Happy Lunar New Year!

On Saturday we traveled to Toronto to a Lunar New Year Celebration put on by the Korean Canadian Children’s Association. We went a really fun celebration back in 2011 – and this year was even better. The program was fantastic – it showcased Korean drumming, dancing, music and customs. The children were all invited onstage to do a traditional bowing ceremony (and get a pouch with some money) – our little man was too shy despite practicing before at home.  After the initial program we had an amazing meal with rice, bulgogi, japchae, dumplings, shrimp…. I wanted to finish my plate because it was so good – but the portions were huge! After the lunch we went to the basement of the church  where they had set up with stations such as calligraphy,  games, street food, tea ceremony, traditional dress etc.  We hung out for a while and explored the various stations out.  I loved seeing many of Korean ladies dressed in their elaborate hanboks – they are such beautiful pieces of clothing. Another fun part of the day is that we go to see Barb, Belinda and their families! I’m always shocked at how big all the boys are getting – and it was nice to meet baby Owen. Sadly – there were no group shots, but we did promise to get together soon for another “Seoul Bros” gathering.

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One really cool thing was that on the way into the Church, we looked up and saw a Korean Air plane taking off from the airport – not something you really see everyday! Memories of Korea are all around.

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Culture Smart

koreaI recently finished a great book called Korea – A Quick Guide to Customs & Etiquette by James Hoare.  This book discusses the ins and outs of life in Korea – both North and South – for the tourist or long term visitor.  Hoare talks about beliefs, customs, and taboos, Koreans at home, travelling, food and drink, business, communicating, and much more. 

It is a very quick read – but a great resource. 

I highly recommend checking to see if your library has it – or if you want your own copy – it is on sale on Amazon right now.

Now if I could only learn to speak some Korean… any ideas?

Merry Christmas! or Sung Tan Chuk Ha!

Last night we were wondering if Christmas was celebrated in South Korea.  Since there are s a large number of Koreans who are believers of Christian faiths, we figured Christmas probably was, but then we started to wonder about Santa Claus and if Santa would be coming to Alex.  So, according to Wikipedia:

South Korea recognizes Christmas as a national holiday. Christian and non-Christian Koreans engage in some holiday customs such as gift-giving, sending Christmas cards, and setting up decorated trees in their homes; children, especially, appear to have embraced Santa Claus, whom they call Santa Haraboji (Grandfather Santa) in Korean, Local radio stations play holiday music on Christmas Day and a few days before, while television stations are known to air Christmas films and cartoon specials popular in the Western countries. In addition, increasing numbers of stores and buildings are displaying Christmas decorations.

As in the West, Christian churches in Korea hold Christmas pageants and conduct special services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Young people especially enjoy the fellowship these observances provide; after the Christmas Eve services, for example, they go caroling to the homes of older church members, where they are usually treated to hot drinks and snacks.

Korea Tourism Org

Karen and Kevin, a nice couple we met at AdopTalk (who hopefully will be getting their travel call any day now!) suggested that we order a tourism kit from www.visitkorea.or.kr – so we did!  It has a tourist map, tour listing, Tastes of Korea brochure, and a great travel guide.  The best thing – it’s free!  You do have to register on the website to get it – but it wasn’t too painful.  And it only took about a week to come in.  For some reason the package actually came from Toronto…

North Korea

Across the headlines of all the papers this morning was the headline that Kim Jong-il, leader of North Korea is believed to be ill, and that he has perhaps had a stroke. Updates on the Globe and Mail state state that he is actually recovering from surgery.   Speculation as to his condition came after he missed attending a parade on Tuesday commemorating the communist state’s founding 60 years ago. 

So why is this an issue on an adoption blog?  If a new leader were to come into power, the political situation in the country may change.  Nuclear weapons may become an issue again, and if so, there is a chance of travel bans to the area. Also technically North and South Korea are still at war – and since we are adopting from South Korea…

A great video to watch on North Korea is called Inside North Korea.  It is a documentary done by Lisa Ling and National Geographic.  It is very well done and very interesting.  Stratford Public Library has a copy if anyone in this area wants to watch it.

Chusok

Starting on September 14 (this Sunday), Koreans will be celebrating Chusok (choo-sock) which is a 3 day Harvest Festival.  According to Wikipedia, in modern day Korea “during Chuseok there is a mass exodus of Koreans returning to their hometowns to pay respects to the spirits of one’s ancestors. People perform ancestral worship rituals early in the morning. They often visit the tombs of their immediate ancestors to trim plants and clean the area around the tomb, and offer food, drink, and crops to their ancestors. Harvest crops are attributed to the blessing of ancestors.” 
Songpyeon, a crescent shaped rice dish that is traditionally served during Chusok.  Here is a recipe if anyone is interested in trying it out (if you do, please comment on what you think of it!) 
I was planning on doing some canning this weekend, perfect to celebrate the harvest – and perhaps we can do another Korean feast.

Where is Home?

Today I received an e-mail and in it there was reference top a Korean magazine – KoreAM Journal.com and profiled on the main page was an article called Where is Home which details the history – and the future – of adoption in South Korea.  It is a very interesting read for anyone adopting or who has adopted from Korea. 

The article is long – so if you are not going to read the whole thing I thought I would share the last paragraph:

“The reasons for why children are abandoned have changed, but what has remained the same is that they need and deserve homes … So what would be the only logical reason for closure of international adoption? When there are no more children to be sent abroad.”

Great Summer Day

Yesterday was a great day. 

We woke up, got ready and went to see the Jeng Yi Korean Drummers at the Stratford Summer Music Festival.  What a treat!  The energy of the drummers was amazing, and the sounds were awesome.  The Kayagum (a zither) had a beautiful sound.  Then the dancers with Sangmo!  The Sangmo is “a ribbon that that is spun with energy of the dancing body”. 

After we went for a nice walk around downtown, and then a drive in the country.  Matt wanted to show me a house that is for sale – it is a beautiful stone home in the country – it is really our dream home – but right now we are following another dream 🙂
Then for dinner we decided to try some Korean Beef.  We used the PC Memories of Korean Barbecue Grilling & Glazing Sauce – so easy – and very tasty. 
Then a bonfire finished up the day.