Gyeongju, Korea

Hello Hello!

One thing my grandfather in the USA repeatedly stated as I packed my bags was, “remember if anyone asks who you are or is mean to you, tell them you are Kyongju Kim-shi.” You probably have just as good of an idea of what that means as I do. I simply nodded my head and smiled. haha It wasn’t until we were in Kyongju that I truly understood what his words meant. The two largest Kim clans, the Kim family of Kimhae and the Kim family of Kyongju, are descended from semi-mythological characters who lived two thousand years ago. According to legend, the Kimhae Kim family founder, Kim Suro, came in answer to a prayer offered by the nine elders of the ancient Karak Kingdom. In 42 ad, these elders met together to pray for a king. In answer to their prayer, they were sent a golden box containing six golden eggs. From the first egg emerged King Su-ro, Karak’s first king. The other five eggs became the five kings of Karak’s neighboring kingdom, Kaya. The founder of the Kim family of Kyongju, Kim Al-ji, had similar origins. In 65 ad the king of Shilla, T’alhae, heard a strange sound from a forest near the Shilla capital, Kyongju. On investigation he found a crowing white rooster standing next to a golden egg. From this egg emerged Al-ji, founder of the Kyongju Kim family and subsequent king of the Shilla Kingdom. Because Al-ji emerged from a golden egg, King T’alhae bestowed upon the child the surname Kim, which means ‘gold’. It is estimated that about half of the one hundred or so Kim clans of modern Korea are descended from the Kyongju Kim clan. Kyongju is the “old” Seoul, Korea were the city was alive fully of people, numerous places to go, and businesses bustling with people. However as with a lot of locations, people began to move away and industry go along with them. Kyongju is now famous for their traditional lifestyle. Of course there is nothing wrong with it, but I wouldn’t consider it a tourist destination. Fortunately, my sister had an awesome friend who drove us around to site see.

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After a few traditional places, we stopped for the famous tteokgalbi.  It is made by shaping a mixture of beef and pork into a rectangular appearance then grilled on charcoal. It was good, but not one of my favorites. The meat tasted like a hamburger patty and you ate rice and other banchan (side dishes) with it. Outside the restaurant, the owners has a small coop with goats!DSCN1201   Then we headed into town to walk around. We stopped by Baskin Robbins, which is crazy popular in Korea! Also, 7-11 is a convenience store and probably on every other corner! It amazed me that these corporations are much bigger in Korean than in America. The other day I found out 7-11 is the largest retailer corporation in the world (saw on Sharks TV show) hah I probably shouldn’t tell people how nerdy I am but….too late! hehe After walking and seeing some small shops we headed back to the hotel. IMG_0142 IMG_0141 You can ask for rooms with either a bed or no bed. My sister and I shared the small room and my brother had the living room. Did I mention this hotel had an arcade room as well? IMG_2652 IMG_2653

Today was a really relaxing day,

Good night!

Jennifer Jie Young

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A More Natural Way to get High

Hello!

We waved good-bye to our uncle and his graduate student. I am so grateful to have such kind family to help us discover Korea. It really does mean so much that my other side have gone out of their way to help us.

IMG_0334So, it was W3,000 ($3) to enter the park/mountain. We stopped by the park office to pick up a map. On there it says it normally takes people about 2 1/2 hours to climb up and another 2 1/2 hours to climb down. It was around 4pm so headed towards the 5K trail.

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Heading up towards the top with the 3 muskies!

Even though I’m an athlete, this was by far one of the most challenging hikes I have even been on! There are large rock trails and a good balance is required because the rocks are a little slick. So, we maintained a steady pace and after on 35 minutes we had only 2K left! We were cruising and then we hit a brick wall. The rock pathway became an immediate 75 degree angle. HOLY COW!

The next 1K was insanely hard. With the skies darkening and people who were coming back warning us to turn around we were even more determined to hurry along! Finally, we saw stairs…I didn’t know whether to celebrate or cry…haha it was even harder. IMG_0359 IMG_0358DSCN1148The 0.8K left was a grind for each of us! When, we began inching closer we stopped to look around and the view when priceless. The skies were a pale blue with one spot of beaming sunlight shining as if it was only for you. IMG_0353All I could do was smile and relax my shoulders. This moment was well worth it and it was even the top yet! After a few minutes of soaking up the moment, vultures came toward us flying in a circle! YIKES! So, I naturally screamed and ran up the rest of the 1 million stairs! haha

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We finally made it to the top and some nice ladies were there as well. We took their pictures and they took our picture. They shared some watermelon and korean melon with us. Some of the smallest squirrels and birds I have ever seen were up at the top with us as well! The top is basically one huge rock with a safety kit next to a small torn apart sheet. IMG_0363

This has been one the proudest moments in my life because I was able to share it with my wonderful siblings. I couldn’t have done it without them. ❤ A beautiful memory I will carry with me forever.

I was really surprised at how difficult the climb down was for us! The way down was most certainly hard than the climb up. Our legs were shaking we were so fatigued. IMG_0378 I recommend carrying a small backpack with bottles of water, fruit/food, and a small first aid kit (A reminder for next time.  When we made it home we thought our worries were over. The sun had just disappeared and the temperature was dropping fast. There were no workers, taxi cabs, or people. We waited for 30 minutes for a taxi to finally circle back to the site. It took us to our hotel, Del Pino! DSCN1177 DSCN1174 DSCN1175 Our uncle had hooked us up! In the basement was a small grocery store for guests interested in saving a little money and time. IMG_0391  Korean bread is lighter and fluffier than American bread because they use less fats (oils/butter/cream)

IMG_0390 IMG_0389  Also, milk tastes different here too! Even 2% or 0.8% fat tastes rich. The small bottles with foil caps are one of the most popular drinks you may find. Its a sweet yogurt drink. I remember when I was younger, I use to drink one yogurt and eat one boiled egg for breakfast. 🙂 I would definitely bring this concept back to US hotels! This was an awesome place. Inside was an indoor pool, children area, outdoor pool with water slides, small restaurants, and a huge dining area.

IMG_0124-1 The bedroom was definitely not like hotels in America.DSCN1234 Koreans like to scattered a thick padding and then sleep on the floor with a blanket and pillow. We went downstairs bought some noodles, mushrooms, eggs, and sausages. Ramen noodles can always hit the spot! haha

I encourage you to the path less traveled IMG_0357 and discover something new 🙂

Peace and Smiles,

Jennifer

Oh before I forget! I want to show you what my morning jog looked like…

IMG_0401 IMG_0403I ran along this shallow stream and no need for music because the trickling water was better than Red Jumpsuit or dare I say Linkin Park…okay lets not get carried away but it was so beautiful. I remember thinking if there was just some way for me to capture this beautiful moment into a small bottle and open it when I feel bogged down. I suppose I’ll have to relive this moment one day by visiting again! ;P  IMG_0408 IMG_0397 IMG_0398 Every where you look there are mountains. My Illinois corn fields have been replaced and I am not complaining..<3

To the Mountains…^.^

Seoraksan is the highest mountain in the Taebaek mountain range in the Gangwon Province in eastern South Korea. It is located in a national park near the city of Sokcho. My brother, sister, and I asked our Imoboo if he could help us plan an adventure to travel the Southeastern side of Korea. Luckily, he happily agreed and then recruited one of his students to help! We left early Saturday morning and boy I was a bad packer. I realized that I should have brought more cute clothes from back home! dang it…so I just brought some things that I had that were semi-cute and good for being active aka shorts and a t-shirt haha We left for the Gangwon Province early Monday morning and after about an hour and half of driving we made a pit stop!

Without a doubt one of my favorite things in Korea is the highway rest stop (휴게소).

There you can find HO-DOO GWAJA (Walnut Cookies): Walnut shaped pastry with sweet red bean paste inside and a whole walnut baked on top. Delicious, especially when fresh 🙂

Next, we arrived at Yeongdeok! We began by enjoying some of the freshest seafood imaginable

IMG_0322My uncle insisted that we try live shrimp! As it stretched its legs, we had to behead it with our spoons…:X However, I must say that it was quite sweet. My sister was lucky (according to my uncle) because her piece of shrimp has eggs aka Shrimp caviar! You mix it with rice and it goes crunch in your mouth just like the small orange eggs you can find at any sushi restaurant! 😛IMG_0318 IMG_0315 Couldn’t believe this was our meal…

IMG_0090 Here is Jeffy from earlier…He was delicious and then my sister mixed her rice inside his shell with all his insides and crab broth. WOWZER! If you have a chance definitely try it. The taste was like a creamy rice/risotto combination. Absolutely amazing! After an eye-opening eating experience, we went to the beach!

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The only other time I’ve ever been to a beach was when I was 3 years old and we lived in New York. This by far was one of the most incredible experiences and standing along the outskirts (photo on the bottom right) was like an air conditioner! The refreshing breeze felt great in the 85  degree Fahrenheit weather. Oh yes, and above in the photos are my Uncle, his graduate assistant, my brother, sister, and I.

Next, he dropped the 3 muskies off at the bottom of Seoraksan, the mountain!

Check out the next post to read about our experience

Much love,

Jennifer

Night Before

Hello Beautiful!

Today is the dress rehearsal for the big day. My father, brother and I left a day before our flight to stay the night. We double checked our luggage for the tenth time to make sure we packed everything we needed. As usual I forgot something…my invisilign teeth. Then about two minutes later I could not find my kindle. After about 30 minutes of panicking, I found the kindle buried in one of the side pockets! Ah ha at least I was 1 for 2! Then we registered for our plane seats online, which I definitely recommend for those traveling abroad (another thing you won’t have to worry about!) Other than that make sure you pack the essentials for rain or shine. Of course, pack according to the season as well. Safe travels!

Love,

Jennifer

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Musical @ House of Congress

Welcome to the Korea House of Congress! photo DSCN0963.jpgFun fact: Korean calls the place where the President resides the “Blue House.”  photo DSCN0965.jpg photo DSCN0967.jpgAfter a fun day with my Aunt, my grandma took us to a musical. photo IMG_0210.jpg photo IMG_2534.jpgMy grandma and her friend! ^ Below is the Inside the theater! Looks like boy bands hehe photo IMG_0223.jpgThey even changed costumes numerous times and did a lot of fairytale like dancing and singing! It was really cute!Following their performance was a musical group! photo IMG_0225.jpgAfter the musical, we went back to our Imoboo’s (My mom’s youngest sister’s husband) house and I hungout with my little cousin. Where he taught me how to breakdance aka stand on my head and hold a pose! Sweet right!? haha

Have a wonderful night ❤

JenKim

Bungeeeee!

International Prime Buffet Restaurant, located on the 8th floor of Homeplus.

GO NOW. My grandparents, brother, sister, and I met my Big Aunt and Uncle for lunch! The place was enormous, full of everything you could possibly imagine, and they provide water using tea pourer things! So fancy! haha After lunch we went to my cousin’s home to see her home and meet her baby girl Insugnee. She is adorable and she wears squeaky shoes so you can hear her everytime she walks! I’m obessed with all of the babies! haha Then we went to my 2nd Aunt and Uncle’s house to prepare for our Big plans the next day!!!

 photo DSCN0870.jpgDefinitely in my TOP 5 things to do! So much fun and a great experience to share with my brother and sister!  photo DSCN0883.jpgIt was really really scary being that high up and I didn’t realize how fun it was until I came half way down. Initially, I tried to superman. However, I was too afraid and curled into a ball until I was halfway down. haha I enjoyed the bouncing up and down part the most! photo DSCN0882.jpgA guy was on a boat on the water waiting to catch you.

After a super jjang afternoon, we went to eat Tonkgass, which is a fried pork cutlet! It was very similar to how they serve it in America because they cover it with gravy.  The next day our Aunt took us on a tour! Take a look!

My Aunt took us to the Namsan Tower or Seoul Tower. It is a communication and observation tower located on Namsan Mountain in central Seoul, South Korea. It marks the highest point in Seoul. photo IMG_2466.jpg photo IMG_2468.jpgHow people use to carry their things! photo IMG_2476.jpgLadies would grab the handle for balance as they put their shoes on. photo IMG_2480.jpgBehind us are the doenjang clay-pots, they hold fermented soybeans. It sounds disgusting, but it is addictive once you taste a well made doenjang jjigae! photo IMG_2482.jpgThey also have games that people use to play. This one is similar to darts. You throw the arrow hoping to make it inside the vase. This one was harder than it looks! photo IMG_2502.jpghttp:// photo IMG_2506.jpgBehind us is the trees made from locks. Usually couples write a message and lock it onto this tree to bring them a long lasting relationship! So cute! photo IMG_2509.jpg photo IMG_2517.jpgWe rode a cable car to reach the top of Namsan! photo IMG_2525.jpgKorean corn: chewy, crunchy, and not sweet like American corn definitely a unique taste/texture! photo IMG_2526.jpgThen we finished with a walk to Cheonggyecheon (chong-GAY-chon) (청계천). It is a man-made river that is about 6km long, running through the middle of Seoul. photo IMG_0115.jpgand to finish this post… photo IMG_0207.jpgA super awkward/cute picture! haha

Love,

JenKim

Meeting more FamilY!

On our first Sunday in Korea, my grandmother took us to a temple where we met my grandfather’s brother’s family! photo DSC_0635.jpg

After my grandpa’s brother’s passing, every sunday (till 50 days after his passing) family gathers at the temple to honor him. We went to one of their houses after the temple to introduce ourselves and talk more.

 photo DSC_0641.jpgThis was the view from her apartment. photo DSCN0838.jpgIt is Lotte World!

Then after lunch, we were off to meet my oldest Aunt (big imo), cousin and his son! photo DSC_0676.jpg

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Such a cute baby!!! ❤ After chasing him around, my Aunt took us to see a musical.

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Inside the SHart Hall..haha such a funny/strange name!

 photo DSCN0844.jpg photo IMG_0136.jpgThen we walked to the Gyeongbokgung Palace photo DSC_0687.jpg❤ Jennifer ( Jie Young in Korean)