It’s a Saturday afternoon and I’m relaxing from a quite busy week.
One more week to go before Christmas and 2015 is almost history. Time flies !
While enjoying a cup of Belgian hot chocolate and a choco pie, the last delicious souvenir from our trip to Jeonju last weekend, I realize that I still have to write a report about the ‘Induction ceremony for the 2015 honorary reporters’ !
Yes, … after a short break the Korea Blog is back on the rails !
We can start blogging again about our common passion: Korea !
End of November a group of 76 people, new and old bloggers, was selected by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to share their Korea experiences on the Korea Blog, the official blog of Korea.net.
As appointed reporters we were all invited to attend the ‘Induction Ceremony’ at the National Hangeul Museum in Seoul. Additionally we were also invited to take part at a two-day trip to Jeonju, the capital of North Jolla province. Since our friends and family were happily welcomed to attend this event my wife decided to join me.
On Friday December 11, at 11:00 am we were expected to be at the National Hangeul Museum in Seoul. Since we’re currently living in Busan it was no option to leave from Busan in the early morning. So we left the day before. Unfortunately we had terrible rainy weather the whole trip to Gyeonggi province where we stayed overnight. The next morning we took a 90 minute trip on the subway to Ichon station, which is located nearby the Hangeul Museum and the National museum of Korea.
We were warmly welcomed by the crew of Korea.net who provided us with a new bloggers jacket and a bag full of souvenirs. We were quite curious what would be in there ? In the lobby we met some of the other bloggers from last year like Aaron Snowberger, Alfonso Delgado and Shelly. It was good to see them again !
At 11.00 pm the induction ceremony started. Seventeen of the reporters living in Korea attended this ceremony. One by one we all received an appointment certificate from KOCIS Director Park Younggoog. He expressed his hope that we all share our experiences about Korea on social media in the next coming year, what we certainly will do !
Before making a group picture in front of the museum we had the opportunity to enjoy a short repertoire of a Kayageum ensemble before we were invited to the nearby Korean restaurant. Here we had a chance to have conversations with other bloggers and the crew of Korea.net.
After a delicious meal we had some time to take a look at the Hangeul Museum. Since we had been there already last year we decided to go for a cup of coffee in the cafetaria of the museum. At 2:00 pm we all got on a tour bus to Jeonju. Our tour guide gave us a short introduction about Jeonju but for the most of us it was not the first time to visit Jeonju, especially not for Aaron who is actually living there.
In the early evening we arrived in Jeonju. Most of us were hungry after the 3 hours bus ride.
So were quite happy when the bus driver dropped us at a new restaurant near Jeonju Hanok Village. Here we were spoiled with some appetizers, side dishes and … of course … traditional Jeonju bibimbap !
After dinner we took our bags and went to our hanok stay hotel. Rooms were distributed to everyone. We left our luggage in the rooms and we went all together to Nambu traditional market which is located near the Pungnam gate. This gate, built in the middle of Joseon dynasty, is the only one left standing gate from the original four gates in Jeonju.
The night market is quite small compared to those in bigger cities but nevertheless it was quite fun to stroll around there. Besides the normal products that you can find on a traditional market, mainly street food is sold here. My wife enjoyed her favorite chewy snack, pigskin !
I was impressed to meet local people who where interested in Belgium’s national soccer team (they are ranked #1 on FIFA’s world ranking). And it was nice to see how 3 of our female bloggers, Taiwanese and German, had fun dancing with some Korean men on the vibes of So Chan Wee’s ‘Tears’ sung by a local singer. We also met a senior and his cute dog wearing fancy shoes !
Around 9:30 pm we all met again at the Pungnam gate and we went to our hanok hotel.
As expected, the rooms were small but cosy, well equipped and comfortable. And I love sleeping on the warm ondol floor !
Saturday morning at 8:30 am we were expected to meet in a nearby Korean style breakfast restaurant. Gong-namul guk bap, a soup of bean sprouts mixed with rice, was served by the friendly Korean ajumas.
We even had moju in the early morning ! Moju is a sweet low alcohol brownish liquor made of makeolli and eight medicinal herbs. It is a drink that you shouldn’t miss when you visit Jeonju.
After breakfast we went to a hanbok store to change our clothes into a hanbok, colorful traditional Korean clothes. It took some time before all of us were dressed up to go out.
While we waited for the others to join us we experienced some traditional games like neoltwigi (seesaw) and tuho (arrow throwing). The guide took us for a short walk through the Hanok village while we were watched by Koreans, surprised to see so many foreigners in hanbok.
Ten minutes later we arrived at the Gyeonggijeon, a Shrine built more than 600 years ago for Yi Seong Gye, the founder and the first King (Tae-jo) of Joseon dynasty.
Even though Jeonju had the first snow a couple of weeks ago maple trees were still carrying autumn colors, creating beautiful sceneries for pictures. Jeon Han, photographer of Korea.net, took this opportunity to shoot pictures of every blogger individually. Even a drone was used to make some aerial pictures !
We left the Gyeonggijeon shrine for the store to change our clothes and on the way back we all picked up a box of delicious Jeonju choco pie. Bradley Kirby from Canada was especially happy with this since he promised his son to get some choco pie for him.
Back in our usual clothes, but all dressed with our new Korea.net jacket, we climbed up the stairs to Omokdae pavilion.
According to history this is the place where King Taejo organized a banquet to celebrate his victory over the Japanese. It is located on top of a hill from where you can enjoy a nice view on the rooftops of Jeonju Hanok village.
The pavilion was a nice location for a group picture. We went down the hill in the direction of Imokdae, which was less impressive. The mural paintings on the small neighboring houses were very cute.
The time passed fast and it was already lunchtime when we got back on the bus for a short ride to Wanju. Some 20 minutes later we arrived in Changpo village.
In a traditional Korean hanok style restaurant small appetizers were served before we got all kind of vegetables to make our own bibimbap. A fermented non alcoholic rice drink (shikye) and big ripened persimmons (daebong hongsi) were served as dessert.
After our meal we were introduced to Daedeumijil, a ritual of smoothing fabric with 2 wooden batons performed by 6 grannies. They started this cultural performance 10 years ago in order to promote their little village.
Some of our reporters had the chance to experience the Dadeumijil and they even impressed the Daedeumi members with their skills and enthusiasm. During our trip all the reporters were interviewed by the Korea.net crew. They asked our opinion about the trip and about our future blogging plans.
After finishing the last interviews it was time to leave Changpo village. From one of Korea’s most traditional places we drove to Sejong, a newly built administrative city near Daejeon. Korea.net has its headquarters here so it was a good location to make a last group picture before getting back to Seoul.
My wife and I, we got of at the Cheonan reststop. We were lucky to get a ride from one of the parents of a Korea.net crew member. Thanks for it again ! It saved us a couple of hours to get back home.
Around 8 pm we got back in Pyeongtaek. My parents in law where delighted to see us and to hear our exciting stories. But they were mostly happy with the choco pie we brought for them. Among the other souvenirs we also found a unique porcelain orgel and ‘Beautiful bounds’, a book about Korea.net friends.
Having a two-days trip with enthusiast people from all over the world who share the same passion was a wonderful experience. It was also nice to have a conversation with the different crew member of Korea.net. We hope we can take part in a similar event in the future.
Distributing Korea.net jackets to all to bloggers was also a good idea. Hopefully it will improve acces to individual people and to upcoming events.
‘Gamsahamnida’ for all the people who made this trip to an unforgettable memory !
More pictures from this event can be found at www.flickr.com/k-mood