Sunday, May 20, 2012

쉽게 만드는 김치찌개 (Easy Kimchi Stew)

I'm not known for my cooking skills, but I am known for my love of eating. One of my favorite things to eat is the classic, 김치찌개 (kimchi stew). While I used to eat this 2-3 times a week, since leaving Korea, it's just not as common.

Anyway, here is a simple recipe for making passable 김치찌개 with limited access to Korean ingredients. It's adapted from Husband's home recipe.

요리재료  Ingredients
김치  kimchi
참기름  sesame oil
파  spring onion
물  water
삼겹살이나 목살이나 스펨  pork belly, pork neck, or SPAM

만드는법  Method
1. 작은 냄비 바닥에 김치로 덮어요.
    Cover the bottom of a small pot with bite-size kimchi pieces.

2. 참기름을 넣고 5-8분 동안 구워요.
    Add a generous amount of sesame oil and allow the kimchi to cook in the oil on a
    medium heat for about 5-8 minutes.

3. 냄비의 물을 3/4 정도 돼도록 넣어요.
   Add water until the pot is 3/4 full.

4. 파를 썰고 냄비에 넣어요.
    Chop green onion as desired and add to the pot.

5. 김치국물을 조금 넣어요.
    Add a splash of the "kimchi water" (from the bottom of your kimchi container).

6. 고기를 썰고 넣어요.
    Slice and add the meat.

7. 10-15분 동안 끓여요.
    Let the pot simmer for 10-15 minutes. The longer it cooks, the more delicious it gets.

8. 밥과 김을 먹어요. 김치찌개를 만들었어요!
    Serve with rice and seaweed, and be proud of yourself.
    You just made 김치찌개!

Friday, May 18, 2012

신과함께 (Together with Gods)

It's pretty much undisputed that extensive reading in your L2 is one of the best ways of improving language ability. Due to my relatively low reading level in Korean, I've preferred children's books lent from a friend or translations of stories where I already know the basic plot. But there's also another great tool out there if you're looking for some L2 reading practice, and like me, just think the newspaper is too difficult... 만화 (comics!). I started reading 크레용신짱 (Crayon Shin-chan) a while back, and have enjoyed reading comics in Korean ever since. Top reasons why reading comics can improve your Korean?

* It's fun, so unlike other methods of studying, it doesn't feel like punishment!
* Vocabulary are usually useful in real life, and grammar patterns tend to be popular in speech.
* Picture clues help you decode unknown words.
* Vocabulary are often repeated, helping you learn new words.

I could name more, but those are the most prominent ones for me. Recently, Husband recommended I start reading 신과함께 a web-toon hosted on Naver. If you have a smartphone, you can download the Naver web-toon app (search "네이버웹툰") and read anywhere. It's awesome! I installed a Korean/English dictionary on my smartphone, so I can flip back and forth, searching words I'm unsure of as I'm reading. My dictionary also happens to have a history function, so I can look back for frequently occurring words that I've already looked up.

So why do I love 신과함께 so much? To start, the story is interesting and fast-paced. 신과함께 explores the Korean mythology of what happens after you die. The story follows two sets of characters, a middle-aged recently deceased Korean man and his afterlife lawyer, and a team of afterlife police-type characters. Hard to explain, but very interesting. The comic has humour, emotion, and creativity. The characters are well-developed and loveable. The art style is simple and expressive. It's really just a fun read. 

Honestly, I would recommend this comic to everyone if it was in English too, but since it's in Korean, I really hope you'll check it out if you're studying. Also I heard a movie is in the works, so you better get reading!

If you have any other recommendations for Korean reading, let me know!


Thursday, May 17, 2012

내 한국 결혼식 (My Korean Wedding)

This is the story of my Korean wedding. I blogged a long time ago about Korean weddings (before I actually got to be the bride in one) See here. Needless to say, my experience was a bit different, so I thought I'd put it down here, what it was like for this one particular 외국인 marrying a Korean in Korea.

Well it all began on a sunny day in October. Boyfriend (I guess I should call him Husband now) and I were eating burgers and enjoying a lovely Sunday. We were talking about our plans for the new year when we would both quit our jobs and travel the world together. Suddenly, he asked, "Don't you think it would be better if we were married?" To which I responded, "Did you just propose to me?" And he replied, "Well, that's not really how I wanted to propose, but do you want to get married?"

Fast forward two months (short engagement!). After a meeting with his parents, photo-shoot, invitations, blah blah blah, it was finally our wedding day. I expected a low stress experience, since the few Korean weddings I had attended before were pretty short and to-the-point: listen to a twenty minute speech, a friend sings a song, FREE BUFFET! My wedding was a little bit different. I'll save you the minute-by-minute details and stick to the things which I found interesting/different/awesome/frustrating about getting married in Korea.

I'm not really a fancy kind of gal. I'll admit that my sense of style is crippled at best, but I do enjoy things that are pretty in an understated and classic kind of way. What I found when I was preparing for my wedding day, and on the actual day, is that I was expected to look and act as much like a princess as possible. My wedding planner insisted that I try huge jewelry, tiaras, gloves, etc even when I insisted that I wanted a simple and elegant look. Maybe this happens to brides in every country... I don't know, but I'm happy that I stood up for my pearl studs and french manicure over a tiara and gloves. That is a bride's choice to make. I'm not saying gals shouldn't princess it up if they want to. I just think no one should be pressured into a style that they don't like/aren't comfortable with.

If this woman tries to make me wear a tiara one more time...

The 대기실 is the room where the bride waits before the wedding ceremony begins. Rather than hiding and then making a huge entrance, the bride sits in her little bride room and takes pictures with friends and family as they arrive before the ceremony. I actually really liked this part. It was nice to meet family and friends before the wedding. It calms the nerves and adds a bit a fun. Being a foreigner, it was also kind of like being a really exotic animal on exhibition. Lots of Boyfriend's friends and family were very shy about speaking English, so they'd poke their heads into the 대기실, smile broadly and wave. It was pretty cute.

My brother and I in the 대기실

Because Boyfriend is a culturally sensitive and romantic kind of guy, he suggested that he read his vows in English and I read mine in Korean. This was one of the most stressful but rewarding experiences.

Desperate practicing of the vows

After we finished our western style wedding ceremony, we changed into 한복 and had a short Korean ceremony called 폐백. This is not a full traditional Korean wedding ceremony, but it's a chance for friends and relatives to say something to the bride and groom (best wishes or advice, etc). There's a lot of bowing and soju. The highlights were: Boyfriend's parents threw chestnuts and figs into a sash in my lap to determine how many kids we'll have (2 daughters, 1 son), Boyfriend and I fought over the seed in a fig to determine who will hold the power in our relationship (me!), and at the end I got a sweet piggy-back ride!

Fighting over the fig seed (not actually making out)

After our ceremony we walked the beaches of Busan and then sang the night away with all of our friends at a private 노래방. Safe to say, it was pretty much the best day ever.

Oh yea, and here are some of the highlights on video!

Anyone else get married in another country/cultural tradition? I'd love to hear about it!