Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gwangju Special: May 18 Democratic Uprising

The National Cemetery for the May 18 Democratic Uprising

Nobody thought that the May 18 Uprising in Gwangju against the dictatorship of Chun Doo-hwan could leave an eternal scar in the hearts of Korean people. The incident could probably be the biggest human casualty in the modern history of Korea for the sake of democracy. A fight that Korea shared with the world. I think Gwangju is truly the birthplace of Korean democracy.

It was my first time to visit a National Cemetery in Korea. I suddenly felt the solemn atmosphere of the ground. As the rain kept on pouring the sound of the raindrops was sort of filtered because for some reason I felt peace and tranquility in my heart. Once you visit the place, the guide will take you to the memorial tower to pray for the souls of the victims.

May 18 Memorial Tower

The structure is huge. It serves as a gate to the “main” cemetery. According to the guide, the folded hands structure and the egg shape in the center combine to symbolize the resurrection of life and the reflection of the sunlight from the Tower represents the seed of hope.

After that we watched a documentary about the May 18 Uprising. I almost cried while watching it. I couldn’t believe that it happened also in Korea. What I mean by “also” is that because it also happened in the Philippines. For the sake of democracy many people died.

For more information about the May 18 Uprising here are some of the links

Monday, August 30, 2010

Gwangju World Music Festival

The idea of bringing the world together through music in one location is absolutely brilliant. The recently concluded World Music Festival in Gwangju proved that there are no boundaries…we are one so we have to live harmoniously.

The World Music Festival is part of Korea’s long term plan to make Gwangju as the hub city of Asian Culture. Which means, the festival was just a taste of what people from all over the world could expect if the project will be finished. The project is expected to finish on 2014. I guess this is another event that everyone should look forward to just like the World Cup in Brazil which happens to be also in that year.

The festival gathered 42 groups of musicians from 21 countries. It was held from August 27 to 29. I went to witness the festival on its second day. All performances were free, except for the four concerts held at the Bitgoeul Hall. (http://jmsupercuteinkorea.blogspot.com/2010/08/2010-gwangju-world-music-festival.html)

I was able to watch 2 performances. One performance was at Bitgoeul Hall. A musician from India called Debashish Bhattacharya together with his fellow musicians had an impressive performance of their unique rendition of Indian music. I just learned that the group he was nominated for a 2009 Grammy Award in the category of Best Traditional World Music Album for his album Calcutta Chronicles. He also invented his own slide-guitars. (For more information please check http://www.debashishbhattacharya.com/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debashish_Bhattacharya )

The other performance was performed in Pungam Sports Park. Tuku Kame, which is band of the Sarawak Cultural Village. The group brought pride to Sarawak and Malaysia by winning eight gold medals at the 12th World Championship of Performing Arts (WCOPA) held in Hollywood, Los Angeles, US. The group had lively performances which made the audience dance. I had so much fun during their performance. Everyone from all walks of life, were alive, dancing on the ground barefoot. (If you happen to have facebook, you can be their fan just click this link www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=52915381511 )

I hope that the festival would run annually. The festival is a good opportunity not just for the people in Korea but to people around the world to witness the world united through music. This is the official website of the festival http://www.gjwmf.com/index/eng/index.php

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Y20 Leader's Summit

 I was part of this summit where my group won 2nd place. This is an article featured in the Joong Ang Daily.

As the time of the Seoul G-20 Summit grows nearer, undergraduate and grad school students had a chance to participate in a mock meeting of their own at the Y20 Summit held at COEX in Seoul, which came to a close yesterday.

On the final day of the summit, around 100 students, selected from 424 applicants, addressed development and environment issues, touching on such topics as natural disasters and agricultural productivity. Discussions on previous day dealt with financial regulations, security issues and frameworks for strong, sustainable and balanced economic growth.

One delegate from India set the tone before the start of the discussions.

Subhojit Chakladar, 24, asked delegates not to criticize “what specific groups have done wrong [as of now] because this is a session to address the problems of the future.”

The students were grouped into 20 countries and three additional teams representing the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization.

After a joint declaration, six teams were selected as most outstanding participants, based on their logic and persuasion skills, and given prizes.

The delegates representing the European Union placed first and were given the G-20 Summit Preparatory Committee Award. The members of the team were Ewha Womans University’s Lim Pu-reum, 21; Sogang University’s Kim Min-seong, 24, and Kwon Hye-ji, 29; Dong-eui University’s Kim Ha-na, 22; and Kyung Hee University’s Kim Tae-young, 23.

Delegates representing Korea and South Africa placed second while India, Indonesia and Ireland placed third.

No matter what nationality or race, pride swelled through the grand ballroom at COEX yesterday as the three-month event came to a close.

“I feel so proud of myself,” said Ro Hyeon-young, 21, who was a Korean delegate. “We had many meetings before the leaders’ summit that went on for hours until late into the night and I think I only slept three or four hours a week [preparing].” Ro said other students should take interest in the G-20 meetings. “Although many students participate in model UN meetings,” she said, “in G-20 you get to respect each nation because individual country’s opinions are really important.”

“The Y20 communique was striking in that it covered the entire agenda for the G-20,” said Sakong Il, chairman of the G-20 preparation committee. Song Pil-ho, JoongAng Media Network president, was also present at the awards ceremony.

The event was hosted by JoongAng Ilbo

By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Twitter to know more about North Korea?

Many South Koreans have been expressing much concern about the possibility of being jailed for following the newly made NK Twitter account. Although, I think it's relatively hard to access the site from Korea. Well, I have a feeling that every time you access something about North korea here in Korea, you are being watched...haha

Seoul expressed deep concern over the growing popularity of Pyongyang’s Twitter site, which has links to anti-South Korea and anti-U.S. statements on its official website www.uriminzokkiri.com.

The number of its followers surpassed 5,600 Wednesday afternoon, up 10 times from 560 as of 1 p.m. Monday.

Twitter users should be aware that interacting with a North Korean site may violate the Inter-Korea Exchange and Cooperation Act,” Lee Jong-joo, a spokeswoman for the Unification Ministry, said Wednesday

(Full Article: http://koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2010/08/116_71619.html)

On the other hand US lauded North Korea's entry into the Twitter and YouTube global networking systems, expressing hope that technology will help information reach deep into the reclusive regime, according to Yonhap News Agency.

In another tweet, Crowley said, "The North Korean government has joined Twitter, but is it prepared to allow its citizens to be connected as well?," Yonhap said. "The Hermit Kingdom will not change overnight, but technology once introduced can't be shut down. Just ask Iran."

(Full Article: http://koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2010/08/113_71595.html)

'Grandson of Samsung founder commits suicide'

I don't really want to feature news like this about Korea but it seems that these kind of incidents has been already a common scenario.  Here's the news from Korea Times

Lee Jae-chan, a grandson of the late Lee Byung-chul, founder of the Samsung Group, was found dead in front of the entrance of an apartment building in Ichon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Wednesday morning, police said.

An employee at the management office of an apartment complex there told police that the 46-year-old is presumed to have jumped from a window of the apartment building.

Lee Jae-chan is a son of Lee Chang-hee, the late president of magnetic tape supplier Saehan Media who is the second son of the Samsung founder. Lee Chang-hee died of blood cancer in 1991.

Police said they suspect he committed suicide by jumping from his apartment. No suicide note has been found yet.

Lee Jae-chan, former CEO of Saehan Construction, an affiliate of Saehan Group, has not had a job since 2000 when he resigned after a merger, according to reports.

Separated from his family, he lived alone in his apartment for the past five years, the reports said.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

An Invitation to the 2010 Gwangju World Music Festival

Featuring 30 groups of musicians hailing from 15 countries! This is another event in Korea that everyone should witness and experience.
The 2010 Gwangju World Music Festival will be held from Friday, August 27, 2010 to Sunday, August 29, 2010 at the plaza in front of the Asian Culture Complex in Gwangju. The festival will feature both international and local musicians comprising of 30 teams from 15 countries. From France's ‘chanson’ to Brazil's ‘bossa nova’ and Argentina's ‘tango,’ the festival is a prime opportunity to appreciate the history and culture of music from around the world.

Representing Korea’s cultural contributions is a selection of star performers of traditional Korean music, including Kim Deok-soo performing samullori, Ahn Sook-sun performing pansori, and Heo Yoon-jeong performing geomungo. In addition to the array of live musical performances there will also be an international world music forum, folkdance workshops, and a showing of international music videos during the festival period.

"The festival is designed to promote communication through the medium of music by offering a chance for international and local musicians to work together," said a festival official.

☞ Festival Period: Friday, August 27, 2010 - Sunday, August 29, 2010
☞ Location: Gwangju-si Dong-gu Asian Culture Complex, Geumnamno Park, Gwangju Theatre
☞ Tel: +82-62-350-2473 (Secretariat of Asia World Music Festival)
☞ Korea Travel Phone: +82-62-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ulleungdo Special: Nature Trek 2

After the east coast it’s time to take the other half of the island. Since we had the whole day to tour, almost all the other spots that we did not visit the other day were our targets for the whole day. So it were west coast and the middle part of the island.
Mushroom Rock was our first short stop. Going there was also awesome. The ocean scenario was perfect. Well, as you can see the name implies everything. The rock looks like a mushroom. Hehe.

Then we went to Taehahyangmok Tourist Monorail (태하향목 관광모노레일). This was one of the best are. Not because of the monorail, haha but after you get off and walk maybe for like 10-15 minutes more up the mountain, you could see one of Ulleungdo’s scenic spot. It was really good. You could see that the seawater’s almost untouched. We took a lot of pictures there. I learned that the area is also a habitat for Chinese Junipers. Going down, we did not take the monorail but just walked. As expected there were more spots when we walked. Going down was like making a movie in a forest. Anyway, the man-made structures like the trail and the trails on the cliff were very impressive and of course helpful.
Then we went to Yaksu Cable Car. This is where you find the Dokdo Musuem as well. The cable car gets you to another scenic spot. It requires another 10-15 minute walk. It’s all worth it to walk since it’s not like I’m in Ulleungdo everyday. So trying to make the most of my stay there I tried to see all the places.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ulleungdo Special: Nature Trek Part 1

If you are gonna visit Ulleungdo, you may have to walk a lot during the trip. Believe me, it may require some effort to reach beautiful spots, but it's all worth it ^^  After all, why travel if you're not even gonna walk. kk Let me walk you through to itinerary that we had. It is recommended that you start touring the east coast of the island once you get there
Bongrae Waterfall (봉래폭포지구) was our first stop after eating lunch right after our arrival. This may require 40-50 minutes for climbing up and going down the mountain. When you reach the falls the only activity is to take pictures, feel nature and say "hi" to ajummas who were surprisingly many, as tourists.

Next stop was Ulleung Forest Road (울룽숲길). This is another mountain trek but relatively easier than the first one. I personally like this spot because when we went there it was very foggy and windy. Even if it is summer, it was very cool. Foggy because it was like at the top of the mountain. It was like touching or to be on the clouds. Literally it was like heaven ^^ and I was one of the angels haha

Then we went to the only beach area of the island. It was rocky and you could not find any trace of sand. We went there to catch some loaches but since it was a bit risky because of the waves plus I didn’t really wanna do it ^^; So we just took pictures of birds, islands, waves and people. Haha