Baek-il: 100 Days

Baek-il (백일) is a Korean celebration of a baby’s first 100 days of life. It is a big milestone for a baby to reach 100 days. Back in the day, babies would pass away because of illnesses and poor living conditions. Parents would try and avoid bringing their babies outside until they were 100 days old, since 100 days was a sign that babies would see their first birthday.

On baek-il, parents pray and worship the spirit, Samshin. They offered rice and soup to the spirit to thank her for helping the baby and the parents through this difficult time period. Afterwards, family, friends, and relatives celebrate with rice cakes, fruits, and other treats. Usually during this celebration, the parents dress their baby in a traditional Korean hanbok.

Oppa, Noona, Unnie, & Hyung

I’m sure most of you heard of Psy’s Gangnam Style before. If you had, you would have heard the line, “Oppan Gangnam style.” frequently. This literally means in Korean, “Oppa is Gangnam Style.” But what exactly does oppa mean?

In South Korea, there are four terms you will hear people call other people whom they are close with: 오빠 (oppa), 누나 (noona), 언니 (unnie),  (hyung)

Now, let me explain this a bit further since it gets more complicated.

If you are a girl, you would call your big brother/older guy friend/older guy cousin: oppa. And you would call your older sister/older friend (who is a girl)/older girl cousin: unnie.

If you are a boy, then you would call your big brother/older guy friend/older guy cousin: hyung. And you would call your older sister/older friend (who is a girl)/older girl cousin: noona.

And let me emphasize that you can only use these terms with people that you are very close with: siblings, best friend/really close friends/ cousins.

You would not call your older male boss “hyung/oppa” or your aunt “noona/unnie” or even your next door neighbor “oppa/hyung/unnie/noona” (unless they happen to be your sibling or best friend).

There is also a term to call your younger sibling/friend/cousin/etc-동생 (dongsaeng). A younger girl sister/friend/cousin is 여동생 (yeodongsaeng) while a younger boy sibling/friend/cousin is 남동생 (namdongsaeng). However, dongsaeng is widely less used than oppa, noona, unnie, and hyung. Most people just call the younger person by their name.

Now, if you are confused on who calls who oppa, noona, unnie, and hyung-let me give you a few examples:

Me to my older brother: “안녕 오빠!/Annyeong oppa!” Hi older brother!

Me to my older girl friend Minji: “언니, 뭐해?/Unnie, mwo-hae?” Minji-ya, what are you doing?

Psy (his real name is Park Jae Sang) to his older brother Park Jae Shin (who I made up for this example): “, 가자!/Hyung, ga-ja!” Jae Shin-ah, let’s go!

Psy to his older sister Park Yoon Hee (who I made up for this example): “누나, 차 마실래?/Noona, cha mashillae?” Yoon Hee-ya, would you like to drink some tea?

So You’re Going to South Korea: Customs and Culture Shock

Last summer, I went to South Korea for the first time to visit my relatives. This summer, a few of my relatives came to the United States and stayed with us for the past two weeks. Being in South Korea last summer really opened my eyes. The Korean culture and the American culture are quite different from each other. If you’re going to South Korea, there are two things you should be aware of: the Korean customs and culture shock. 

The 3 major Korean customs you should be aware of are bowing, dining etiquette, and gift giving.

Korean bowing is similar to the American handshake. Bowing can be used for different occasions such as greetings, farewells, and showing gratitude. However, in South Korea, it is very important to bow towards people older than you and higher rank than you. This is important because of the respect towards age and seniority. Age and seniority can impact how one may bow to another. The younger or lesser person initiates the bow and bows lower to the older or senior in order to show respect.

Before entering a Korean home and even some restaurants, everyone is expected to take off their shoes. Walking into a Korean home with shoes on is considered to be of great disrespect.
Koreans eat with chopsticks and spoons, unlike Americans who eat with forks, spoons, and knives. When using chopsticks while eating, never put your chopsticks in the rice as it is considered rude. Moreover, it is not appropriate to pick up any plates while eating because all plates and bowls are expected to stay on the table. When drinking, Koreans use both hands to pour a drink for someone else. Koreans use both hands to hold the glass when someone else pours your drink. The person of lower seniority or age turns their head away from the elder or senior to show their respect.

Giving gifts in South Korea is considered to be very common. When visiting a Korean household or first business meeting, always bring a small gift such as fruit, good quality chocolates, or toilet paper. Do not buy expensive gifts as Koreans may feel obligated to buy a gift of equal value. Gifts should not be wrapped in green, white, or black paper since this is considered to be unlucky. Contrary, giving a wooden goose is a sign of luck. Do not sign any cards in red ink or give a gift in a set of four in which indicates death. Both hands are used when giving or receiving gifts.

Now, let me talk about culture shock. Going to another culture can be overwhelming. As soon as you enter the country, everything is different. When I walked off the airplane and entered Incheon International Airport last year, the first things that I noticed were that everything was written in Korean, everybody was speaking in Korean, and everybody for the most part looked similar. Towels in South Korea are about the size of a wash cloth/hand towel (I would suggest bringing your own towel from home). It is completely normal for two people of the same sex to hold hands (two friends holding hand, mother-daughter holding hands, etc.). When this happens in the United States, people would automatically think that the people holding hands are homosexual or view it as strange. Another thing is that Korean pizza is very “special.” When we ordered a chicken pizza last year, the pizza was topped of with chicken, corn, some other vegetables, and other weird toppings; The pizza also came with a side of pickles.
DSCN3588Another thing is communal dishes/plates. While eating, there is your main dish-usually soup, rice, and your side dishes. Usually, you don’t get your own plate. You’ll have your own rice bowl, but all the other dishes are shared. All the food is placed in the middle, and everyone eats directly from these dishes.

For anyone going to South Korea, I hoped this blog post will help you prepare before you go!

Korean Traditional Hanboks

안녕하세요 여러분! Hello everyone!

So for my senior presentation I had to do for school, I decided to do my topic on Korean traditional hanboks. Today, exactly one year ago, is the day I left for South Korea. So let me share my love of South Korea and the Korean culture, and inform you.. Below are all the information on the different components of the Korean 한복 I composed ( and also pictures that go along with them).

*Note: Quite of few of the pictures are of actors and actresses from various historical Korean dramas.

Korean Traditional Hanboks

yellow-pink남자 한복  shin min ah loose hair


The hanbok is the traditional dress of North and South Korea. In North Korea, however, it is called 조선옷 instead of hanbok. The history of the hanbok dates back as far as the Three Kingdoms’ Period (57 B.C.-668 A.D.). In the olden days, the attire differed according to the wearer’s gender, class, profession, social status, and season.

For example-In the summertime, the 양반/yangban (which were members of the highest social class during the Joseon Dynasty) wore hanboks made of ramie, and commoners wore hanboks made of hemp.In the wintertime, the 양반/yangban wore hanboks made of silk and satin, while the commoners wore hanboks made of cotton.

Main Components:

There are two main components of the Korean hanbok. For men, the hanbok is composed of the upper jacket known as 저고리/jeogori and pants known as 바지/baji.

남자 저고리baji

For women, the hanbok is composed of the 저고리/jeogori and the skirt known as 치마/chima.

저고리랑 치마



Korean hanboks are colored by using natural dyes. The colors of nature are imbued in the cloth. For example: to obtain a red color, one would ground red flower petals in a mortar, then put the grounded petals in a jar, and later rinse them with hot caustic soda.

flower petals mortar

flower petals in a mortar

The colors used to make the 저고리/jeogori and 치마/chima depended on the wearer’s social status.  Royalty, court officials, and the upper class wore bright colored hanboks, while commoners wore light earth colored hanboks such as white, pale pink, light green, and charcoal.

bright color hanbok

bright colored hanboks 

earthly colors

light earth colored hanboks 

Symbolism of Colors:

The aesthetic elements of the hanbok embody the Korean sense of beauty. The aesthetic framework is based on the Korean preference for naturalness, desire for supernatural protection and blessings, and the Confucian-style dress code. Traditional hanboks boasted the vivid colors based on the basic hues that correspond with the five elements of the yin and yang theory: metal, fire, wood, water, and earth.Therefore, the main colors worn were commonly white (metal), red (fire), blue (wood), black (water), and yellow (earth).

chinese elements

Koreans often wore white regardless of status, because of its symbolism for purity and modesty. The color white also accentuates the black hair of the Korean people.

하얀 한복

The color red symbolizes good fortune and wealth, thus it was often used for women’s wedding garments.

The color black symbolizes infinity and the fountainhead of all creation. Black was often used for men’s hats.

The color yellow represents the center of the universe, which was often worn by royalty.

노란 한복-공주

The color gold symbolizes the emperor, so back then the general public was not allowed to wear gold colored hanboks.

The color indigo symbolizes constancy, which was often used for the skirts of court ladies and coats of court officials.

court ladies

Young unmarried women wore yellow 저고리/jeogori and red 치마/chima prior to marriage to show their maidenhood, and married women wore green 저고리/jeogori and red 치마/chima after their weddings and when paying their respects to the in-laws.

노란 초록 빤간 한복


Patterns were primarily used to enhance the beauty of Korean hanboks.Plant, animal, and other nature patterns were often added to the rim of the 치마/chima and the areas around the shoulder.

hanbok flower pattern최주왈 pattern

Patterns were also used to represent the wearer’s wishes:

Peonies embroidered on a bridal gown represented a wish for honor and wealth.

Lotus flowers represented a wish for nobility.

Bats and pomegranates represented a wish for children.

An axe-shaped pendant represented a pregnant woman’s wish for a son.

Chinese characters embroidered on hanboks such as 복,회, and 수 were used to represent a wish for (복) good fortune, (회) happiness, and (수) a long life.

hanbok chinese characters baby

Dragons, phoenixes, cranes, and tigers symbolized royalty and high-ranking officials.

김수현 pattern

Other Components:

The other components of the Korean hanbok include the hairstyles, headgear, accessories, overcoats and vests, 동정(dongjeong)/white collar, (git)/the fabric that trims the collar, 끝동 (ggeutdong)/cuffs, 고름 (goreum)/coat strings, 옷고름 (ot-goreum)/the bow formed from the coat strings, 속옷 (sogot)/undergarments, 버선 (beoseon/white socks that were worn by everyone regardless of social status and gender, and shoes.


The white collar above is the 동정/dongjeong and the fabric trimming the collar is the 깃/git.


The purple cuffs of the sleeves above are the 끝동/ggeutdong.


These pictures are an illustration on how to make the coat strings/ribbon known as 고름/goreum into the pretty knot known as 옷고름/ot-goreum.

white socks

The white socks known as 버선/beoseon.

Hairstyles for Men:

Men only had two types of hairstyles to choose from while wearing traditional hanboks. The first is known as 상투/sangtu (topknot), which is when one brings the hair to the top of the head and ties it into a knot. A pin known as 동곳/donggot holds the 상투/sangtu together. The second is to wear the hair loose. 상투/sangtu, however, was more commonly worn than loose hair back then.

이준기 상투


The pin known as 동곳/donggot holds the 상투/sangtu together.

상투/sangtu hairstyle 

loose hair

Loose hairstyle

Headgear for Men:

Men had a multitude of headgear. The most common headgear worn by men was /gat. 갓/gat is a hat made of horse hair that was used to protect the 상투/sangtu and represent the rank of the person wearing it. Underneath the 갓 , men wore 망건/manggeon , a headband worn to keep the hair from falling. Attached to the 망건/manggeon are a pair of small buttons called 관자/gwanja (ring-shaped) or pyeongjam (crescent-shaped). And sometimes, men wore 탕건/tanggeon, a type of sheer hat-which could have also been solely worn indoors.




The headband known as 망건/manggeon.

관자관자 선균관 스캔들

관자/gwanja (ring-shaped buttons)


The sheer hat known as 탕건/tanggeon.

사모/samo is a hat worn with dalleyong,gwanbok, or cheollik by high ranking officials. It is now used for grooms’ headgear.


복건/bokgeon is a headdress made of black fabric that was worn by Confucian scholars and later on, by young boys.


남자아이 복건

흑립/heukrip is a type of 갓 that was worn by 양반/yangban (the upper class), which is usually smaller in size than the traditional 갓/gat.


패랭이/paeraengi is a hat made of bamboo, which was worn by commoners.


삿갓/satgat is a conical-shaped hat made of straw, which was commonly worn by farmers and monks.


벙거지/beunggeoji also known as 전립/jeonrip is a special type of hat for military personnel, which was styled according to the wearer’s rank.



*Look up more on men headgear

Hairstyles for Women:

Unlike men, women had plenty of ways to wear their hair. The most common hairstyle is known as 댕기머리/daengi-meori, which is a style worn only by unmarried women. The hair is made into a braid and a large ribbon is attached to the end of the braid.


Married woman wore 쪽진머리/jjokjin-meori. The hair is brought to the back of the head and tied into a bun. The bun is held and fastened together by a pin.


Married women sometimes wore 얹은머리/eonjeun-meori. Instead of the bun being on the back of the head like the 쪽진머리/jjokjin-meori hairstyle, the bun “rests” on the top of the head. Women used to use real hair to make the bun fuller and more impressive, but using real hair was heavy on the head, expensive, and even caused neck injury and death. A wig known as 가체/gache was later used to make the bun. 가체/gache was expensive so many women could not afford to wear this hairstyle, but 얹은머리/eonjeun-meori was still more popular among the 기생/gisaeng, female entertainers or [sometimes] prostitutes.


Queens, kings’ wives, and queen mothers wore a hairstyle known as 어여머리/eoyeo-meori. The hairstyle mainly consists of wigs such as 다래/darae, which is made into a thick braid and secured on the top of the head.



큰머리/keun-meori is the same as 어여머리/eoyeo-meori, but atop of the 큰머리/keun-meori is a large addition called 떠구지/ddeoguji,which was added for emphasis. 떠구지/ddeoguji was also made of human hair, but was later replaced with wood because of its heavy weight.


Along with the hanbok and hairstyles are accessories. 댕기/daenggi is the large decorative ribbon that ties the end of the braid and is commonly worn with the 댕기머리/daenggi-meori hairstyle (hence the 댕기/daenggi in 댕기머리/daenggi-meori).


배씨댕기/baess[h]i-daenggi is a thin, cloth-like or soft material stuffed into colored cloth that could be worn atop of the head with 댕기머리/daenggi-meori.


비녀/binyeo is the pin that holds the bun of the 쪽진머리/jjokjin-meori hairstyle together. 비녀/binyeo  could be made from wood, bronze, silver, gold, jade, bamboo, or animal bones.


Other accessories that could be worn with the 쪽진머리/jjokjin-meori hairstyle are 뒤꽂이/dwikkoji and 첩지/cheobji. 뒤꽂이/dwikkoji is a smaller accessory added onto the hair as decoration and 첩지/cheobji is a rod-like hairpin used to fasten the knotted hair. 첩지/cheobji is made of metal such as silver and is in shape of a dragon, phoenix, frog, duck, peacock, or flowers.

조선 뒤꽂이


Additional ribbon and round-shaped ornaments known as 떨잠/ddeoljam were added to the braid of the 어여머리/eoyeo-meori and 큰머리/keun-meori hairstyles to create a more luxurious look. The ornaments also depicted the wearer’s rank and position.


노리개/norigae is a common accessory worn on the Korean hanbok. It is tied to the 고름/goreum ,the coat strings, or the waist of the skirt to give the hanbok a more luxurious look. There are many types of 노리개/norigae,but the most popular are 삼작노리개/samjang-norigae,a pendant with three ornaments, and 단작노리개/danjang-norigae, a pendent with one ornament.


은장도/eunjangdo is a silver knife worn as a 노리개/norigae worn for self-defense. Sometimes it holds chopsticks, so the wearer knows the chopsticks are safe from any type of poisoning. It is worn by both men and women.


부채/buchae is a Korean hand fan.

부채 조선부채

각대/gakdae is a belt worn by high ranking officials.


Headgear for Women:

Women also had a variety of headgear. In the wintertime, women wore a variety of caps such as 남바위/nambawi, 조바위/jobawi, 풍차/pungcha, and 아얌/ayam in order to keep their head warm.

A 남바위/nambawi is a unisex winter cap that covers the forehead, upper neck, and ears.


A 조바위/jobawi is a winter cap for women that is open at the top and rounded at the sides to fully covers the ears.


A 풍차/pungcha is a unisex winter cap that is open at the top and is similar in shape with the 남바위/nambawi. The 풍차/pungcha does not cover the top of the head, but fully covers the forehead, back of the head, ears as well as the cheeks –in which the 불끼/bulggi is attached to both sides of the ears of the cap.


An 아얌/ayam is a winter cap worn by women that does not cover the ears, and is sometimes lined with fur. A long ribbon known as 아얌드림/ayam-dream hangs on the back of the cap,  and is sometimes decorated with jade or amber.

아얌 back

Some of the other headgear women wore are 전모/jeonmo, 족두리/jokduri, 화관/hwagwan , 장옷/jang-ot, and 쓰개치마/sseugae-chima.

A 전모/jeonmo is a hat made of bamboo and paper or cloth that was worn with the 얹은머리/eonjeun-meori hairstyle when women went outside. I personally think the 전모/jeonmo is the prettiest out of all the headgears. 전모 제일 좋아요.

전모김민서 전모박민영 ㅇㅖ쁜 전모

족두리/jokduri and 화관/hwagwan are two traditional crowns worn with ceremonial attire. 족두리/jokduri is a type of crown worn by women to complete a ceremonial dress. 족두리/jokduri is usually worn with 원삼/wonsam (see below), a bride’s topcoat that was usually worn by royalty, queens, and court ladies. The top of the crown is adorned with hard paper and cotton filling covered with silk and a cloisonné <kloy-zoh-nay> ornament.


화관/hwagwan is another type of crown worn by women to complete a ceremonial dress. 화관 ,however, was considered more lavish than 족두리/jokduri. It is adorned with butterfly ornaments, five-colored beads, and gold thread. 화관/hwagwan was usually worn with 활옷/hwarot (see below in Ceremonial/Royal Dress), which is a type of bridal topcoat usually reserved for royal women and princesses, or 당의/dangui (see below in Ceremonal/Royal Dress), which is another type of upper garment worn by queens, queen mothers, princesses, and court ladies during ceremonial occasions. 당의/dangui is usually worn on top of the 저고리/jeogori.


장옷/jang-ot and 쓰개치마/sseugae-chima are two types of veils women wore over their head to cover their head, face, and body. 장옷/jang-ot is similar to 저고리/jeogori  and 쓰개치마/sseugae-chima is made like a regular 치마/chima,but 장옷/jang-ot is longer and has a collar, and 쓰개치마/sseugae-chima is a little bit shorter and narrower than the regular 치마/chima.


Overcoats and Vests:

Overcoats and vests were often worn over the hanbok for various reasons.

두루마기/durumagi is an overcoat that was commonly worn by 양반/yangban as a housecoat or by commoners as an outdoor coat. Woman also wore 두루마기/durumagi during special occasions.


/po is an overcoat that was worn by scholars as their daily garment and by government officers while they were out for private business.


마고자/magoja is an outer jacket with long sleeves worn to keep the Korean people warm from the cold weather. It is made of silk and is decorated with one or two buttons that are usually made of amber. 마고자/magoja was originally only worn by men, but later became an unisex garment. Underneath the 마고자/magoja is a thin vest known as 조끼/jokki.


배자/baeja is a sleeveless outer vest worn by both men and women.



There were many types of shoes that were worn with Korean traditional hanboks.

꽃신/kkotshin are silk shoes with flower embroidery.


짚신/jipshin are sandals made from straw that were worn by commoners, servants, and people going out on outings.


미투리/mituri are a type of hemp sandals worn by noblemen /양반 yangban.


나막신/namangshin are wooden clogs worn to protect one’s feet from the mud and rain. It was worn by Koreans of all social positions during the rainy season.


/hye are low cut shoes that are similar to modern day loafers, and there are many variations of 혜/hye.

운혜/unhye (oon-hye)  are a type of women’s 혜/hye made of silk and decorated with colorful silk in the shape of clouds.


당혜/danghye are a type of women’s made from leather that are decorated with scroll decoration.

태사혜/taesahye are a type of men’s 혜/hye made from animal skins with scroll decoration and lined with silk on the inside. 양반/yangban ,however, were the only men able to afford 태사혜/taesahye.


흑혜/heukhye are a type of men’s 혜made from leather and fleece commonly worn by officials, scholars, and 양반/yangban as daily wear. They were usually black in color and one of the most common footwear after 짚신/jipshin.


/hwa are the general term for boots, which were made from leather or velvet and are usually black in color. They were worn by guards, government officers, court members, and people who had an active lifestyle.


Ceremonial/Royal/Other Attire:

Royalty had their own kind of dress. There was also a separate attire for special ceremonies.

Like I said earlier, 활옷/hwarot, which is a type of bridal topcoat usually reserved for royal women and princesses. Not only was it worn with 화관/hwagwan, but also 앞댕기/ap-daenggi (a type of daenggi that is paired and worn in the front), 도투락댕기/doturak-daenggi (a wider silk daenggi that is hung from the crown in the back),용잠/yongjam (a long hairpin/rod that has a dragon’s head at the end), and 대대/daedae (red colored silk sash with gold pattern worn around the waist and tied to the back of the 활옷/hwarot.


ap daenggi앞댕기




용잠용잠 머리

원삼/Wonsam is another type of bridal topcoat made by silk worn by royalty, noble women, and high ranking court ladies. during ceremonies. Commoners were allowed to wear 원삼/Wonsam. The color of the 원삼/Wonsam, however, depicted the wearer’s rank. For example, the color gold/yellow was worn by empresses, red by queens, magenta by princess consorts and concubines, and green by princesses and the wives of 양반/yangban. Commoners also wore green, but they were only allowed to wear green for their wedding ceremonies.


당의/Dangui is another type of upper garment worn by queens, queen mothers, princesses, and court ladies during ceremonial occasions. The only difference between the 당의/dangui of royalty and court ladies is the gold pattern on royalty’s 당의/dangui (and on the 치마/chima) known as 금박/geumbak (which could only be worn by royalty).  당의/dangui is usually worn on top of the 저고리/jeogori.

당의김민서 pattern

홍룡포/Hongryongpo is the everyday clothes decorated by gold patterns that was worn by the king. 홍룡포/Hongryongpo is red, because back then the King was not allowed to wear gold due to the Chinese’s influence. It was worn with a hat known as 익선관/ikseongwan and 각대/gakdae (belt-look above in Accessories).  Fun fact: When the Chinese was weakened politically, King Kojong changed his title from King to Emperor in 1897, thus he started to wear 황포/hwangpo (emperor’s every day clothes that was gold).



철릭/Cheollik is a type of clothing worn by kings, military officials, and other various officers which is usually worn with 사모samo  or 전립/jeonrip (look above in Headgear for Men).


Present Day:

In today’s age, Korean hanboks are more modern and simplified.They are now worn based on the wearer’s personal taste and style, and not according to the wearer’s class, profession, or social class like in the olden days.Korean hanboks are now only worn during special holidays, festivities, certain birthdays, weddings, special anniversaries, and special events-such as 추석/Chuseok, 설날/Seollal, a child’s 1st birthday, and an adult’s 60th birthday.

However, hanboks are still the casual wear in villages or districts where the traditional ways of life are maintained such as Cheonghak-dong on Mount Jirisan.There are also historical sights and museums such as the Korean Folk Village and Gyeongbokgung Palace in South Korea in which workers wear traditional Korean hanboks and give visitors insight on the Korean traditional way of life.

Even though traditional Korean hanboks are not as commonly worn as they were before, they are still a way for those like myself to show pride and embrace their Korean heritage.

Struck By Wanderlust

Last Saturday night, I attended the local AFS Potluck Social. I was amazed when I first walked in. There were exchange students from all over the world: Italy, Thailand, Japan, Iceland, Belgium, Pakistan, Germany, etc. It was so fun to be able to meet these students and even meet returnees, volunteers, host parents, parents of students currently abroad, and several of my fellow Speedwell recipients.This night was an eye-opener. One day, I’ll be attending an event just like this in Germany. I’ll be meeting other foreign exchange students from all the world in Germany, and perhaps meet future German exchange students. And maybe, I’ll be giving advice to those nervous and excited exchange students.This night also was a reminder of my passion for foreign languages, culture, and travel. Speaking of travel, meeting everyone the other night made me think of my memories of traveling..
global flags

For as long as I could remember, my family and I would always go on vacation for two weeks in the summer. That’s when my love for travel started. The two states that we usually vacationed in was Florida and New York, because my relatives lived there (and we would always stop in North Carolina to visit more relatives when we drove down to Florida). For the past 17 and a half years of my live, I can remember at least vacationing or being (for whatever reason) in 16 states/districts: Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington D.C., North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Nevada, Arizona, California. 

us map

However, it didn’t stop there. I also went to Canada (for about 2 hours), and my family and I had ice cream. Last year, I was fortunate enough to be able to go to South Korea and Germany during the summer. I left school about a week early (I had to finish my finals a week early), and my family and I (excluding my dad) boarded a flight to Japan. After we arrived in Japan, we later departed again to South Korea. I was so excited last year to go to South Korea. I remember counting the days down since January. Going to South Korea was all I would talk about. I never met my Korean relatives before, and it was the first time I met them. I spent two weeks in South Korea, and absolutely loved it. I went to Lotte World, Oeyeondo Island, Itaewon, Gyeongbokgung Castle, Namsan Tower, the beach, the Korean Folk Village, and quite a few other places. 


After I came back from South Korea, I had about ten days before I departed to Germany. Those ten days, I became even more excited for Germany. When it was the day to leave for Germany, I was completely stoked. I was exhilarated by the feeling of traveling again. I said my goodbyes to my parents and left for the airport with my German teacher and several of my German Club members (it was a school trip). We boarded the plane (about 8 hours later?) and headed to London. Then, we boarded another plane and headed to Germany. I spent about a week and a half in Germany. Two of those days, we stayed in Switzerland (we spent an hour in Austria and Liechtenstein since we had to drive through the two countries). All in all, we were in Frankfurt, Rothenburg, Munich, Heidelberg, somewhere in Austria and Liechtenstein, and Lucerne. Some of the places we visited were Munich’s town hall, Olympic Stadium, Dachau, Neuschwanstein Castle, Nymphenburg Castle, the Black Forest, the Rhein River, and Lake Lucerne (which was absolutely beautiful).


When I returned from my trip, life wasn’t the same to me. I missed traveling around, experience these cultures that were foreign to me, hearing the foreign languages everywhere, the delicious food, the people…I so badly wanted to return or go somewhere. That is when I realized that I was struck by wanderlust-a strong desire to travel. I also realized that I want to travel the world. I want to travel to all of the countries in the world. There are 196 countries in the world, however, and I only have so much time to live. Is it possible? Perhaps. But my goal is to visit at least 98 countries before I die-I would die happy if I accomplished this goal.

So far, I have only visited 9 countries. 89 more countries to go!
However, I still have plenty of time to travel around. Right now, I’m just going to focus on Germany. Oh the excitement of returning to Germany once again!

Black Day

오늘은 블랙데이예요! Today is Black Day! 

블랙데이 뭐예요? What is Black Day? Black Day is an informal tradition in South Korea. It is celebrated on April 14-two months after Valentine’s Day and one month after White Day. For anyone who hasn’t my previous post on how Valentine’s Day and White Day in South Korea, I’ll explain briefly and post the link below. In South Korea, the girls give chocolates and other kinds of gifts to the men on Valentine’s Day. On White Day, it’s the exact opposite. Men give the women chocolates, candy, and other gifts. For more detail:

Anyways..on Black Day, the singles who did not receive any chocolates or gifts from somebody else on Valentine’s Day or on White Day get together, dressed in Black, and eat  자장면 (also written as 짜장면) jajangmyeon-noodles with black bean sauce. Don’t let the black pean paste sauce scare you! Jajangmyeon is actually very delicious! 


블랙데이에 뿌까 슬페해요. 그래서 자장면을 먹어요.
Pucca is feeling sad on Black Day. So she is eating jajangmyeon.


자장면 먹고 싶어요. 근데 제 집에서 자장면이 없어요! I want to eat jajangmyeon, but I don’t have jajangmyeon at my house! 

Gumiho: Legend of the Nine-Tailed Fox

구미호/Gumiho is a Korean folk legend of a legendary fox. The legend first originated centuries ago in China.The Korean gumiho shares similar characteristics to the Chinese huli jing and Japananese kitsune. The Chinese huli jing and Japanese kitsune, however, are depicted ambiguously while the Korean gumiho is often depicted as being malicious. Koreans view the gumiho as a purely evil creature.

A gumiho is a nine-tailed fox (구/gu=nine) that is bad by nature. According to the legend, foxes that live a thousand years become gumihos. Gumihos transform themselves as beautiful women in order to seduce men and then, eat their livers or hearts (depending on the legend).

Fox in Korean is 여우 (pronounced yeo-ooh).



There are many variations of this legend. Another variation of the legend is that a gumiho can permanently become human by abstaining from ingesting a human’s liver/heart for a thousand day period. Another states that if a gumiho can permanently remain human if it eats a liver per day for a thousand days, otherwise it will turn into bubbles.

There are quite a few Korean dramas and movies involving gumihos (and the legends) such as The Fox with Nine Tails (영화/movie), The Gumiho Family (영화/movie)Yobi, The Five Tailed Fox (animated movie), My Girlfriend is a Gumiho (드라마/drama-my personal favorite), Grudge: The Revolt of Gumiho (드라마/drama), and The Thousandth Man (드라마/drama).

the fox with nine tails구미호 가족Yobi

My Girlfriend is a Gumihothe thousand man

grudge; the revolt of gumiho

Study Abroad Scholarship Update

During this school year, I applied for multiple study abroad scholarships. When I first created this blog, the only study abroad scholarships I was planning on applying to were NSLI-Y and CBYX (I’ll go more in to detail about what these scholarships in a different post). My ambition is to be a German, Mandarin Chinese, and Korean linguist for the military or the government. So I thought these two scholarships would be perfect for me. My top choices for NSLI-Y were China and South Korea, and for CBYX-Germany.

However, I was rejected for the NSLI-Y scholarship. I didn’t receive the scholarship, I didn’t even receive an interview. But instead of crying about it, I strove to do my best for the CBYX scholarship. And that’s exactly what I did. I submitted my CBYX application and received an interview. It didn’t stop there though.

I also did some more researching on the internet, where I came across the YFU scholarships. I applied for 3 YFU scholarships-2 scholarships to go to Japan this summer and 1 scholarship to go to Ecuador, Argentina, or Uruguay for a year. I also received an interview for YFU.

Then, I came across a local scholarship, the AFS Speedwell Foundation, to study abroad for a year and the CIEE Leadership Academy scholarship. So I applied for the local scholarship, and picked my top 3 choices: Germany, Ecuador, and Paraguay. For the CIEE Leadership Academy scholarship, my top 3 choices were China, Spain, and Dominican Republic.

Moral of the story is to never let one rejection get to you. Sure, be sad and cry for a little while. But be sure to pick yourself up and strive to do your best. This was my last year (it was also my first) to apply for these scholarships. If I would have given up, I wouldn’t have received a partial scholarship for the CIEE Leadership Academy…or a FULL scholarship to study abroad  for a year (the local scholarship-Speedwell)!-(which is contingent upon my acceptance to my host country-Germany)

I’m still waiting for the results for CBYX and YFU, but I will most likely be going abroad regardless if I get rejected to these scholarships. Like my teacher said after I told her of my NSLI-Y rejection, “Things happen for a reason.” Yes. Yes they do.

I’m going to be an exchange student. I’m still in disbelief and shock (I found out last Thursday, March 21). But I am also so grateful. Ich bin sehr dankbar! Dreams really do come true.

White Day

해피 화트데이! Happy White Day everyone! Many of you may be asking, “What exactly is White Day?” Well my dear readers, let me explain.

White Day is celebrated on March 14, one month after Valentine’s Day. It is celebrated in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and China. White Day (ホワイトデーHowaito-de)originated in Japan; it was first celebrated in 1978. It was started by the National Confectionary Industry Association on the thought that the men should give back to the women that gave them chocolate and gifts on Valentine’s Day. This holiday has not always been known as White Day. A candy company known as Ishimura Manseido also started to produce marshmallow treats for people to give on this holiday, which lead to the holiday’s original name, Marshmallow Day. Later on, confectionary companies started to produce white chocolate for this holiday and the name White Day was eventually given.

marshmallow heartswhite chocolate

On Valentine’s Day, girls and women in Japan give chocolates and other gifts to men and boys as an expression of love, courtesy, or simply, social obligation. Chocolates are put into three separate categories: giri choco, honmei choco, and tomo choco. Giri choco is obligatory or courtesy chocolate. For example, women would give their superiors and male co-workers giri choco (basically to any male that one does not have any romantic feelings for). Honmei choco is chocolate given to a man a woman loves or is serious about. Tomo choco is chocolate women give to their male friends (that they are NOT serious/in love with). Tomo choco, however, is not as common as giri choco and honmei choco. Handmade chocolate is usually preferred over store-bought chocolate, because of the thought, emotion, and effort put into the chocolate.

Then on White Day, the men who received chocolates are expected to return the favor and give gifts back (to “answer” or “reply” back to the women) such as white chocolates, dark chocolates, candies, cookies, marshmallows, jewelry, accessories, stuffed animals, and lingerie. There is a recited rule on returning a gift known as sunbai gaeshi/“triple the return,” the return gift should be twice or triple times the cost of the Valentine’s gift received. If a woman spends $5, the man is expected to spend $15. Or if a woman spends $50, the man is expected to spend $150.

Japan chocolate hearts

Japan chocolate

White Day gifts

In South Korea, White Day (화이트데이 Hwai-teu-deh-ee) is basically the same as Japan’s White Day except  chocolates and gifts are usually only exchanged between couples and lovers. School children, however, often give lollipops and other candies to their friends and classmates. When women and girls give men chocolates and gifts on Valentine’s Day,  the men return the favor on White Day. There is also another holiday that goes along with Valentine’s Day and White Day for all the people who did not receive any chocolates or gifts, which is known as Black Day (April 14) (I’ll make a post on Black Day later on). Anyways, gifts given on South Korea are commonly candies and sweets  (and of course, flowers). Chupa Chups lollipops are the most selling candies during White Day.

Happy White Day

화이트데이 캔디

화이트데이 헬로키티


이민호 화이트데이

This last picture of Lee Min Ho, I randomly came across on the internet. I thought this was pretty relevant. And also the fact that Lee Min Ho is very handsome…

If any of you are wondering (probably not), I did not receive anything for White Day. Mainly because, I do not know many people from my area who is particularly interested in the Korean culture, Japanese culture, Chinese culture, etc. that know about White Day (especially the young men). However, my dad did get me flowers and chocolate for Valentine’s Day so that makes up for it.

South Korea’s First Female President

Today, February 25, 2013, is the day South Korea’s 11th President assumes office (technically yesterday due to the 13 hour difference from the Northeastern part of the United States and South Korea). Her name is 박근혜/Park Geun Hye, and she is South Korea’s first female President. She is preceded by 이명박/Lee Myung Bak.

Lee Myung BakPark Geun Hye

South Korea has a total of 11 Presidents while the United States has a total of 44 Presidents. Before South Korea was a Republic, it was ruled by monarchs (before the division of the North and South). The last dynasty was known as 조선왕조/Joseon Dynasty. The Joseon dynasty ruled from 1392 until 1910 (Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula).

korean emblemEmblem of 대한민국/Republic of Korea

Before I get off topic, let’s get back to Park Geun Hye. Exactly who is Park Geun Hye? She was the first child born on February 2, 1952 to Park Chung Hee (father) and Yook Young Soo(mother). Her father Park Chung Hee was the third President of South Korea and was known as a dictator. While growing up in the Blue House (equivalent to the United States’ White House), her mother (the First Lady) was murdered by a Japanese born North Korean assassin aiming for her father. At the age of 22, she acted as the First Lady after her mother’s death. She acted as the First Lady of South Korea until October 26, 1979, when her father was assassinated by his intelligence chief, Kim Jae Gyu.

She has never been married nor had any children. In 1998, she was elected a Grand National Party assemblywoman Dalseong, Daegu. In 2004, she was appointed Grand National Party chairwoman. She lost the Grand National Party bid for the Presidential election to Lee Myung Bak (who becomes President). She was appointed chairwoman of the Grand National Party’s Emergency Committee in 2011. In 2012, she ran again for the 새누리당 bid and won. (Saenuri Party/New Frontier Party)(The Grand National Party changed its name to the Saenuri Party). She won Presidency against her opponent Moon Jae In (from the Democratic United Party) on December 19, 2012.

South Korea has its first female President. Maybe soon, the United States will have its first female President.

Here are some articles about Park Geun Hye, her inauguration, etc: