Sunday, February 15, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

An orphan Valentine card collects rain drops Friday.

The 14th day of the month is almost always some kind of occasion in Korea. Yesterday was Valentine's Day, of course, a holiday which is gaining popularity by both lovers and businesses each year, but it's just one in a string of "Days" that call upon one subgroup or another to celebrate, bestow, mourn, eat, or get drunk whilst walking in the woods. For instance, the month of October utilizes a homonym for its 14th. Koreans give apples (sagwa) to apologize (also sagwa) for past infractions. Here are some shots taken around Seoul on Friday and Saturday.

Saturday morning subway traffic was sparse, but I did notice a few passengers laden with gifts, cakes, and flowers.

Despite what I thought was charming coaxing on my part to get Ms. Flowers to remove her hand from her mouth, she didn't oblige. Maybe she had chocolate on her teeth. Nonetheless, she and her beau seemed to be having a delightful Valentine's Day.

Korea's commercial sector has fully embraced the Western holiday.

Convenience store employees braved Saturday evening's cold temperatures to peddle V-Day goodies near subways and bus stops.

Valentine’s Day in Korea favors dudes, since it’s widely accepted as an occasion for women to profess their affection for the men in their lives through chocolates, cakes that look too cute to cut, and any number of other well-marketed goodies that spoony lovers can’t resist. For more about Korea’s unique Valentine’s Day customs, see last year’s post.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Saengil Chukhahaeyo, Sue!

If you've tuned into KBS World Radio-English in the last ten years, you've likely heard the sweet voice or skilled translations of Sue Park. Sue has a hand in almost all of our English programming and is certainly a listener favorite. She's a busy gal, but she took the time, and braved subarctic temperatures, to celebrate her birthday with the KBS crew last weekend. Here are some photos from the event held at "Ice Bar" in the Hongdae neighborhood of Seoul. Happy birthday, Sue!

Sue and Luke Micono smile through chattering teeth!

Can you spot the KBSers?  Sarah Jun, Chris Dykas, Jackson Kim, yours truly, Seoung-soo Kim, and Sara Kim are among the bunch.

What's an ice bar without ice glasses?  

Snow days

Here are some belated photos I took during and after a spattering of snow over the Lunar New Year holiday. As I mentioned last week, Seoul has seen warmer temperatures in the first couple weeks of the (lunar) new year, so these may be the last shots of the white stuff for awhile.

Braving the snow for a shopping trip through Seoul's Edae neighborhood, home of Ewha Womans University.  I'm not sure if using umbrellas during a snowfall is unique to Korea (maybe my international readers can help me here), but I've never witnessed it in other countries.  Makes sense, though!  

A romantic, and icy cold, walk along the Cheonggye Stream that runs through downtown Seoul.  

Interesting advertising strategy outside an Edae shop, but I didn't notice any takers during the five or ten minutes I spent observing the peculiar scene.   

No takers for the "Fresh Fruit Candy", either, but you have to applaud the tenacity of the vendor.