Korean Fashion

30 11 2009

Fashion. As far as fashion goes in Korea, we now know why Korea doesn’t have a fashion capital like New York City, Tokyo, Milan or Paris. Although they might dress well in Seoul, the rest of Korea has a distinct fashion. Members of ShineeLet’s start with the men. Korean men love shiny suits and sparkling ties. The men here are so slim anyway that their skinny jeans and tight-fitted suits make them look thinner than the girls. Men also wear the high-top Reebok shoes with the skinniest pair of jeans.

Another fashion statement is the ‘Konglish’ and Mickey Mouse shirts. Randy bought a shirt that says “Slow Life.” Some shirts just don’t make sense. Sometimes kids will wear shirts that they have no idea of the meaning, even though it may have a curse word. I think they buy the shirt because it has English. Both men and women wear baggy Mickey Mouse t-shirts. I’m not sure what the obsession about the Disney character is, but they love it. And of course, they love anything with Hello Kitty or any other Sanrio character.

As for the women, looks are very important. There are two types of looks that women go for. Some women dress to the tee every time they go out, whether it is to work, school or the grocery store. They wear short skirts, high heels and ruffle blouses. They always carry a mirror and make up with them. As in some parts of the states, some women here must have the latest designer bag or shoes.

The other type of style that women wear is the baggy t-shirt and stirrup tights. I’m not sure if they think it is flattering or if they think they should be as conservative as possible and cover their whole body with a large piece of cloth. In addition to the garbage bag look, they wear converse shoes with tights or skinny jeans.

My take on the fashion. Some of the fashion has grown on me. I’ve always liked ruffle shirts and high heels. It’s taking me more courage to wear the short skirts though. And surprisingly, I like the skinny jeans and tights (not stirrups, these still make me feel like I’m in the early 90s) and the long shirts (not the huge garbage bags). But, I will not be caught wearing Converse shoes with skinny jeans. But, one unique item for shopping in Korea are their shoes. Korea is shoe heaven! There are so many shoe stores and each store has a huge variety of the cutest shoes. And they are for reasonable prices! For my first month here, I bought four pairs of shoes (two flats, tennis shoes and heels) for under 50,000 won, which is equivalent to about $45 USD. Unfortunately, for some westerners, it’s hard to find shoes here because the shoe size here doesn’t go past size nine.


Fashion. Entertainment. Sports.

26 11 2009

by Shauna Vo

It seems that Korea is about 10-20 years behind that of America or any western country in the pop culture scene. Boy bands, girl groups, tights with stirrups, baggy t-shirts, high-top Converse or Reebok shoes are still in existent in Korea. These are not necessarily bad things; it just takes me back to being in junior high or even elementary school again. The following three posts are just my observations and again, I apologize for any generalizations and stereotypes.

Entertainment. KPop, or Korean pop music, is a phenomenon here. Teenage girls go crazy over boy groups who are just a couple years older than them. Shinee, 2PM, 2AM, Big Bang and Super Junior can all be compared to the Backstreet Boys, NSYNC and all of the other lost boy band groups. The Kpop bands all have that certain type of beat and to some extent, they sound the same. Each song has a dance that the teenage girls love to learn and will naturally “bust the move” whenever they hear the song. The number of members in each group is anywhere from five to 13! Who knows how long these boy bands will last.

Check out Shinee’s latest song:

The students go crazy when they know that as a foreign teacher, you know some of their most popular songs. It’s definitely another way to connect with the students. Some of the students are so close to their teachers. Teachers in Korea are there for their students for more than just homework. For example, some Korean teachers give students advice about everything, such as how to deal with their parents and where to apply for high school. As a foreign teacher, we are unable to connect on that level with the students. So, KPop will have to be the common ground, which is fine with me because it would be really hard to leave after a year if I was that close to my students.

My take on Kpop. I love Kpop. There are some boy band groups that I would rather not listen to. But I appreciate all kinds of music, even if I can’t understand the lyrics. And if helps me connect with my students, it makes teaching even more enjoyable.

Hyundai City

25 11 2009

(Drive your way)

by Randy Pulayya

Ulsan is a unique city that is located on the south eastern coast of Korea and is also know as Hyundai City. Hyundai is the heart of Ulsan and Korea. Hyundai is everywhere from Hyundai cars, Hyundai Bus, Hyundai department store, Hyundai health care products and etc. Hyundai put Ulsan on the map for being the wealthiest cities in Korea.

The majority of the cars in Ulsan are Hyundai. Rarely do you see other car brands. Every now and then you’ll spot a Mini Cooper or Honda. I saw a BMW once and an orange Lamborghini at the Hyundai Department Store.

The drivers in Korea are very aggressive. They remind me of New York City Yellow Cab drivers. Police officers hardly ever pull over drivers for speeding or running the red light. You really have to stop and look both ways when crossing the street. Pedestrians do not have the right of way. Also, when you’re walking on the sidewalk you have to watch out for those crazy guys on the scooters. There are no laws in Korea that forbids scooters to ride on the sidewalk. It’s like a video game out here. First you will see a guy on a scooter driving on the road and as soon as he hits traffic he drives on the sidewalks and goes through the red light.

The other day I was walking to school and I saw a young lady driving her small hatchback car and was driving through the side street and she scarped the side of the power line post. She had at least 10 inches to make it to the street and all I heard was errrhhhhhhhh erhhhhh! The side of her car was completely damaged. One word of advice for people who plan to visit Korea, stay out of their way!

Celebrity Status

5 11 2009
Celebrities in Ulsan

Randy is the real celebrity here, I just look like everyone else. ^^

Superstars. We are like superstars in Korea! Well, Randy is more of a celebrity than I am because I look like everyone here. He gets the stares and the random “I love you” from strangers. When we are walking together, you can imagine what people are thinking. They’re not used to seeing an interracial couple because it’s just not that diverse here. But, they seem to accept it, especially because Randy is so friendly and likes to say hello and be very respectful to the elders. Koreans usually respond positively.

But, nonetheless, I still have that celebrity status at my school. Most students are very friendly and respectful that I come from a different country and try very hard to understand me and they try to speak English as much as they can. Other students don’t care as much and some are just rotten; these students are usually troublemakers anyway.

Though, sometimes students will mistake me for a Korean teacher and say “anyounhasayo” (hello in Korean) and bow, but then they realize that it’s me and I just hear them giggle and say “hello” quickly. Teachers expect students to greet them by bowing and saying hello.

Wrapped like a mummy

The trick was to "pick two students to wrap yourself like a mummy."

Hallowin Day. Last week we celebrated Halloween, which isn’t a big holiday here in Korea. They call it “Hallowin Day.” Although they sell Halloween costumes and decorations in some stores, not everyone celebrates it. It is more known among students who go to hagwons (private schools). They usually put on a big Halloween party or make a really scary haunted house for the students. But, I tried my best to cater to all 750 students in one week. I decorated my classroom with bats, ghosts, witches, black cats, etc. I played Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” at the beginning of class and then played a trick or treat game. They had to pick a piece of paper from a box and on that piece of paper were tricks, such as “howl like a wolf,” “fly on a broom like a witch” or “dance to Michael Jackson’s Thriller.” Once the performed the ‘trick,’ they could get a treat. It was very amusing to me and my co-teacher!

Frustration and Encouragement. With that said, our class is supposed to be the ‘fun’ class. So, sometimes it is hard to get students to pay attention. Teaching is different for everyone. But for me, it’s easier to have my co-teacher in class because they are really good at disciplining the kids. Sometimes they don’t understand what I am saying, so I think that is why they don’t listen. But on the other hand, they could very well know what I am saying and just don’t listen. I’ve found a couple of things that work well for me when the co-teacher isn’t in the class. I just stand there and glare at the students really hard to let them know that I am angry. I will also make them write sentences for the whole class period. How a teacher disciplines the students really depends on his or her personality.

Other than some of the frustrating and exhausting times, teaching in Korea has been very rewarding, especially when some students really want to learn more about you and try to speak English. And as we are learning more Korean, it’s becoming easier to communicate with our students and coworkers and therefore, forming long-lasting relationships, or at least making Korea more enjoyable each day.