Just a quick post to tell everyone looking for Super K in Bangkok that it is now along Silom Road. Just take BTS Sala Daeng and go in the direction of United Center. It’s a short walk from the Skytrain. Happy shopping!
Here’s a delicious routine after stocking up on your Human Nature beauty essentials. Just a floor above the Human Nature flagship store along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City (Philippines) is Enchanted Farm Cafe, a social enterprise selling healthy salads, burgers, and desserts straight from (you guessed it right) Enchanted Farm.
I tried the Enchanted Burger, a yummy compromise between my love for meat and my brain’s nagging to eat more veggies. It is made from 20 percent meat and 80 percent veggies, so it is, of course, a guilt-free meal. It is also loaded with other fresh veggies like cucumbers and greens. All of this cafe’s burgers are served with side salad and sweet potato fries. So I suppose this will fill up our fiber needs for the day.
The salad was super fresh and the dressing had a sweet, tangy taste which i loved. While I’m not really a fan of sweet potato fries, the tartare-like dipping sauce made it a delight to eat.
Next time I drop by the area, I will their pastas, salads, and desserts (sabanoffee pie, in particular!).
I love how I live less than 15 minutes away from a great supermarket that sells organic vegetables and fruits, among many other things. I can just wake up and mix stuff up from my fridge. Like a salad. Or sandwich. And at night, because i want to eat light, i can do the same.
Gave myself a yummy organic treat at Be Organic restaurant in Bangkok last Sunday. I’ve been wanting to sample some dishes from this restaurant by Lemon Farm and I finally had my chance after church. Too hungry to choose, I picked the seabass set (250 baht) which includes the seabass plate with brown rice and veggie sides, veggie salad, soup of the day, and bancha (tea).
I loved the tangy sauce that the seabass came with. Staff were nice and they served my food with a smile.
There’s also a mini grocery shop beside the restaurant, selling organic veggies and other health foods. Beauty products are also here. It’s a one-stop shop for almost all of your organic needs!
Be Organic is located at the first floor of Portico Building. Take BTS Chitlom exit 4. Walk along Soi Langsuan for a bit until you see Portico on your left. You can’t miss it!
Have you ever noticed how some families in Korean TV dramas fuss over sons, be it wanting to have one, or raising one, or the lack of one?
Take “Jang Ok-Jung: Live in Love”, for example. Each character seems to know what’s at stake with having a son. The King wants one as an heir. Jang Ok-Jung wants to give birth to one to secure the King’s love and her position in the palace. The Queen is forlorn at her inability to produce one, as it seems to be her primary responsibility. The Queen Mother wants a pure, royal blooded, untainted-by-any-“low-class wench” (the Queen Mother’s words in the drama, not mine, hehe!). Whereas the Queen Dowager doesn’t mind one from Jang Ok-Jung’s womb, as long as the womb is affiliated with her faction (you know how intrigue-filled palace life in any saguek is!).
But one movie truly characterizes this preoccupation with having a son, in my opinion. No doubt readers of this blog (this writer included) might have been too young when the movie 씨받이 (The Surrogate Womb) was shown in 1987. Some readers of this blog might not even have been be born yet.
Recently, though, while on a student exchange program in Seoul, our history class was made to watch this movie, and what stood out for me was how the movie revolved around producing a son.
The film is a classic period masterpiece by renowned Korean director Im Kwon Taek, which was presented at the 44th Venice International Film Festival and won the Best Actress Prize for Kang Soo-yeon.
The film tells the story of yangban couple Sang-Kyu and his wife, who have been married for 12 years already but are still childless. The family has no heir to facilitate ancestral rites. This becomes unsettling for the family. So they come up with a plan to hire a 씨받이, or surrogate womb, in secret. They finally choose Oak-Nye, played by actress Kang Soo-yeon, as surrogate womb. Oak-Nye was forced to undergo various physiological and sexual indignities to ensure the birth of a son, such as holding her breath til near-death on the night of a full moon, drinking a concoction made from the grinded nose of Buddha’s statue, and bathing on almost-burning water, to name a few. Eventually, Sang-Kyu and Oak-Nye eventually fall in love. The family finds out about the affair and tries to separate them, but to no avail. Oak-Nye eventually gives birth to a boy. The family keeps the child. Oak-Nye and her mother, with heavy hearts, leave the house with their “prize” – 10 patches of land.
So why this impassioned preoccupation with producing a son during the Joseon period? At this day and age, and being a foreigner at that, this is quite a puzzle for me.
According to my readings, this strong preference for a son is rooted in Confucianism. First and foremost, a male heir is needed to conduct ancestor worship. Ancestor worship can only be done by the head of the male lineage (the father/husband) as ritual master. In their minds, a daughter cannot carry out ancestral rites nor continue family lineage.
In the absence of a male heir, the ritual of honoring a family’s forefathers is in danger of coming to a halt. And in Confucian culture, this is a no-no. That’s why the clan gives so much importance to paternal lineage.
That’s also why, if you watch the movie, you’ll notice that the production of a male heir is like a family affair. Everyone is concerned about it, from the grandma of the family down to the distant relatives.
There is a great emphasis on keeping the family lineage alive since social and political status depended heavily on birth and lineage.
The film also depicts the extreme pressure on yangban women to produce an heir, which is their most important duty. She must assure the continuation of the husband’s line by bearing a son. A son is also needed to pass down the family fortune after parents’ death. Failure to produce a male heir was considered a sin, according to the “seven sins” for wives in The Great Ming Code. Moreover, women with only daughters were treated as if they were criminals. So if a yangban woman has no son, the family would either hire a surrogate mother, like in this particular movie, or adopt a son.
In “Jang Ok-Jung: Live in Love”, the Queen Mother and Queen In-Hyeon thought they could use Ok-Jung’s womb as some sort of surrogate womb, after which they’d steal away the baby. But, as you may well know from the drama, the King had other plans: Through sly maneuverings, he demoted Queen In-Hyeon and appointed Ok-Jung as queen in order to secure his son’s position as successor.
Such is the trouble and intrigue behind the production of a male heir. But does this ring true in the present time?
The answer is, not so much. I couldn’t believe it myself at first, since Korea is known to be a patriarchal society. But, when one of my Korean professors shared with us the results of his study, I began to believe that Korean society may indeed be moving towards gender equality.
Basically, our professor said that although strong son preference still exists in Korea, especially among older generations, there is a drastic decline in son preference among females and younger generations. This is the conclusion that he arrived at after analyzing survey data from the East Asian Social Survey in 2006.
He says that this may be because of Korea’s democratization and the women’s movement, minds are slowly but surely changing. Moreover, he also says that family life in Korea has shifted from paternal to bi-lateral, that’s why son preference has weakened noticeably among females and youngsters.
There are a lot of other articles that point to this interesting trend. This article from Korea JoongAng Daily points to the changing perceptions of parents towards raising children, which is from the function of having a child (i.e., this kid will do this-and-that for the family in the future) to the pure pleasure of raising a child.
This New York Times article, meanwhile, even hails Korea as a trendsetter in Asia for successfully reversing the high sex imbalance in the population. It also says that daughters are more preferred now since they are seen to be more caring than sons towards their parents, especially in old age.
So the next time you see a sageuk with characters clamoring for son in the family, smile, savor the nostalgia, and say, “It’s becoming Korea’s past.”
1) Women’s Life During the Choson Dynasty (Han Hee-Sook)
2) Korea – Traditional Korean Families
3) Son Preference or Daughter Preference? A Comparative Study (Eun Ki-Soo)
4) Gender equality slightly improved last year: gov’t report (Korea Herald)
Seoul (and the whole of Korea, for that matter) teems with places where you can try the Hanbok, Korea’s traditional attire. From the airport to tourist spots like palaces, traditional villages, and museums, the Hanbok experience is an ever present attraction which signals that you are, indeed, in Korea.
The allure of the Hanbok for us foreigners may be because of the elegant way our favorite actors in our favorite Korean TV dramas wear them.
The sight of the Queen walking regally at the palace, of Korean ladies sauntering at the market, or of a gisaeng dancing gracefully while the hem of her Hanbok rustles musically with each beat just makes us want to try the Hanbok for ourselves, at least once in our lives.
Not all Hanbok are created equal, though. During the Joseon period, one’s social status was made apparent through the kind of Hanbok one wore. And if you intend to relive your Hanbok fantasy down pat, accuracy is key. That is, would you want to appear as a queen, maiden or gisaeng in the next photo you’ll proudly post on Facebook (or any other social network you use)?
So the next time you spot a Hanbok booth in Korea, keep these little nuggets of info in mind. Who knows, you can even dazzle your friends with your “extensive” knowledge of the Hanbok!
Hanbok for the common people
Materials used for making Hanbok ranged from hemp, ramie, cotton muslin, silk, and satin, depending on the weather.
But if you are a commoner, you wear white Hanbok on most days, with the only exceptions being festivals and special life events like weddings. White isn’t so bad, though, since it represents purity, integrity, and chastity.
Hanbok for the upper class
If you come from the yangban or upper class, or if you are a court figure, you wear brightly colored Hanbok in red, yellow, blue, and black, which represent the give traditional elements in Oriental Cosmology – fire, earth, water, metal and wood. You also wear an assortment of accessories. The hair is elaborately arranged and decorated, too.
You can also tell the period in which the Hanbok was popular. During the early Joseon period, the jeogori was hip-length in style and was fastened at the waist. The jeogori that we are familiar now, which is arm pit-length in style with front panels made longer for breast coverage, were popular during the late Joseon Dynasty. This is an interesting article on how the jeogori has changed over the passing of centuries.
Hanbok for royal family
Symbols on the hem of one’s Hanbok denoted the wearer’s rank. A queen’s clothing carried the phoenix symbol. Princesses and royal concubines’ clothes, meanwhile, were decorated with a floral pattern. And for the ultimate sign of luxury, only royalty were allowed to wear gold-colored clothing.
Specific attire worn by female royalty include the hwalot, the wonsam and the dangui, among others.
If you want to wear something a princess would, then choose a hwalot, a ritual attire adorned with 10 symbols of noble plants and animals denoting luck, long-life and prosperity. Luxuriously embroidered using crimson thread, one can imagine how expensive a hwalot is. Common people, who cannot afford this clothing, resorted to wearing nok wonsam instead.
In addition, the hwalot was also an attire that noble classes wore as a bridal topcoat.
Ceremonial topcoat for royalty, court ladies with high rank, and yangban women was the wonsam. To differentiate a royalty’s wonsam from a court lady’s and a yangban woman’s, different colors were used for each class. Moreover, decorations around the chest, shoulders and the back further signified which class the wearer belongs to.
A gold-colored wonsam, of course, can only be worn by the empress. The red one is worn by the queen. The green one is worn by a princess (or by a woman from the commoner class, but only during her wedding ceremony).
For minor ceremonies, the queen, princess or the wife of a high ranking government official wore the dangui, the difference being the queen and the princess wore dangui that had a gold trim, whereas non-royalty wore plain dangui. Wives from the noble class, wore the dangui during major ceremonies.
Hanbok for gisaeng: Fashion-forward and free
Do you remember that scene in “Jang Ok-Jung: Live in Love” where gisaengs served as Jang Ok-Jung’s models during her fashion show? There is truth to this scene, as gisaengs were actually stylish trend-setters during their time. Because they were not constrained by rules and regulations, such as in clothing, they got pretty creative with their clothes, makeup and accessories.
A major difference in a gasaeng’s Hanbok, though, was the presence of a wide band around the chest.
Gisaeng also wore eye-catching accessories such as jeonmo (hat) in Gu Family Book.
Hanbok, at the present time, is only worn during special ceremonies like weddings, 60th birthday and funerals.
Hanbok has been altered through the ages according to foreign influences. Current times still point to the same trend. Nowadays, Hanbok is more modern, with silhouettes adapting to the changing times. It also seems to be more comfortable to wear as there are less parts to don.
But whatever Hanbok you choose to wear, the important thing is how happy you are with it and how beautiful it makes you feel. And preserving an experience like this in photos makes it all the more special. Queen, maiden or gisaeng, there’s a Hanbok especially made for you.
Where to try Hanbok (Just some, not all! ^^)
1. Seoul Global Culture & Tourism Center located on the 5th floor of the M Plaza in Myeongdong http://www.visitseoul.net/en/article/article.do?_method=view&m=0003001006003&p=06&art_id=55733&lang=en
2. Tourist Information Center (TIC), located in the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) Headquarters in Seoul http://visitkorea.or.kr/enu/FU/FU_EN_15.jsp?cid=1799300
3. Bukcon Maru
4. Myeonggajae Guesthouse
5. Seoul Namsan Gugakdang
Traveling solo has been on my bucket list since I started watching Ian Wright in awe at Discovery Channel’s Lonely Planet in high school. Although I’ve traveled in many parts of the world already for the past __ number of years, I still haven’t mustered up the courage to backpack by myself. It’s always been with family and friends.
But thanks to the opportunity presented by BnB Hero, I finally did it. As my prize for churning out one of the best blogs about the Seongju Life and Culture Festival, I was given a free homestay at Suncheon for the Suncheon Bay International Garden Expo.
Truth to tell, this wasn’t on my list of things to visit in Seoul since I am not fond of gardens. But I’m glad I soldiered on, anyway.
Not only did I see the ecologically friendly Suncheon City, I also experienced the joy of living with a Korean family.
Initially, I was concerned about traveling solo and staying with an unfamiliar family for 3 days and 2 nights. I voiced these concerns with BnB Hero and they helpfully arranged things for me. They recommended a nice apartment room for me that’s owned by a very kind woman named Tina.
Breakfast was included in the deal, and woah, what a big breakfast it was! It was my first real Korean breakfast that’s not in the school dormitory, kekeke. Tina and her husband cooked it together. What a loving family there are.
Tina also spoke English well, as she was an English teacher. So for foreigners like me who are worried about communication barriers, there’s nothing like that when you stay with Tina.
I also feel I got lucky in my first homestay. The room was clean, the host was nice, and she even accompanied me in some trips, like at the Suncheon Bay Garden Expo and at the Suncheon Drama Set!
All in all, this trip made me braver in terms of traveling solo. Korea is such a safe and easy place to travel around in. And with the help of BnB Hero, your travel is bound to be safe, easy, economical and fun!
This is Ultra Korea, a big, big, big crazy-cool event that involves dancing, drinking and going crazy
We had to get our wristbands/tickets in this booth.
And then pass by this tight security check.
After which we did our volunteer work for KTO – distributing these leaflets!
We watched these people go by.
And then we took this commemmorative photo of us.
I don’t know who this DJ is, but he cranked out good music.]
In Ultra Korea….
This is how crazy it gets.
And of course, you gotta meet characters like this. Dance with him? At the next Ultra Korea in Seoul, please do. ^^
But what really gave us a kick was riding the duck boat. At times, the water would be as serene as monk’s prayer. But once the tourists riding the speedboats zoom in, big waves would start violently rocking us from side to side. Stress!!!
All in all, my first time at the Rainbow Island Festival is surely one of my best Korea memories EVER!
Thanks for giving me great spring semester to remember, KTO!
P.S. Here’s a video of Clazziquai performing 핑 (Ping). It was awesome! And oh, yeah, that’s me shouting at the background. Hihihi. ^^
If you’ve been watching the sageuk (사극) “Jang Ok-Jung, Living in Love” (장옥정, 사랑에 살다), you’ll probably notice how, along with the twists and turns in this famous femme fatale’s life are accompanying twists and turns on her…hair.
She started out with an innocent-looking and oh-so-lovely plaited-braid, or daenggi meori (댕기 머리). It was tied back with a wide ribbon called daenggi (댕기) while the side of her head was decorated with a beautiful hairpin called dwikkoji (뒤꽂이).
A pretty piece of ornament called the baetssi daenggi (배씨 댕기) would be perched on top her parted hair at times, too.
This kind of hairstyle symbolized her status as a maiden, or an unmarried woman. Interestingly, this is actually an old style that was popular even from the pre-Silla period. This hairstyle continued to be popular among girls throughout the Joseon period.
And then, when Jang Ok Jung became a court lady, she began to wear her hair, still in a variation of unmarried women’s style, but with her hair piled higher on her head.
Married women were not allowed to have the daenggi meori (댕기 머리) hairstyle. Instead, they prettiifed themselves with a hairstyle called Jjok meori (쪽 머리). In this kind of hairstyle, the hair is shaped into a chignon that is worn at the back.
Of course, Jang Ok Jung was not officially married. But I suppose (correct me if I’m wrong) that as concubine, she is in a sense, connected to the King. Hence, the hairstyle.
Colorful hair ornaments still abound to accentuate the face, such as the aforementioned baetssi daenggi (배씨 댕기) for married women, cheopji (첩지) for married women and court ladies, and the jam (잠), which is a kind of hairpin that is intricately and exquisitely made for royalty.
Others would wear a simpler hairpin called the binyeo (비녀), such as what the lead court lady in charge of palace garments wears throughout the drama.
Jang Ok-Jung’s mom also wore the binyeo (비녀) in her chignon. But hers is very simple, as befitting of her status as a slave during the Joseon period.
Jang Ok-Jung’s most lavish hairstyle thus far, it seems (I’m only up to Episode 17), was during her official appointment as concubine. She sported the tteoguji (떠구지), a kind of wooden decorative hair frame. This is quite a heavy, potentially neck-breaking hairstyle since the tteoguji (떠구지) is worn along with a wig, which makes it quite expensive, too. Thus, you can imagine what this hairstyle tells about the wearer’s status.
As you can see, Jang Ok Jung’s status was reflected not only in the clothes she wore but in the hairstyles she sported. Often, aside from keeping the hair in place, hair served as a visible indicator of one’s position in society, age, occupation, marital status, and wealth (or lack of it). And we can see this in how Jang Ok Jung’s hair evolved in the TV drama.
When we watch sageuk, we can’t help but admire Joseon women’s hairstyles and ornaments. They’re beautiful, yes, but behind those beautiful hairstyles are messages about a woman’s social class and background. Even in hair, there is a hierarchy.
- “Symbolism of Hairstyles in Korea and Japan” by Na-Young Choi
- Traditional Hairstyles for Modern Beauties
- A Guide to Joseon Hairstyles and Headgears