Seoul Mates – your guide to explore Seoul and around…

28 01 2010

Seoul Mate at  Namsan Tower

The best thing that has happened to me (and to you if you are in Korea) is that I have Seoul-Mate.

Yes, it’s Seoul-Mate, who is your guide and your friend when you are in Seoul. S. Korea.

How??? It is pretty simple. Just log on to their site – http://www.seoul-mate.com and just book yourself for one of their weekend tours for free. That’s about it.

Why free??? Because the best things in life are for free 🙂

Who are they??? University students who volunteer as special Seoul tour guides to non-Korean tourists for free (on weekends). So that you can make Korean Friends (Chingu) and understand the culture of Seoul through their tour programs.

Why? Because it is more fun, more active and close to real Korean life. And as per their motto:

“When you meet Seoul, find SeoulMate. We will always be with you.”

So obviously you would want to know what tours they offer. Well, for that you need to visit their website on a regular basis and check the Schedule under Tour Information link because it is updated regularly.

Still curious! Okay let me tell you more.  Seoul-Mate offer many a different kind of tours but they can broadly be classified in 2 categories – Regular tours and Impromptu tours.

Tours like Bukchon Hanok Village tour, Mt. Namsan Romantic Tour, The Seodaemun Prison Break Tour, Heojun Museum Tour, Temple and the city – Gangnam Tour are conducted on a regular basis. Where as the Han River Holiday Tour, Catchaball (Baseball with Seoul-Mate) are conducted as per the event or the season.

Seoul Mate at Hangang Park

For detailed description you can visit this section on their website:
http://seoulmate.byus.net/home/tour_info.php

To book the tour you need to visit this section:
http://seoulmate.byus.net/bbs/zboard.php?id=smate_reservation

And if you have any queries or you need any info you get mail to: seoulmate.korea@gmail.com

Make sure you get more friends with you on these tours. Even if you are alone it does not matter coz I am sure you will end up making new friends in this tour just like the way I did.

Below are some pictures of the Bukchon Hanok Village tour I had with Seoul-Mate. Hope you guys enjoy watching this snaps as much as I enjoyed my tour with them.





Understanding Korean Characters

25 01 2010
People who are learning Korean (Hangul) for the first time might find it confusing to learn it as korean character pronounciation are not mapped exactly to english character pronounciation. Meaning Hangul does not have certain characters in their pronounciation. So accordingly:
  • G & K are pronounced the same in words like gimbap or kimbap (korean dish), kacchi kayo or gacchi gayo (meaning lets go together)
  • B & P are pronounced the same in words like nuraebang or nuraepang (koraoke room)
  • L & R are pronounced the same in words like laymeon or raymoen (Ramen noodles)
  • CH and J are pronounced the same (sometimes) in words like chuseyo or juseyo (I’d like to..)
  • And finally T & D are pronounced the same in words like dowa juseyo or towa juseyo(please help)
  • Certain characters are pronounced differently if they are followed by a vowel than a consotant.
  • The Korean character O is a null consonant. So if it appears in the beginning of any word then it is ignored in the pronounciation, whereas if it comes at the end of any word then it is pronounced as -ng.
Plus the sentence structure is different from Englidh. In Korean they have a subject followed by an object followed by a verb (SOV). So native english speakers might find it a bit challenging to learn Korean. But for Indians it is close to learning a language like hindi (devanagiri) as korean words are made up of vowels (matras like aa, ee, oo) and consonants like (ma, na, ka, ba, ta). Similarly koreans might find it difficult to pronounce certain words in English, so a literal translation of an English to Korean word might look like a typo but could actually be a limitation.
Just like any other language, there are a few rules which one needs to keep in mind while learning Korean and then you would be fine using it in your daily communication.
For me, reading the book – Teach Yourself Korean (by Vincent, Mark & Yeon, Jaehoon) has helped me a great deal in simplifying my Korean Language learning.




10 best things about Koreans

14 01 2010

Here are the top 10 things I like about Korea(n)s

#10 – Koreans like to work hard and party even harderrrr.. They are very hardworking and you would find them working late till night in their office. And come weekend you will find all the clubs n pubs n restaurants in Korea completely packed 🙂

#9 – Koreans are very punctual. Infact extremely punctual. If you are working in Korea you are not allowed to reach office late – not even a minute.

#8 – Koreans are very Hygienic. You might find an average Korean brushing his teeth atleast 3 times a day.

#7 – Koreans are very health conscious. Just order any Korean dish and you will get so many side dishes full of veggies n sprouts n tofu. Plus green tea, ginseng and various other herbs. What more do you want 🙂

#6 – Koreans like to shop. There are so many places to shop in Korea – Malls, Subways, Streets, Department Stores, Websites, Television etc. You get amazing choices and best of quality in whatever you purchase.

#5 – Koreans love watching Movies. There are so many Korean movies for which Hollywood has bought the rights for and Bollywood has openly or rather shamelessly copied it in the name of inspiration.

#4 – Koreans love Music. That is one of the reason why there are so many Nuraebangs (Karooke Rooms) in Korea. Plus on a weekend just go for a walk at Hongdae and you will come across live bands performing in some park, restaurants with live music, underground music clubs and many more…

#3 – Koreans love Soccer. As well as basket ball, baseball, cycling, hiking, taekwando, skiing, snow boarding, golf, badminton.. you get it…

#2 – Koreans are tech-savvy. Korea has the biggest IT infrastructure as compared to any other country. IT majors like LG and Samsung has made the lifestyles of Koreans very convenient by offering hi tech mobiles and gadgets. Plus Korea has the highest net speed, around 20 Mbps. e-commerce is a very big industry in Korea.

#1 – And last but not the least, Koreans will make you feel at home away from home. Koreans are really down to earth persons. They will go out of their way to make you feel comfortable. They are very accomodating and in general they have a very good attitude towards foreigners. They are friendly, helpful, considerate and good people to hang out with.





Korean Food

14 01 2010
Korean Food is very healthy as it is mostly made of tofu, veggies, sprouts n meat. For an Indian who eats non vegeterian food I guess it would be easier to adapt to korean food, as most of the korean dishes are accompanied with a bowl of rice. Plus every dish you order is accompanied with many a side dishes – around 7-8 at a time. Most of these side dishes are either sprouts, marinated veggies, tofu dishes, seafood, omlette and kimchi. Kimchi is famous throughout Korea, more like their national dish and you get kimchi served with every dish. Kimchi is basically cabbage or radish pickled (fermented) in Korean Spices. It is supposed to be spicy but not as spicy as Indian food.
 
For main course they serve various stews (jjigae) – like they have kimchi-jjigae, stew made from kimchi and pork or seafood, sundubu-jjigae, stew made from soft tofu and veggies, mandu-jjigae, stew with dumplings (mandoo), stew with noodles or sprouts etc. Then they have Kimbap (Gimbap) which is a Korean variant of Japanese Sushi Rolls – meat and veggies covered in sticky rice – rolled in dried seaweed. And Bibimbap, which is Korean Rice served or eaten with various mixed vegetables, sprouts and omlette.
 
Some Korean Restaurants have barbeque on every table, where they serve raw meat (pork) and u can grill them on ur table and eat the pieces wrapped in lettuce leaves and green onion salad. Koreans eat this on special occasions.
Well these are the korean food I have tried so far. There are many others available and some are seasonal. Like ice noodle soup (noodles served with ice) for summer. And many other beef variants for beef lovers like bulgogi and gabli (which I personally dont prefer coz Hindus dont eat beef). Then there are a variety of street food served in Korea too for snacks (which I have yet to taste).
It might seem that Korean food has been influenced a lot by Japan and China (sushi, dumplings, noodles, green tea etc.) but then Koreans get offended when you tell them about this. Well its actually the other way round. It is Japan and China to a very great extent have borrowed the culinary habits from Korean and have taken the credit for it as if it was originated from their own country. Well I am sure this might give rise to a lot of debate. But on my part I prefer to keep mum and savour the taste of the food served on my table.
Mashikke Tusseyo!
(enjoy your meal)




Free weekend classes for learning Korean (Hangul) in Seoul

13 01 2010

By far I have come across two communities in Seoul which offer Free Korean Classes to foreigners.

One is Hangul Kongubang which means Korean Study Room in English.  It is located at Kalwal Community Welfare Center close to Soomyung Womens Univ. subway station (Line 4) – Exit 2.

They have classes every Saturday in the evening from 4.00 pm onwards. Its an ongoing batch so you can join in any time of the year. For more information you can visit their website – Hangul Kongubang.

The other community which offers free korean classes is OEM Korean Class. It is located at Mission Bldg. 3rd Floor near Seobinggo station (National Railroad line, line #1) and From Ichon station (line 4). They have classes every Saturday in the morning from 11.00 am to 1.00 pm.

They dont have any website which I have come across but they have a group on facebook which you can join and check for more details.

Both the communities dont charge you for the classes but you are expected to pay very nominal fee for the study material. And apart from that you are expected to pay a bit more sincerity in attending these sessions regularly.

Happy learning 🙂





Useful Websites for learning Korean (Hangul) for freee!

12 01 2010

There are a lot of websites which offer free korean lessons. Just search google and you will come across zillions of them. But not all are that good.

I have come across a few website which are good on the basis of its content, ease of navigation(usability), structure.

They are as follows:

The one below are suggested by Supriseaplenty.

In case if you have come across any other site which is important please share the same with me.

Thanks *^^*





Books for learning Korean Language – Hangul

12 01 2010

I am sure there are loads of books available in the market to teach Korean Language – Hangul but I find these two books to be very helpful for someone who is planning to learn it on his own. It is straighforward and comprehensive.

The first one is – Korean Phrasebook by LonelyPlanet. Its a pocket size book and is really very comprehensive. It is economically priced too. You can order the book from the following site:

The second one is – Teach Yourself Korean by Mark Vincent. This book has detailed chapters with dialogue scenarios. Breakdown of each scenario. Grammar points. Exercises. It is best to read this book along with the accompanying CD as it makes it much easier to understand the Korean pronounciation.

In case if you have come across any other interesting book or website on learning Korean then please add it in your comment.

Thanks *^^*