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Transcript of Project Mapo
A sea of dazzling glow sticks, perfectly memorized fan chants, songs with complex choreography and a catchy beat are all elemental parts of a K-pop concert. K-pop can be heard while walking through the streets of Hongdae and Myeongdong. Many NSLI-Y students have learned Korean words and phrases from K-pop songs. Hearing "ireumie mwoehyo?" by 4minute everyday as I walk in Sinchon, I find myself able to understand phrases that I have learned in class. K-pop not only helps teach Korean language to international fans, but is a fun and entertaining fandom to be a part of. The catchy songs of EXO, Infinite, Sistar, and BEAST are blasted in almost every shop and restaurant in Seoul. Having been to KBS Music Bank, a Beast concert, and and an Infinite concert, I can say that going to a K-pop concert is a thrilling experience. The fans are extremely dedicated and the idols are incredibly talented. K-pop has spread throughout the world and captured the interest of many people now eager to learn about Korea. The upbeat music, the intricate dances, the fantastic concerts: this is what makes K-pop special.
"Hongdae" by Lillie Suda
Hongdae is the neighborhood around Hongik University in Mapo-gu. It is known as the artsy neighborhood of Seoul because of the cultural scene that has sprung up around Hongik University, which is an arts university. Hongdae is heavily populated by clothing shops, restaurants, bars, and clubs. There also are various theme cafés scattered throughout the neighborhood, including the Hello Kitty Cafe and several dog, cat, and even sheep cafés. Art galleries can also be found around Hongdae. One of the best galleries to visit with friends is the Trick Eye Museum, a gallery with 3D art designed for visitor interaction.
Hongdae playground, located outside the front gate of Hongik University, was the location for the birth of modern Korean punk rock music. The rebellious attitude that led to the modern punk rock movement is still here, but has spread to include hiphop and electronic music as well.
Hongdae really comes to life at night and on the weekends. Street stalls selling food, jewelry, and clothing are set up. One can find musicians performing right outside the subway station or on some of the main streets. Performance halls like Rolling Hall or Prism Hall hold inexpensive concerts with impressive lineups of rock or hiphop artists. Some of the clubs also hold concerts, which naturally have to be experienced outside of the NSLI-Y program.
The diversity of Hongdae culture is the part I enjoy the most. A cutesy clothing shop playing k-pop is located next to a piercing shop, which is next to a Korean restaurant. There is no one identity in Hongdae, so all are accepted. If you're looking for some good food and entertainment, you'll find something in Hongdae.
I've spent a lot of my time in Seoul in Hongdae because of its proximity to Sogang University and my host family's home. I haven't been bored yet. I would definitely rank Hongdae as one of the most important neighborhoods to visit in Seoul.
"Korean Games: Gonggi" by Brittany Groves
Although there are many traditional Korean games, I have only been able to experience a few for myself. One that I have managed some success at is gonggi, a popular children's game similar to the American game of Jacks.
How to play Gonggi
Traditionally the game was played using five or more small pebbles called gongit tol, which translates as gonggi stones. Today, instead of going about finding pebbles, children can just buy colorful plastic "stones" that usually have little magnet pieces inside.
When our SeonSaengNim in class 1A taught us to play gonggi, the result was a chaotic return to childhood. The exultant sounds of success were much rarer than the endless din of gonggi stones clattering to the floor. Occasionally a stone launched itself towards an unsuspecting face. Apologies and laughter naturally ensued. After our class had made many a failed attempt at glory, our teacher decided to play -- shaming us with her skill. All in all, gonggi is a really fun, rewarding game, but can also be very frustrating for beginners.
Fighting for leg room
This strange woman is too close
Begging sleep to come
Fighting for leg room
This strange woman is too close
Begging sleep to come
NSLI-Y Korea Summer 2013
Stepping off the plane
The land of calm awaits us,
six weeks then it ends
Quietly floating above
Korean Food Culture by Nick Abasolo, Christopher Cao, and Marilyn Le
1. Sharing dishes: Whereas in Western culture people each have their own dish when eating out, in Korean culture, it is common for people to share the same dish(es). Traditionally, each person has their own rice bowl and then shares the entrees and banchan with others.
2. Getting the waiter's attention: If you want to get the waiter's attention, most restaurants have a red "CALL" button at either end of the table. However, if there isn't a call button, you can just yell "yeogiyo!" and they'll come over.
3.Banchan (in English, side dishes) is a big part of Korean cuisine. Banchan are always served at every meal, and usually includes some type of kimchi and other small side dishes. They're meant to be shared and eaten with the main dish. The more banchan served, the more formal the meal. Most restaurants do not serve more than 12 banchan, as this number of banchan was reserved for the royal family. Plate and utensils Koreans do not use both hands to eat! It is considered rude to hold your chopsticks in one hand and your spoon in the other, as is common in other Asian countries. You instead switch utensils using only your dominant hand. It is also rude to lift your plate from the table - instead, bring your head down closer to your dish.
4. Self-serve Water: Most typical Korean restaurants have water dispensers in which customers have to go get the water themselves.
5. Paying as a group, do not go Dutch: it is considered a culture for Koreans to handle the bill as one group instead of separate individual bill because Korean culture emphasizes the family unit.
First night in the foreign home
The start of friendship
Walking from Sinchon
Growing, building, and learning
Classic rock or pop
One hour, so many choices
Screaming and singing
Where are you going?
Underground or in the air
I can take you there
The speakers keep on coming
"Imchingak: A Place of the Past and the Present" by Liniel Leong
On a recent excursion with my host family, we visited Imchingak, the last station in South Korea. To be honest, when my host family first mentioned this weekend trip, I had been less excited about seeing North Korea.
Upon our arrival, however, I was a bit shocked at the size of the crowd gathered in the area. People were preparing for a festival, traditional music was being played, and flags surrounded the area. At that point, my host dad informed me that the 27th of July of 1953 marked the end of the war between North and South Korea.
July 27, 2013. I was lucky enough to have taken part in the 60th anniversary of the end of the war. This entire experience allowed me to witness the patriotic side of Korea, whether it was through the zealous exhibition of nationalism, or the quiet expression of grief for family members who were lost in the war.
As Americans, we often hear about North Korea in the news. We listen, we make our opinions on the matter, and sometimes we even poke fun at their leader. Outside of politics, we encounter Korea through technology in our homes: Samsung, LG, etc. We know the news, we know the companies and their brands. But we don't really know the people of Korea.
Thanks to NSLI-Y, I didn't just walk the streets of Seoul. I stood beside the people of Korea as they celebrated a significant part of their history.
Meeting korean students
A new lifelong friend
Is everything over?
Do we really go back now?
How do we return?
What is this used for?
Where do I put the mushrooms?
Hongdae at Night
Gaming Culture by Anh Duong
Most Korean teenagers play games outside of their home during free time after school in local gaming rooms called "PC Bang" A bang is simply explained as a gaming center in which customers pay an hourly fee to play multiplayer games or use the Internet. Most bangs are very cheap, ranging from 1000 - 2000 won ( $1.00 to $1.50 USD) an hour. There are currently over 20,000 active PC bangs in South Korea and they have become a significant part of the country’s economy. In Korea, going to a bang is equivalent to going to the movies or the bar in the West. PC bangs are especially prevalent in big cities like Seoul, where population density offers the local youth few options for recreational and social interaction outside of school.
The term "pro gaming" or "professional gaming" refers to the act of people playing video games and making a living by doing so. The concept is similar to professional sports. Usually, pro gaming is used as a form of entertainment and is broadcasted or recorded in some way for the enjoyment of viewers. An example of pro gaming is the situation in South Korea regarding StarCraft. In South Korea, certain players of high skill at the game of StarCraft are recruited onto teams to practice and compete with other professional teams in official tournaments. These people are paid to do so and are referred to as pro gamers.
In the Korean pro gaming circuit, an amateur who wants to enter the professional scene must first gain a semi-professional license from KeSPA(Korean E-Sports Association). Although the rules for acquiring this license have changed slightly over the years, one must either get top place in tournaments or in rarer cases be gifted a license from a pro-team to become a semi-pro. The professional teams then evaluate semi-pros and may choose to draft one onto their team, at which point they are considered a pro gamer and can play in KeSPA leagues.
A Quick History of Popular Street Food by Tuhin Choudhary and Yen-Yen Gao
The history of tteokbokki can be traced all the way back to the Joseon Dynasty, when it was a part of the royal food cuisine. However, the tteokbokki eaten by the Joseon Emperors was served with meats and vegetables and called "koong joong tteokbokki", or palace tteokbokki. After the Japanese introduced gochujang, a spicy red pepper paste, to Korea, tteokbokki evolved to become the dish beloved by millions of Koreans. It is a staple of pojangmancha, Korean street food carts, and the Korean government is attempting to globalize tteokbokki.
Bindaeduk, a mung bean pancake usually referred to as "Korean Pizza", was originally considered a poor person's pancake because of its lack of meat.
Soondae was historically a luxury food, composed of pig intestines stuffed with meats and vegetables, similar to a sausage. However, during the famine that occured after the Korean Civil War, it was reinvented to be stuffed with dangmyeon, a type of clear noodle, and became a common sight on the streets. Various organs of animals are eaten alongside with soondae so no part of the animal goes to waste. It is commonly eaten with gochujang.
Noraebang by Megan Infield and Brooke Finnicum
An integral part of Korean idle time life for teens and businesspeople alike. Singing in noraebang, a Korean karaoke room, often feels like lung cancer waiting to happen when you lose your voice after just one song. Or twenty. Or fifty. Noraebang is a party like no other and truly Korean in concept. As people who love singing, Brooke and I had already imagined what noraebang is like before we came to Korea. It definitely lived up to our expectations! The party feel of the room lights up the night with laughter and hilarious memories forming jokes that can never be lived down.
Attempting to figure out how to select the next song with the Hangul-covered remote and racing to keep up with the lyrics on the screen are integral parts of the experience. Once the time begins to dwindle, everyone scrambles for extra won to extend the adrenaline-fueled bliss. We have now been to an impressive amount of noraebang sessions and it has truly helped us to understand how many teens and business people in Korea relieve stress in such a laid back, fun, and cheap environment! Also, we got some practice reading Hangul and trying to speak fast on those kpop songs, like EXO's "Wolf", which we will one day perfect! For now however, as the trip winds down, it's all we can do to try and squeeze as many noraebang sessions in as possible! Shimmering lights, pounding music, spontaneous dancing: this is noraebang.
"Learning A New Language" by Sayna Noxchi
Throughout my life, I've been accustomed to language teachers who preferred to speak English, their students studying for the most part using dull textbooks. I loved learning a new language, but the classroom setting put me off. I knew that the NSLIY program was known for having incredible teachers, so I reserved any judgments and came to with an open mind.
I was amazed. From the first day of class, the teachers only spoke in Korean. The class itself was extremely active and quickly paced, and slowly we all began to realize something: our Korean language abilities were dramatically improving in a very short amount of time. After only a few short weeks I was able to communicate with locals, even cracking jokes with the owner of a karaoke room (noraebang) I visited. If I were told a year ago I would be as proficient now as I've become through the Sogang University language program, I don't think I'd be able to believe it. With the NSLIY scholarship and the outstanding teachers at Sogang University, I feel that I've learned more in the space of six weeks than I ever thought could be possible.
Korean Hospitality by Maya Grimes
During pre-departure orientation, we had been thoroughly informed about cultural differences between the United States and South Korea, including that fact that differences in culture meant that actions could be interpreted differently in South Korea than in the United States. Having lived in the Southern United States for most of my life, I knew not to expect to find the same outward friendliness and jovial camaraderie in South Korea. I went about my business in South Korea attempting to fit into cultural norms and not interact too much with strangers.
One day, I arrived early for my supporter group meeting and so waited outside of the subway station for the rest of my group to arrive. While I was standing there, an ahjusshi approached me and asked, “mwo haeyo??” I was immediately nervous, as the situation seemed to me the embodiment of the warnings during orientation. My Resident Director’s advice for encounters with strangers echoed in my head: “Ask yourself—why are they talking to you? What do they want?” As the ajusshi spoke to me again, I could not discern a reason for his repeated attempts at conversation. My confusion only heightened when he approached me yet again, this time holding a cup of instant coffee. He handed me the cup and, motioning for me to drink, left.
When my NSLI-Y supporter arrived shortly afterward, I recounted my experience to him and confessed that I had been frightened by both the stranger’s approaches and the gift of coffee. My supporter understood why I had been frightened, but believed that the ahjusshi had been trying to show me kindness, not intimidate me. He thought the encounter to be an example of Korean inshim—compassion and generosity. Perhaps the ahjusshi had seen me standing there and had worried about me, and so had attempted to extend some kindness and make me feel comfortable.
I then realized inshim had a counterpart in my own culture—Southern hospitality. If the same encounter had happened in the South, I would have had little to no doubts about the man’s intentions because I would have recognized the cultural acceptability of his actions. However, I had been unable to see the ahjusshi’s kindness through the fog of expectations, reservations, and cultural differences.
Thanks to my supporter, I was provided with an alternate perspective on a confusing encounter. As I began the NSLI-Y program, I held the belief that beneath the outer trappings of different cultures lie the same basic humanity as well as the compassion, friendliness and care that come with the package. Because of NSLI-Y, this belief was tested and then reinforced.
The Islands of Incheon by Vivian Hao and Austin Siegfried
Every day we cross the Yeongjong Grand Bridge, which connects Yeongjong Island to the mainland. Vivian's host father works at the Incheon International Airport, the largest and newest airport in Korea. Yeongjong Island is partly manmade because some of its land was reclaimed from Yongyu Island, which is known for its beaches, in order to build the airport. Gonghangsindosi was built on the island as a town for airport workers to live in, and more towns like Hanuldosi and Unnam, where we live, are being built in an attempt to turn the island into a suburb of Incheon City. Near Yeongjong Island are Sin Island, Si Island, and Mo Island, which are extremely rural, and which attract tourists who wish to relax in a natural setting.
Jimjilbangs by Ke Xin Chen, Fio Suasnabar, and Mary Yeboah
Jimjilbangs are public Korean bathhouses. 'Jjimjil' is derived from the Korean words meaning heated bath. However, a typical jjimjilbang offers more than just a bath. They can contain hot rooms (saunas), hot tubs, snack bars, showers, and cold rooms. Some units of the jjimjilbang are gender-segregated. The hot tubs, for example, require all customers to bathe naked. However, most of the other facilities are unisexual. In fact, for modest foreigners, nakedness can be entirely avoided. Fancier jjimjilbangs even come with PC bangs (internet cafes), movie theaters, or noraebangs (karaoke rooms). With an additional fee, one can also get a massage at almost any jjimjilbang! Some unique jjimjilbangs may also house nail salons and hair salons. Jjjimjilbangs are popular weekend getaways for families because of their availability (one can find a jimjilbang almost anywhere), convenience and affordability. Most cost from around $6 USD to $10 USD and often there is no time limit for the entrance fees! A jjimjilbang is open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. One can stay as long as one wants to stay!
One day, a small group of us, along with one of supporters, decided to take a trip to a jjimjilbang. We had been hearing so much about it and we really wanted to experience it ourselves. As we pulled up to the jjimjilbang in Sinchon, our excitement grew. We had heard of this affordable quasi-spa many times from supporters and Korean friends. After paying the entrance fee we were each given a shirt, a pair of shorts, and a key for our lockers. Once we changed into our jjimjilbang gear we walked around, exploring the foreign grounds and searching for things to do. Looking around we saw older men and women laying on mats and watching TV in one room, kids running around in the children's area nearby, and people going in and out of the saunas and ice rooms. First, we bought snacks in the food store and set up an area for ourselves on the mats. After eating we decided to venture into the hot room, where wooden mats covered the ground and steam was all around us. We laid on the mats for an hour, if not longer, and talked endlessly. Aftwrward, we visited the ice room to cool off our sweat. The ice room is exactly what it sounds like: a room with bars of ice on the walls and frost everywhere else. After cooling off we went into another hot room, or sauna, though this one was outside. There were three different rooms with three different degrees of temperature. We first tried to go into the hottest room, but discovered that each breath felt suffocating, so we went into the least hot room. There were many people inside, especially people in their 60s and older. A curious ahjumma, the Korean word for an older married woman, even talked to one of us in Korean. After the sauna we went into the ice room again to cool down. Afterwards, we ate some ramyun and dumplings (mandu) while relaxing on the mats in the TV area. After leaving the jjimjilbang, relaxed enough to forget how to walk properly, we all agreed to come back one more time before leaving Korea.
We had finally visited a Korean jjimjilbang and could finally say we understood this part of Korean society and culture. Almost every Korean can say that they have visited a jjimjilbang at least once, and now we as foreginers visiting Korea can say that we have, too. A jjimjilbang is a place where one can relax and be at a place that feels like home away from home. It is another thing we can add to our list of accomplishments and places visited in Korea. Only in a Korean jjimjilbang can you crack a hard-cooked egg on your head while wearing a Ram-horn shaped towel, all while purifying your body and sweating all of your troubles away. The jjimjilbang is just another reason to love Korea.
Ttakgi by Elise Antel
This traditional Korean game is called ttakgi. The object of the game is to flip your opponent's ttakgi by throwing your own ttakgi on top of it. Each player takes turns attempting to flip the other's ttakgi. When you succeed in flipping your opponent's ttakgi, you or your team earns a point. This game can be played with only two people or with more people divided into two teams. Here's a short tutorial on how to make your own ttakgi!
1. Use a piece of thick paper to achieve the best ttakgi. Fold your paper in half lengthwise, and fold the edges inward to create three equal squares.
2. Take the upper left corner of the paper and fold it down so the edge lines up with the left crease of the center square. Then take the lower right corner and fold it up so that the edge lines up with the right crease of the center square.
3. Take another piece of paper and repeat steps 1 and 2 to create the second half of the 딱지. Place one half on top of the other to create a pinwheel shape.
4. Take a corner of the paper on the bottom and fold it inwards towards the center over the paper on top.
5. Repeat step 4 with the next two corners.
6. While folding the last corner, tuck it underneath the first flap folded inwards. Your ttakgi should be a square shape with one "blank" side free of folds and one side with an "X" pattern of folds.
7. Personalize yourttakgi with a design or your name to differentiate it from your opponent's.
You are now ready to start playing ttakgi!
Nolja! Let's play!
Gaming Culture by Cole Collins
Gaming culture in the United States, especially where I live in Texas, is tremendously different from gaming culture in Korea. In the United States I enjoy casually playing video games at home, alone or occasionally with friends, like the majority of American gamers. For many Korean gamers it is the opposite: most Korean gamers go to the PC bang (Internet cafés) to play games alongside friends, instead of playing alone at home. A PC bang is a room filled with high tech computers with games pre-installed and ready for use, and charges a cheap and affordable hourly rate for usage. What we saw was that PC bang offered stress relief for students where they could hang with friends after hours of class in the challenging Korean education system. After coming to Korea with the NSLI-Y program I see how gaming plays a role in the everyday life of a teenage Korean student and how gaming for Koreans is so different from gaming for Americans. When I return home, perhaps I will try to educate my friends about the nuances of Korean gaming culture.
Host Family by Toan Lu
My experience with my Korean host family has been incredible. Living with my host family gave me a comfortable environment for learning more about Korean language and culture. My host parents were a particularly valuable resource throughout my stay. They were always helpful and kind, making sure that my needs and concerns were properly addressed.
My host dad took me on several trips outside of Seoul to experince more of Korean culture. The first trip was out to Yeongwol in the Gangwon province, where I experienced the countryside of Korea. It was a fun trip, and my hot dad and I hiked to many different places to observe the beautiful scenery. Our second trip was a fishing trip to Jawol-do, an island near Incheon harbor. There I tried fishing for the first time in my life. It was a fun and watery experience. I also tried a lot of interesting Korean seafood cuisine while on the island, eating things I'd never tried before, like raw fish.
I feel so grateful for the host family I was given. My experience with my host family has motivated me to continue my language studies after the program ends and look at other language study abroad programs for the future.
Is everything over?
Do we really go back now?
How do we return?
Groups at Jimjilbang
Energy Diet Campaign
Playing League at PC bang
Supporter Groups at Hanok Village
A Bitter Sweet Family by Jocelyn Tamayo
Words really can’t describe how I feel about my family other than bitter sweet. From the day they picked me up to 6 weeks after, they’ve been amazing. I love them and have slowly learned to adapt to their lifestyle. Growing up in a completely different culture made it feel odd to learn new habits such as taking my shoes off before entering the house, eating as a family, saying goodnight to everyone each night, or even going to church on Sundays. I’ll admit I felt out of place at first but they made me feel comfortable. It was definitely a new experience and I enjoyed going through it. Rather than locking myself in a room, I interacted and talked to my siblings and parents getting us to the point where my mom can hug me, my sister can hold my hand everywhere we go, my dad can joke with me, and my brother…well he can act like my brother haha. The bitter part of this story is departure. It won’t only be extremely hard for me to leave my own family but will be difficult for many of the other NSLI-YIANS to part from their own. I’m grateful I’ve met this wonderful family. Without this program, I wouldn’t have been able to experience this welcoming feeling that’s difficult to obtain. Thank you so much for giving all of us this opportunity to immerse ourselves in the Korean culture.
Some of the NSLIans with kpop idols
Fun at Seoul Forest Park
Fun at Noraebang
Rap Battles and Swag fests
On the Mic with Dok2 and Beenzino~
Underground Hip hop trio : 1LLIONAIRE
Gangnam: Hiphop brand STUSSY
Hangangjin: Upper Street Fashion
Comme Des Garcon Trend
Hongdae Playground: The Indie Scene
Korean Street Style
A Wedding Proposal at Hangang
Boryeong Mud Fesetival!
Sinchon Water Gun Festival
Thank You NSLI-Y and Yes Center for the amazing Experience
NSLI-Y Korea 2013