Korea enjoys a rich culture, made up of a mixture of deeply historic elements alongside modern aspects like the blossoming K-pop world. Visitors to Korea can enjoy a variety of cultural and modern experiences unique to this fascinating country. Read on for ten fantastically unique products that can only be found in Korea.
K-pop, or Korean pop music and culture, is taking the world by storm, and is largely responsible for the burgeoning popularity of Korean dramas. Television dramas like Descendants of the Sun have enjoyed worldwide popularity, and Korea knows how to capitalize on the unexpected popularity of its pop culture.
K-pop merchandise can be found almost everywhere in Korea, but the real treasures lie in licensed souvenir shops run by major entertainment agencies.
While socks are certainly not a uniquely Korean item, the prevalence of sock-buying opportunities and the wide range of colors, designs, and characters available undoubtedly is. And they're not just targeted to children, as wearing socks emblazoned with favorite characters or even political figures is commonplace for modern Korean people too.
In fact, sock buying so common in Korean culture that sock vending machines can be found in popular areas of Seoul.
Much like the "kawaii" culture in Japan, Koreans love anything tiny and cute. Many cute items can be found throughout Seoul and other parts of Korea, from tiny teddy bears and dolls to intricate miniatures on keychains, and trinkets to attach to bags and cell phones.
As an offshoot of Korea's "cute" culture, the selection of cell phone cases available to purchase is almost unrivaled in Korea. The range of cases in the United States is a tiny proportion of what is available in other parts of the world, so it makes sense to bring home a selection of cell phone cases for yourself and as souvenirs for friends and family.
BB Cream is one of the hottest beauty items on the market today, and by all accounts its popularity will only continue to rise. With BB Cream being a uniquely Korean invention, it is little wonder why people are exporting it in all its forms around the world.
But the Korean beauty market is so much more than BB Cream, with facial packs being another common and inexpensive item in Korea. In addition, a selection of strange and unusual beauty products can be found, from jaw massagers to double-eyelid tape, and antibacterial hand wipes to facial slimming masks.
Back to the traditional, the hanbok is for Korea what the kimono is for Japan. And just like in Japan, Korean men and women still wear their hanbok with pride during celebrations and social occasions. Visitors to Korea can order a custom-made hanbok, however they don't run cheap and can take up to three weeks to made.
As such, a variety of hanbok dolls and teddy bears are available for sale at various places throughout Korea, which have proven to be popular keepsakes.
Soju is the Koreans' alcoholic drink of choice, and like much of Korean culture, has become so popular overseas that the most well-known soju brand, Jinro, has been known to outsell other popular liquors in the United States.
A clear liquid like vodka, soju is typically made from rice and is considered to be quite bitter to taste, and not as strong as vodka.
Soju was traditionally made from rice, until rice shortages from the mid-1060s until the turn of the century caused the government to prohibit the use of rice in soju distillation. Creators needed to become inventive, and even today soju can be found with a tapioca, barley, wheat, or sweet potato base. The more expensive brands are once again made from rice, and soju that has been aged ten years in oak barrels carries a premium price.
Masks have long featured in Korean culture, in royal courts, battle uniforms, ceremonies, and rituals. Today, traditional Korean masks still play a role in re-enactments of traditional plays and ceremonies, and as good-luck charms.
Korea has a strong tea culture, with a variety of traditional and newer teas available. Meshil (sweet plum tea) and omija (five taste tea) are traditional variants that are still widely enjoyed today, while jakseolcha, an expensive form of green tea made from only the young buds of the leaves, is a firm favorite.
Koreans have been making traditional paper, known as hanji, for thousands of years, and the tradition still endures today. Made from the bark of the mulberry tree hanji was traditionally used to over the windows, doors, and walls in Korean houses, but today is more commonly used for artistic purposes including stationery, paper dolls, and lamps.
Folding fans have long been a part of Korean culture, with their use being considered essential, even in colder weather. Folding fans are widely available for purchase, and have traditionally been used as props in Korean dances and performances, providing shelter from the elements, and even to hide a person's face from onlookers.
Which of these products would you be most interested in bringing home from a trip to Korea? Are there other quintessentially Korean products that should be included on this list? Have your say in the comments below, and please like and share this article.
17 Uniquely Korean Items to Buy in Seoul - http://www.gpsmycity.com/articles/73-17-uniquely-korean-items-to-buy-in-seoul.html
A Guide to Cool “Korean” Things to Buy in Korea - http://grrrltraveler.com/countries/asia/korea/cool-things-to-buy-in-korea/
Top 20 Things To Buy In Seoul To Take Home - https://blog.trazy.com/2016/07/07/top-20-things-to-buy-in-seoul-to-take-home/
Top 13 Korean Souvenirs That Friends Will Love You For - https://www.tripzilla.com/buy-souvenirs-south-korea/19531
10 Best Seoul Souvenirs Worth Your Money - http://www.therealtravelers.com/south-korea/seoul/10-best-seoul-souvenirs-worth-your-money/
Top 10 Items to Buy in Seoul - http://english.visitseoul.net/top10/Top-10-Items-to-Buy-in-Seoul?indexSn=1§ionSn=77
Items to Buy - http://www.lifeinkorea.com/shopping/items.cfm
I've spent the past ten days in Hong Kong on holiday, here is my day to day account of what I did. Hong Kong used to be owned by the British but in 1997 we gave it back to China. The British influence is still clear from the predominant use of the English language, road signs, food and the economy.
(Hong Kong at Night- click any picture to enlarge)
Day 1 - Travel
The first day was long, we had two flights to catch, one to Dubai then on to Hong Kong. Fortunately both flights were on time and were as comfy as you can expect from economy class. I was quite impressed with the Emirates flights especially how they had a camera on the front and below the plane so that you could see where you were going.
We got into Hong Kong about 10pm at night where we got a train to the central district then a taxi to our hotel, all was very efficient and easy though it helped everything being in English.
Day 2 - Exploring / Shopping
We spent most of the day walking around shopping centres and taking in the sites of the Central District, Wanchai and Causeway Bay. Laura and myself started a competition to see how many fat Chinese people we could spot. It was hard and often a fat person from behind ended up being an American. We managed to just get into double figures, we spotted 10 times that number in the same time for American and European fatties. It's not all gloom though there are a significant number of McDonald's, KFC's and Starbucks slowly fattening up the Chinese population.
(In Time Square these people hadn't realised what had crept up behind them)
(A tram in front of the very unique head quarters of the worlds local bank. The building was designed by Sir Normal Foster)
Day 3 - Visited Peak
To get to the peak there is a tram ride that takes about five minutes. From the top you have views to the North of Hong Kong, Kowloon and in the far distance China. To the south you can see the smaller towns of Stanley and Aberdeen with the ocean beyond.
(This is the view from the peak- our hotel is somewhere on the bottom right. Hong Kong is in the foreground with Kowloon beyond the water.)
(The view from the peak at night.)
Day 4 - Visited the Big Buddha and the Fishing Village of Tai O
(The Buddha has a Swastika on it's chest though I do not think this is a relation to the Nazi's.)
(These Mobile Phone masts next to the Buddha ensure the Monks are never disconnected from their 3G Internet.)
After visiting the Buddha we took the bus to the fishing village Tai O. It was interesting to see a different side to Hong Kong which was not all wealthy high rise. Many of the houses are built on stilts along the estuary. There was a market here too though the village was lacking a Starbucks.
(We took a boat ride up here and to see Dolphins in the sea.)
(The people in Tai O live in these houses, some do not have running water.)
Day 5 - Visited Kowloon and Temple Street Night Market.
Kowloon is a boat ride across from the main island, one of the main attractions is a night market.
(In Hong Kong they do not have the strict rules for signs like we do in the UK.)
(I have no idea what these are but they look interesting.)
Day 6 - Grand Prix and Boat Ride to see the Festival of Lights
Day 6 was all about seeing Lewis Hamilton win the Formula 1 championship, unfortunately it didn't happen after he skidded off the track into gravel when trying to pit. We spent most of the day in a sports bar drinking but come early evening we headed to the harbour for a boat trip around the bay to see the Festival of Lights.
Every evening at 8pm for about 15mins various building in Hong Kong and Kowloon light up and flash to some Chinese music. The show is fascinating to watch and has won various world records.
(Buildings change colour and the sky is full of lights and lasers.)
We watched the show from a boat making it impossible to take pictures, I wouldn't recommend it.
Day 7 - Disney
On the seventh day we visited the magic place of Hong Kong Disney World. It's not as big as its American or European counterparts but we still had a great day. Fortunately it was not very busy so we did not have to wait more than a few minutes for any of the attractions.
(Even the train to Disney was themed.)
Disney was clearly aimed at Children though the rides and attractions were still good fun. I was looking forward to having a photo with a Johnny Depp look alike but we could only find Mickey and Goofy.
(Had Disney not brought Pixar then Disney World would have been a very empty place).
In places I felt they had diluted some of the Disney brands a little too much to an extent that made you cringe but on a whole it wasn't too bad.
(The toilets in the future land were for space men and disabled people only, I managed to blag the latter.)
Another thing that got my attention was all the staff having English names, it didn't seem too bad at first but when you see all these Chinese people with 'Kenneth', 'Keith' and 'Randy' name badges then you wish they had just kept their original names.
(I'm just faking here - Disney wasn't that bad.)
If you ever visit Disney in Hong Kong I recommend you don't eat any of the food, for lunch Laura and myself had a Burger and Fried Chicken, both were inedible. In the evening we tried what should have been Chinese food, again it was inedible. Otherwise Disney was a great day out.
Day 8 - Beach, Stanley and Lights
The sun was out on Day 8, it had been hot the other days but mainly cloudy. We were lucky it didn't rain considering we were in between two typhoons, one battering Vietnam and the other Taiwan and the Chinese main land. We took this opportunity to go to the beach and to visit the town of Stanley where we had lunch and visited yet another market.
(In China respect is given in proportion to the size of your Digital SLR Camera - everyone we saw carried one.)
In the evening we went back to Kowloon to watch the Festival of Lights, it was here I managed to capture the photo below. It's quite spectacular to watch and there are more photos on my Flickr account.
(The Hong Kong Skyline is one of the best in the world.)
Day 9 - Relaxation
We were tired from our adventures over the past 8 days so decided to relax around the pool. In the evening we had a nice meal in an Argentinian restaurant.
(I did some light philosophical reading around the pool. Much love to the FSM.)
Day 10- Cinema and travel home
We had to check out of the hotel at 12pm and our flight was not until 12am. In Hong Kong you can check your baggage in at the central train station, it will then find its way to the airport and onto your plane. This gave us the day baggage free to carry on our adventure, we decided however to go to the cinema, twice. Luckily the films were in English with Chinese subtitles. We finally took off just after midnight on our way to Dubai.
We were welcomed into Dubai airport with the 5am prayer. We had about three hours to kill and fortunately the airport is great but my only complaint is the lack of sinks in the toilets. I went to take a leak then naturally to wash my hands however the two sinks were crowded by Muslims insistent on washing their faces 50 times in 20 different ways each taking two minutes. If your going to cater for such people build some more sinks!
When landing back in the UK from looking at the forward camera I was worried the pilot might skid into the gravel, fortunately his tyres still had grip.
Overall we had an amazing time in Hong Kong and I would recommend it if you love big, busy, crowded, high rise cities and want to see some Chinese culture without having to learn the language.
*All pictures have been taken by either Laura or Myself view the whole set on Flickr.
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I've had SuSE Linux 9.1 Professional (here) running for about a month now, it's a good step forward from version 9. As usual it's fixed lots of annoyances but created more.
SuSE Linux 9.1 comes in two flavours, the Personal edition (RRP ?24:95) and the Professional edition (RRP ?64:99). The Professional edition also comes as an update (RRP ?42:95) and a student version (RRP ?42:95).
The Personal edition comes on one CD and is aimed at the first time user for Linux. It has a limited number of packages compared to the Professional and normally contains one program for a certain task, for instance Konqueror (here) is the only web browser included. The Professional edition on the other hand comes with a much wider range of packages including server and development tools.
As of last week the Personal edition can be downloaded for free as an ISO image directly from SuSE (here) this is an unexpected first for SuSE but a welcomed one. SuSE 9.1 Professional can be downloaded for free as usual through an FTP install. There is also a live CD version of the Personal edition which can be downloaded for free from FTP.
As soon as the SuSE 9.1 DVD boots you get the nice graphical installer of YaST (Yet Another Set-up Tool). The first screen you get once it has loaded is to select you're language, after that SuSE automatically detects settings for you but allows you to change them if you wish. It's a good idea to keep an eye on what YaST is doing especially for partitioning and package selection.
YaST handily allows you to resize Fat32 and NTFS partitions, while it's been reported that there has been a bug with this and the 2.6 Kernel I risked it anyway, luckily there were no problems. Once you have confirmed all you're settings the installer goes on to copy all the packages to your hard drive, this for me took about 30 minutes.
Once done the installer reboots and leads you on to a number of steps including user accounts, network configuration, on-line updating and device configuration. Most were pretty self explanatory or could be left and changed at a later date.
Once finished you automatically login to your account and the KDE (here) desktop is loaded. I prefer not having to login to a machine especially when it's a home machine and you're the only person using it.
In my view the installation process it about as easy as you can make it compared with any other OS including Windows. It's not the quickest or shortest installer compared to some Linux distributions but it does cover the most options in the simplest way.
I have read in quite a few reviews of SuSE 9.1 that they think the post-installation is too complex especially with the network and devices but SuSE does attempt to configure everything itself and only if the user knows what they are doing do they need to edit these settings.
Look and feel
As usual SuSE have done well in making the desktop as nice as possible especially in KDE. It doesn't look as slick or smart as Fedora (here) but is friendly and makes the desktop feel welcoming which I prefer. A nice mountain picture is put as default on the desktop with some interesting squares giving the picture more of a design.
The menu has been categorised into different sections just as most distributions do, the menu looked better on higher resolutions as it tended to spread itself across the screen too much on the lower ones.
SuSE also has a nice theme for OpenOffice (here) which makes it fit in nicely with KDE. It doesn't look so good in Gnome (here) however SuSE isn't normally the first choice for Gnome users. I will point out that significant changes have been made with Gnomes look and feel but some things still look misplaced such as the YaST icons.
I also noticed that when you double click on the title bar of a window it maximises or minimises it rather than hiding or showing the window below similar to what you get in Windows. I personally prefer this as I quite often change between OS's depending on what I'm doing.
The desktop has an icon called my computer, inside are shortcuts to CD drives, floppy drives and Windows partitions, yet there are no links to the home directory or root directory. Unfortunately you can not write to this folder so any configuring cant be made. SuSE could go as far to put links to YaST and KDE control panel in here.
YaST does the majority of the day to day configuration that you're going to be needing. Settings from RPM installations to tweaking devices are covered here. It does a fairly good job of most things but it's not as fast as Mandrakes (here) control centre.
Most of my hardware worked straight away but not all. I was hoping that my Netgear USB wireless adapter would have been set-up for me, unfortunately not. It was however nice how when you plugged in a USB hard drive or memory stick it would automatically mount it and add it to My Computer.
My BT848 TV card was detected as usual but YaST fails to configure it properly, for one it doesn't include support for Pal-I, used in the UK and second I couldn't get any sound from the card. It's not surprising how old the card is but it's not much good watching a black and white picture with no sound.
SuSE's on-line update provides the latest patches and certain other downloads which aren't available for licensing issues on the CD however they tend to be security related rather then program updates.
The Professional edition comes with a full range of programs and a few nice new ones. Two must have programs ? Firefox (here) and Thunderbird (here) have now been included which I personally found good.
The audio manager Juk has also been included with this release of SuSE, it's quite nice but it would be good if it supported video and mp3 streams.
SuSE 9.1 also includes the database application Rekall and the text processor and spreadsheet applications Textmaker and Planmaker.
The media players Xine (here) and Kaffeine are also included but don't come with any codecs so are practically useless. Not to include DVD support is fair enough because of licensing issues but the majority of other codecs (Xvid etc) are available often for free distribution. Even if they could not be distributed for legal reasons they could be offered though YaST's on-line update similar to the way the Nvidia drivers or Microsoft's fonts are distributed.
I had considerable problems installing Xine for reasons I couldn't work out, in the end I settled for Mplayer thanks to some RPMs found on here. This is by far the best site for SuSE RPMs on a range of programs.
There are a couple of programs I would want to see added to future releases of SuSE Linux, one would be AMSN (here) simply because it is the best MSN messenger clone available and the other would be Mplayer as a Xine alternative.
XMMS is included as the default audio player but it seems to have issues when minimising as the components do not minimise with it. Whether this is a XMMS or SuSE bug I couldn't be sure.
SuSE 9.1 is an improvement but as I said in my opening line it's a step forward on one front yet a step back on another.
The biggest improvements are definitely in the GUI and the surrounding images that support the overall look of SuSE 9.1. It's package selection is also becoming better and more refined, new packages are being added and the range of commercial programs available is much better then the majority of distributions.
Overall I liked SuSE 9.1, I personally prefer it over Mandrake and Fedora for ease of use and features however hardware support is still lacking in some areas and stability isn't perfect.
Pentium 4 ? 2gig
120gig Hard drive
ATI Radeon 9600
Last Edited 27/06/04
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