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Seven things I like about Koreans by Peter M. Beck

Even though I have spent seven years in Seoul, it is not one of my favorite cities in the world. Actually, until the recent beautification projects, it was one of my least favorite. Seoul has too much concrete, too many people and too little traditional culture has been preserved. Yet, I consider Seoul my second hometown and yearn to be there whenever I am away for very long. It is the Korean people who keep me coming back.

Some of the things I appreciate most about Koreans, such as Korean hospitality, I discovered during my first visit to Seoul in 1987. Others, like “jeong” and “euiri,” I am still learning to fully appreciate and often find difficult to explain to non-Koreans.

One of the qualities that define the Korean people is also one of the most complex: jeong. Of the many definitions in my dictionary, “feeling,” “compassion,” “sentiment,” and “affection” seem to come the closest, but none of them convey the real meaning or importance of the term. I see jeong existing between family members and close friends as an invisible force that binds them together. It is difficult for foreigners to “see” this emotion because it is often not verbalized. Westerners regularly tell their loved ones, “I love you,” but for Koreans, these words are infrequently spoken.

I first experienced jeong with my wife`s family. I was very close to my father-in-law, who passed away in 2002. As someone who fled North Korea during the Korean War, he took great interest in my work on North Korea. He once told me, “Of my six sons-in-law, you are my best hope for visiting my hometown and finding out what happened to my parents and siblings.” I still have not had a chance to visit Haeju, but I believe that I will someday. He also taught me that a son-in-law is a “one hundred-year guest.” He raised two ornery turkeys during one of my stays in Korea so that the whole family could have a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner.

The second quality I admire in Koreans has been even more difficult to grasp. Euiri can literally be translated as “moral sense,” but is better understood as a combination of loyalty and integrity-two qualities often lacking in America`s capital. Former President Harry Truman once said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog!” We have had a clear display of euiri in the passing of Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun. The expressions of anguish on the faces of those who worked with and for them tell it all. In contrast, here in the U.S., former Bush administration officials have created a circular firing squad of blame for the Iraq fiasco and even Vice President Cheney has turned on his old boss.

When you combine jeong and euiri and apply them to the three connections that bind Koreans together – namely blood, hometown and school ties – it leads to intense and powerful personal relationships. For non-Koreans, these relationships are impressive to observe, but they do not come without a price – the burden of responsibility and occasionally conflicting moral imperatives. For example, do you help a close friend even if it means breaking the law?

Confucianism has shaped Koreans in many positive ways, but the characteristic I like most is the respect accorded to elders and teachers. If I had to point to the cultural underpinnings of Korea`s rapid economic growth, an age-based social order and the centrality of education would be at the top of the list. Teachers have a status in Korea that is unimaginable in most other countries. Of course, attitudes change and a growing number of younger people are challenging the traditional hierarchy, but it is a quality that remains vital. The tension between the traditional and the modern is part of what makes Koreans so fascinating.

One of the Korean qualities that has not changed and I find most endearing is the hospitality and kindness I continually receive from total strangers. I was always getting lost during my first visit to Seoul, but people went out of their way to help me find my destination. Wandering around the countryside, I have been invited to join in 60th birthday celebrations and offered snacks on the hiking trail. Countless people have patiently explained to me the mysteries of Korea`s language and culture. How could one not appreciate such a people?

A fifth quality I have both admired and tried to embrace is the Korean proclivity to work hard and play hard. I attribute this to the drive for accomplishment and a general thirst for life. The ability to work a 10- or 12- hour day and then go out eating and drinking is a skill not easily acquired. I know of no other country that offers “three days, no nights” tours, where you depart on a bus in the evening, then hike all day, and return home that night.

The sixth quality I would like to mention is also the most esoteric. During my very first visit to Seoul, even in the midst of a concrete jungle, I was struck by the beauty of Korea`s people. My eyes were the first part of my body to become Korean. We all know that Bae Yong-jun spearheaded the “Korean Wave,” and Korea`s actresses and models have no rivals in my eyes when it comes to beauty. Many a foreign reporter visiting Pyongyang has commented on the attractive female traffic police. When I exclaimed to several Gaeseong factory workers, “the old saying is really true, `Southern men, Northern women (nam-nam buk-nyeo),`” I did not receive any response.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention the Korean preoccupation with eating and drinking. One of the first greetings I learned was, “Have you eaten?” and my very first Korean proverb was, “Even Diamond Mountain should be viewed after eating.” Eating is of course central to our existence, but Koreans do it with a relish that is almost unrivaled. In Japan, you are never far from a vending machine; in Korea, you are never far from 10 restaurants. I am still amazed when I go into a Korean barbecue restaurant, eat two or three portions of galbi, finish off several side dishes, only to hear the waitress ask, “What would you like for dinner?” (Shiksanunyo?).

Korea has an equally intense drinking culture, which I have also tried to embrace without pickling my liver. I was introduced to this culture during my first summer in Korea in 1988. One of my teachers (Prof. Lee Young-hui) invited me to go hiking in Bukhan-san with several other dissidents (including Baek Nak-chung and Poet Ko Eun). I should have known from the enormous backpacks each was carrying, but on top of the mountain we had a huge meal and rice wine (makkoli)! One of the things that keeps most Koreans (and myself) from becoming an alcoholic is not drinking alone. I like the custom of never pouring for oneself so much that I impose it on non-Korean family and friends.

When I got married, not only did my wife wear a hanbok, but we also followed the Korean custom of having the most prominent social figure in our lives, my graduate school advisor, conduct the ceremony rather than a religious person. A Korean professor attending described our ceremony as “Komerican.” I have taught my daughter to be proud that she is both Korean and American. She comes from two great peoples!

Peter M. Beck is the Pantech fellow at Stanford University`s Asia-Pacific Research Center. – Ed.
URL: http://www.koreaherald.com/opinion/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20090915000050

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My earliest birth memory of Korea

My earliest birth memory of Korea would be that of the orphanage where I stayed for about 8 months before I got adopted. I did remember it would get really cold during winter and that I often wore a thick coat or some sweaters and my nose would get wet, then my sweater would get wet too because I kept wiping off my nose. I remember I would play with kids and I liked playing with swings in the playground. I also remember the lady, a bomo, who would watch us while we slept and more than that, she would beat me with a newspaper rolled into a baton if I couldn’t fall asleep and I would stay down on the floor and watch her and the small fluorescent lamp that was alongside her. She always seemed to have books with her so I guess she was reading or studying, maybe for the college entrance examination and I’d ruin her concentration with my sleeplessness on many nights. Then I’d finally fall asleep.

Another memory I had of the orphanage was how I’d notice some kids would become “missing” so to speak. Like I’d find some kids who didn’t mind playing with me since I couldn’t hear and I’d look out for those kids till they disappeared. Where did they go? I wondered. One time when I finally got big enough to be able to get up on the high balcony that was by the window, probably my favorite spot of the orphanage as I can pretty much see everything what’s out in the world. It was on a second floor. I saw a small white truck out there and almost every morning, the guy would park by the curb, get out of the truck, get around to the back and haul something out of it. Light white air (actually just a cold steam) would come out of the truck’s rear and I had no idea what the guy was doing. I thought that must be how kids disappeared, as the man got the kids and dumped them into there. I told myself I would stay away from the truck or hope not to get caught and be put away by that truck. When I visited Korea again in 2002, I saw the same kind of truck again….and it was just a delivery food truck. So much for my own imagination.

Next and last memory I had in Korea was of the plane I was abroad on. I remember how everything was in a rush because my bomo was buttoning me up with everything, from my shoes to my coat, and put on a hat and I saw my clothes being folded into a suitcase and my bomo just kept grabbing my hand and pulling me around and I finally got into a car. My bomo had some tears on her face, knowing that she won’t be bothered again by my annoying presence. Then we got on the plane. I remember it was mostly red inside, lights off for most of the time and that it was a very long flight.

The plane finally touched down on the ground and when I stepped out of the plane and walked down the tunnel, and at the end, my parents and I met for the first time ever.

Is South Korea the world’s thirstiest drinkers?

I happen to come across this article that says South Korea has the most Starbucks coffee shops in the world, besting major cities such as NYC and London. In addition to that, Starbucks isn’t even the only coffee brand in South Korea; there are other coffee shops as well. Caffe Bene, Pascucci, and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, to name a few. Among OECD countries, South Koreans work the most hours and young Koreans are always studying to pass college entrance exams, so I suppose they do need their caffeine fix. Reading this article also reminds me of another article I’d recently read, that South Korea is also the world’s highest per capita alcohol consumption, mostly with soju beverage, consuming more than 3 billion worth of bottles. So, as a country that has the most coffee shops and lead the world in alcohol consumption makes South Korea the thirstiest drinkers in the world?

Links
KOREAM: CAFFEINATED NATION: SEOUL HAS THE MOST STARBUCKS LOCATIONS IN THE WORLD

The Guardian: Soju the most popular booze in the world.

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Yonggungsa Temple near Busan, South Korea

Great picture. Went to see this temple back in 2010 with my sis and her family.

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Family post reunion

I realize I haven’t really shared my experience about the first meeting between my Korean family and my parents. Although it was already planned for some time, I didn’t realize it was that big of a moment for everyone involved and I can remember my family was getting real nervous about meeting my parents for the first time. I kept telling them that my parents were really cool nice people. There’s nothing they should be worried about but I can understand their apprehension. I would be nervous too. My parents were a little hesitant as well, like unsure what to do in this completely new scene, something they had never been in before. For some reason, I was real cool about the whole meeting and knew it’d go fine. Which it was.

I should mention that one of the things I learned about my family was they never thought I would be raised by parents who were Deaf. They thought I would be raised by hearing parents. That was for 20 years. So, since my parents were deaf, I had to get an interpreter, which I was fortunate enough to find one. She was able to interpret Korean, English, ASL, and KSL all at once. Amazing woman! I will tell more about her at another time. Since I had already met my birth family back in 2002, then visited again in 2008 to see my newly born niece, and I got a chance to work in Korea for a year, I’ve gotten used to the presence of my family, as opposed to what it was in 2002 where it was all but uncertainty. Obviously, that wasn’t the case for both parties this time.

I must say that it took me a while to finally understand my parents’ initial pessimism about me discovering my family in Korea. Since my parents were born and raised in America where economy was a free market capitalism, I realize my parents were used to the idea of buy-it-and-it-is-yours. They carried that kind of mentality over to adoption as they worked hard to save money to be able to afford adoption. When they finally adopted me as their only child, they thought I’m all theirs and nothing will ever take that away. Needless to say, they were very taken aback when I discovered my birth family in Korea in 2002 and they didn’t know what to do or what to say. My mom mostly said nothing but my dad would remind me that you were let go for adoption and we got you and provided you a good care and home. That’s the thing about my parents, as they were raised on capitalism ideals and also Christianity in that you be nice to kids and provide shelter. I didn’t want to have too big of a confrontation and I kind of let things settle by themselves. And I was busy with school stuffs anyway. After a while, we had gotten used to the realization that I had a family in Korea after all and what’s more, my sister was deaf and married to her husband who was deaf too. So, I was very curious about that part and my first question was exactly how deaf were they? do they use sign language to communicate? or were they more like hard of hearing in that they were able to communicate by talking and do not know any sign language? since both parents and I used ASL, so I wondered if they used KSL. Do they experience similar frustrations that most deaf people generally experience in life? I had questions like that and I basically waited till I met them for the first time and I would get all my answers.

My brother asked me, “So, your parent are going to visit here during Christmas time?” I said yes. He said “Okay, I wanted to make dinner plans for us.” So, we talked about that and what would be a good dinner for everyone. We finally came down to a traditional Korean food cuisine and we made a nice dinner reservation in the Gangnam district, which was pretty upscale. At that time, I kind of knew that we wouldn’t be thinking too much about dinner — it was just a setting for us to meet and since my parents were a first time visitor to Korea, at this dinner, they didn’t have to decide and order dishes, as waitress would keep bringing different dishes onto the table. I also thought my brother or my family could explain some dishes and recommend them, as a way to break the ice. When we arrived at the place, the restaurant looked very nice. It had a nice Korean architecture going on and we were seated inside a traditional Korean room with doors that shut. We were dressed nice and finally, it’s time to start introductions.

Deep inside, I must say it was a big moment for me because this was something I had imagined so many times in my mind, and sometimes, in my dreams. I really wanted for both my parents and my family to meet each other. It finally all came down to that and to my own fortune, I got an interpreter who knew all languages needed to facilitate communication over the dinner table. As it turned out, my niece was the perfect ice breaker as we all looked at her and said words to describe how cute she was. It didn’t take very long before we would talk about my adoption and that my family wanted to take a moment to say a big thanks and how grateful they were for me to be adopted by them, my parents. The foods would arrive and naturally, my parents had trouble identifying which kinds were they and since my dad liked food, he would try them all. My parents had to let the interpreter know that they didn’t know how to use chopsticks, so she informed the waitress and she got some western utensils for my parents. That got everyone to laugh. My parents told my family they had the best times raising me and that it was a blessing to them and wouldn’t have it any other way. My mom brought some pictures of me as a young kid and showed to them. My dad seemed to be having a nice time talking with my sister and she was trying to teach my dad some KSL signs and my sister’s husband already knew some ASL, so they were able to carry a conversation on their own. I knew my mom wasn’t as gregarious as my dad, she’s more on the sensitive side and can be emotional, so I kept checking on her and making sure she’s all right. I think I know my mom better than anyone else and I would often reassure her. My mom had some curious questions to ask the birth mother, especially when I first arrived in the U.S. The interpreter interpreted and the birth mother tried to answer them as best as she could but frankly, it was a very long time ago, and obviously emotional, so she couldn’t remember all of it. I realize it wasn’t that important to remember the past exactly. The point was that we’re all here, able to share dinner together, talking, and counted our blessings.

All in all, dinner went very well and my parents thought the Korean dinner cuisine was interesting and that the walled room and no chairs made up for a neat atmosphere, obviously Korean. My family told my parents that this kind of dinner was very similiar to what the kings from the Joseon dynasty would normally have in their dinner. My mom said “oh really, wow!”

The night was still young and we wanted to talk more, so we walked to a nice coffee place not far from the restaurant and we got our coffee there. My dad thought the coffee was very good, impressed by the barista who made it for him and told him to please enjoy the coffee. And that would be how our reunion went.

-nathan

What is Jeong?

Recently, I learned something new about this word definition – Jeong. I think it’s a cool concept.

The concept of jeong exists in Korean, Japanese, and Chinese cultures, and the same Chinese character is used in these countries. However, it is very interesting for us to see that the meaning of the same character is subtly different for each of these countries. The Chinese emphasize the aspects of loyalty and reciprocity in relationships when using their jeong character. The Japanese equivalent, pronounced “jyo,” means sentimental feelings with the addition of another word, “nin jyo.” Jeong in Korean culture has much broader meanings and ambiguous nuances in the expression of emotions, and encompasses the Chinese and Japanese concepts.

The manifestation of jeong in a social structure and in social values is primarily through loyalty and commitment without validation, logic, or reason. This can be compared to the concept of amae in Japanese, which is an expectation of behaviors without validation. It is very interesting to see that interactions in Korean culture, whether formal or private, often carry the assumption of commitment. In Western culture, commitment is often contractual and defined, such as in a marriage, instead of being implicit. When commitments are made based upon contextual significance, for example, because of “jeong-related” affairs rather than logical interpretations of content, individuals easily become members of a cohesive group at home or work, bonded by jeong or perhaps even held in bondage by jeon.

Some of the things I appreciate most about Koreans, such as Korean hospitality, I discovered during my first visit to Seoul in 1987. Others, like “jeong” and “euiri,” I am still learning to fully appreciate and often find difficult to explain to non-Koreans.

One of the qualities that define the Korean people is also one of the most complex: jeong. Of the many definitions in my dictionary, “feeling,” “compassion,” “sentiment,” and “affection” seem to come the closest, but none of them convey the real meaning or importance of the term. I see jeong existing between family members and close friends as an invisible force that binds them together. It is difficult for foreigners to “see” this emotion because it is often not verbalized. Westerners regularly tell their loved ones, “I love you,” but for Koreans, these words are infrequently spoken.

Links: http://www.prcp.org/publications/sig.pdf

http://www.koreaherald.com/opinion/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20090915000050

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Dad

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad. I’m not sure why. I think when I was little, I looked up at him highly. My dad had a way of dealing with people like how he feels he can get anything he wanted and he was good at smooth-talking. He once told me a story of how he’d steal a HS basketball star’s girlfriend by talking to her often during halftime at basketball games, then she’d decide that he was more fun to hang around than watching her old boyfriend play basketball. He’d tell me different stories and how adventurous he used to be, riding his motorcycle all over America. It was cool to hear how he’d ridden his bike all the way to San Francisco in 1975, spent 4 nights here and that it would be his last such road trip before he met my mom and got married in 1977 and bought a tiny house together. They had no idea that one day, they would adopt a son. He also told me that when he was in SF, he stopped by a small grocery shop. The guy who owned the shop was an immigrant from Korea and apparently, he knew some sign language, communicated with my dad. He was impressed by that. He wondered what had become of the guy.

Last year, my parents flew to Seoul, Korea for the first time ever and I was excited for them that they were visiting Korea. However, I must admit something was wrong. My dad didn’t look adventurous at all. It was like he was annoyed to be coming here in Korea. Maybe the long 14 hours flight bothered him more than he’d expect. “What the heck are we supposed to do now? How the heck do we get ourselves to the hotel?” he’d ask with a grunt. I was a bit taken back by his sudden remarks and I said don’t worry about that, I’m happy you got here OK.” They got their luggage and we went outside to the front and waited for the bus. I explained to them that there were different buses coming here and we would wait at this spot till our bus came. I realized that at this time, they would be of a minority race visiting a foreign country while I, on the other hand, looked like more like the majority race and knew my way around. I was curious to see how they’d react to this and will my dad still get his way around, like he usually does back in his homeland, America?

We got on the bus and sat in the back. My dad was somewhat impressed by this bus as he sat in a comfortable big chair and the driver started rumbling down the highway. Dad looked a bit more at ease now. Maybe he just had a long flight, I thought. I asked them how do they feel to be in Korea? knowing for a fact that they weren’t exactly frequent world travelers. “It’s a new experience” answered my mom, who always had that little worried look on her face. My dad just nodded and looked like he can hardly wait to check himself into a hotel. Where’s the adventurous spirit? I thought to myself. I don’t think they really knew how much I’ve worked to get myself into this position, getting a chance to work in Korea and for them to have an opportunity to visit the country where I was born in. I paid their airfares.

We finally got into a hotel, got into an elevator, and whizzed up tens of the floors, then finally stopped at my floor. The hotel was actually one of the top premium hotels in Seoul normally where rich businessmen or high-ranking government officials would stay at, so I was fortunate to be a resident here at this hotel. My parents seemed impressed, “This is a nice hotel.”, starting to forget the long flight they’d had. I showed them around the suite room, trying my best to make them feel as comfortable as possible. “There is a nice little 7-11 store downstairs in the basement that has everything from water to wine. Do you want to go down and look?” My dad’s eyes widened, his stiff acting starting to ease up a bit, maybe he’s becoming thirsty now. “Sure, I’d like to go down.” my dad said. My mom wanted to rest a bit and she was already flipping channels on TV, trying her best to find a rerun of Days of Our Lives soap opera, her favorite TV program. There were no U.S. channels on TV. I didn’t tell her that.

My dad and I got into the elevator and when the doors closed, I decided to ask my dad a straight question. “I got the impression that you don’t seem too thrilled to be visiting here in Korea. Was the flight really that long?”

My dad seemed surprised by my direct question, hoping I wouldn’t see his honest expression.

“Yeah, the flight was quite long, I didn’t really have a good sleep and didn’t even get the right whiskey drink I asked the flight attendant to make.” Dad said.

I realized this jet lag was affecting my parents more than I had expected and they’re becoming more grumbled so I let it go and the elevator reached at the bottom. Maybe they weren’t really comfortable with the idea that they’re not in the U.S. and are in a foreign country for a good measure, I thought. It was misleading for them to think that their son was always thrilled to be in the U.S. during the whole time. I knew this would be their such last trip too.

“Do you suppose the Korean guy in the 7-11 would know some sign language?” he asked.

I finally smiled.

**Dad in the far background, eagerly pulling his luggage. 3 feet of snow was dumped on this day as they were heading back to the U.S.

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You were first to come

The Sun was just beginning to touch its horizon and I looked at the clock. Okay, it’s time to head out of work and I made a little quick search into Google. “Seoul metro map.” Images of the metro map quickly appeared and I looked for ones that were the most readable. I clicked on a few images and then let my mind examine the Seoul metro map. There were 9 different lines and each line has a color of its own. Where do I get on? where do I get off? more lines to get on? Seoul station was the one that I wanted to go to. After reviewing a few times, I tried to hold a mental map in my mind and I’d try to depend on my ever reliable memory and I walked out of the office.

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Seoul Subway Has Traveled 568 Million km

Saw this article in the newspaper, thought I’d share.

Since then, the subway added 10 billion more passengers every seven years, reaching 20 billion in 2000 and 30 billion in 2007. As of 2010, 1.48 billion passengers used lines 1 through 4 each year, which boils down to 4.04 million users a day.

The number of people using the Paris Métro, which started operating in 1900, stood at 1.15 billion in 2010, while the London Underground, which began running in 1863, has 868 million people using it every year. The New York Subway has 490 stations, four times more than the Seoul metro system, but has only 1.13 billion users per year.

Yep, it’s always full when I take subway in Korea for one year. I remember reading somewhere that it was 3 million riders a day but really it’s 4 million riders.

via The Chosun Illbo

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Flooding in S. Korea

If you’re keeping up with news around the world, you should know by now that there has been a massive flooding in South Korea. I was in Korea for one year and during the summer, I can remember it rained almost non-stop. And it even rained more this time. I suppose S. Korea is in an unfortunate position because it’s a peninsula next to the seas, making it more likely for clouds to dump on S. Korea before it disperses out to the sea.

I found it interesting that KBS news channel used Google Maps to show where the flooding was, so I am thinking that Google products have broken into Korea’s public mainstream as they get the information quickly.

korea_flood_google_maps

There are some good big pictures on boston.com.

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Family

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Does Michael Jordan know Taekwondo?

I’m feeling a bit bored and in the mood to write something. I just thought of one that I would write about. I recently went to see Taekwondo show in Seoul and was somewhat surprised to see how well-choreographed it was. The accompanying music was pretty good too and the show would have been a lot more boring without any music. One scene that I particularly enjoyed was the fight between one lady and two guys. Obviously, it was choreographed but it was nice to see a lady throwing kicks and punches to the guys in a fast rapid manner. In the beginning, a group of young age ranging from 8 years olds to 13 years olds came out on the stage and exhibited different movements and some various moves. Then, they brought out the wood blocks and started throwing kicks and break the wood. Apparently, it wouldn’t be any taekwondo without those. Wood blocks started to fly out into broken halves and onto the stage and sometimes, the floor underneath the stage. After the younger group was done with their part, the next older group came out and to my own guess, they were approx. between 16 years olds to early thirties. You could see the difference between two groups as the older group exhibited more sharp movement and made some power moves and higher kicks. Sounds were louder, music faster, and wood blocks snapped louder.

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Origins of Japan may have come from Korea

Bayesian phylogenetic analysis supports an agricultural origin of Japonic languages.

In agreement with the scenario, our results indicate that Japonic languages descended from a common ancestor approximately 2182 years ago. Together with archaeological and biological evidence, our results suggest that the first farmers of Japan had a profound impact on the origins of both people and languages. On a broader level, our results are consistent with a theory that agricultural expansion is the principal factor for shaping global linguistic diversity.

Researchers studying the various dialects of Japanese have concluded that all are descended from a founding language taken to the Japanese islands about 2,200 years ago. The finding sheds new light on the origin of the Japanese people, suggesting that their language is descended from that of the rice-growing farmers who arrived in Japan from the Korean Peninsula, and not from the hunter-gatherers who first inhabited the islands some 30,000 years ago.

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The Korean lantern

I recently went on a twilight (moonlight) tour at the Changdeokgung Palace, which usually was reserved to VIPs during late hours, so I took this opportunity to take some pictures. One of these reminds me of the Korean lantern that was used as a logo for the 2010 G20 Seoul Summit.

The initial publicly visible preparatory steps were in the creation of a website. After four months of test runs, the online venue became a platform for announcing the choice of a summit logo, which was chosen out of 2,279 entries in an open contest. The Korean lantern logo represents light shining in the dark and also the light which welcomes guests. This forward-looking theme is repeated in the official Korean slogan — “with people to the world; with the world to the future.” The logo incorporates an image of the sun rising over the sea, and the 20 rays coming from the center represent the 20 members of the meeting.

It’s amazing what you might get out of pictures as you snap them.

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Jeju Samdasoo – drinking water from Korea

As a person who regularly drink water, when I relocated to Korea on work assignment, drinking water was one of the first things I did. I like to drink water myself and my favorite brand is easily Smartwater by Glaceau. I’ve noticed that I like the light clean taste of water, unlike Evian or Fiji Water, which is usually more bodied. Aquafinas or Dasanis are awful, too tappy-tasting to me and I think even its bottle cap smells awful. Never will I buy their bottle. Though back at home in California, I use tap water filtered with Brita. Tastes pretty good to me.

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