Entry 54: So I took to Korean MMORPG games

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Probably the thing my family dislikes about me is my obsession to all things internet.

Which also includes video games…

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Korea has a rich gaming culture with places like PC bangs or PC rooms that offer high speed internet and all the popular games in Korea pre-downloaded into each computer. I don’t consider myself a computer game junkie but I do play quite a bit in my free time. Anywhere from 2 to 5 hours depending on my schedule.

Since July of 2015 I had spent a lot of my spare time on an Korean MMORPG game called Maplestory 2. I’m sure a lot of people on the internet has heard about Maplestory it’s predecessor.

Back in my teen years I spent a lot of time on games like Sims 2 or Simcity but then I ventured further into free-to-play MMORPG games. That’s when I discovered Maplestory and I played it daily for nearly 2 years until my account got hacked.

I found online friends that I gifted items with real life cash I even got so far as to date a guy online from Hawaii while I lived near the east coast. I turned to games to spend my time away from reality so to speak. I played so long the game even gave me messages saying I should take a break yet I’d continue.

I look back and think of what had triggered my need to play was because of the problems I faced at school in a daily basis and my family was falling apart. Times were tough of course cause it was mere months into the recession and I found my family life unbearable.

The main thing I regretted was all the money I invested into a fantasy. Which made me turn away from computer games till last year. You might think why in the world I would go back to gaming but it’s because I needed the escape after losing my job.

Gaming gave me control of things and I could have roles that made me feel important and needed. Also the my other reasoning to me wanting to play a game was to connect with people online and make friends from all over the place while doing so.

A lot of Koreans play games for probably the same reasons as me or turn to it for a professional career perhaps. I’m perfectly fine with my gaming habits and I learned a lot from my 1st encounter with MMORPG games since then.

Probably the main question is to how long I will play perhaps another year or as less as 3 to 6 months it depends. But what’s for sure I enjoyed the times I spent playing it and I made a lot of friends I wouldn’t have been able to make without it.

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Entry 48: Korean superstitions- A snake guardian of a household and it’s wealth.

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This is type of black snake that is common in Korea.

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The story goes that before the start of the Korean War my great-grandmother encountered a black, snake in her kitchen slithering around and eventually leaving the household.

With an American point-of-view this would have been a sign of relief but in Korean culture it was the surest sign of financial ruin. Sure enough my great-grandfather passed away and his assets were seized by his father and his sons from his first marriage.

My grandmother was only 6-years-old at the time when he had passed away from stomach cancer. With whatever money my great-grandmother had been able to earn she invested nearly everything on a mine hoping to earn a fortune but alas it was a financial failure. My great-grandmother worked hard but still died in poverty and for 30 years my grandmother too had struggled to earn a living and raise her family.

My grandmother had never questioned the bad omen and knows not to dismiss old Korean superstitions. I too take her words to heart and know not to dismiss such superstitions immediately.

Entry 32: Korean Ricecake Dumpling Soup~Ddeok Mandu Guk (떡만두국)

Eating korean ricecake dumpling soup the dumplings are stuffed with a kimchi and noddle filling. The soup is a anchovey based broth with egg and korean leek.

Eating this soup on the first day of the new year is tradition just like seaweed soup on your birthday~

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This is a piece of ricecake. Known as ddeok.

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This is the kimchi dumpling or known as kimchi mandu. Delicious~

Entry 29: My list of favorite Korean music artists/groups both past and present!

Lee Jung Hyun

The Queen of Korean Techno

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The first Korean singer I heard of is ‘Lee Jung Hyun’ (이정현) when I was 12 years old and I grew obsessed with techno dance music thanks to her~ The one and only Queen of Korean Techno!

I liked her for her dance songs, themed clothing ranging from Asian inspired clothes to Ancient Egyptian to Mermaid to Futuristic. She really impressed the younger me when I was really only listening to Britney Spears or Nsync or Hilary Duff. I loved Nuh (‘너’) and Wa (‘와’) when I was younger.

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An honorable mention to my other favorite techno song~ Tears by So Chan Wee (소찬휘) my mom and aunties were obsessed with this song.

Lee Soo Young

The Queen of Korean Ballads

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I love, love Lee Soo Young~ I love her voice and ballad music style. My most favorite song from her is ‘얼마나 좋을까‘. In English the song title is {Imagine how wonderful it would be} or {Isn’t it beautiful}. She has a sort of soft, yet emotional voice and I’ve never heard a style quite like hers growing up. She’s the queen of K-ballads and I have such a deep respect for her.

Dong Bang Shin Gi

The Gods of the East

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Gosh I still remember the first song I heard from them which would be ‘My little princess‘ and the next thing I knew I was buying their album and got to see their music videos online for the first time. Really there wasn’t a boy group out there that was as attractive/talented as these boys at the time in the early 2000’s.

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They have a special place in my heart since I was 13 and my favorite member is actually Jae Joong (Hero).

Bigbang

Kpop just got more globalized

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I knew that when all the Korean guys at my school were trying to sing Bigbang’s ‘Haru Haru‘ at our high school’s international night I knew that K-pop is here to stay. What made Bigbang so different is in fact their music and back then they weren’t as flashy but still delivered great songs. The direction they took with kpop is really amazing and explosive I’d never would have imagined how K-pop would be without Bigbang and it’s members.

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I personally like all the members!~

2NE1

Blackjack Pride

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Oh lordy when I first saw 2NE1 online I just knew I had to know who they are and what outfits they were wearing! I’ve never seen so much color and they had catchy songs/moves after watching ‘Lolipop’ and ‘Fire’. I never was so interested in a girl group till them and I still root for these girls. My favorite group members in this order is Bom, CL, Minzy, and Dara but I really adore all the members. I loved Bom’s singles and I really like her voice/fashion style. Not sure the direction they are taking now but I really hope for the best.

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Entry 16: 10 things that are so Korean or things that Korean people do that you’d never did before until moving to Korea~

1.) Start to crave instant coffee sticks. Then you drink it right after a meal. (There is an instant coffee dispenser in every Korean restaurant and it’s part of the culture).090422_p28_instant

2.) You use toilet paper for messes and spills in the kitchen. Then you’ll make sure to leave a roll on the dining table. (Something Koreans do all the time and something I hadn’t known about until I moved to Korea.)

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3.) Eating kimchi with everything like pizza and pasta. (This is over-exaggerating but I need kimchi if I’m eating noddles or BBQ but older people eat that way).

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4.) Drinking Americanos. The preferred hot coffee drink of young Koreans.

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5.) Wearing BB cream. (Again this is something I didn’t start doing until moving to Korea).

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6.) Paying everything with a card because you’ll get points or brand store discounts. Koreans are very point/discount  conscience spenders.

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7.) Using the Kakaotalk app. It’s a national obsession.

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8.) Bringing tissue paper with you everywhere. Because you must be prepared always!

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9.) Owning a smartphone. Not necessary Korean but still a requirement if your tending to live in Korea for a long time.

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10.) Learning how to haggle like a true local. I never haggled in America and yet in Korea it’s possible for nearly everything except department stores or grocery stores. My grandmother is a professional haggler and manged to get 2 silk blankets from Dongdaemun Fabric Market normally 300 dollars each down to 180 dollars each!!

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Entry 8: Seo Taiji’s Quiet Night Album and the story of Sogyeok-dong

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Seo Taiji’s ‘Quiet Night’ Album Cover

Seo Taiji’s Version

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IU’s Version

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Sogyeok-dong is where Seo Taiji grew up and now the area has several flourishing art museums but back in the ’80s the area served as a facility location where students were detained and ‘re-educated’.

Students were reported for suspicious behavior and those accused were often brought back to the facility were questioned and tortured. During this time the Korean government took little sympathy to ideals that are seen as communist but unfortunately many other views that weren’t even communistic got caught including pro-democratic demonstrators, political clubs, and study groups.

Recalling my mom’s stories about her childhood and teenage years in the 80’s made me understand the how strict things were in Korea under President Park Chung Hee. My mother had to keep her hair short and jet black to be deemed as a decently dressed student. Perms weren’t allowed and makeup was prohibited it made me think just how controlling this time was for my mother’s generation.

Although my family is still politically conservative it is because my grandfather at the time served in the military and could provide for his family under President Park Chung Hee. My mother’s high school principle actually was the man who assassinated President Park so imagine my mother’s shock and horror.

I really enjoyed Seo Taiji’s new album and I appreciate his passion for music. I loved the visuals and artwork and maybe I’ll visit Sogyeok-dong too.

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Entry 7: Unrealistic Korean Homes from Korean Dramas vs Reality

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Well the topic on my mind is just how far fetched the Korean dramas can be when really in real life in Korea it’s usually not how things are depicted. The rich and wealthy in Korean Dramas live in homes that are sort of remote and private which is defiantly not how the rich behave in Korea.

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Single homes in Korea especially Seoul are limited and expensive it’s worth a lot more at times because of the valuable land the house is built on. What I find most times is that homes like these usually don’t have a ton of yard space and parking can be a challenge without a garage.

Usually ultra modern single homes in Korea are located far from Seoul like in Pyeongchang or elsewhere. Still Koreans long to stay in Seoul to live, to work, and to play.

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We have apartments.

There are apartments for the wealthy elite and for the company workers. Apartments have plenty of car space and are close to shops, restaurants, and public transportation.

Most rich families in Korea made their money with money they inherited or the land properties they managed to make a gold mine out of.

Sure their are people who worked their way up through business or by having successful careers usually through medicine.(SURGEONS!)

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This is what a typical rich person would decide to purchase nowadays on the highest floor of course. We call these kinds of homes ‘Bujajip’ literally meaning rich person home.

Most apartments are in an open layout meaning the living room, dining room, and kitchen aren’t separated into different rooms. The latest homes are smarter then ever and have features like built-in appliances, ovens, dishwasher (possibly). Stylish apartments like these are anywhere from 4 to 7,000 dollars for monthly mortgages.

The rich of Korea can buy multiple houses and use it as an investment by renting it out so the most popular style would be 2-3 beds and 2 baths since most Koreans don’t want to pay huge maintenance bills for a bigger apartment.

If it isn’t apartments the rich are interested in land since land is scarce and expensive.

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Where as the rest of middle class, lower middle class, or retired elderly live in these sort of homes.

00A0A_byzJnHmcMYI_600x450There isn’t a stove because you need to bring your own gas stove.

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The rooms are small and usually covered in a sort of laminated wood design flooring.

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The bathrooms are generic and most Koreans use bath bowls instead of having a space consuming bath tub. Don’t be surprised to learn the laundry machine needs to be in your bathroom it’s very common in Korea.

I haven’t had my clothes not air-dried in 3 years don’t expect your home to have a dryer or the capabilities to install a dryer!

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Then there are the slums of Seoul.

Slums are very visible throughout parts of Seoul especially affluent neighborhoods because the people who live there have no other choice. These are people who earn less then 200 dollars a month or even less and what it reflects is the entire Korean economic social standing.

‘Imperfect’, and the reality is hard to watch.

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I point this out to you all because you shouldn’t take anything for granted.

Remembering a time in my life where my mom and I had no savings so we had to sleep on her office floor when everyone left. It was absolutely mind shattering to say the least having to hide our belongings in her trunk.

I felt sad and hopeless until we managed to find a cheap rental place to imagine what a difference a year makes it’s truly amazing.

I’ve grown to appreciate my past life in America and for those 20 years of my life I had enough to eat and a roof above my head. Most important is to give thanks and carry the will to overcome obstacles.