Remember back in May, when I first arrived in Korea, I was really amazed by the Latern festival to celebrate Buddha’s Birthday. I didn’t know that Buddhism was that common here. Well, the information online said that Buddism already came to the Korean peninsula (at that time in Goguryeo-Kingdom) from China in the 4th Century AD. It spread out through other Kingdoms and shaped it own form. Today, about 15% Korean still believe and practice Buddha’s teaching. That’s why you can still find and visit a lot of Buddhistish temples, statues, arts and events in Korea.
While visiting the Jogyesa in Seoul, I ran into a sign advertising for “Templestay” program. Because of my curiosity about the Korean Buddism, I’ve booked a two-night-three-day stay at the Naksan-Temple, to be able to experience more and also relax.
Earlier (around 2nd c. BC till mid. 4th c. AC) Buyeo was a small Kingdom in the west of Korea. Later on (538-660 AC) it became the capital of Baekje – one of the there Korean Kingdoms. Today, Buyeo is a county in South-Chungcheong-Province, which locates approx. 300km in the south of Seoul.
In every July, a Lotus festival is held here, at the Gungnamji pond. Beside the pretty flowers, wonderful smell, you will find a lot of interesting activities as well as tasty food here.
Baseball is one of the most popular sports in Korea. It seems to be more popular than soccer. Kids learn to play baseball very early. Only for highs chools, there are already five (!) huge national tournaments a year to show their skills and get attention.
The ten professional baseball teams play in KBO League. Two of them come from Seoul and their Home field is the Jamsil stadium – LG and Doosan Bears (두산) Team.
During the weekend I went to see a game between Doosan and Samsung – Bears vs. Lions, with some friends. Actually I don’t really know much about baseball, it was still a great experience.
Beside the giant stadium, that can hold more than 25.500 people, good teams and player, I think the Korean fans were really amazing. All wore team uniform and hats, ate chicken and beer in between (치맥 – chi-mek), and cheer their teams (almost) non-stop. They sang the team theme, songs for each batter, danced, shouted…
Even when the team they cheered could not win, they still show their support until the end.
Definitely worth a try!
How to get to Jamsil stadium?
The closest subway station is the “Sports Complex” station – 종합운동장역. You can take the line 2 or line 9 to get here. Ticket booths can be reached through exit #5, while the fastest way to the main entrance is exit #6.
찜질 (jjimjil) means in Korean “hot bath” and 방 (bang) is a room. However, if you visit a jjimjilbang, you’ll see that it’s not only a hot-bath-room, but a common area, where people gather together to have some fun, to rest, to take a sauna or massage and even to overnight at low costs.
I’ve been to Dragon Hill Spa – a well known jjimjilbang in Yongsan, Seoul. The experience there was quite unique… You can find my special tips for a great jjimjilbang visit at the end of this post.
In such a modern and highly digitalized country like Korea, there is one traditional “analogue” item, which Korean people still carry with them now a days: their seal – 도장 (dojang).
I’m not talking about governor or authority, but normal private individuals. Almost all of them own a seal with their name on it. This is still used in banking transactions, opening bank account, applying for credit cards, or also buying immobility. I’ve read also, that Korean Banks only accept the seal as legal authority. That’s one of the reasons, why Korean people still carry it with them.
Another reason is, for Korean, the seal also shows the identity and social status of the owner. Rich or people with high social level usually own a seal made from expensive and valuable material, such as jade, gold or silver. Some would have it well designed with a special head part. Normal people use seal made from stone, wood, or also plastic.
Some people also believe, that the seal would protect them from bad things and carry them as an amulet.
During the weekend, I’d had a chance to join the “Seal making” course, organized by the Seoul Cultural Center, to learn about this tradition and make my own Korean seal.
Here is all you need to make your own seal: a piece of stone, a carrier, an engraving cutter, a glove, paper, a pen and of course someone to show you how to make it.