Sunday, July 29, 2012

Tour guiding throughout Seoul

Writer: Hyejin Lee

I’ve been working with “ What’s up Korea” for over a year. In the beginning I just wanted to give information about Korea to foreigners who wanted to know more about my country, but then I realized that a lot of them wanted to experience the real Korea. I started hosting events around Seoul where I live and where my business is based. Hosting events was exhausting and disappointing because I had to create everything alone. It was challenging to gather people together but when I did I felt happy and it was rewarding.

One day Stephanie from Indonesia sent me a message on Facebook saying she needed a local guide while she traveled in Korea. I didn’t know how she found “What’s up Korea”. Somehow I wanted to help her and decided to personally guide her. I also asked Korean “ What’s up Korea” members to assist with this, just in case some of them could help her when I wasn’t available. I didn’t anticipate that many of the sites' members would like to spend their precious time helping someone they don’t know. I was totally wrong and pleasantly surprised. A lot of Korean members wanted to help her just because of the fact that she loved Korea.

<Stephanie and Liz at a restaurant>

I checked her itinerary, searched some other sights and attractions not noted in her itinerary and according to accessibility made a new schedule for her. I also made plans with two other Koreans who volunteered to help her.
On the day when I was scheduled to meet her, I felt very nervous because it was the first time I guided a visitor in Seoul. I hosted several sightseeing events in Seoul but this felt totally different. She arrived with her friend , Liz.
We briefly introduced ourselves and started visiting sights together. It rained a lot that morning so we couldn’t follow the itinerary exactly as planned. Thankfully Stephanie and Liz were very understanding and enjoyed the trip despite the changes in plan.


We visited Kyeongbok palace, a royal structure which literally means "Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven."We saw the Gyeonghoeru (Royal Banquet Hall) and Jagyeongjeon Hall,the home of Queen Sinjeong. We then headed to Insadong, a street that has past and modern cultural Korean items.

<Ssamji gil in Insadong>

By lunch time the weather became scorching hot. After Lunch Stephanie and Liz shopped at Etude which is a Korean cosmetic store famous in Indonesia ( I didn’t know that it was popular in Indonesia before then.) in Insadong and we also went to BukchonHanok Village which is a place where visitors can see Korean trditional houses. When we traveled we talked a lot about different things. I also could learn cultural differences between Korea and Indonesia,it was such a wonderful time for all of us.

<Three of us at a coffe shop in Insadong>

While we were looking around Bukchon Hanok Village two little boys kicked an ice ball at me and my leg was bruised. Stephanie and Liz were really worried about me. It wasn’t really a big deal, but this showed me how much they cared about me and I was so touched by that.

<Bukchon Hanok Village >

We just met for a day but I felt like we became close through group traveling.
We also went to Samcheongdong and Dongdaemun,a large market area in Seoul. If they had traveled without my assistance they wouldn’t have seen as many sights and attractions, nor learned as much about Korean culture on an one day trip than they did with my help. You might think that they were lucky to have me as a guide but I was more fortunate and richly blessed to have met them and introduced Korea to them. Of course it wasn’t without sacrafice, I collapsed at home from exhaustion after touring Seoul with them. I was so happy that I could help somebody and it made up for the expended energy.
If you want to travel and need some local guides, don’t hesitate to message me.
I’d love to help you. In fact judging from the response of  “What’s up Korea” members, many Korean people would be glad to help you enjoy the beauty of Korea.
Let’s be friends!!!!


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Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Art of Saying “Thank You” Begins with Listening

James Heald 
contributing writer 

 In the movie Forbidden Kingdom, a teen from Boston finds himself in ancient China surrounded by people speaking a language he cannot comprehend. When he speaks, no one understands his gibberish. His lack of language skills is life-threatening, as a band of soldiers are hunting down an artifact in his possession.

When Lu Yan, one of the eight immortals (Jackie Chan), comes to his rescue, the boy looks at him and shouts “I can’t understand you!” The immortal looks at him and says, “That’s because you not listening.”

 For a student of foreign languages, listening skills are important. The foundation of accurate sound reproduction is in how one hears the sound. Few people can hear it correctly or accurately the first time, so constant repetition of the sound is required before one is ready to try to repeat the sound for the first time. If you smell a rose, you will forever remember its scent, for the sense of smell goes straight to long term memory. However, what you see and hear will go into short term memory, and are easily forgotten. Sight and sound have to be repeated again and again until it is moved into long term memory. Think of it as a nail that has to be hit on the head again and again until it is deep enough for it to be of good use. If the depth is too shallow, it will easily be pulled out of the wall. It is through this process that I have learned to say “thank you” in ten languages.

 Croatian - hvala
 Korean -kahmsahamneedah
 Japanese - domo arigato
 French – merci beacoup
 Italian – gratzi
 German – danke shan
 Thai – korp kom karp Lao – kawp jai
 Khmer – aw gooan
Spanish – gracias

 While I do have a small collection of phrase books for other languages, they are useless without a native speaker to help me understand the sounds. Also, it helps to see the shape of the mouth and know the placement of the jaw and the tongue in making some of these sounds. There are differences in tongue position and the shape of the mouth that affect the sound quality, distinguishing the differences between the “z” and the “v” and the “f” sounds. One needs to see the difference in positions in order to properly hear the difference in these sounds. Students of foreign languages should not be afraid of their teacher getting in their faces.

 One South African teacher I worked with in Seoul would get into the face of each of his students when showing them how to make the “th” sound. He got his students laughing, and the students tried hard not to lose their composure when the teacher made them mimic his actions. It was important for him to see what the student was doing so he could help make corrections in their pronunciation. Be thankful for language teachers who get in your face. They care enough to listen to you attempt to make a sound, so give them what they want. You will be glad you did.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Terminally ill U.S. K-pop fan to visit South Korea

NEW YORK (Yonhap News) ― An American teenager with an incurable disease is set to visit South Korea next month and meet her favorite K-pop stars. From an early age, Donika Sterling of Brooklyn, New York, suffered from a rare disease that has gradually slowed down parts of her body and made it difficult for her to move. Donika Sterling The 15-year-old girl’s dreams came true, however, when one of her grandmother’s patients at a Manhattan hospital heard her story and decided to send her to South Korea, where she plans to meet her favorite pop stars. Herbert Black, president of American Iron and Metal, was reportedly moved by the care he received from Sterling’s grandmother when he was hospitalized at the hospital, where she works as a nurse. Speaking to reporters in New York Sunday, Sterling said she is a fan of K-pop bands SHINee and Super Junior, and enjoys watching Korean dramas. She also said she hopes to become a child psychologist and comfort children who are in pain. Her trip to South Korea is scheduled for June 16.