Korea Blogs of 2012

HAPPY NEW YEAR, and hello 2013!

Kimchi Soul blog posts were a little sporadic throughout 2012, mainly because since March, I’ve been writing as a featured blogger for the mighty The Korea Blog. And what a fun and interesting year it’s been. Here’s a 2012 round-up of my (non Kimchi Soul)  articles, which you can access by clicking on the titles:

January

Veggie Korea: The other side to Korean cuisine, which can be enjoyed by all. Nomnomnom

veggie korea

February / March

How Korean Food Got Fashionable: An overview and insight into the global K-food trend

how korean food got fashionable

April

What are you wearing? Korean fashion hits London!

korean fashion hits londonMay

Korean Shorts: A selection of reviews on experimental short films shown at the London Korean Film Festival 2011

korean shorts

June

Why Korean? Everyone wants to learn Korean nowadays- this piece explores why

why korean

July

Summer of K-pop: K-pop music was taking over way before Psy’s Gangnam Style came on the scene!

kpop

Hidden Flavours of Korea: This post goes undercover to seek out Korean ingredients across London’s (non-Korean) restaurants

Mac_n_cheese_with_kimchi

100-day festival turns All Eyes to Korea during London Olympics: Documenting summer 2012’s All Eyes on Korea festival as it celebrated all things Korean

all_eyes_on_korea

August

Kokdu: Korean Funerary Figures: An art exhibition that doubled up as a journey through Korea’s history, and into traditional attitudes towards death

kokdu

Dare to Scare: Modern K-horror: 10 must-see K-horrors to introduce the genre

dare to scare

September

Preparing for Korea: Tips for anyone who’s moving to / thinking of moving to/ just moved to our beloved Korea

Preparing for korea kimchi

Be-Being’s Yi-myun-gong-jak: A unique blend of modern media technology, and ancient music and performance techniques

Be being

October

What is a K-pop Flashmob? Exploring the origins, rising popularity and attraction of the K-pop flashmob phenomenon

kpop flashmob

10 Favourite Korean Sweet Treats: From patbingsu to nockcha latte, here are my 10 fave Korean sweeties and desserts

10 Favourite Korean Sweet Treats

November

SK School vs. UK School: What are the key similarities and differences?

School

Profile on Korean Influence in London’s High Street Stores: Korean-inspired accessories, stationery, food, beauty products, music and DVDs in UK stores

Cute stationery in Paperchase

December

A Foreigner’s Guide to Christmas in Korea: It may not be the same, but rest assured that Christmas in Korea can be even more fun that what you’re accustomed to!

christmas in korea

5 Festive Korean Films: Films perfect for the season, to suit all tastes

the day he arrives poster

Capital Comparison: London / Seoul: Two awesome capital cities that feel like home. How do they compare?

Architectural icons: Seoul's Deoksugung Royal Palace, and London's Tower Bridge

Which concludes my 2012 blogging journey. For a fuller summary of the passed year’s best Korea-themed blog posts, check out The Korea Blog’s round-up; and for a look back at 2012’s top stories from K-land, visit Korea.net’s Year Review.

Which just leaves us to look forward into 2013. My blogger’s new year’s resolution? To post my articles for The Korea Blog on here, as they are published. What’s yours? ^.^

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London Korean Film Festival 2012: Don’t Miss It!

The London Korean Film Festival (LKFF) 2012 starts tomorrow! The director of the festival promises that “Regardless if you are a connoisseur of Korean cinema or completely new to the country’s film scene we have created an exciting and varied program that will delight, thrill, scare and, most importantly, entertain you”.

Intrigued? Here’s the schedule:

The box office smash The Thieves (2012) followed by a Q&A session with director Choi Dong-Hoon and star Kim Yoon-Suk provides an anticipated opening gala (at 7pm, Thursday 1st November, @ London Odeon West End).

Other festival highlights include romance Eungyo (2012), also with a director Q&A with Jung Ji-Woo; drama Spring Snow (Kim Tae-Gyoon, 2012), this time with an actress Q&A with Youn Suk-Hwa; K-pop documentary I Am: SM Town (Choi Jin-Sung, 2012) (…no Q&A here, but rumour has it it’s already a sell-out!); and fictitious K-pop tale Mr Idol (Ra Hee-Chan, 2011).

The closing ceremony brings acclaimed period drama Masquerade (2012) followed by yet another Q&A, with Dir. Choo Chang-min & Actor Lee Byung-hun, to town!

I’m personally most excited about the Korean Cinema Forum at the KCC (7pm on Friday 9th November, and absolutely free!), the mise-en-scene short films (especially as they were SO awesome last year), K-animation King of Pigs (Yeun Sang-Ho, 2011), and arthouse romance White Night (Lee Song Hee-Il, 2012), which explores Korean attitudes to homosexuality whilst presenting a serious and important gay film.

If none of the above sounds up your street, take a peek at the trailer as there’s a whole lot more on the agenda…

So whether you’re into cute cartoons, high-octane thrillers, thought-provoking dramas or experimental cinema, we’ll see you there!

  • LKFF screenings will be held at: Odeon West End, Odeon Kingston, Odeon Panton Street, ICA, and Korean Cultural Centre.
  • The festival will also travel to Glasgow, Bristol and Bournemouth.
  • Check out the LKFF website for more info, full listings and booking deets.
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East Meets West: East Street Restuarant

There are two massive food fads happening in London right now: street food and East Asian food. East Street Restaurant in Rathbone Place twists them together for a restaurant experience like no other. Here, you’re transported to a generically buzzy, neon, dreamlike Asian street food haven (sans weird smells, bugs, rats, beggars and bad weather of all kinds.)

Photo Title

Despite the decor having been borrowed from eight Asian countries (Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Japan and Korea) there’s an uncanny authenticity at East Street- you truly feel as though you’ve been teleported from London to “somewhere in Asia”, and are perusing the streets of a wondrous, foreign land. It’s unusual, it’s exciting and it’s fun, as is East Street’s menu.

Colour-coded for ease and enjoyment, you’re able to mix and match your fave eats from the East from noodle soups to coconutty curries, from spring rolls to satay dishes.

The Korean offerings include kimchichapchae and bulgogi, giving a brief introduction to the Korean flavours we so know and love. How could I opt for anything other than kimchi as a side dish? (my main dish was veggie Japanese yaki udon)

Yet this turned out to be a bad decision. East Street’s “kimchi” is nothing like what you’d find in Korea, nor in any London Korean restaurant. It’s unprepared and unfermented, so lacks depth of flavour, silky, stringy textures and a certain amount of love. Instead, it’s a bowl of cabbage with some sweet-ish sauce mixed in.

In a nutshell, what I loved about East Street was the ambience, the sights and sounds, the wonderful customer service, the descriptive menus, the anime films playing against the back wall, the Asian train announcements in the toilets, the vivid street signs, and generally being transported back to Asia for a couple of hours.

The food itself was somewhat hit and miss: hits were the Vietnamese Goi Cuon rice paper vegetable rolls starter and the Thai Nua Yang Manao salad. Misses included the kitchen having run out of a lot of meaty ingredients on the menu. Unfortunately though, the main miss was the soulless cabbage concoction that replaced the sour, fermented kimchi that I craved a hit of (my udon fell somewhere in between).

Yet this hasn’t been enough to put me off- in fact I’m considering spending my next birthday at East Street. Its heart and soul are firmly in the right place, and its proprietors obviously adore Asia as much as I do. It’s a unique, delightful restaurant that I’ll definitely revisit. It needs to master a new kimchi recipe before I can fully justify recommending it, though.

  • East Street Restaurant is located @ 3-5 Rathbone Place, London W1T 1HJ
  • The closest tube is Tottenham Court Road
  • For full menu and info, check out the East Street Restaurant website
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All Eyes on Korean ART

One of things I’ve enjoyed most about “All Eyes on Korea” so far is the breadth of colourful, quirky and eye-catching art on display. Here’s just a small selection to feast your eyes on:

Re-Solutions: Visual Communication from Royal College of Art
Showcase of visual and aural arts at the KCC throughout June

Choi Jeong Hwa
Site-specific installation at Southbank Centre from May to present

 

Korean Funerary Figures: Companions for the Journey to the Other World
Installation and multi-media exhibition at the KCC from July to September

 

 

 

 

Enjoy art! :)

Posted in Fadfad, Hot events!, London Spotlight | 2 Comments

Confessions of a Non-Fangirl (MBC Korean Culture Festival @ IndigO2, London)

I love Korean culture, and am obsessed with Korean-related events in London. Only, K-pop has always been something I’ve shied away from. I find it hard to accept it isn’t “my thing”, but maybe it just isn’t. I try to listen to Seoul FM so as to improve my Korean language skills (and to become “down”), however within seconds find myself replacing the poppy sounds with something that can only be described as ’80s Brit doom rock. Thus, my K-pop knowledge remains rather limited. Let’s see, I think I know who Big Bang, Shinee, DongBangShinGi, Wondergirls, SNSD and 2NE1 are. I don’t know many of their songs, though.

Non-FanGirl: K-pop Clueless

My repeated excuse is that K-pop just ain’t rock ‘n’ roll. Yet, as a phenomenon, it continues to intrigue me, and I love it in a live context (well I’ve only been to one other K-pop concert, but it was fun fun fun!) When I heard that the MBC Korean Culture festival was coming to town, I saw this as an opportunity to give K-pop a real chance, to embrace the hype, and to educate myself on the ever-growing fad.

So with little more knowledge than the fact that an ex-Wondergirl  was in one of the acts, here are some first impressions of the MBC Korean Culture Festival from me, the non-fangirl and relative K-pop dummy (NB: please excuse my ignorance!):

Pre-show flashmob

:) Cool, well-coordinated dance moves, delivered with tonnes of effort and energy from London K-poppers.

:( I didn’t know the songs or dances, so couldn’t join in.

NFG verdict: Fun to watch, infectious and pretty crazy- I’ll defo follow the London flashmob crowd from now on (strictly as an audience member!)

Dynamic Korea

:) Electric atmosphere, dramatic drumming and powerful dancing.

:( The many, many peaks of energy were exhausting.

NFG verdict: Awesome way to introduce the concert, and to integrate the traditional Korean theme throughout.

4Minute

:) Glam, sleek girlies and catchy, poppy tunes.

:( Nothing new, different or exciting.

NFG verdict: Would undoubtedly dance to any of these tunes if they happened to come on at a club or party, and I was a tad tipsy.

Dae2bak Movement

:) Cover artists rather than idols, and the crowd still went mental with screams for them.

:( Slightly confused by the whole performance, especially the chest-flashing aspect.

NFG verdict: Like a Britain’s Got Talent audition. Would probably have enjoyed it a lot more had I been a FG and known the songs.

Queen

:) Cute, fairy-like performers with cool modern-classical concept and bags of talent and stage presence.

:( Way too squeaky clean for my liking.

NFG verdict: Would jump at the chance to see Queen live again, but would certainly never listen to them otherwise.

Norazo

:) Eccentric and “funny”.

:( Rowdy, football-chant-like music that hurt my ears.

NFG verdict: Novelty pop act, with a confused guitarist who thought he was in a metal band. Think I’ll give these a miss.

Park Sul-Nyeo

:) Stunning fashion aspect of the show that wowed the crowd with beautiful design and graceful display.

:( Everyone around me was complaining that this bit went on far too long (I disagreed, but then I didn’t know who EXO-K were, let alone crave their presence!)

NFG verdict: A visual representation of what the night was all about: traditional K-culture meeting with modern K-culture. My favourite act of the evening.

Exo-K

:) Got the entire crowd up and dancing (yes, that includes me but I had had a drink or two by then!)

:( Generic, lip-syncing boy band dressed in campy women’s clothing.

NFG verdict: Played the “idol” role very well, but I’m not convinced. 

Overall verdict:

Despite not being the biggest fan of K-pop music, I had an amazing night at the MBC concert. Sure, this was partly due to the fact that a variety of acts performed. Equally, though, the atmosphere was buzzing, the people were fun and friendly, and the effort everyone had gone to (performers, event organisers and crowd) was overwhelming.

Huge crowds of K-pop fans at the MBC Concert

I’ve gotta hand it to the FGs- their energy and spirit is second to none, and their devotion to Korean culture does seem to go way beyond pop music. The sceptic in me argues that they would have screamed their heads off regardless of who or what had come onto the stage that night, and the quality of whatever that may have been, though.

The venue: indigO2

So while I still see K-pop as an acquired taste, and one far from my comfort zone, the live experience it brings with it continues to be a spectacle that I’d recommend to anyone and everyone, no matter their music taste. Disclaimer: I won’t be held responsible for the quality of the K-pop music itself.

Posted in Fadfad, Hot events!, London Spotlight, People / Saram | 4 Comments

Seung-Jun Yi’s “Planet of Snail” @ICA, London

When asked what I don’t like about Korea, or rather, if there’s anything I’d like to see improved in the future, attitude and awareness to disability springs to mind. Korean society has so much respect for elderly people, but disability often remains a taboo.

That’s just one of the reasons that I’m drawn to “Planet of Snail”, an award-winning documentary exploring the lives of deaf and blind Young-Chan, and his wife Soon-Ho who is disabled by a spinal injury.

Described by distributors Dogwoof as a “unique, refreshing, often funny film that demystifies what life means for people who live with physical impairments”, by the ICA as “an absorbing, enlightening film about human experience” and by Screen Daily as “an elegant and moving documentary… a real joy,” this film has really caught my eye. If you’re you’re even slightly intrigued, check out the trailer below:

“Planet of Snail” is showing at the ICA from 22nd June (tomorrow) to 28th June. The screening on the 23rd will be a special event, as the film will be followed Q&A with Seung-Jun Yi. Film geeks: don’t miss this one!

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Beyond K-pop: ALL EYES ON KOREA

It’s no secret that London has gone K-pop crazy recently (but that’s another post!) however with all the frenzied and fanatical excitement, it’s easy for other areas of Korean culture to be somewhat overshadowed in the London limelight. Not any more!

The 100-day ALL EYES ON KOREA festival to mark the run-up to the Olympics is in full swing, and in the words of the Korean Cultural Centre, “There’s something for everyone.”

No Korean cultural stone has been left unturned, and a truly rounded and excellently considered festival programme  has been brought to London. So far art and film have been the main focus, with fashion, literature, classical music, cuisine  and cultural identity being just some of the themes of the forthcoming events (see full schedule below:)

Lasting until 9th September, there’s still plenty of time to take advantage and get stuck into K-culture in a big way. This is a great chance to learn something new and awesome, to do something you wouldn’t usually do, and to experience the best of both Korea and London.

Of course, ALL EYES ON KOREA is also about being proactive and getting involved. The festival launch was a vibrant and collaborative routemaster bus campaign that was impossible to miss. The KCC has also recruited a troop of dedicated and friendly supporters who have pledged to promote the fest, as well as lend the KCC and organisers a hand at events.

If you’re interested in the opportunity to volunteer some time to any part of the schedule, please contact the KCC (I’m volunteering too, so will see you there!):

Tel: +44 (0)20 7004 2600
E-mail: info@kccuk.org.uk
FB: http://www.facebook.com/theKCCUK

Now, time to get the diary out and plan my AEOK calendar!

  • The KCC website is brimming with more information
  • Watch this space for more info and reviews ^^
Posted in Fadfad, Hot events!, London Spotlight | 3 Comments