“It’s Good for your Health”

8 12 2009

by Randy Pulayya

After a few months in Korea, it became apparent that people love to take care of themselves. It doesn’t matter where you live in the world it is always important to spend time taking care of yourself. Everything from what we eat and drink to products that we put into our body has a lasting effect and will catch up to you in the end. The next three posts will give you an idea of how Koreans are so health conscious.

Korean food is much healthier than American food. It has less fat and more vegetables. One of the first things that we recognized in Korea is that there are very few obese people. Koreans always say “it’s good for your health.” It’s true. All of their food, if cooked and prepared properly is good for you. Their diet consists of everything from beef, pork, chicken, fish, octopus, squid, tofu, kimchi, cabbage, radish, collard mustards, lettuce, onions, ginger, ginseng root, other types of herbal roots and of course rice and noodles.

A Korean meal consists of a main dish, banchan (side dishes) and soup. The main dish is typically a fish or meat item. Banchan, or side dishes, includes kimchi, pickled cucumbers, pickled radish, white radish, tofu, etc. (There are countless items that can be included in the category.) At the end of the meal, you have to ask for soup. The most common soup is called doenjang jjigae (된장찌개), which is made from soy bean paste. Doenjang is a traditional Korean food that is fermented from soy beans. It has been a fixture of the Korean diet since the beginning of time. Recently, it has received great attention from western medicine for its nutritional and medicinal value. Doenjang is effective in preventing cancer. Soybeans, the main ingredient of doenjang, contain high quality proteins in the form of amino acid, which aid in digestion.

After three months, I have lost more than 16 pounds! I came to Korea and wanted to lose between 5-10 pounds but without even trying, I lost even more. I accomplished this by just eating the food and walking 20 minutes to and from work everyday. This is proof that Korean food is so much healthier than American food.


Sights, Sounds and Smells

15 10 2009

by Shauna Vo

Sights. Korea has a distinct smell to it. I don’t mean to complain or give Korea generalizations. These observations have been from my time so far here in Ulsan. Everyday Randy and I have a 20 minute walk to school. We walk about half way together and then part ways. On our way to school, we pass several interesting sights and smells. whaleWe see a map of the neighborhood with a cartoon character of a whale. Then, we see a huge whale restaurant with a humpback whale on the sign. Ulsan is known for their rich whaling history. The whale is, of course, the city’s symbol. We were quite weary of this when we discovered it and still are. When we asked our co-teachers why there are so many whale restaurants in the city, considering the fact that hunting whale is illegal, they said that whales die naturally and that is why there are so many restaurants that serve whale meat. But, I don’t know how long you can keep whale meat until it is no longer fresh. Our friends who have tried whale meat say that it tastes very beefy and some parts, they say, taste like roast beef. I hope we are not encountered with having to try whale meat.

Riding the bus in Korea is no joke! As soon as you pay your 1,000 won (less than $1) you better grab a hold of something because the drivers here don’t care. As you can imagine even the city buses are Hyundai and the bus drivers think that they’re in a street race. They make very sharp and frequent stops. I am waiting for the day to see a flying Korean Superman in the air. When you ride the city bus, think of it as getting a serious ab workout.

Sounds. Like any city, there is always construction going on in Ulsan. But, what is different from any city or country, Korea completes construction projects in no time! During our fourth week of school, they were drilling a hole in half of the alley way that we walk through to get to school. I’m not quite sure what they were doing. But, it only took them a week to drill the hole, move the concrete, take out the pipes and re-pave the road.

Next to the holes, they were building a new convenience store. They started it when I got to Ulsan and finished it within two or three weeks! At first, I couldn’t tell that it was supposed to be a store, I thought it was just a place that was torn down. But, two weeks later, they had a brightly colored sign above the store and tons of food and snacks to purchase.

Smells. There are some parts of Korea that are so beautiful, such as the huge mountains behind the city full of skyscrapers. But, when you step into the city and in the alley ways, you see a Ulsandifferent part of Korea. Taxis are rushing to find the next customer and bikers are speeding down the street, making the loudest sounds. Every day we walk through an alley way that has such a potent smell. We have discovered that Korea doesn’t have the greatest sewage system. Instead of using a garbage disposal, we have to separate our compost into a different dumpster. Thank goodness we live on the 11th floor of our apartment building because the smell of sewage and compost here is disgusting! We have to hold our breath when we pass by sewage holes on the way to school. Although Korea is not a third world country by any means, this is one area where they could improve.

Getting Settled and Discovering Korea

14 10 2009

by Randy Pulayya

Culture. It has been almost two months since we arrived to Korea and we are finally getting adjusted to the Korean culture and way of life. One of the biggest things that we noticed is how much emphasis that the Korean government focuses on learning English. English is a main subject in Korean schools, along with the regular subjects such as science, math and social studies. A typical middle school student starts his or her day at 7am and ends by 4pm. After 4pm it’s straight to the academy. Most children are involved in some after school activities that are usually required and not necessarily anything like sports or clubs. They are usually enrolled in an after school private program (an academy) where they study all subjects but mostly English until 9pm. Saturdays are not considered the weekend for kids in Korea, it’s considered academy time.
Missing Home. McDonald’s in Korea delivers right to your apartment. Just call 1600 5252 and you are directed to the main calling center in Seoul, South Korea. The operator takes your address and finds it on their system. Our address is 1108 Dongsan Parkville Dal-dong, Namgu, Ulsan South Korea. You think it’s that easy telling them, right? Haaaaaa guess again!! After three phone calls we finally struck gold! We got our food delivered in 10 minutes. FYI, there is a surcharge of 900 won for delivery. That comes to less than one dollar! If you’re feeling lazy and want to stay in for the evening it’s worth it!
Adventures. This weekend we went paragliding in Ulsan! It was a long day but it was worth waiting around for the wind to pick up. We spent the entire day waiting for the wind to pick up on top a a beautiful mountain. It is no comparison to skydiving but, they say you should try everything in life at least once. There is no other feeling to describe being up in the air until you have done it. You do feel like a bird.

Our First Meal in Our New Hometown

18 09 2009

As we explored our neighborhood in the new downtown area of Ulsan, we were overwhelmed with the number of family restaurants. The smell of kimchi filled the streets of Korea as we walked to find a place to eat.

We found a restaurant that seemed like a “mom and pop” restaurant because two older women were cooking and two younger women, in their mid 30s, were eating and watching their toddlers play in the restaurant. bbulgogi-mom-popLike most Korean restaurants, we were required to take off our shoes. The tables were low to the ground and had a built-in grill. This was definitely a bulgogi restaurant. Bulgogi is thinly sliced beef and is traditionally grilled. In bulgogi restaurants, the server takes your order and brings back a serving of meat that you are expected to cook. As newcomers, we didn’t realize that we needed to cook our food and didn’t even know how to order our food because everything was written in Hangul. One of the mothers approached us and helped us order our food. Even though we didn’t speak Korean, you could immediately see the genuine interest of these two ladies because they wanted to help us. The older women brought the raw meat and banchan to our table. Banchan is what the Koreans call the side dishes, which include kimchi, peppers, pickled radish, spinach, pickled cucumbers, pickled bean sprouts, etc. bbulgogiWe just sat there for a moment because we didn’t know that we had to cook our own food, so one of the younger women came to our table and helped us cook. I told her that she was like our omoney, which means mother in Korean. Next, she took my metal chopsticks and reached over for some tofu and fed it to both of us! We realize that we have a lot to learn and we are very excited about learning more about the Korean culture.