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.
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.
After trying some new Korean street food, I’ve found out, that some were really yummi, some were just tasteless but also worth to mention, for example number 11 and 12…
11. Pork skin
Cooked pork skin was cut in pieces and mixed with salt, chili, other spices and topped with sesame. It tastes really like nothing, however it is supposed to be good for your skin, because of its high concentration of collagen…
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.
During one of my last trips in Seoul, I by chance visited a very small and hidden Tea house in the middle of Insadong. Its name sounds very romantic – 달새는 달만 생각한다 – The moon-bird is only thinking about the moon. This was my first time I had korean tea and korean tea set in front of me.
To be honest, I was a bit overstrained by so many parts of the tea set. All you need to do is only to pour the water over the tea, isn’t it ?? I somehow made the tea, it tasted really good, but not sure whether I did it correctly or not. Since then, I really wanted to know, in which way tea should be prepared in Korea.