“And” in Korean #1

Posted on 24. Aug, 2015 by in Uncategorized

In English, there is only one way to say “And”, but in Korean there are a few of them.  Today you will learn connecting words which are 와/과, 하고, and (이)랑.  You can use the 와 after a vowel ending and use 과 after a consonant ending, ex: I ate peaches and apples/ 나는 복숭아와 사과를 먹었어요, I ate water melons and orange/ 나는 수박과 오랜지를 먹었어요. Please see the video below for pronunciation. In the video, 와/과 and 하고 is little different, but not really different. I usually explain to my student that 와/과 first and most of my students are confused because of unique grammar rule. So, I just tell my student to use 하고 instead of 와/과 because you can use 하고 after the ending vowel and consonant. For instance, (나는) 복숭아하고 사과를 먹었어요 and (나는) 수박하고 오랜지를 먹었어요 are totally fine to say and are the same meaning of using 와/과.  The reason why explaining 와/과 is for my students’ listening skill. (이)랑 is kind of different; it is casual, so many Korean use (이)랑. 랑 is after a vowel ending and 이랑 is after a consonant ending. Ex, I ate lunch with Cheol Soo/(나는) 철수랑 밥먹었어요. I went to beach with Bob/ (나는) 밥이랑 바닷가에 갔어요. Leave a comment below if you have any question.

“Photo from by Wolfgang Lonien on flickr.com”



Pig’s Feet: A Korean Culinary Must

Posted on 22. Aug, 2015 by in Cuisine, Culture, Uncategorized

Seoul's Jangchung-dong's Jokbal Alley has been the original location for the country's best jokbal since the end of the Korean war. (Photo courtesy of rjkoehler.tumblr.com).

Seoul’s Jangchung-dong’s Jokbal Alley has been the original location for the country’s best jokbal since the end of the Korean war. (Photo courtesy of rjkoehler.tumblr.com).

One must not be shy when entering into Korean cuisine–or alleyways for that matter.  A walk down a neon-lit street or back-alley full of steam will most likely show tanks with unknown seafood piled upon each other, a full pig’s head, and a wooden block of steamed intestine and blood sausage.  But one of the best ways to participate in Korea’s trio of social, culinary, and heavy drinking life is by inviting pig’s feet into the night.

Jokbal (족발), or pig’s trotters or braised pork foot or Korean pork shank, is a steamed/boiled and simmered pork that is one of Korea’s finest dinner and home delivery meals–on that pairs nicely with soju and socializing.  Like any Korean food, there is a, perhaps easily assumed, medicinal purpose: wrinkle-free skin (due to the gelatin) and hangover prevention, due to the, well, pork.  The culinary tradition and medicinal value dates as far back as the early days of the Joseon dynasty in the 16th century.

From Seoul to Busanjokbal had made its name as one the quintessential meals in South Korea.  And the heart of this scene is in Seoul’s Jangchung-dong’s (장충동) Jokbal Alley.  By Korean standards, it can be above average–a small serving for two at roughly 20,000 won (원), a small group at 25,000 won, and a big table at 30,000 won–but the cost relative to the quality and culinary expertise is money well spent.  The popularity has spread to Seattle and Los Angeles , as has the steamed version, bossam (보쌈), which is wrapped in cabbage or mint leaves with garlic and soybean paste.  (Even Korean players in Major League Baseball feel homesick for it.)  Korean pop singer JungGiGo comes from a family with a successful jokbal restaurant.

Jokbal is seasoned, simmered, and boiled for up to three hours in a large pot.  The broth consists of leeks, garlic, ginger, sugar, Korean soy sauce (간정), and rice wine (청주).  One cooked through, the shank is deboned and cut into slices.  Typically, it is served with a salty and fermented shrimp (새우젓) along with garlic cloves and soybean past, along with other vegetables that add a non-greasy alternative.  It’s greasiness compliments the strong taste of soju, working well as one of Korea’s finest anju (안주), or drinking food, dishes.

Perhaps the myth is true. Pig’s feet has taken on popularity as a natural remedy for wrinkles.  (In Korea, even the temporary wrinkles caused by an extended eye brow raise can lead to comments about looking old.)  But it is jokbal‘s  melt-in-your-mouth feel that brings people back.  Elsewhere, pig’s feet may be hard to win over for a night out or a dinner in.  But it has a shot as a culinary trend once in the way that bone marrow was both a unthinkable delicacy and a dog’s dish.  Is it a trend that could reach the West?

That answer can be found only by a stroll down a Seoul or Busan alley–or on a street in L.A. or a suburb in Seattle.

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Korean Film Essentials: A Guide Pt. 2

Posted on 21. Aug, 2015 by in Culture, Korean Culture, Korean movies, Uncategorized

Kim Ki-duk is one of a select few of Korean film directors who has seen domestic fame and international success--and have kept Korean artistic and big screen film on the map. Above, a cinematic shot of from his film 2003 film SPRING, SUMMER, FALL, WINTER...AND SPRING (Photo courtesy of cinefilmind.tumblr.com).

Kim Ki-duk is one of a select few of Korean film directors who has seen domestic fame and international success–and has kept Korean artistic and big screen film on the map. Above, a cinematic shot of from his film 2003 film SPRING, SUMMER, FALL, WINTER…AND SPRING (Photo courtesy of cinefilmind.tumblr.com).

Korean film is still on its upswing, and from a film or movie-going experience, from Seoul to Cannes, it is not merely a string of hits.  Three Korean movie directors are at the forefront of the movement.  What makes Korean film punch above its weight internationally?

If it is not his actual films, then it is Park Chan-wook’s style.  If it is not the Korean horror film genre or its unique version of messed up and quirky, then it is Kim Ji-woon’s intensity which influences.  And, just to make sure Seoul doesn’t sell out to Hollywood, there is Kim Ki-duk lurking in the background and popping up in film festivals across Europe and Asia, winning quite often.  These Korean directors are what is keeping the Korean movie style keep coming, but also has fresh art house and wide audience productions they are directly and indirectly involved in.


Anything by Park Chan-wook is a must see. Thirst 박쥐, winner of the 2009 Cannes “Jury Prize”.  Park Chan-wook’s (Old Boy 올드보이—2004 Cannes Grand Prize Winner) vampire film stars Song Kang-ho as a priest-turned-vampire who seduces his friend’s wife, played by rising starlet Kim Ok-bin.  His English/Hollywood production Stoker, starring Nicole Kidman and Mia Wasikowska, is love-it or hate-it film and broke even at the box office.  Any Korean would know Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (복수는 나의 것)  and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (친절한 금자씨), which are bookends to Old Boy in the Vengeance Trilogy.

Park also made a quirky romance comedy called I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK (싸이보그지만 괜찮아).  His next film will be a Korean adaptation based on the novel Fingersmith, about an heiress who falls in love with a thief.  The film stars Ha Jung-woo and the very popular Kim Min-hee.


Also, if you have the stomach for it, try I Saw the Devil (악마를 보았다, 2010), by Kim Ji-woon (김지운), who followed the Hollywood interest set by those before him when he directed Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Last Stand.  Rolling Stone magazine considered I Saw the Devil a “new grindhouse classic” and made it number 24 on its list of the “25 Best Modern Exploitation Movies”.  Kim also saw box office success, and received good reviews at Cannes, with The Good, The Bad, The Weird (좋은 놈, 나쁜 놈, 이상한 놈), which, unlike the other two films, he also wrote.

But for more intense work, his 2003 film, A Tale of Two Sisters (장화, 홍련), was the highest-grossing Korean horror film at the time.  The film, remade in the US in 2009 as The Uninvited, is about twin sisters who experience more and more strange events involving them and their stepmother after returning from a psychiatric ward.  The story line sounds trite today.  But the movie is based on a tradition Joseon (조선) Dynasty Korean folktale called The Story of Janghwa and Hongryeon (장화홍련전).  The tale has had several adaptions but none have reached this kind of success or level of creepy (clicker beware).

The Independent Film Channel listed it number four on their list of the “The 10 Best Split Personality Performances in Movies.”  It was one of the first films, and the first horror film to put Korean filmmaking on the map–although you could say the 1960 cult classic The Housemaid (하녀), remade in 2010, did that, a film favorite of Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese.  But it was director like Kim Ji-woon, Park Chan-wook and Na Hong-jin who started the new interest in Hollywood for what is going on in Korean theaters, keeping the interest and funding alive for what is a thriving industry from art house to major features.


Saving the best for last, Kim Ki-duk (김기덕) is the most decorated of these Korean directors.  He continually dominates the top three international film festivals–Cannes, Venice, Berlin.  He won Best Director at Berlin and Venice in 2004 with two different films.  He won in the tough Un Certain Regard category in Cannes in 2011 with a documentary, and followed it up in 2012 with the coveted and elusive Golden Lion, the top film award, at Venice.  That film, Pieta (피에타), became the first Korean film to win a top film award at on the top 3 festivals.  The film, named after the Italian word for “piety”, still runs along the typical Korean course of a debt, a debtor, and a strong female presence who gives a moral and purposeful drive for the protagonist.

Kim Ki-duk started in 1995 with his first (submitted) screenplay, Crocodile (악어), a standard odd Korean film dealing with suicide and sexual abuse.  The violent sexual themes continued with Samaritan (사마리아), which brought him success at Berlin in 2004.  That same year, in his Venice success, Ki-duk’s film 3-Iron or Empty House (빈집), showed Ki-duk was one of Korea’s most important directors.

However, it was his Cannes film, Arirang (아리랑), which showed how Ki-duk’s films took a real turn and a serious mental toll.  The documentary deals with a near hanging of one of his lead actress and the young death of two of his close colleagues, including one who worked as assistant director on his previous films.

His newest film came out this summer, Stop (스톱), takes a different yet still somewhat horrific turn.  Yet the film, about a young married couple who are exposed to radiation at the Fukushima nuclear reactor after the 2011 meltdown, shows Kim Ki-duk is still at the top of his game.

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