Last photos
A few last minute photos:

Today we met with with some friends of my husband's, one of which is a Buddhist monk.  These are all Korean citizens that my husband volunteered with in Pakistan as part of the KOICA program several years ago.  (KOICA is like the Korean Peace Corps.)  Here are pictures of them all, as well as photos from a temple in Seoul that we visited:

Today was a special day on the Buddhist or lunar calendar, so many followers were at the temple bowing, chanting, and making offerings of rice and candles.  If a person had a wish or sort of prayer they wanted answered, they could write it on a piece of white paper and pay some money to hang it from one of the colored paper lanterns:

Yesterday we went to a place with my husband's brother that focuses on the Slow Food Movement.  They are located in the town of AnSeong, and their property includes a restaurant, a university, and fields of organic crops, huge areas with kimchee jars containing all kinds of handmade fermented soybean and chili pastes, pickled vegetables, etc. Here are some photos:

Jang-Uk and his brother Jang-Shik (in Korean naming tradition, brothers usually share a first syllable in their names), standing in front of the many kimchee jars, all filled with good stuff:

Ginseng crops under the snow.  My husband says you can tell because of the shade screens that shield the ginseng from the sun in the summertime:

And some other random photos:

This is an ad for plastic surgery, the one on the right being a very popular cosmetic surgery in South Korea--getting your eyelids changed to look more like big, Western style eyes.  (I have some SERIOUS problems with that idea, but I'll save that rant for another day):

Older Korean gentleman dress SO nice, like American men did sixty or seventy years ago.  Here are two not so great photos showing two men with great style!

This was an ad inside a subway, showing a poor little Korean radish getting some very rude treatment!  (This card it is advertising is called "Moo", which means "radish" in Korean.)

This was a couple we saw on a train that made us laugh:

You know how in the USA, if you are driving out in the middle of nowhere, you'll often find small towns near the highway that have weird tourist stores with gigantic wood carvings of animals or people or totem poles?  Well, I think this place is the Korean equivalent:

Closeup of the statues:

Everywhere in South Korea, you will see cute cartoon drawings and statues.  They can be on anything from bus stops to police stations.  Here are some examples:

A little guy wearing the clothes of a traditional scholar-official:

This was at an otherwise serious looking Buddhist temple (By the way, you'll notice there are both Chinese characters and Korean writing on this sign.  This is common, since Korean has so many loan words from Chinese, though all Chinese characters have phonetic equivalents in modern Korean writing.  But it is fancier on signs to also include the Chinese characters):

Okay, that's it for our Korea pictures!

There is one very important thing I haven't mentioned about Korean food, and that is:  Eating Korean food is a very communal experience.  Many types of dishes are simmered or barbecued in a big pan over a gas flame in the center of the table, and everyone dips their chopsticks in and shares.  And all the side dishes that come with Korean meals are also shared by everyone.  So you can't be a germophobe if you want to enjoy Korean food in the way it is meant to be eaten.  That said, here are some more things we've tried since being here:

Big slabs of pork barbecued in a center pan.  This is then cut into pieces with scissors (Koreans always have a special pair of scissors in the kitchen that is just for cutting food...they often use scissors where Americans would use knives, and the scissors are much, much faster.), dipped in sesame oil mixed with salt, and wrapped up with rice and fermented soy-chili-sesame oil paste (called sam jang) in a large lettuce or wild sesame leaf.  Side dishes include various types of kimchee, seaweed salads, fish cakes, cole slaws, etc.

Duck meat cooked with potatoes, sweet potatoes, green peppers, onions, and garlic in the communal pan:

The duck meat mix is then wrapped up in a lettuce leaf with sam jang and eaten:

A soup of beef and about five different types of mushrooms, plus garlic, noodles, and hot peppers.

Sweet potato starch noodles in the mushroom soup:

Snail and Korean chive soup:

Korean pancake:  These pancakes are made from an unleavened, unsweetened batter.  This one has beef mixed in, but Korean pancakes can have all sorts of things mixed in, be it seafood, green onions, kimchee, wild sesame leaves, etc.  Some Korean pancakes are thin and chewy, while others are thick and fried to a great crispy texture. 

I already  talked about how you can get friend chicken delivered to your home in South Korea, but what I didn't know then is that you can also order up late night side dishes for alcohol and have them delivered at your home within twenty minutes.  We did just that when one of my husband's friends decided we should by some alcohol.  I think he wanted to buy soju, but he was kind enough to accommodate my preference for Korean rice liquor.  Here are the side dishes we ordered.  They include slices of pork leg meat, a cold spicy noodle salad, pickled radishes, dipping sauces, and lettuce and wild sesame leaves to wrap it all up in:

The rice liquor we drank with it.  (If you ever buy this stuff, beware that there is a white layer on the bottom that settles and needs to be mixed up before opening.)

The side dishes open and ready:

We drank the rice liquor from small bowls:

Pork, garlic, green pepper, and pickled radish all ready to wrap up in a lettuce leaf:

Beef blood stew (I like the flavor of the broth in this one, but I've had bad experiences in other countries with blood dishes, so I didn't eat much of it):

A spicy naeng myun (cold noodle) dish.  You can tell from the appearance of this one that Koreans value aesthetics and color when preparing food.  In many Korean dishes, you will see vegetables and other ingredients of many bright, green, yellow, purple, etc.  Many Korean dishes, such as bibimbap (mixed rice and vegetables) or haeparee muchim (cold jellyfish and cucumber salad) are eventually eaten all mixed together in a bowl.  But when these dishes are first served, you will see that the cook has made great effort to slice each ingredient in small uniform julienne strips, arranging them in a circle where things are grouped according to how their colors contrast with and compliment one another.  It almost seems like a sin to mix all the ingredients together and start eating, because the presentation is so beautiful.

Yukaejang (beef) soup with side dishes of pickled garlic (Koreans LOVE garlic), sweet black beans, pickled radish, and seasoned seaweed strips.  The yukaejang contains beef, garlic, onion, fiddlehead fern shoots, and another plant that I don't know the name of.  It can also contain noodles.  Depending on the cook, a little or a lot of red pepper will be added.  I was beaming while eating this soup, not only because it was delicious, but also because it was really spicy, so much so that all the Koreans at the table complained to the waitress, laughing the whole time over how the American at the table was the only one who could eat it.

This is the gamja tang (potato and pork soup) that I mentioned a few posts back.  (The potato soup that had no potatoes in it!)  It also has wild sesame leaves and enoki mushrooms added, and was delicious, despite the missing potatoes.  It is cooked in a shallow communal pot:

I think I mentioned a Korean rice and malt desert beverage in a previous post.  The name of that beverage is shikhae, and it is served cold.  It is lightly sweet and wonderful.  In the city of Andong, they have a special type of shikhae, called Andong Shikhae.  It's ingredients are rice, sugar, ginger, a tiny bit of grated Korean radish, and a little red pepper.  It is sweeter than regular shikhae and has a kick to it from the ginger and pepper.  I don't like it quite as much as regular shikhae, but it is still pretty wonderful!  These bowls of shikhae are garnished with peanuts:

This may look like something that should be thrown away.  But this is a special fruit!  Persimmons are amazing because they can be eaten at almost any stage of ripeness, and have a unique texture and taste at every stage.  When they first start to ripen, they are crisp and mildly sweet.  By the time they get to the aged state you see below, they are soft, sticky, and very sweet.  These persimmons are carefully peeled  away from the moldy skin and the soft interior is eaten:

This is what they look like once the skin is peeled off.  These had been outside, so they were icy cold, and it was almost like some blissful type of ice cream:

However, in my usual clumsy manner, I made a serious mistake while eating this!  I didn't pull the skin entirely away from the fruit before I began eating it.  I think I accidentally got some of the outer mold on my spoon or on the fruit, and I think that is why I got food poisoning.  None of the three Koreans who ate this with me got sick.  So the lesson here is: if you are clumsy like me, let a Korean peel this aged fruit for you.  It will cause you great misery if you don't.

What you see here is a type of juk [rice or glutinous rice (a.k.a. sticky rice) based porridge].  Juk was all that I could keep down for two days after getting food poisoning!  But juk is wonderful stuff.  There are many kinds of sweet and savory juk, including sweet red bean juk, toasted rice and sesame juk, abalone juk, pine nut juk, black sesame juk, and what you see below, which is hobak (pumpkin) juk.  Pumpkin juk is actually fairly easy to make.  You soak some glutinous rice (probably a handful or two, depending on how sticky you want it) and large red beans (not mung beans) overnight.  The next day, you slice and steam some sweet pumpkin.  You cook the red beans separately.  You grind the glutinous rice in a blender.  Then you peel and mash the steamed pumpkin in a big pot.   You add the ground up rice and a little water to the pumpkin and start to simmer it all, stirring frequently.  You might need to keep adding a little water to keep it from getting too thick.  As the ground up rice cooks and thickens, you can add the beans and a little sugar if you want it sweeter.  You can also add hard ball shaped rice cakes, which you can buy at Korean grocery stores.  And then it's done.  Pumpkin juk is eaten both hot and cold, and is wonderful, especially for breakfast.  The pumpkin juk in this picture was delicious.  It's not very fancy, because it was purchased to take home from a food court, but in nicer restaurants, it would probably be garnished with pumpkin seeds or pine nuts, as many types of juk and beverages are.

The following pictures are from a chain pizza restaurant in Korea.  It is called Mr. Pizza, who apparently must be a total Cassanova, based on the "Love for Women" motto of the restaurant.

A napkin holder:

The pizza we ordered was 98% awesome.  It was topped with tomato sauce (not the best tasting sauce, but thankfully there wasn't much of it), mozzarella and cheddar, potatoes, bacon, mushrooms, corn (Asian countries love corn on pizza and a lot of other foods Americans don't use it on), and sour cream, plus a sweet potato filled crust.  (Other pizza options on the menu included a mixed seafood pizza, a grilled chicken pizza, and a crab pizza.)


The sweet potato stuffed crust, which was wonderful:

At a lot of Korean restaurants, you'll find a box on the table or a drawer under the table containing spoons and chopsticks:

This is a sweetened tea made from jujube, garnished with dried apple slices and pine nuts.  It is called "Dae-chu cha", and I believe you can get instant packets of it at Korean grocery stores that are pretty decent:

And this, my friends, this is from our last dinner before leaving tomorrow.  This is Bo-shin-tang, a soup made from green onions, ground up wild sesame (perilla) seeds, and...gae-gogi.  Gogi means meat, and gae...well, if you want to know what kind of meat gae is, visit this Wikipedia link  , which has more information on this soup:   HOWEVER, A WARNING FIRST:  If you are sensitive about what types of animals are used as meat for humans, I'd suggest you not visit that link!  I would also like to throw out there that every culture has its own ideas of which animals are and aren't appropriate for food, and each culture tends to turn its nose up at where other cultures draw those lines.  (In Sudan, they think Americans are disgusting for eating bottom feeding catfish.)  That said... Here's a little more about this soup.  The meat in it tastes almost exactly like beef, but is more tender.  I've heard that Korean men eat it for potency reasons!  (And it seems they've sold American soldiers stationed in Korea on this soup, though I don't know if it's for the taste or the potency.  Whatever the reason, our boys are over here eating a lot of it.)  My husband's brother told me that since I've been feeling weak the past few days (from the food poisoning), I will feel my energy return tomorrow from eating this.  I don't know if that's true, but the soup was really good, and totally unlike what I had expected.  Very hearty and flavorful.

This is a sauce for dipping meat form the soup in.  It arrives at your table like this, with sesame oil, hot pepper sauce, and ground up wild sesame seeds on top.  You then mix it all together, and it tastes wonderful:

Okay, that's it for my food pictures!

This will be the last of my many posts tonight!  This one is special, all about Waffles in South Korea!  The Koreans have thought of doing amazing things with waffles here.  The best waffles I've ever had!

Some waffley English:

Waffle sandwiches, in all kinds of flavors, including Thai, Mexican, Teriyaki, etc.

Various types of sweet waffles:

And on a similar note, here are some toast options that I didn't try: bacon toast, pepperoni pizza toast, sweet potato bacon toast, and nude toast!

Okay, hopefully I'll get to post more on food tomorrow, because I have a lot of pictures!

Our trip to the east coast
Here are a few photos from the trip we took out to the east coast last weekend:

A tomb of a Silla king located in the historic capital of the Silla Kingdom, GyeongJu.  The tomb was made by piling rocks on top of the coffin and then dirt.  The tomb was excavated and now you can walk inside and see a little museum with replicas of all the treasures this king was buried with:

More royal Silla tombs in GyeongJu:

These ones are on a mountain in the distance:

Typical building style in GyeongJu:

We stopped in my husband's mother's hometown of JinBo.  We tried this special spring water, which is rich in iron and bubbles like a carbonated beverage on your tongue:

JinBo is famous for these "flower stones".  These are incredibly expensive, but the lady who owned the shop was kind enough to give me a small piece of one for free:

This is perhaps the coolest man in all of South Korea!  He is an artist whose art is on display at an art museum in the little town of JinBo.  His paintings are behind us:

Burial mounds near the town of Yeong Yang:

Various types of homemade liquor fermenting in a storage building at my husband's cousin's farm in Yeong Yang.  These include liquors made from wild and domesticated berries, mushrooms, pine cones, and I don't even know what else!

English in South Korea!
I've noticed that the Koreans really seem to love dreamy or happy sounding English words, and they use such words a lot in their business names, advertisements, etc.  These include words like "fantasy", "dream", "charm", "happy", "love", "paradise", "natural", "kiss", etc.  These words are often used in a way that strikes an American reader as odd or comical.  Here are some examples:

This young man's shirt says "Nature Fantasy":

Koreans also seem to like to splice the parts they like out of certain English words and recombine them with other parts or with Korean words to make new words!  Here are some examples:

This one is from a subway station.  Jang Uk says "Humetro" stands for Human Metro.

In South Korea, "Pia" comes from "Utopia", so you get signs like this.  (We also saw a nut brand called "Nut Pia"):

In this poster, they show you how they invented the new word:

Here are some other English signs that struck me as funny, odd, or as having meanings that those who made them probably don't know about:

I had a hard time explaining to Jang Uk why the following two wouldn't be funny if the words "dog" and "whale" were plural:

Public Transportation
It is really easy to get by in South Korea without a car.  Public transportation is great, both within and between cities.  Between buses, trains, subways, and affordable taxis, you can get pretty much anywhere at almost any time of the day.  Buses from large cities to distant suburbs run every ten to twenty minutes, unlike in Seattle where you might be screwed if you don't catch the one express bus per hour from the U-district to Mill Creek.  Here are some photos:

A crowded Seoul subway at rush hour:

A crowded subway station:

Subway stations are also shopping malls, some fancier than others:

Sometimes merchants will walk from car to car on the subways, talking on a microphone, selling things like gloves and long underwear.  And at least one person will usually buy whatever they're selling.  Blind people will also often walk from car to car, carrying a small radio playing music (usually instrumental Christian hymns) and a basket for people to give money.  I've never seen anyone give money, but there are usually already some coins in the baskets.

A bus decorated with Christmas decorations:

You will often see young military men in uniform traveling by bus, train, and subway between their families and bases.  (And my oh my do they look nice in their uniforms!)

Korean Navy boys in a bus station:

Soldiers in a train station:

While waiting for trains or subways, you can by cold or hot beverages (usually coffee, but sometimes tea and other hot drinks) from vending machines:

The train employees' union protesting in front of a train station in Daegu:

In subway station bathrooms, the soap is often stuck on a metal stand like this, and you just, eh, caress it with your wet slippery hands:

In bathroom stalls in many nicer subway stations, there is an "etiquette bell" like the one you see here.  You can push the button and it makes "water noises" to cover up any rude noises you might be making while doing your business:

Okay, that's it for public transportation!

Parking Attendants and Merchants
Here are some photos of various things about Korea that I've been wanting to share:

In Korea, parking attendants bow to you as you pull into a parking garage/lot, then direct you to your spot.  They wear the most fascinating clothes, often in very bright colors, and always dressy with great hats.  However, I haven't been able to get many good pictures.  Here are the only two I have:

Typical male parking attendant (and from this fellow, I think you can get an idea of what I mean about a lot of Korean men being very tall!):

This one is sadly very blurry, but gives you a vague idea of what female parking attendants and department store door greeters wear.  This woman is wearing black, but usually they are wearing bright reds or purples, usually with red lipstick.  This is always the style of hat they wear, but usually it is in brighter colors, and often they have some kind of little shoulder cape or shawl that matches the hat color:

In the cities, often near large outdoor markets, poorer street vendors will sell fruit, vegetables, meat, and all sorts of other items.  To stay warm, they light cylindrical charcoal things and rub their hands over them.  Here is a pile of used charcoal things out in a parking lot behind some buildings:

As I've already mentioned, street merchants are usually middle aged or elderly, and they work long hours, setting up their merchandise early in the morning and staying until after dark.  It seems like most of the merchants selling vegetables, fruit, and meat on the sidewalks are women.  (Many middle aged and elderly men push or pull various types of  carts around the city, selling fruit, roasted chestnuts, puffed rice snacks, and other items.)  The women merchants sit on blankets on the cold sidewalks cutting up vegetables or meat to display.  Some of these women are so elderly that it is really heartbreaking to see them work outside in the cold this way.  When you see them stand up, many can't even straighten their backs, having spent so many years hunched over vegetables on the sidewalks.  (As my friend Brynn says about many elderly women she saw in Japan, these tiny women walk in an L shape so the upper half of their bodies are truly parallel to the ground.)  Here are a few pictures of some informal sidewalk market areas in the city of Daegu:

This one was taken from a bus window, so I apologize for the blurriness:

In this photo, you can make out one elderly female merchant sitting on the sidewalk, sitting by a tree:

Merchants at the fish market in Pusan:

Okay, I have just been told by my husband that we are getting ready to go to dinner now, so I guess that's all for now!  (We'll see how much my tender stomach can handle tonight... I'm still not fully recovered from that food poisoning, though today is the first day I've managed to eat something besides fruit and rice porridge!)

My second post for tonight!

According to Wikipedia, about 23% of South Koreans are Buddhist, 29% are Christian, and the rest of the population belongs to the "other" or "no religion" category.  My husband says that people in this final category might hold Confucian, Daoist, or native Korean beliefs.  He also says that in South Korea, the Daoists are the ones who send out pesky proselytizers to approach people on the streets, but I personally haven't seen that happen.  I have seen many older Christian Korean men singing or preaching outside of bus and train stations.  To look around Korea, you would think that Christianity was the largest religion.  There are church steeples and crosses sticking up everywhere above crowded buildings in the towns and cities.  (And an interesting thing... Koreans seem to put Catholics in a different category than other Christians.  So if you ask a Korean what percentage of their country is Christian, they'll give you the Protestant percentage, excluding the Catholic percentage, which is rather large.  So you have to clarify what it is you are asking them for.)  You don't see many Buddhist temples in the cities, since they are usually located on mountains outside of the city limits.   You do see Buddhist monks and occasionally nuns in the subway stations sometimes, or even protesting with labor unions on TV.  You also see many Buddhist lay followers wearing quilted gray Buddhist pants and coats standing at bus stops on their way to visit a temple.

In my husband's family, most people are Christian, but several of his cousins are Buddhist.  (He himself is like me, taking a little from this religion, a little from that, with no specific preference.  A lot of his younger family members seem to be similar in that respect.)  My husband's family began converting from Buddhism to Christianity on his paternal side with his father's generation, and on his maternal side with his grandparents' generation.  I'm not sure how typical his family is compared to others in this country.  It seems like the homes of several of my husband's friends have been either Buddhist or displaying no overt religious preference at all.

Here are some pictures of various churches and other symbols of Christianity from various towns and cities we've visited:

Christian churches often have a steeple on the top of the building they are located in, but the church itself might only own a couple of rooms in a building where businesses own the rest:

You see lots of big Jesus murals on a lot of churches:

This is by far my favorite church I've seen here.  It is located in Pusan, and looks like some kind of weird boat:

Sometimes local churches make pretty displays like this one in subway stations to advertise their churches:

A place selling both Buddhist and Christian statues:

A Buddhist temple behind some other buildings in the small city of Andong:

The following photos are all from a little Buddhist temple we went to on the Southeast coast, outside of the town of Nam-Hae.  There was a parking lot partway up the mountain the temple is located on, and we walked up the rest of the way. 

This room contains something like 10,000 little gold Buddha statues:

A large bell with a wooden thing for striking it:

Detail of part of the overhang on the roof:

I'm pretty sure this is a statue of the bodhisattva Gwan-eum (same as Guan-yin in Chinese, or Kannon in Japanese).  From what I know, she is a favorite bodhisattva of sailors.  (I think she is believed to protect them, like a saint would in Catholicism.)  I think it is pretty common in East Asian countries for Buddhist temples near the ocean to have statues of her, but I'm not certain.  You can kind of make out a woman crouching, lighting a candle in the bottom left:

Scenes of what I think are famous legends about Gwan-eum painted on the side of the temple:

No, this is not a Swastika!  It is a Buddhist symbol, which turns in the opposite way that the Swastika goes in.

Close ups of the candle, incense and rice offerings at the statue's feet:

Little statues set up by pilgrims to the temple on rocks:

Closeups:  The little stone man with the strange hat in the first picture is a replica of some statues that are famous on Korea's Jeju Island, off the south coast.  In the second picture are cute little Buddhas.

Miniature stone monuments made by pilgrims on a rock ledge:

The view of the sea and mountains from the temple:

Korean Homes
Well, since I've managed to come down with some rather miserable food poisoning and am stuck sitting in bed, I'll use this time to catch up on posting some photos. 

We are back in Pyoungtaek again, since we still have more people to meet up with in Seoul during our last week here.  Somehow I managed to keep my nausea under control for the train ride back up here, but we're taking the rest of the day easy!

Here is an updated map showing where we traveled over the weekend.  (The green line is the route we drove, out to Gyeongju and Yeongduk, then back to Daegu.)

But before I delve into posting photos from the weekend, I wanted to show what Korean homes are like.  (I feel like something of an expert now, since I've visited probably close to forty different homes here.)  As I said before, most urban Koreans live in large towering apartment complex buildings.  (Koreans living in smaller towns or rural areas live in smaller apartment buildings or in actual houses.)  On the outside, these buildings are pretty ugly, but the apartments on the inside are beautiful.  The apartments are made with nicer materials than most apartments in America, and are purchased as permanent homes, not rented temporarily. 

Here is a picture of what the apartment buildings look like from the outside, and as you've probably noticed in pictures I've posted from around various cities here, these apartment buildings poke out of cities and towns all over the place.  (To me, they are kind of an eyesore, and I wonder why the companies don't try harder to make the buildings look more aesthetically pleasing on the outside.)  Most are made by giant construction companies like Hyundai, Prugio, Lotte, etc.  Each building has the name of the construction company that built it and a building number printed in huge letters on its side.  This particular complex is located in a suburb of Seoul:

Here is the outside of a smaller apartment building in a smaller city.  Notice the kimchee jars resting above the main doors of the building:

Most apartment complexes have a little park for kids to play at.  You can see one here in the back of the parking lot for this complex:

Inside the main door of most apartment buildings, the first thing you see is the mailboxes for the building.  Local advertisers are allowed to put stickers on the mailboxes:

Once you are inside a Korean apartment building, you usually take an elevator (or the stairs if you want some exercise) to the apartment you're looking for.  The doors of these apartments are pretty heavy duty looking, like the doors of bank vaults or something!  Most of the newer apartments have fancy keypads where you type in a code to open the door.
Two things to point out about this door.  The first is the sticker of a cross below the apartment number on the door.  Many Christian Koreans put this sort of sticker on their doors, and when they take you into their homes, it is the first thing they'll point out to you, saying proudly in English "Churchee!"  (The "ee" sound is added to the end because in the Korean writing system, it is impossible to have a "ch" sound at the end of a syllable, so a second syllable is made of the "chee" part to get the sound in there.  The same is true of the "ge" sound at the end of words like "garage" and "massage", which become "garage-ee" and "massage-ee" in Korean English!)  The second thing to point out about this door is the insulated canvas bag hanging from the door handle.  This is a bag where "Yogurt Ajumas" (Yogurt Ladies) deliver little containers of childrens yogurt drinks and little milk cartons to the family home.  Below is a picture of a Yogurt Ajuma with her cart on the sidewalk.  These women work hard, pushing their carts all over the neighborhood in the cold weather.  They are always dressed in tan or yellow clothes, to match their yellowish carts:

When you first step into a Korean apartment, there is a lowered tile area where you take off your shoes before stepping into the home.  You can make out that area here, black shoes sitting on it, as well as the inner front door.  (This door doesn't look as secure as the outer door you saw because this apartment actually had two doors... the outer door plus this inner one, creating an airlock in between to keep the cold out):

The first thing that will happen when you arrive at a Korean home is that you will be ushered into the living room and seated at a small table, where the mother of the household will peel fruit for you and often serve you tea, coffee, or other snacks, such as peanuts, pastries, roasted or raw chestnuts, etc.  Here are my husband's maternal aunts being great hostesses:

(By the way, the two big potato like roots you see on the plate in the bottom left corner of the table are called "Yakon".  They are like a cross between a sweet potato and jicama, and are sliced and eaten raw.  They are crisp, slightly sweet, and wonderful.)

Oh, and I have to share a closeup of the scene on that table!  If you go into a home where the residents are Christians, you will know it almost right away, because there is Jesus stuff everywhere!  (And Jesus is always, always white!  By contrast, if you go into a home where the residents are Buddhist, the hints are usually more subtle.  You'll see a book of Buddhist sutras on a table or a little Buddhist quote framed on the wall.  Sometimes the only hint is the lack of Jesus stuff!) This little table shows scenes from the life of Jesus:

If you are invited  to dinner in a Korean home, you might be offered alcohol.  There are specific etiquette rules to be followed  in this situation.  No one at the table should ever pour their own alcohol.  An older person will offer to pour you a glass first, but if you are younger, you should take the bottle from them and pour it into their glass first.  When you pour alcohol for an older person, you should hold the bottle with both hands as a sign of respect, not just one.  If pouring for someone near your own age, you pour the bottle with your right hand while crossing your left arm over your chest, so that your left hand rests near your right arm.  The person you are pouring for will also hold their glass in this same way.  (Older people can hold their glass with just one hand, without crossing their arm across their chest.)  If an older person pours you a glass of alcohol, you must turn your head away from them when you drink it, as a sign of respect.  Here is my husband pouring alcohol for an older cousin's husband.  (This was actually taken at a restaurant, not in a home.)

Now on to the layout of the homes!

Outside the living room of most apartments, there is a sort of enclosed balcony.  Many people hang laundry to dry or keep houseplants on this balcony.  (Because it is enclosed with glass, it acts as sort of a greenhouse to keep plants from freezing in the wintertime, though it is still somewhat cold out on these balconies.)  Clothes washing machines are also often kept out on these balconies (like the Chinese, the Koreans don't usually use clothes dryers):

Two other things to point out on this balcony: One, the big metal bowl.  These kinds of bowls are in most Korean homes, and are used for making kimchee and other pickled foods that are made in large batches.  Plastic bowls of a similar size are usually found in the bathrooms, and are used for hand-washing clothes or for taking a "cat bath", as washing one's face first thing in the morning is called in Korean.  The second thing to point out is the big hula hoop hanging on the wall.  This is a special kind of hard plastic hula hoop with big bumps around its inside circumference that a lot of Korean women own.  I have been told that the bumps on the hula hoop help you lose weight as you use the hula hoop.  (I've never gotten a more scientific explanation on that, though.)

Here are some views from inside some Korean apartments (and note that while most apartments have some sort of couches and chairs in their living rooms, most Koreans still prefer to sit on bamboo or padded mats on the warm ondol heated floors in their living rooms, even elderly Koreans):

I really liked the smooth bamboo mat on the living room floor of this apartment:

This is a picture of the inside of a smaller, more humble apartment.  This apartment has no living room, just two small bedrooms, a kitchen, and a tiny bathroom (picture taken from the larger of the two bedrooms, toward the kitchen):

The "hardwood floor" you see in these apartments is actually usually imitation, made with various types of materials (sometimes cheaper wood, sometimes hard plastic or a kind of linoleum-like material).  This is a close-up of some fairly decent imitation flooring.  Notice that each of the "boards" is actually just printed on, and the actual seam between pieces is almost straight down the middle of the picture:

Many Korean kitchens have a separate area in the back that is partitioned off by glass sliding doors.  In this picture, you can kind of see that there is a refrigerator kept back in that area.  Many apartments also have the cooking stove out there.  It's kind of the area where all the "dirty work" of the kitchen goes on, while the regular part of the kitchen looks nice and clean for guests.

This is a pretty typical arrangement for how dishes are stored.  Above most kitchen sinks there is a rack for teacups and sometimes small platters, and to the right of that, you can see two silver containers holding chopsticks and rice paddles.  Also, there is almost always a plastic bowl in the kitchen sink, used for washing fruit or washing dishes in a way that wastes less water.

As I mentioned before, many Korean households have a special refrigerator for storing kimchee.  This keeps the pickled Chinese cabbages, Korean radishes, etc. and a perfect temperature so that when you eat it, it is wonderfully crisp and cool.  This is what the refrigerators look like on the outside:

If you open the lid of the refrigerator, you'll see these plastic tubs containing kimchee:

In the bedrooms of many older Koreans, there are huge and often ornate wardrobes.  The thick Korean quilts that are often used instead of beds take up a large part of the storage space in these:

This wardrobe is decorated with traditional Korean lacquer work, in which designs using the pearly parts of sea shells (or sometimes plastic imitations) are inlaid:

A closer detail of the lacquer work:

Here is another piece of furniture in the room that matches it:

While most Korean apartments have at least one room with a western style bed, most guest rooms and some elderly people's bedrooms don't have a bed.  Instead, heavy Korean quilts/comforters and thin quilted mattresses are taken out of the big wardrobes and unfolded for sleeping on.  Since they are placed right on the warm ondol floor, you stay nice and warm all night.  I would take sleeping this way any day over sleeping on a Western style bed.  Here is what the quilts and mattresses look like when folded out at bedtime:

Most Korean apartments have two or three bedrooms and one bathroom.  Bathrooms here are a little puzzling to the American visitor at first!  When you go into the home's bathroom, you will find that you have to step down onto the floor, which is lower than the floor of the rest of the apartment.  There will be a pair of plastic slippers for you to step into.  This is because the floor in Korean home bathrooms is usually wet, since showers usually have no curtains or doors, and the water gets all over the bathroom, draining out a floor drain.  (Electrical outlets in bathrooms have special covers to keep them dry, as do toilet paper holders.)  Most larger apartments have bathtubs under the showerhead, but smaller apartments often just have a showerhead that rains down directly onto the tile floor.  (Very similar to bathrooms I saw in Thailand, China, Kenya, and Mexico.) The floors are always tile.  There will usually be a small cupboard or medicine cabinet containing "bath towels", which as I've said before, are more the size of a kitchen hand towels.  Some bathrooms will have plastic bowls, laundry soap, and washboards for hand washing clothes.  I would provide pictures of bathrooms, but I think my husband's friends and family members probably think I'm weird enough already without having to wonder what on earth I'm doing disappearing into the bathroom with a camera!

And that is all my information on Korean homes!

In South Korea, people tend to love luxury fashion brands.  (My husband always tells me this is because Koreans want to show their pride in the way they have made so much progress economically since the devastating, impoverished days of the Korean War.  To which I always say "Yeah, but haven't they proved it already?  Do they really need more of those hideously ugly Coach purses?")  One of the favorite luxury fashion brands in South Korea is Burberry, a British company that specializes in putting awful pastel yellow plaid on everything imaginable.  (According to Wikipedia, the company has been around since 1856.  I personally don't see why.)  Walking around any home, town, or city in South Korea (or in Korean neighborhoods in the Seattle area), you're likely to encounter real or imitation Burberry plaid designs in all sorts of places.  Here are some pictures to show what I mean.  This will be like a Where's Waldo game.  Can you find the Burberry style plaid in each picture?  (I apologize for some of the pictures being blurry... my photography skills leave a lot to be desired!):

This one has two!

This little boy is one of my husband's third cousins  (a funny thing about that... Since my husband's mother and this child's great grandfather are siblings, my husband and I are--in the traditions of Korean family terminology-- of the same "generation" as this child's grandparents.  So when we had lunch with this little boy's family today, he and his siblings were instructed to call my husband and I "Halaboji" and "Halmoni", which means "grandfather" and "grandmother".  I was blown away!  Me being just 26 years old and being addressed by a family term that I've only heard Korean women in their sixties or older be called!).

Now wasn't that fun?!  If you haven't had enough yet, go to Google, type in "Burberry plaid", and click on the images search. 

I've had to laugh a few times in Seoul and Daegu because I've seen some white guys with Korean girls on their arms, and these guys are wearing Burberry accessories, usually in the form of scarves.  I think it's a sign that they're totally whipped.


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