Sunday, September 5, 2010

남이섬 (Nami Island)

I love my Korean boyfriend with all my heart. This summer has been quite different from last as Boyfriend has been busy preparing for the dreaded 취업 hunt this fall. Korean students can start applying for jobs at companies in their last semester of university. This heinous process of constant test-taking, stress, and self-punishment takes over the life of pretty much every unfortunate Korean college student at one point in their academic life. Boyfriend is no exception. He has been taking at least one test pretty much every weekend all summer, trying to improve scores by even the smallest amount to gain competitive edge in the ruthless Korean job market.

Personally, I'm not so worried. Boyfriend has a pretty solid resume consisting of ability in 4 languages, top grades, and experience in the Republic of Korea Marine Corps. A company would be crazy not to hire him, but I understand, it's hard to see it that way when you're inside.

Getting to the point, however, it's been kind of a sad, rainy, stressful summer. Boyfriend was supposed to take yet another test this weekend, but as if by some kind of Christmas miracle, on Tuesday he said:

"I canceled my test on Sunday. How about going somewhere to travel this weekend?"

So we did! We booked a pension and went to the 춘천 areaof 강원도. It was a much needed and totally fantastic weekend.

On Saturday we boarded a train from 쳥량리 to 가평. There was standing room only on the 1 and a half hour ride, but that meant a cheap ticket of just 3500 won. When we got to 가평, the 아저씨 from the pension came and picked us up. We borrowed bikes (for free) and cruised around the lakeside. Then we hiked for a bit, and went back to the pension to shower and watch 무한도전. After that, we had a gigantic barbecue dinner and got ourselves deep into a bottle of wine. Took a night walk and saw stars (impossible in Seoul).

Sunday morning we woke up around 10 and checked out of the pension around 11. We boarded a bus to take us to 남이섬. Nami Island is a famous man-made island. The scenery is really beautiful and some famous Korean and Japanese dramas have been filmed there. Before taking the ferry, we ate 춘천 닭갈비, one of my favourite Korean foods. It was a bit pricey, but we left with our bellies full and ready to cross the water to Nami. On Nami Island we walked around, checked out the exhibits and nature. It was lovely. About an hour and a half later, it looked like it was going to start to rain, so we headed back to the ferry wharf. A good call on our part; just as we got to the taxi stand to take us back to 가평 station, a thunder storm started. We were lucky to have such great weather the whole weekend, so without regret we boarded a train back to Seoul.

It was one of the best weekends in a long time, and I'm happy Boyfriend and I got to spend some time together before the job-hunt madness reaches critical mass this fall.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

한국 결혼식 (Korean Wedding)

Last weekend, one of my Korean co-workers got married. I've been in Korea almost 2 years, but I'd never been to a Korean wedding. Actually it wasn't much different from a western style wedding, but a few things were a little different.

Korean weddings these days almost always happen at a wedding hall. These are pretty giant convention style buildings with multiple halls where tons of wedding happen every day. I went with Boyfriend. When we got to the hall, we signed in our names and got tickets to the after-ceremony dinner. Then we went to the "Bride Waiting Room" and saw my friend and took a picture together.

After that, the actual ceremony was about 45 minutes. It was all in Korean (obviously), so my understanding was limited, but some of my other co-workers did a little song and dance at the end which was pretty cute. Then all the families and friend groups took pictures with the bride and groom. Finally, they threw the bouquet, a kind of funny twist on the western idea. The bride selects the woman who will catch the bouquet, and only that woman stands and waits for it. After she catches it, she's got three months to get married. Talk about pressure!

The reception was really different from most of the western wedding I've been to. The dinner is included in the use of the wedding hall. After the ceremony, all the guest pile into one of many banquet halls and chow down on free buffet and alcohol. The catch: instead of dancing and drinking into all hours of the morning western wedding style, you've only got two hours in the banquet hall. This seemed a little strange in the light of Korean social convention which usually involves long meetings and lots of alcohol. Anyway, the whole experience was pretty cool, and as Boyfriend said, it was "good experience" for me to see the Korean wedding process as that might be us in a few years.

Congrats to the bride and groom! They are living it up in Hawaii until next week.
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