The bear went over the mountain...

... and this is what she saw. My year in Seoul, South Korea.

Shoko, me and snowflakes

17 October, 2005


Kennt ihr das?
Wenn ihr Studentenfutter kauft, gibt es von den Nüssen, die ihr am liebsten mögt, immer am wenigsten.

Warum ist das so?
Hier in Korea gibt es Studentenfutter in der Dose, geröstet und gesalzen: Erdnüsse, Walnüsse, Mandeln und Cashews. Am besten schmecken mir die Cashewkerne und die Mandeln. Dreimal dürft ihr raten, welche Nusssorten am häufigsten vertreten sind...

Ist wohl überall auf der Welt gleich: Murphy's Law.

16 October, 2005

명성산 (Myeong-seong mountain)

I went hiking yesterday, despite the fact that I am still a bit sick. After all, I feel a lot better already, and I do love to go hiking!

One of my friends, 승빈 (Seungbin), asked me to come along with him and his friends. I thought we were going to 관악산 (Kwanak mountain), which is the mountain I live in, for that's where the campus of SNU is. But when I met him (at 7:25 in the morning!) he told me we will go to a mountain about two hours outside of Seoul, nearby the small city of 운천 (Uncheon).

lake and mountainWe then took a bus to 숭실대학교 (Soongsil University) to meet 동호 (DongHo) and go to one of Seoul's bus terminals (Sangbong subway station), where buses to the north leave and arrive. There, we were joined by 재형 (JaeHyeong), who's the chieftain of a university club the three of them are in. Unfortunately, we missed the bus at 8:30-ish and waited for the next one 40 minutes later, which we missed as well.
Honestly, it wasn't our fault at all! We went to the gate in time (like, a minute before the supposed departure time) only to find out that the bus had already left, too early, because there weren't many passengers and the driver anticipated no others to come. I thought it was all quite amusing, only later was I to find out that Seungbin had been worried I might be angry or something because the plan wasn't running smoothly. Hehe. I think ever since I've been to Philadelphia to be an au pair, and have spent a year running after kids, I have learned that things do not necessarily have to go exactly the way they were planned, in order to still be enjoyable. Aren't the small side-turns, dead-ends and delays a challenge? They are adventures in everyday life, which makes it more fun to live. That's when people truly know whether or not they are spontaneous.

So we decided to go to a different mountain, which is in Seoul, but when we arrived there, JaeHyeong pointed out a bus that goes to 명성산 (Myeong-seong mountain), the one we originally wanted to go to. And alas! we were on our way to yet another bus terminal close by, where buses to that destination leave more frequently than at the other. To "kill time" we had Kimbab as we took a Seoul bus to the terminal, and by the time we entered the intercity bus, it was around 11:15 am. It took about one and a half hours to get to Uncheon.

There's a wonderful lake resort, called 산정호수 (Sanjeong lake), right at the bottom of the great hiking area.

Sanjeong lakeThe only drawback is that there are speakers everywhere, and some horrible and very loud music was emanating from them. I asked my friends if the people (mostly elderlies and families) who went there to spend their day actually enjoyed the loudness of it; they told me they've been wondering about the same thing.

the boysFirst, we walked into the wrong direction, following the path that leads around the lake. Had we had more time, we could have done that after coming back down from the mountain, but maybe some other time. So we turned around to go up the mountain.
It doesn't really take that long to hike up to the spot we ended up going (it wasn't the very top); since most mountains in Korea aren't as high as mountains in the Munich area tend to be, it always seems to me to be a rather short hike. But that doesn't mean that I can make it as quickly as any Korean 아주마 (older lady*)! I like hiking, but I don't go that often, for alone it's no fun, and it's hard to find people that would come along every weekend. So my legs are not at all used to the movement of climbing high rock-stairs, and they began to strike about half way up. I ended up being pushed a great deal (to help and to make me move faster :-), and was cheered and encouraged in three different languages. Also, my face was as red as the pullover I was wearing, which led to much friendly teasing. I am just that way, even if I'm ever so well in-shape, soon as I run two minutes, I turn as red as a tomato!
To enjoy the magnificent views even more, we started yelling for echoes and found out that the German word "Echo" sounds like a sound Koreans make when they are exhausted (like "ouff", I guess).

views to yodellAt the top, DongHo called his girlfriend to let her know how beautiful it is, and the other two guys tried to talk me into saying something into his phone so that his girlfriend would wonder why another girl is on his cellphone. But I wasn't feeling cheeky enough to do that...
Fields of high, slender grasses can be found at the top, it looks amazing. Apparently, this mountain is famous for this sort of grass (I think the Korean name is Eoksae-ggod, see the picture below); unfortunately, I don't know the English or German name for it. I was never good with plants, but that's what it looks like:

grassesOn the sign, you find the vertical inscription to indicate that all around there's fields of this plant. Transcribed, it would read as following: Eoksae-ggod bad.

almost thereAfter taking lots of pictures of us and the scenery, we made our way back down by a path called the "stone stairs". In the end, I think it was more straining to walk down than up, for my clumsy self had to take extra care not to topple over in heaps of giggles and lose footing, which might have resulted in broken bones or worse. The heaps of giggles came from the boys imitating me when I slipped, letting out a yelp, or saying or doing some other really funny things.

Autumn has really started now; Seungbin told me that usually in Korea, Spring and Autumn are very short - after Winter, it simply gets hot very quickly (which is true for this year) and after Summer, it just gets cold rather abrupt (which I can also confirm for this year).
Even though my all-time-favourite season is Summer, I cannot deny the beauties of the Korean "Indian Summer". I think I have never seen leaves as brilliantly red, shining in the sun, blinking as if to say hello.

colourful autumnWhen we had almost reached the bottom, JaeHyeong realised that he had lost his (very expensive) cell phone, and so he dashed back, armed with Seungbin's phone, to search for it. He must have lost it while "wrestling" with Seungbin for purposes of picture-posing, but a nice man (아저씨**) found it, and when JaeHyeong tried calling his own phone, the man picked it up and told him where he'd found it. They met, and because JaeHyeong hadn't even taken water with him on his second time up, the gentleman gave him something to drink.

fierce temple guardianBefore we reached the lake once more, we found a tiny buddhist temple situated on the slope, where I couldn't help but notice the enormously large penis of one of the temple guardians, put there to fend off evil spirits by its fierce looks. Compared to Greek statues, whose genitals tend to be represented rather too small, I think that the guardian might just do the trick for me... if I was an evil spirit, but with my sense of the ridiculous, I would start laughing at the sheer sight of it and forget all about my quest to invade the temple!
To be serious once more, it is very interesting how people perceive (and have perceived) male genitals as a strong symbol, capable of implying fear, powerful enough to protect from invaders.

Before the entrance to the temple, there was a small Korean graveyard. The stones hold the ashes of believers.

cemeteryAfter taking the bus back to Uncheon, we had Chinese food for dinner, which we downed with loads of 막걸리 (Magkeolli - Korean rice wine, scrumptious!) to which JaeHyeong invited us, for he was so happy to have found his phone again!
This time, it was DongHo's turn to be very red in the face. Not from exercise, but from drinking, which looked too funny and I started giggling once more. I was infueled with too much alcohol myself, which is why as soon as we entered the bus to Seoul, I fell asleep and had to be woken up just before we arrived home. I hope I didn't snore or drool!

Looking back, it was a very, very, very nice day spent pleasantly among very nice people, and I'm grateful Seungbin invited me to join him and his friends!

More photos can be found via the links, as usual.
And if you're interested in the Korean names I inserted in this text, but which your computer will not show you unless you've downloaded the Korean language option for your web browser, click here to see what they look like.


* In my perception, an 아주마 (Ajuma) is a woman above 40, but I think that Koreans use this term for any woman above 30. Before that, they are called 아가씨 (Agashi), which means "young lady" or "miss".

** 아저씨 (Ajeo-shi) principally means "Mister" and is used to politely address a man when one does not know each other well.

neue Option

Ich habe festgestellt, dass ich die nervtötenden Spam-Kommentare besser abblocken kann, wenn ich in meinen Einstellungen auf "Worterkennung" gehe.
Diejenigen unter euch, die seit der Umstellung schon Kommentare hinterlassen haben, wissen, um was es sich handelt; auf jeden Fall habe ich die Kommentare jetzt wieder freigeschaltet, und jeder kann mir was nettes schreiben, auch wenn ihr nicht eingeloggt seid. Dafür müsst ihr aber jetzt ein paar Buchstaben eintippen, damit das Programm weiß, dass ihr eurerseits kein automatisiertes, nicht selbstständig denkendes Computerprogramm seid, dass nur unerwünschte Werbung auf meinem Blog hinterlassen möchte.

Diese Option gibt es noch nicht so lange, aber sobald ich davon Wind bekam, habe ich es umgestellt, und seither meine Ruhe!
Ah, wie wundervoll!

15 October, 2005

lange nicht mehr gesehen

Vorgestern war ich mit drei Freundinnen zum Abendessen, von denen ich eine (Jiyeong) schon ewig nicht mehr gesehen hatte!
Wir haben lecker Sundae (das vierte Gericht von oben, wenn ihr dem Link folgt) gegessen ...

Sundae... viel zu lecker, weswegen HyeonJeong und Ara auch kräftig zugeschlagen und Jiyeong und mir alles weggefuttert haben, während wir uns über den Titel eines koreanischen Filmes unterhielten. Macht aber nix, wir haben einfach noch ein bisschen was nachbestellt!

HyeonJeong und Ara(bella)Das sind die beiden Übeltäterinnen!
Und das sind Jiyeong und ich. Wir haben fast am gleichen Tag Geburtstag, ihrer ist der 19. September, allerdings ist sie ein Stückchen jünger als ich. Was mich an dem Abend zur Ältesten gemacht hat und ich somit für alle Onni (언니) war.

Jiyeong und ichHinterher teilten wir uns noch eine köstliche Portion gefrorenes Yoghurteis im Red Mango, zu der uns Ara lieberweise einlud.
너무 맛있었어!

Was toll beim Sundae-essen ist: man bekommt eine Schürze (siehe Bilder), denn man isst dieses Gericht mit der Hand. Man schnappt sich ein Sesamblatt, legt es sich auf die linke Hand, und greift sich mit den Stäbchen vom Blech die Köstlichkeiten. Die legt man auf das Sesamblatt, dann wickelt man es schön mundgerecht ein und wupp-dich-hast-du-nicht-gesehen verschwindet es im Magen. Und damit man sich nicht vollkleckert, bindet man sich eine Schürze um. Sehr praktisch in meinem Fall, eigentlich sollte ich das immer und überall tun, egal, was ich zu mir nehme, denn etwas landet ja doch immer auf meinem Shirt oder im Schoß.

Sabbir turns 26

My dear friend


turns 26 today.
Let's sing the happy birthday song and wish him all the best in the world!

He is currently in Bangladesh, and according to my last news from him, still labouring on with his leg-injury he got in South Korea while training for special units.

Dear Sabbir,
I hope you will recover entirely, soon!
And never forget:

May those that love us, love us;
As for those that don't love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He can't turn their hearts,
May He turn their ankles,
So we will know them by their limp.
(Irish Proverb)

I'm sure you are noone's enemy, that's why you will never limp!

Lots of love
~ Susanne ~

14 October, 2005

Daniel Henney

Daniel Henney
Das ist Daniel Henney, meine neueste "Eroberung". Er spielt in der 16-teiligen Komödie "nae ireumeun Kim Sam Soon" ("Ich heiße Kim Sam Soon") mit, die ich mir im Moment nach und nach ansehe.

13 October, 2005

Gurkenscheibenschneider vom Gurkenscheibenschneiderverkäufer für eine gute Gurkenmaske

Wie in einem früheren Eintrag erwähnt, habe ich in Seoul dank des stärkeren Verkehrsaufkommens als in München, Probleme mit der Gesichtshaut. Meiner unermüdlichen Zimmergenossin Christine geht es genauso, allerdings fingen bei ihr die Symptome viel früher an als bei mir (schon nach einem Monat). Deshalb hat sie sich in der U-Bahn einen Gurkenscheibenschneider für 1000 Won gekauft.
Den Gurkenscheibenschneiderverkäufer habe ich auch schon zwei- oder dreimal gesehen, doch ich bin nie auf die glorreiche Idee gekommen, mir so ein Ding zu kaufen. Immerhin ist es wirklich nicht teuer, falls es also klump ist, wäre es ja nicht so ein großer Verlust (1000 Won sind ca. 0,80 Euro). Auf jeden Fall preist er in der U-Bahn seinen Gurkenscheibenschneider an, wobei er immer eine Gurke parat hat, um das wunderbare Gerät vorzuführen. Dann klebt er sich die dünnen Gurkenscheiben ins Gesicht (eine auf die Stirn, und eine auf die Backe), damit man sehen kann, wie einfach und schnell man sich zu Hause eine angenehm kühle Gurkenmaske machen kann.
Nächstes Mal, wenn ich einen solchen Verkäufer sehe, werde ich mir auch einen Gurkenscheibenschneider kaufen, denn die Dinger sind wirklich praktisch. Vor etwa einer Woche haben Christine und ich zusammen eine Gurkenmaske gemacht, und das ist tatsächlich wirksam! Außerdem ist es sehr lustig, weil man nicht lachen darf, sonst fallen die ganzen Scheiben wieder runter.



Ich muss mich wohl erkältet haben, denn ich fühle mich so lausig wie schon lange nicht mehr! Ich vermute mal, dass die Nieserei, die ich letztes Wochenende hatte, damit zusammenhängt. Fakt ist, heute hänge ich wie eine Wurst durch die Gegend, die Glieder schmerzen, und der Hals ist entzündet.

Ich hasse es, krank zu sein.

ein Gedicht, das mich anspricht

Rainer Kunzes Gedicht "Münze in allen Sprachen" ist aus seinem neuen Band eins der wenigen, das mich sofort angesprochen hat. Kurz, prägnant und einfach, schlägt es in mir eine Seite an, die ich selbst nicht verstehe.
Normalerweise tue ich mir mit dem Verständnis von Gedichten ja eher schwer, doch dieses verstehe ich auf eine Weise, die mir selbst nicht klar ist.



Wort ist währung

Je wahrer,
desto härter


Kunze, Rainer. "Münze in allen Sprachen." Gedichte. Daejeon: Yeuleumsa Publishing Co., 2005. 69.

12 October, 2005

10 Dinge ...

1o Dinge, die das Leben in Korea lebenswert machen

1. Erdbeermilch (ddalgi-uyu)
2. im Tante-Emma-Laden spätabends das letzte Kimbab erwischen, wenn man sehr hungrig ist
3. blauer Yoghurt
4. der Sommer
5. gesundes Essen (kein Fett, viel Kimchi)
6. abends mit HyoRyung quatschen
7. Post bekommen
8. meine lustige Zimmergenossin Christine
9. grüner Tee
10. Chaos


Ich habe einige Lieblingsbücher (darunter natürlich Harry Potter 1-6), und aus diesen gibt es meistens eine Stelle, die mir am besten gefällt. Solche Zitate schwirren dann in meinem Kopf herum, und ich vergesse sie niemals wieder.
Zur Zeit lese ich gerade wieder mein Lieblingsbuch unter den Romanen von Jane Austen, Stolz und Vorurteil (engl. Pride and Prejudice). Die Stelle, bei der ich immer nahe daran bin, vom Stuhl zu kippen, ist folgende:

"What can be the meaning of that emphatic exclamation?" cried he [Mr. Bennet]. "Do you consider the forms of introduction, and the stress that is laid on them, as nonsense? I cannot quite agree with you there. What say you, Mary? for you are a young lady of deep reflection I know, and read great books, and make extracts."
Mary wished to say something very sensible, but knew not how.

Ich hab das Buch grad nur auf englisch da, deswegen hier meine eigene Übersetzung der Textstelle:

"Was meinst du nur mit diesem nachdrücklichen Aufschrei?" rief er [Mr. Bennet] aus. "Hältst du die Formen der gegenseitigen Vorstellung, und die Bedeutung, die ihnen beigemessen wird, etwa für Unsinn? Ich kann dir in diesem Punkt nicht zustimmen. Was sagst du, Mary? denn du bist eine junge Dame tiefer Reflektion, wie ich weiß, und liest große Bücher, und schreibst Auszüge."
Mary hätte gerne etwas sehr vernünftiges gesagt, doch ihr fiel nichts ein.

Dieser kleine Dialog spielt sich im zweiten Kapitel des Romans ab. Als ich das erste Mal darüber gestolpert bin, war ich 19 und saß mit Martina gerade am Flughafen in Dublin. Wir warteten auf unseren Flug nach Hause. Für den einwöchigen Urlaub in Irland hatte ich die handliche Reclam-Ausgabe in deutscher Übersetzung mitgenommen. Damals hatte ich von Jane Austen nur Emma gelesen, was übrigens auch ein sehr interessanter Roman ist.
Als ich zu lesen anfing, war ich für den Rest der Heimreise für die arme Martina verloren, denn ich konnte gar nicht mehr aufhören. Doch ich weiß noch genau, dass ich bei eben dieser Stelle, auf dem Boden sitzend, rechts neben mir meine Freundin, laut gelacht habe. Mr. Bennet erinnerte mich damals sofort an den Vater meiner Freundin Veronika, der auch gerne sarkastische Seitenkommentare anbringt, wann immer er kann. Das habe ich Martina damals erzählt, und ihr das Buch wärmstens empfohlen, obwohl ich selbst erst ganz am Anfang war.
Mittlerweile ist auch Martina Jane-Austen-süchtig, und ich würde mal vermuten, dass ihr Lieblingsbuch Gefühl und Verstand oder Sinn und Sinnlichkeit (engl. Sense and Sensibility) ist. Das liegt aber mehr daran, dass das Buch verfilmt wurde und eine der männlichen Hauptrollen von Alan Rickman gespielt wird. Ich weiß aus sicherer Quelle, dass sie jedesmal zu sabbern anfängt, wenn man Colonel Brandon nur erwähnt...

Alan Rickman als Colonel Brandon

Quelle des Zitats:
Austen, Jane (1813). Pride and Prejudice.

Momentan: 2/10

sae an-gyeong

Seit Freitag habe ich eine neue Brille, die meiner alten aber so ähnlich sieht, dass es bis jetzt noch niemandem aufgefallen ist, die es nicht so schon wussten. Doch damit ihr euch selbst ein Urteil bilden könnt, hier ein Bild:

meine neue BrilleMeine Augen sind ein wenig schlechter geworden, deshalb habe ich sie untersuchen lassen, und weil die Gläser hier günstiger als in Deutschland sind, habe ich mir halt gleich auch ein neues Gestell ausgesucht.

Auf dem Bild seht ihr auch Manuelas Geburtstagsgeschenk, das vor ca. zwei Wochen mit der Post angekommen ist: ein Stein an einem Lederband. Gefällt mir sehr gut! Vielen Dank dafür.

Der Titel bedeutet übersetzt übrigens "neue Brille".

11 October, 2005

Mahbub in Seoul ~ 9.10.2005

Last Sunday, my friend Mahbub from Bangladesh came back to Seoul, after having been away for five months.

Mahbub and me at Yonsei campusI met Mahbub in my first language class last semester; he, Sabbir and Zillur are soldiers in the Bangladeshian army. Though Zillur was in another class, he would always come along with our class when we spent the afternoon/ evening together (see old entries in this online diary). The reason why the three of them came to Korea is that they qualified to take a special training program for SEAL (sea, air and land) units, which – according to Mahbub – only the US and South Korea offer. So their country’s army fixed an arrangement with the South Korean one, allowing for three men every year to participate in this very hard course. As of now, Mahbub is the only one of our favourite Bangladeshi, who managed to remain in the program. Sabbir unfortunately hurt his leg very badly, and was sent home where he’s awaiting surgery, Zillur dropped out due to reasons unknown to me. In the beginning, there were - if I recall correctly - 140 soldiers (including my three friends) who began the training program, now there are 40 people left. Apparently, this is usually the case with this course, for it pushes the soldiers to their last resources, and if you fail to fulfill the tasks set for you, they send you home.
For instance, one week, which is called ‘survival week’, they had to live without food for seven days, but still continue all the hard training. In another one - aptly baptised ‘hell week’ – they weren’t supposed to sleep at all! While of course still training much and hard. I think you get the picture, this program is STRAINING and EXHAUSTING, so you can well imagine Mahbub’s joy of having a day off. Yes, it was really only one day, since he had to be back by Monday, eight pm. On top of that, Mahbub usually doesn’t get to go outside of the army base that much, either, so he feels very much locked up and isolated from the ‘real’ world.
He arrived at Seoul’s Express Bus Terminal at thirteen-hundred forty-five and was waited for by Gitte and me. We went to Nokdu directly; however, I had to drop off my heavy backpack from Saturday night’s sleepover at Professor Chon’s house in Yeoju, and so for an hour he and Gitte had surely a great time catching up on talking face to face with no interruptions. When JongMi and I joined them at a tiny restaurant in Nokdu, we had Boggeumbab (rice mixed with anything you feel like, which in this case, was meat and all kinds of vegetables), greatly enjoyed by Mahbub, who told us that in the army base he doesn’t really get that much variety in food.
After that, we met HyoRyung and ventured to go to Yonsei University, where Gitte, JongMi, Clayton and his girlfriend SeongHee had tickets for a Korean pop concert (the band’s name is ‘Buzz’). Clayton’s girlfriend SeongHee is a charming young lady, by the way. She and I share almost the same birthday, she’s only six days older than me. Naturally, we got along very well with each other, and since she likes Soju and beer much like I do, we will go out drinking, soon.
So while the other four enjoyed a good show, HyoRyung, Mahbub and me went back to the main shopping area around the campus. Since Mahbub went into a PC-room to check his emails, HyoRyung and I did a more girlish trip to the Hyundai department store close by, where I found a purse that had my name written all over it. It is what I’ve been looking for ever since my old, black one got into really bad shape (hey, I’ve been using it for at least eight years!). Here’s a picture:

my new and lovely purseIt’s real leather and used to be 160.000 Won. Shopping Goddess’s apprentice (which is me – Shopping Goddess would be Diana) got it for 50.000 Won, and it’s worth every penny!

diagonal pedestrian crossingThe area around Yonsei University is good for shopping, dining, drinking and clubbing. Clayton, who has studied at Yonsei for one semester, pointed out good stores and restaurants, though most interesting for me was an intersection where not only you can cross the street on all four sides, but also diagonal, which I have never seen before.
Pretty useful, methinks!

After meeting up with the others again, we had dinner in a cosy Vietnamese restaurant (yummy stuff, I had noodle soup that tasted almost like ‘Saure Zipfeln’ – cold, clear soup with Würsteln, onions, field garlic and vinegar in it, usually devoured after New Year’s Eve to get over the hangover). Bonnie then joined us and we decided to go to a bar. We found one where you can request music, so I ‘rocked on’ while drinking beer and chatting with my friends.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable day, and I hope we will have two more just like this one, when Mahbub finishes the program in about three weeks and comes back to Seoul for another weekend before leaving the country for good.

Mahbub and me in bar
More pictures added to the links section!

Currently: 10/10

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