open Health Center will be launched in Yeongdeungpo-gu and Geumcheon-gu districts in May, where treatments for pregnant women and infants from multicultural families will be provided.

Foreigners in the subway (

In terms of public transportation, sign panels will be furnished in a number of foreign languages at every subway station, and so will the Seoul city subway map. Also, 26 administrative forms frequently filled out by foreigners will be translated into Chinese and Japanese in addition to English and Korean. Tax notices, too, will have its contents written in both Korean and English.

Likewise, Seoul city is making efforts to create a truly global Seoul that is a wonderful city not only for Koreans, but for all the foreign residents and visitors in it as well!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

World Students in Korea (WSK)

Good night^^

Okay, I think I haven't announced that I have been selected as a member of World Students in Korea (WSK)
*throws confetti*
WSK is an international students program run by the Presidential Council on Nation Branding (PCNB) since June 2009. You can take a look at the website in Koreabrand.

As the member of WSK, the students' main task is to run individual blogs to promote cultural exchange and to strengthen ties between Korea and our own home countries. As an exchange, the Council will provide us opportunities to visit Korea's cultural heritage sites, major industrial sites, and workshop.

Until now, there have been 2 batches of this program, and I'm the member of the 3rd batch. On May 4, 2010 we attended the kick-off ceremony for the 3rd batch and also closing ceremony for the 2nd batch. It was held at the National Museum of Korea. We had an awarding ceremony for best bloggers of the previous batch. After that, we had a free museum tour. It was so amazing tracing the history of Korea. However, because we didn't have much time, we finished the tour in short time. I think I'll visit the museum again to satisfy my curiosity to explore the whole museum^^

This is the pic of the kick-off & closing ceremony. Thanks Ms. Shin of WSK who sent me this pic^^

The building of National Museum of Korea. It was so grand, beautiful, and crowded!
I will blog about this place next time, so please keep on reading and commenting my blog^^ See you!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Watching Cherry Blossom (17-18 April 2010)

When I first came to Korea, I didn't know that Korea also have cherry blossom (sakura). In Korea, it's called   벚꽃(potkkot). So when I found out that Korea have it, I was really happy ^^. This year was the second time I went to see the cherry blossom. My friends and I went to Hangang Park Yeouido and around the National Assembly. As expected, it was soooo crowded! But I still enjoyed the view since it wouldn't last long :(
By the way, Korea's cherry blossom is white or pinkish white, different from Japan's.

I took this picture at Yeouido, near 63 Building. We had a walk along the street and enjoyed the view. I like how the trees made a formation like this^^

This was near the National Assembly. As usual, a lot of people came. This year the flowers were blooming late, so this event was a long-awaited one.

I like how the flowers took up the space and covered the street sign.

People: young, old, families, lovers, friends..All of them poured to the park enjoying the annual beautiful scenery.

The grand building of National Assembly across the line of cherry blossom trees. Double beauty.

There are also cherry blossom trees in my university. This was taken at Ewha Elementary School that is located behind my dorm. Beautiful, aren't they?

I hope you enjoy reading and seeing the pics^^
See you again in my next post!

It (cherry blossom) is beautiful because it doesn't last long (NEWS - Sakura Girl)

Friday, May 7, 2010

My dorm at Ewha

Good night all^^
Tonight I'll show you my room at Ewha Graduate Student Dormitory.
It's located inside the campus, near Ewha Children Center & students' cafeteria.

I'm sharing the room with another Indonesian student, Atri. I was glad of that, because it made me easier in adapting rather than sharing the room with student from other country^^;
Ah, one thing, pictures below are taken by Atri, and she kindly allowed me to share them here.

Aliens' room^^. Why I call myself as an "alien"? It's because as a foreigner, I have to report to the Immigration and obtained "Alien Registration Card". I wonder which other countries use the term "alien" for "foreigner"? So unique^^

When I entered my room for the first time, I wondered. "Isn't it a hotel room?" XD
I mean, look at the bathroom! It has 24-hour hot water! And look at those big mirror, you'll know what I mean...

Go out of the bathroom and turn left, there are a shared mini fridge and my closet^^. The fridge can store our raw food stock for 1 week, but we put all the spices on top of it since the fridge is always full.

My roommate's bed. I couldn't put mine because it's too messy now hehehe... She likes Super Junior and put their poster on her wall. On the other side of the wall, there are controllers for air conditioner (used in summer) and heater (used in winter). So convenient!

Lastly, here is the spot where we spend the time most, the desk! *drumrolls*
 High speed 24-hour internet is provided, so it makes us easier in searching for materials for our assignments...I am so amazed by Korea's high speed internet, and I think I will miss it a lot when I go back to my country T^T

Hmm okay, I think that's all for tonight. I'll post again tomorrow, with different topic. I hope you enjoy visiting my blog and don't forget to follow me if you have Blogger account^^

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Korean NGOs Reach Out to the World

taken from here

There are Korean NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) that aid the poor and the ill, give hope to the despaired around the world. Southeast Asia, Africa, Central America, South America….anywhere they are needed, Korean volunteers reach out their helping hands.

Many of the Korean NGOs work overseas, providing the recipient countries with charity funds. Some of those funds come from the ODA (Official Development Assistance) of the Korea Overseas Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

KOICA was founded as a government agency in 1991 to maximize the effectiveness of Korea’s grant aid programs for developing countries. The agency manages grant aid and technical cooperation programs, as well as the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) through which concessional loans for development projects are provided to the governments of developing countries.

And there is KCOC (Korea NGO Council for Overseas Cooperation), an association of 66 development NGOs. They engage in implementing development and aid projects with the aim to eradicate poverty around the world. The number of its members has doubled since 1999.

With the ultimate goal of meeting the suggested volume set by the OECD, Korea plans to expand its size of ODA first to 0.15% of its GDP by 2012 and to 0.25% by 2015. There isn’t a comprehensive statistics on the volume of aid and the number of members of Korean NGOs, but the volume of the government grants for NGOs is estimated to be USD 6.47 million. The NGOs also take donations from private companies, religious organizations, and individuals.

In May 2009, the Korean Government launched “World Friends Korea,” a consolidated brand of Korea’s overseas volunteer groups, to generate synergy and to facilitate the management of volunteer activities on a national level. This also was one of the 10 key projects undertaken by the Presidential Council on Nation Branding.

Notable NGOs of Korea
A Korean NGO’s volunteers, photo courtesy of

Some of the most active Korean NGOs abroad include the World Vision, Good Neighbors, and Join Together Society.

The World Vision is a relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities to address the causes of poverty and injustice. Their work includes educating children, emergency relief, agriculture and medical support among various others.

Good Neighbors International is an international humanitarian and development organization originated in 1991 from Seoul, Korea. In the beginning it concentrated on projects such as helping orphans and handicapped children, finding homes for disadvantaged widows, rural community development, and assisting disadvantaged families of TB patients in Korea.

But over time it has become an organization offering assistance to anyone in need regardless of race, nationality, religion, ideology, or geographical constraints. For example, Good Neighbors International has been particularly involved in the Rwandan refugee situation. It has been providing several medical relief teams and the operation of two non-formal schools at the refugee camps since 1994.

In 1996, Good Neighbors International became the first international NGO from Korea to receive General Consultative Status, the highest status level, from the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
JTS emergency relief team at the 2009 earthquake in Indonesia (

The Join Together Society is an international relief agency established in 1993 for eradicating famine, disease, and illiteracy. Its work includes village development, emergency relief, providing primary education, medical clinics, and assistance to North Korea.

Some other Korean NGOs include the Korea Food for the Hungry International, the GCS Club, Korea International Volunteer International and others.

The efforts to help and share with those in need around the world – Keep it up, Korea!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Happy Life, Seoul!

taken from here
Seoul, the largest city of the Republic of Korea with a population of over 10 million, became the capital of the country during the Joseon Dynasty (1394).

Since then it has become an undoubted global city where the 1986 Asian Games, the 1988 Summer Olympics, and the 2002 FIFA World Cup were held. And the city will host the G-20 Summit 2010 in November and the Nuclear Security Summit in 2012.

Let’s look into the quality of life of those living in Seoul. 

The Seoul Metropolitan Government published the result of a survey on Seoul, conducted on 20,000 households (46,153 people aged over 15) and 2,500 foreign residents in October 2009. According to the survey, the degree of satisfaction the subjects felt for their “Health Condition” and “Financial Condition” was found out to be increasing year after year.

“Residential Environment” scored 5.90 points (out of 10.00), “Social Environment” 5.40, “Economic Environment” 5.08, and “Educational Environment” 4.95, indicating a bit of an increase compared to the previous year (2008). In terms of “Public Transportations,” too, there was an increase of satisfaction by 0.22 points, and the safety of the city was also found out to be rising annually.

The volume of donation from the Seoulites has been expanding since 2006 despite the tough financial conditions, and so has the participation rate in volunteer work, suggesting the culture of volunteerism is spreading in Seoul.

Preparation for seniorhood is also in better shape, compared to the previous year. Senior population’s engagement in social activities on a regular basis is increasing, and the number of seniors who wish to live in senior housings instead of living on their own is rising.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government will reflect these findings of the survey in its policy making.
Hope more and more people will come visit Seoul, a global city that doesn’t stop getting better!