Seoul Lotus Lantern Festival

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Long time no blog!

So… I’m back in Korea now. (“Say whaaaaat?”)

Yep a lot has happened since my last post *cough* last year. Long story short I re-applied to the EPIK program and was accepted. I’m now living in Sejong which is right next to Daejeon. How lucky!

I’m going to try to get caught up and do a back log of some of my adventures over the past couple months, but today I wanted to show some of what I saw at the Lotus Lantern Festival in Seoul.

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A lantern parade float

I randomly decided on Saturday morning that I should go to Seoul and check out this festival that I had read about online. A lot of my friends in the EPIK program decided to go to Jindo for the Sea Parting Festival which I a) still haven’t seen but b) forgot to chime in that I maybe wanted to go haha. So a solo Seoul (Seoul-o?) trip it is!

I was able to book a hostel in Hongdae pretty easily which was lucky since my first choice place was booked up. Well, that’s what I get for waiting until the last minute. I killed time in Hongdae until I headed over to Jogyesa Temple where the festival was being held. Jogyesa is theย chief temple of the Jogyesa Order for Korean Buddhism. The festival is held in honor of Buddha’s birthday, which fell on May 3rd this year in Korea. It changes every year because of the lunisolar calendar, but it’s typically in May.

It was such a sight to see! There were groups playing traditional instruments, people dressed in beautiful hanbok and other traditional clothes, and so many people carrying lanterns. And the parade floats! I’d seen pictures of past parades, but it’s a whole different thing to see them in person. I can’t imagine how long those take to craft. Plus, there were people from different places like Thailand and Myanmar marching together with their own floats in honor of Buddha. The people carrying lanterns were even just handing them to people as they passed. I got 2! One I got was shaped like a lotus, and a little girl was staring longingly at it. So I gave it to her, and she traded me the one she had. I ended up having to leave 1 behind at the guesthouse, though, because I couldn’t carry it all with me (boo!).

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The floats were parked and lined up on the street, so I got to take a good look at all of them. I also explored Jogyesa a bit. There were soooo many lanterns hanging, and it just looked beautiful at night.

I also went inside the temple to pay my respects. I just quietly stood in the back because people were praying and I didn’t want to disturb anyone. I did, though, take part in the Bathing Buddha ritual. The ritual is supposed to help improve happiness and peace of mind. A person takes what is essentially a long ladle and pours water over a small Buddha statue 3 times. Each time you should say each of these things:

  1. May I eliminate all evil thoughts.
  2. May I cultivate good deeds.
  3. May I help save all living beings.

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Before I went back to Hongdae I walked down the street once more and came upon another celebration. There was a big stage set up with performers on stage (my guess is they wereย pansori singers, but I’m not sure). There was a large crowd watching, and also groups of people, both Korean and non-Korean, holding hands in a circle and dancing — or walking? They were walking in circles to the music anyway haha.

I honestly hadn’t expected the whole thing to be so lively. My initial thought was that since Buddha is such a revered figure that maybe it’d be a “tame” event, but it really was more like a party! I’m so glad I was able to experience it. If you’re in Korea around Buddha’s birthday you really should give it a go.

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Gwanghwamun Square & Artbox Giveaway Winners Announced

I went over to Gyeongbokgung the other day when I had some free time in Seoul. Unfortunately, I didn’t look up the hours/days they are open. Turns out it’s closed on Tuesdays. ใ… ใ…  Oh boo…

But still I had a nice walk down Gwanghwamun Square to see the statues of King Sejong and Admiral Yi.

*Plus* Artbox giveaway winners are announced! I’ll be contacting them shortly.

As always, thanks for reading and watching. ๐Ÿ™‚

R16 Korea 2013

Hey, guys! Boy, it’s hot out there (“Hot summer, hot, hot summer ~”). Trying to stay cool, but this humidity is killer.

Anyway bringing you an update from the past weekend. Thanks to the Korean Tourism Organization via their program K-Supporters, I had the opportunity to go to R16 Korea. Oh man, it was something to see. I’ve been dancing for years, though never bboy, so I was really happy to get to see all these talented folks.

R16 Korea is an annual bboy tournament featuring the best crews from around the world. There are solo bboy, popping, and locking battles as well as the crew battles. Everyone brought their A-game this year.

I went Saturday to check out the solo battles. First, I just wanna say how great the MCs were. MC GO and MC Sniper were fun and witty. They brought a good energy to the event. I’d say between bboy, popping, and locking battles that the bboy ones were my favorite. Nothing against popping and locking. Just not really my thing. Still, I got to see styles I never really saw before. Issei from Body Carnival (Japan) ended up taking it all in the bboy category though unfortunately I didn’t get to see his victory as I had to leave early. Too bad!

Oh and I managed to spy Jay Park watching the battles early on. I guess the people in front of me either didn’t see him or didn’t know him. I was tempted to go up and ask for photo, but it seemed better just to let him watch and enjoy too.

Sunday before the big event I had the chance to have a mini bboy lesson with Jinjo Crew. KTO loaded some of us in a bus and we headed over. The studio is in an unassuming location, so you’d never guess these very talented guys were inside. They were all nice and took us through some basic steps and moves. I’m okay moving around doing steps, but I don’t really have the strength for locking/holding moves. There’s a lot of upper body and core strength involved. Still I had fun and I’d be interested to learn more. They also showed us around and showed off their awards which were pretty numerous. Thanks, Jinjo Crew!

Sunday was when we really saw a larger crowd. Unfortunately we got dumped on too before the doors opened, but that didn’t seem to dampen (pun unintended :P) anyone’s spirits. The crews were super energized. First, we got to see all the groups do their crew performances. Korea’s Morning of Owl had the most creative for sure. It was very much in the style of modern dance which was a big surprise. Usually crews get the crowd all riled up, but it was almost calm watching them perform.

Next came the battles. Gotta say I don’t know how they can keep their energy up for so long. Hitting the floor, jumping up, spinning, dancing — it’s a lot! Gotta say my favorites were the top 2 crews – Morning of Owl and Body Carnival. I wasn’t all that sad to see U.S.A. and Russia go. Didn’t like their attitudes all that much. But anyway it was so close between the top 2 in my opinion. Japan was consistently good, but Korea would randomly pull out these moves and you can’t help but be in awe. Morning of Owl ended up taking the Crew Battle category though Body Carnival won the Performance category.

You guys can check out some of my photos below (and on my Flickr). I’ll try to piece together some video footage too, but for now you can check out my video of the Blue Whale Brothers – Poppin J & Crazy Kyo – performing between battles.

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To market, to market

Hey y’all ~

The weather’s getting a lot warmer here in Korea. Pretty soon sleeve-less shirts and sandals will be a must. I love the warm weather with just two exceptions – 1) You get pretty sweaty. >.> ย — and 2) I can’t run before twilight. The heat and humidity make it kinda crummy for running, so I’ll probably have to start my night running soon.

Anyway I’m coming to you with another mini-adventure from Seoul. I went up last weekend for the long weekend because of Buddha’s birthday (Thank you, Buddha~). Mostly just chilling and taking in what Hongdae had to offer. Friday night I met with friends and we ate at On The Border in Shinchon. I don’t care if it’s a chain restaurant, it was so yummy. Saturday I spent walking around Hongdae. Last year I went to the free market (read aboutย here ~), and I’ve been itching to go back. I wasn’t disappointed! Check out my haul:

blue purse

First this cute purse and card holder. I bought a wallet with this design last year from this artist. I use it everyday and told her so. She looked very pleased that I liked her crafts so much. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think I’m going to need to get a new wallet before the year is out, so I hope I can see her again and pick one up.

If you wanna check her out her name is Hye Jin Lee (์ดํ—ค์ง„). She has a cyworld here – http://cyworld.com/hjsamo .

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A crocheted animal… puppy? Bear? I think it’s a puppy haha. ^^

necklace and earrings

Last year I bought cute coffee cup earrings from this artist and I was happy to see she was back. I wore the earrings last Saturday and she was also pleased to see a happy customer. I can’t resist things with penguins so I bought this necklace and cute heart earrings.

20130522_163703A cute French flag magnet.

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This iPad pouch is quite nice. Leather on the outside, cloth on the inside, and each pouch has different colors and patterns. The artist even told me that since I live in Korea, if my pouch breaks then she’ll fix it up for me. Awesome!

You can find her site – toM – here:ย http://blog.naver.com/tomiscat

watercolorThe young lady who made this was very sweet. She had some rather nice drawings and watercolors. I asked if she was an art major, but turns out it’s just a hobby. She lived in France for several months and took some inspiration from her time there. Unfortunately I can’t decipher her blog name (I tried several variations). Jinkyoung ~ if you’re out there, I really like my drawing. ๐Ÿ™‚

20130522_163437Ahhhh so cute! I can’t resist! These designs were calling my name. The characters are named Lala & Berry. Absolutely adorable. I could see these being very popular if the right people see ’em.

You can find her page at: peanutmellow.blog.me

heart print

The man I bought this from had some neat prints. Some were like this heart, some had Korean designs, and some were just — whatever haha. He didn’t sign or number these prints though! This kind of surprised me. I only took a semester of printmaking in college, but I feel like printmakers should at least sign their work. Putting that aside though, I liked this particular one. Simple and cute. ๐Ÿ™‚

20130522_163540Last I picked up this bracelet. The artist had a totally awesome vibe. She lived in India for 4 years and everything she made was based on her time there. If I remember right, the skull on the bracelet is kinda supposed to take away your bad feelings and the other beads bring out the positive. Loving that concept. ๐Ÿ™‚

You can check out her site here: www.lovejoypeace.net

I really do suggest giving this a look if you have the chance. There’s lots of talented people out there and you can get great souvenirs from your trip to Seoul. Don’t forget to explore the area too! Hongdae has lots of great shops, cafes, and restaurants. I found several places I didn’t know about before, and a couple I didn’t have time for (next time for sure!).

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Until next time, friends ~

Photo Jumble – Seoul

When you move abroad you can amass a number of things, I suppose. As for me, I have taken so many pictures on my adventures. It seems I haven’t shared all that many here though. For sure I have on Facebook and Tumblr (this is mine btw). Anyway, this is a random photo post for some of the pictures I had intended to share… like forever ago. There’s quite a few so I guess I’ll start with ones I took in Seoul to begin with.

Korea House (ํ•œ๊ตญ์˜์ง‘)

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Misc Palaces

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I think the palaces were just Changdeokgung and Gyeongbokgung, though there may have been a third in there? There’s so much to see in Seoul so it’s hard to keep track. Also I took these pictures about 7 months ago when my mom came to visit me.

I have so many photos that I want to share, so I’m going to try to separate posts as neatly as I can. I hope this entices a few of you to come to Korea. ๐Ÿ™‚

Comic World – Seoul

I went with a few of my friends to Seoul last week to check out Comic World. I’ve been to my share of conventions in the past, so I thought it’d be interesting. I knew it focused on anime mainly, but even though I don’t watch it anymore I thought it’d be a good chance to take pictures.

It takes place a few times a year at the Yangjae AT Center in Yangjae-dong. To get there you can transfer at Gangnam station and take the Yangjae line. I believe the stop isย ์–‘์žฌ์‹œ๋ฏผ์˜์ˆฒย (Yangjae Citizens’ Forest), and the center is right out the exit.

I wouldn’t call it a “convention” exactly. It’s more like a big cosplay gathering with an artists’ alley thrown in the building. Still, for a 4,000 won ticket it’s not a bad way to spend the afternoon. It only run it’s about 5:30 pm and I got there really late, so we didn’t spend lots of time there. I wanted to check out the artists’ alley, but my friends weren’t all the interested. We spent our time taking photos of cosplayers that caught our fancy. I did catch 3 Westerners cosplaying (Finn & Jake from “Adventure Time”, and a soldier), but that’s all I saw. I dunno if non-Koreans tend to participate, but it’d be cool.

Anyway here’s what we saw ~ my favorite were the “Adventure Time” cosplayers. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Hongdae Free Market

2 weeks back I was in Seoul to hang out with a few friends. As usual I booked a hostel in Hongdae. There’s quite a few in the area, and thus far they’ve all been decent enough (though some are much better than others). I’d never really explored Hongdae in the daytime. Everyone knows the area for the clubs and nightlife, but there was one thing I wanted to check out during the daylight hours: the Hongdae Free Market (ํ™๋Œ€ ํ”„๋ฆฌ ๋งˆ์ผ“)

I found out about it just doing a quick search for “things to do in Hongdae” on Google. The Free Market is basically an open air market set up in a park for local artists to sell their wares. Since my major was Fine Arts and I love making crafts I was excited to check it out.

Welcome to the Free Market

The market is every Saturday from March until November from 1 pm – 5 pm. It’s held at Hongik Children’s Park, right across the street from Hongik University, so it’s not hard to find. It was a great day to go. The weather was warm and the sun was shining. Just the right weather for admiring art and dropping some cash.

An intimate market

The park isn’t that big, but they pack it with plenty of talented artists showing their talents. There were so many cool things! ย I wanted to buy much more than I did, but I restrained myself. All the more reason to go back, right? Of course I gotta show off the things I picked up —

This was my first purchase of the day (and the vendor’s first sale of the day as well). She said she came from California, and she was selling a variety of hand-painted shoes. I love the bright colors, and they’re actually pretty comfy! If you wanna check out her stuff she has a website – www.slow2go2.com.

I couldn’t resist these. The penguin is one of my favorite animals, so I grabbed this coin purse. It’s also big enough to hold cards. The camera is a neat little wallet. Both are made from felt and very sturdy. The coin purse was 10,000 won and the wallet was 12,000.

There was a woman at a table doing calligraphy on various bookmarks and cell phone straps. Turns out she teaches calligraphy to foreigners in Seoul. If I lived up there I’d love to go for lessons. Alas! I’m a bit too far south. But if you’re curious, go check out her blog – Boot Touch ๋ถ“ํ„ฐ์น˜. I bought a bookmark and asked her to write “happy Janelle” in Korean. ๐Ÿ™‚ I also bought a cell phone strap for a friend. They were only about 3,000-4,000 each. They’re very cute and inexpensive gifts.

There was another woman who had lovely jewelry. I chose this bracelet made with lapis lazuli.

This is another fun purchase – a double-sided necklace. One side has the colorful glass and the other is the flat 2-toned rose.

The last thing I bought were these cute coffee cup earrings. I don’t drink a lot of coffee, but I couldn’t resists these.

If you’re looking to hit up the market too, it’s just a short walk from Hongik station.

Go out exit 9 and walk straight until the 1st intersection. ย Turn left and walk straight up the hill towards Hongik University. When you get to the end, right in front of the uni, turn right. The park is just around the corner on the right side. You can walk up some stairs or take the side street.

My advice is, if you like these sorts of things, take enough cash. However, if you run out there’s an ATM conveniently outside one of the nearby stores.

If you’re looking for a little more info, you can check out the website (only in Korean, sorry) – Free Market

And here’s just a few other pics I took while wandering around Hongdae ~

One of many streets with plenty of fashion to look at. A lot of the prices are low, so it’s hard to resists sometimes.

Oh, there you are, Perry.
(Phineas & Ferb reference btw)

I’m curious how one might be part of the market. I make accessories mostly for fun; however, most of the stuff I’ve made lately is just sitting in my craft basket. I may want to find a way to sell them. I suppose that’s one of my next missions!