Korean Ghosts.

Many Asian countries have a more intimate relationship with ghosts than we do in the West. Perhaps it has to do with with their traditional beliefs of ancestor worship, Shamanism, Taoism, Buddhism, etc. or perhaps it is their close ties to the natural world and the land. Whatever the reasons for their relationship with ghosts it peaks in ‘ghost month’.To Catch a Virgin Ghost Poster

On the traditional Chinese calendar ‘ghost month’ falls on the 7th month of the year       ( Aug. 11th – Sep. 9th in 2018 ). This is often why spooky Korean movies and Kpop MVs come out during late summer rather than at Halloween. (Korea has started to ‘celebrate’ American style Halloween in some places, but more as a ‘party time’ than as a real connection with the dead.) Ghost month is a time when the barriers between the three realms, Heaven, Hell, and the Land of the Living, weaken. On the 15th day of the seventh month ( Aug. 25th in 2018 ) the doors between the three realms open wide. The doors of Hell are opened as the sun sets. The deceased are said to visit the living to seek food and entertainment, but as we know from watching Kdramas not all ghosts are benevolent.

Many Asian countries hold Ghost Festivals to assuage the visiting ghosts with lots of traditional music and dancing. Food is an important aspect of the festivals too. In Korea many of these festival take place in a more agricultural setting and are harvest orientated, which makes sense as the harvest bounty can be shared with both the living and the dead.

Korean ghosts fall into a number of categories, and we have seen these portrayed in various ways in multiple Kdramas and movies. In general many ghosts hang around after death because of unfulfilled tasks, or for vengeful purposes. Korean ghosts tend to be a little more like monsters or vampires than western ghosts in that they can sometimes take over a human body, or can drain away a person’s life energy. They can also kill people. A Korean ghost is not something to take lightly.

Korean ghosts often appear legless and seem to float just above the ground. The main types of ghosts ( Gwisin ) include the virgin ghost, or Cheonyeo Gwisin, who is often bitter and angry. In order to appease her villages in some parts of Korea often erected phallic statues. Another ghost is the Chonggak Gwisin who is a bachelor ghost who hangs around looking for a wife. Sometimes a Korean Shaman, or Mudang, can perform a marriage between between the two.

The ghosts become more frightening with the Mul Gwisin, or water ghost who wants to drown everyone. Constrained by the limits of needing to be in, or very near, water, it appears with extra long arms to drag you down under the water until you die. Occasionally seen on land where it appears dripping wet. It is a vengeful angry ghost.

Even more fearful is the Dalgyal Gwisin who haunts the mountains and wilderness areas of Korea. With a featureless face it looks kinda egg like, but don’t let that fool you as it stalks hikers and drives them to their deaths. In some versions it also has no arms or legs. Not perhaps a traditional Korean ghost as it can’t be found in the old folktales. It might have arrived in Korea during the Japanese Occupation of Korea, however it has now become part of the Korean lexicon of ghosts.

(Foto: Demonstre.com)

And last is the Joseung Saja who is somewhat similar to the Grim Reaper of the Western World.  In Korea he is a messenger of death and leads the recently departed into the afterlife. He is a familiar feature in Kdramas in his black robes wearing a gat, a type of traditional Korean hat.

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Even the modern version of the Joseung Saja seen in the Kdrama Goblin wear’s a hat, although he has updated it to a fedora. Most Koreans see the Joseung Saja as a category of ghost rather than a separate class of supernatural being. They do not necessarily believe there is only one, but rather a whole cadre of them.

There are multiple Kdramas featuring ghosts with some notable ones being Let’s fight Ghost, Oh, my Ghostess, The Master’s Sun, Arang And The Magistrate, Bride Of The Century, and of course Goblin. Korea makes exceptional horror movies, many with a focus on ghosts. Being faint of heart I can’t recommend very many but To Catch A Virgin Ghost was weird, and horrific, and in some parts, charming. Spellbound was a much lighter take on a ‘ghost’ story. Kpop music videos can be quite scary,  but many feature monsters and vampires rather than traditional Korean ghosts.

Many Kpop idols have ghost stories to tell, and it is said if they see or feel a ghost before they release a song it will be a success. T-ara have said their dorm was haunted, SM has a practice room ghost, and Big Bang’s ghost followed them when they moved out of their dorm rooms. There are also multiple stories of ‘shower’ ghosts. While this doesn’t prove the existence of ghosts, it does however let you see how Koreans believe in ghosts in a much more familiar way than perhaps we do.

Have a great day everyone, and remember to feed and entertain your ghosts during ‘ghost month’.

Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation. All photo credits to original owners.

 

You may also enjoy reading Beolcho: A Korean Tradition Of Maintaining Ancestral Grave Mounds, and  Juldarigi: An Extreme Form Of Korean Tug Of War.

Silla: Korea’s Kingdom of Gold.

Throughout world history there have been civilizations, such as the Scythians, the Aztecs and the Asante who were known for their gold, but another should be added to that list. The Korean Kingdom of Silla which existed from 37 BCE – 668 CE as one of 3 Korean Kingdoms, and from 668 CE to 935 CE after its unification with Koguryo and Baekche. (It conquered the other two.)

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The Gyeongju National Museum houses a fantastic display of artifacts discovered in the burial mounds of important officials and royalty from the Kingdom of Silla.

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There are a large number of these tumuli in Gyeongju some of which produced a multitude of artifacts.

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Silla was a large city, perhaps one of the largest in the world during that time period.

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It was on the eastern part of the Silk Road from China so commerce and trade were important aspects of its economy. Silla was also known for its amazing craftsmen and artists.

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For those who could afford it gold was the medium of choice.

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The royals were wealthy enough to have ample leisure time and so poetry, music and games played a part in their daily lives.

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Even their horses wore gold.

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Other incredible jewelry was found.

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To really take in and appreciate the beauty of all that the museum has to offer I would suggest a visit of at least a few hours.

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There was a lot more items on display than I could show here, including everyday objects as well as armor and sculpture.

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Have a great day everyone.

 

Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation. Photo credits to Elizabeth Marzec.

You may also enjoy reading Juryeonggu: A Fourteen Sided Dice From The Golden Age Of Silla, and Baduk, The Korean Game Of Weiqi, Or Go.

 

2018 Monsta X 2nd World Tour “The Connect” In Houston.

It is said “a picture paints a thousand words” which no doubt explains the popularity of images on the internet, however it also means that people have come to expect to see photographs in concert reviews. No luck today I’m afraid as the concert organizers had a no photos or recordings edict in place and the venue staff strictly enforced it.

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That was not necessarily a bad thing as it meant that with no one holding their phones up above their heads everyone had a better view. It also meant that everyone could really be in the moment and totally concentrate on the performance.

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This tour in the USA is the 2nd for Monsta X, although it was their first time stopping in Houston (well actually SugarLand a wealthy suburban town SW of Houston). The venue was new and large, which meant it was’t quite full although you couldn’t tell that from the noise level of the fans. Due to the extreme summer heat the venue, Smart Financial Center, asked fans to not show up before 6pm, a request that most fans followed. Just after 6pm though the line was doubled back long, but everyone was so amped up for the show they cheerfully withstood the ‘feel like’ temps of well over 100 degrees.

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It took a while to get everyone through security and into the venue. At first many people just soaked up the air conditioning and recharged. Others queued up for official tour merchandise or grabbed a cold drink from concession booths. As the venue filled up the chatter and excitement were palpable and built up to a peak as darkness descended on the auditorium and the volume of the music increased.

To deafening screams Monsta X burst onto the stage and  into all our hearts with a dynamic rendition of Jealousy which had everyone on their feet moving their light-sticks to the pounding beat. It was followed by Be Quiet and Beautiful. There was a small break where they spoke with their fans like we were close friends. There were relaxed and comfortable with us and each other, laughing and joking around.

The whole show was filled with great singing, powerful dancing, and stirring rap rhythms. This plus their obvious joy at being there, and their joking camaraderie they have with each other made the evening one to remember. However some of the most memorable moments for me were the ones just a little off the usual track. Seeing Kihyun, Wonho, and Minhyuk in little boy style sailor suits just made me laugh. I grew up when little boys did wear those, but comparing my memories to what I was watching was somewhat surreal. In short pants, disheveled in a partially untucked shirt Minhyuk looked like he had just come on stage after doing something ‘naughty’, while Kihyun looked like a choir boy. But it was Wonho who really caught my attention, or rather his thighs did. All I could think of was it was the first time I’d seen someone in a little boy sailor suit that looked like he could play Rugby for the All Blacks.Aletta - Blue Cotton Sailor Shorts Set | Childrensalon

Apparently not everyone was blessed with seeing them in sailor suits singing Neol Hada as they wore other outfits in other cities.

Other moments were often brief, the pat of encouragement, or smile and glance at each other during their sets. Wonho acting so much more confidently and comfortable than on last year’s tour. In fact he was positively chatty with lots to say plus he flirted a lot with the monbebes (the name of Monsta X fans) which thrilled them and drew excited screams from them too.

Shownu being made fun of for his shirt and tie. (He looked so gooood.) Jooheon being cute and bubbly and squishy and also quite talkative. Kihyun showing off his vocal range and being a joy to listen to, while I.M’s fierce rapping demanded the audience’s undivided attention. Towards the end of the show he explained that his voice condition had been bad all that day, but that he managed to perform because of monbebe’s support. Personally I thought he seemed on top form.

Hyungwon with his amazing ‘resting bitch face’ breaking up into smiles and laughter. He seemed to be so happy to be there with us and to be having a good time. He also did an amazing job showcasing his clothes, even the horrendous side laced regency poets shirt crossed with I don’t know what that was so bad it would have drowned someone with lesser charisma. But Hyungwon made it work.

And lastly Minhyuk who was so extra that I was mildly irritated until I saw that it was actually his pent up emotions. Towards the end of the show he was obviously moved and you could see tears in his eyes. As they left the stage and posed at the end he sank down into a squat and looked really like he was crying. I think he really felt emotional at all the love that was shown by the audience.

After an amazing show most of the audience was ushered out quite quickly while the P1 & P2 fans waited for the ‘hi touch’ with the boys. This was done perhaps too efficiently and the line was speedily moved past each of them with only the briefest of moments to do a high five and make eye contact. I managed to point to their patch on the jacket and a couple did raise eyebrows and make vague exclamations of interest as the line continued  inexorably onward.

Although I enjoyed the show that in some ways was better than last year’s, I think my favorite show was the one in 2017 in Chicago, particularly since the ‘hi touch’ was slower with enough time to say a sentence to each Monsta X member. Having enough time to say ‘thank you’ or some other compliment should be a given for ‘hi touch’.

So a thousand words later I hope I’ve been able to share just a little of the feel of the Houston stop of Monsta X 2nd World Tour. Here’s to a 3rd one.

Have a great day everyone.

Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation. All photo credits to original owners. Photo of Monsta X to Starship Ent. Sailor suit pinterest. All others to Debora Marzec.

 

You may also enjoy  Mad Clown & San E In San Antonio,  Zion T Delights Dallas Fans,  and Busan One Asia Festival: Opening Concert 2017.

 

The Beauty of Korea.

I have written lots of posts about Korea, and about what a great country it is to visit. However today I just want to show you how wonderful it is.

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From beautiful temples,

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and palaces ,

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to nature at her best,

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Korea is beautiful all year round.

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The modern side of Korea is daring and vibrant with  cutting edge technology and architecture.

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The food is tasty as well as photogenic,

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and the public art ranges from folk art to the striking.

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There are pretty beaches,

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rocky shores,

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and waterfalls crashing into the ocean.

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There are amazing museums with a wide variety of things on display.

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Beautiful parks.

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You can learn more about Kpop,

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or even catch a glimpse of an idol or two.

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You can eat out all night,

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or even eat street food in the rain,

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but the best thing of all is to share time with friends.

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I really wish everyone will be able to discover the Beauty of Korea.

Have a great day everyone.

Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation. All photo credits to original owners, Debora Marzec, Elizabeth Marzec, and Kenneth Kim.

You may also enjoy My Favorite Place To Stay In Seoul, Gyeongju: Why You Should Visit On Your Next Trip To Korea, and Spirit Garden.

A Korean Folk Village: In Photos.

There’s more than one Folk Village in Korea, but they don’t always have obviously different names, so it can be a little confusing when looking online. The one we’ve been to a couple of times is about 12 miles from Suwon in Gyeonggi-Do province. It is the nearest to Seoul and you can get to it relatively easily as a day trip.

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We’ve been there both in early Spring and in the Fall. The Fall visit was probably my favorite, but there’s lots to see and do in all the seasons.

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Folk Villages are somewhat of a cross between an open air museum and a tourist attraction, but they do give you a look at what Korea was like a few hundreds years ago. They focus on Korean rural life which has often remained the same for generations.

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The houses and buildings may look alike, but once you look closely you can spot the regional and class differences.

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For example the ones from Jeju Island use the local volcanic rock.

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Along with a large selection of regional buildings to explore there are also artisans showing traditional arts. This gentleman was making baskets and shoes.

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Blacksmiths are popular all over the world. This smith was making traditional tools which were then displayed for sale. On both visits we’ve bought his Korean hoes for gardening. They are our favorite gardening tool.

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The herbalist area has a little cafe where you can get a variety of medicinal drinks as well as regular tea and coffee. You can sit inside or outside in a very quiet and relaxing area.

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There is also at least one play area, probably more, but since I don’t have a small child I wasn’t really looking. Notice the big swings for Geune Ttwigi, although here they are downsized for children.

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Various shows are put on at specific times and they are very much worth watching.

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The equestrian show is pretty amazing too.

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As you can imagine from all our exploring we needed to find somewhere to eat, and there are quite a few options. The main gate area has a selection of restaurants and places to eat and then way in the back there’s a ‘food court’ which has cheaper options. We’ve eaten at both and not been disappointed.

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Now that you’ve looked through the photos I’ll show you one of the main entrance when we arrived. Don’t be worried if it looks like this. The Folk Village covers a large area with over 200 buildings so it is fairly easy to avoid the crowds once everyone spreads out.

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Have a great day everyone.

 

You may also enjoy reading Korean Games,  Hanji: The Paper Of Korea,  and Hwaseong Fortress.

Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation. All photo credits to Elizabeth and Debora Marzec.

Eric Nam ‘Honestly’ 2018 North American Tour In Houston: Thoughts.

I have to admit that before the concert I liked and knew about Eric Nam more from his hosting and interviewing skills than for his music. Seeing that he was having a concert relatively close by, a 3 to 4 hour drive for me, I immediately bought a ticket hoping to make up for my lack of attention to his musical abilities.Image result for houston traffic

Going to Houston was a bit of a change up for me since so many Kpop concerts in Texas focus on Dallas. Eric did also have a show in Dallas, but I hate the longer drive and constant roadworks on the main highway from San Antonio to Dallas, so Houston became my default. Houston traffic is no picnic though. So Kpop groups please appreciate the efforts of Texas fans to get to the venues. (Texas is almost 7 times the size of Korea, with no railways to speak of. We have to drive or fly.)

 

The concert took place at the House Of Blues in Houston which is located downtown which meant finding parking, which actually turned out to be relatively easy. A line had already formed by the time I got there just before 3pm . It didn’t take long to get to know a few others in line. The venue staff were good, putting out a ‘hydration station’ so the fans had easy access to water, a necessity in the Houston summer heat. At one point they even came around with frozen ice-pops which was really nice of them. As time passed and the lines got significantly longer they came around and did the security checks and handed out wristbands while we were still in line. This allowed everyone faster access to the venue and the air conditioning once the doors opened at 7pm.

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Feeling my age a little I jumped at the opportunity to get a table seat in their VIP area when Tyler came down the line with the offer. It did cost extra. And it was well worth it. Not only did I have a great view of the stage, I was in the center right behind the sound booth with an unobstructed view of the whole stage, I was also able to have dinner and a drink before the show started. I was so happy not to be in the crush in front of the stage.

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The evening started with Loote who put on a note worthy performance on their first live tour. Made up the duo Jackson Foote and Emma Lov Block, and assisted by Jacskon’s brother on the drums they got the crowd fired up. Being both singers and songwriters they sang a few of their own songs such as Out Of My Head and Your Side Of The Bed, which you can find on Spotify.

Although the cheers of the crowd were loud for Loote’s performance they rose to a roar when Eric came on stage. He even commented on the noise level and the fact that some fans screams reached ‘dolphin levels’. He controlled the stage and the crowd with ease.

He has sometimes made fun of his dancing skills, but he went all out once he hit the stage. His body rolls and other moves thrilled the crowd. Eric has one of those somewhat unassuming voices that sneak into your soul without effort, and then he’ll switch to power vocals and wow you into unabashed admiration.

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It was a pleasure to hear him perform and fun to see how he interacted with the audience with a somewhat self deprecating dry wit. He is obviously smart and definitely  has a sense of humor, which is why he is the to go to guy for interviews with English speaking celebrities while they are visiting Korea. In 2017 he was chosen by Forbes Magazine as one of their 30 under 30 Asia Edition and was one of  GQ Korea’s Men of the Year in 2016 so he has multiple facets to his skill set.

He was born and raised in Atlanta, graduated from a good university, studied abroad in China and speaks 4 languages. ( English and Korean fluently, proficient in Spanish, and can carry on a conversation in Mandarin. ) So perhaps not your average Kpop star. This North American tour included 15 shows in 14 cities. He sold out all the US dates and only the Mexico City one still had tickets available. And all this without all the fanfare that surrounds many other Kpop celebrities.

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The show was fantastic and I enjoyed every moment. It sped past way too fast which made me appreciate all the more the moments he took to interact with the crowd. His interactions with the audience when asking if it was anyones birthday, were both funny and sweet. What was also notable was how everyone seemed to be happy. I have never seen such happy dancers at any show I’ve ever been to. They looked like they were having the time of their lives. The photographer and other staff also smiled a lot, so it must of been a fun tour even if it was also long and exhausting.

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After the show everyone who had bought the VIP tickets lined up and waited for group photos with Eric. It was advertised as ‘meet and greet/group photo’ but although he did shake hands with each of us there was no time for much more than that. There were 5 people, plus Eric, in each photo and as we all asked him to consider San Antonio for a future tour stop the staff were ushering us along. So in future staff/promotion company please don’t use “meet & greet’ in your advertising when basically all we were getting was a group photo. We would have probably all still bought the VIP tickets but we would have had lower expectations, and therefore not been disappointed. A last impression of an event can be the impression that lasts the longest. We were handed a signed poster as we left.

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It is too late to catch any other stops on his tour as Houston was the last one in the US, but he promised another tour and I strongly recommend you get tickets for that. You can watch fancams on youtube from the tour, and you can also listen to his music on spotify etc. Youtube also has multiple music videos of his as well as those of him interviewing a long list of famous celebrities. There’s lots to like about Eric Nam so see what you like most about him.

Have a great day everyone.

 

A shoutout to Briana Val Verde who was my line buddy and was in the crush near the stage. She kindly allowed me to use some of her photos. All photo credits to original owners. Featured photo, plus 4, 5, and 6. to Briana. (You can also follow Briana on instagram. )  Houston traffic photo to City of Houston.  All the rest to me.

And Melvia W  was kind enough to also share some photos with me.

Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation.

You may also enjoy reading Zion T Delights Dallas Fans, and Korea Spotlight At SXSW 2018   

 

Horse Related Artifacts At Gyeongju National Museum.

A while ago I wrote a couple of horse related articles, Horseback Archery In Korea, and The Horses Of Jeju. They generated some interest with equine history enthusiasts and I promised to add anything else horse related that I discovered while in Korea.

Originally much of what was known about the history of horses in Korea came from things such as tomb paintings ( 5th – 6th century CE )

and sculptural artifacts.

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These could be studied and some conclusions drawn, but without seeing actual horse barding and horse accoutrements these conclusions lacked the final proof.

In 2009 a tomb was discovered within the boundaries of the ancient Kingdom of Silla with the remains of both horse and human armor. Oddly the bodies weren’t there. Silla was a long lived Kingdom on the Korean peninsula ( 57 BCE – 935 CE ) and the tombs was dated to 5th/6th century CE.

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Most of the artifacts went to the National Museum Of Korea at Gyeongju, once the ancient capital of Silla. Artifacts from other tombs in the area are also housed at the museum.

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There were lots of stirrups, bells, and other harness pieces.

As well as parts of saddles.

 

One of the other tombs in the area, Cheonmachong, ( ‘the tomb of the heavenly horse’ ) is so called because of this lovely painting on a birch bark saddle flap.

Jangni cheonmado (Painting of Heavenly Horse on a Saddle Flap) from Cheonmachong Tomb, Gyeongju image

I’m sorry I don’t have a lot of information for you, as this was a quick trip. I believe there is talk of the National Museum of Korea at Gyeongju going online with their collections, otherwise I would suggest you contact them through email for more information. They have a really wonderful page showing their restoration and preservation work which is well worth a look.

Have a great day everyone.

Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation. All photo credits to original owners. Photo of tomb painting and the one of buried armor were found on multiple internet sites, original source unknown. Photo of the ‘heavenly horse’ from Gyeongju Museum. All others to Elizabeth and Debora Marzec.

You may also enjoy reading Gyeongju: Why You Should Visit On Your Next Trip To Korea,  and Korea And The Silk Road.

 

Note. If you look closely at the tomb painting you can see a banner coming off the back of the saddle, that’s this …..

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Isn’t that cool?

Daereungwon Tumuli: In Photos.

At various times in history Korea was divided into smaller kingdoms, one of which was Silla. The dynasty can be broken down into Silla (57 BCE – 667 CE) and Unified Silla (668 CE – 935 CE) after it had grown by conquering neighboring kingdoms. Silla was a kingdom of wealth and gold, trade and cultural exchange. It had a ‘golden age’ both literally and figuratively, and fortunately for us they left many things behind for us to marvel at, as well as the tombs themselves.

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The tumuli, or tombs, in the Gyeongju area number about 200 with 23 being easily accessible in the Daereungwon Tumuli Complex.

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The whole complex is beautiful, with impeccable landscaping and maintenance.

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We visited in early Fall, although many people suggest Spring to be the best season.

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The mounds come in all sizes and were made for Kings, their families and perhaps favored court officials.

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Some of the occupants are known while many are unknown. The most famous of the tombs perhaps is the Cheonmachong Tomb, also known as the ‘tomb of the heavenly horse’. It was excavated in 1973 and over 11,000 artifacts were discovered. Usually it is open to the public, but it was undergoing extensive restoration while we were there so we were unable to see it behind the fence and scaffolding. Many of the tomb treasures from all the excavated tombs are on display at the Gyeongju branch of the National Museum of Korea.

More than 50,000objects were discovered in Hwangnamdaechong alone.

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As with many sites in Korea there has been restoration and repair from damage from occupation and war. This has sometime left pieces left over, or pieces waiting to be reconstructed. At a few sites we saw pieces of masonry that were collected together in one place….just waiting.

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This map helps to understand the positions of the tumuli in relationship to each other.

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By the time we had finished walking around dusk was falling and the atmosphere reminded me of the descriptions of the barrows in Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Needless to say we didn’t hang around to see if any barrow wrights would appear.

Have a great day everyone.

Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation. All photo credits to Elizabeth Marzec.

You may also enjoy reading Wolji Pond At Night: In Photos,   Gyeongju: Why You Should Visit On Your Next Trip To Korea,  and Beolcho: A Korean Tradition Of Maintaining Ancestral Grave Mounds.

 

 

UP10TION 1st US Meet & Live Tour Candyland Dallas.

Much as I love going to see the big name Kpop groups I have to admit I have a real fondness for the less popular groups. Studio PAV has carved a niche market for themselves by not only bringing the less well known groups, but by making the experience much more personal for the fans.

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My first experience with Studio PAV was when they brought JJCC to Houston and I had a blast. (Studio PAV have also had some problems with a tour cancelling last minute so you might want to get travel insurance if you are travelling a long distance.) They state that they want to make their fan experience the same as in Korea, well they get close, but they’re not quite there yet.

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Even in the Texas heat fans started lining up early outside the iconic Granada Theatre in Dallas. I got there before 2pm and was a fair ways from the front. Volunteers do a lot of the work at these events and so sometimes information is lacking as they only know what they are told. Everything went fairly smoothly and the VVIP fans were allowed in early to get their albums signed by each member of the group. Unlike in Korea where usually each member can sign their photos in the photobook, here they were told to only sign the front to speed things up. The boys were fresh faced, handsome and polite. They smiled, signed their names and thanked each fan for coming. A few fans got a little more interaction with their biases, but the line was kept moving. No personal phones or cameras were allowed during the album signing, although as usual I saw people breaking the rules.

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We moved on from that line to another to wait for our official group photo with UP10TION. Again there was a few moments of interaction as everyone got into place.

Then we headed to grab our spots for the concert. It was standing only so getting a good spot was important. Not surprisingly there were latecomers who tried to push through to the front????  I had a decent spot a few rows back from the stage and was fortunate to be standing with some new friends who were fantastic line buddies for the whole evening. Then there was a lot more waiting. Many of us sat on the floor to conserve energy.

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After being teased with videos, the show finally began. The boys, dressed in black and white, came out and dominated the stage from start to finish. I was a little to the left of center and was fortunate that Wei was often on the right side. I started the evening with no real favorite, but Wei drew my eye time after time with his dancing and energy. (I hated his outfit though.) All the guys performed really well and I enjoyed all of their performances and ended the evening still without a bias as each of them seemed to put their whole selves into their performance. Maybe it would be more true to say each and every one of them was my bias at some point during the evening.

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The crowd was loud, the energy good and the songs catchy and engaging. It was a small stage so it was a little hard to contain 10 very active young men dancing some amazing choreography. I saw one little bump and a friend said she saw another, but to be honest I was surprised they managed so well on such a small stage. (The Granada Theatre is a decent venue, but better for smaller groups and soloists I feel.)

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After a set of songs that left them sweating and breathing heavily, they slowed down to answer fan questions. None of them are fluent English speakers but they have been trying hard to learn, so with varying degrees of success they each chose a fan question from the board, read it and then tried to answer it. The were cute, smiley, and happy, except perhaps for Jinhoo who didn’t seem to really relax until the second part of the show. The fans made so much noise at times it was hard to hear, but the boys looked as if they were feeding off the energy.

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More songs followed before they played a charade game with the audience. I’m not sure who was lacking at first, us or them, but soon we all got into the swing of it and had a lot of fun guessing things like ‘Dr.Pepper’, and ‘Whataburger’.

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The whole evening’s setlist was good, they put all of their energy into each and every song.  Attention, So Dangerous, White Night, Candyland and more, but I still liked Catch Me the most even though I find it kind of an earworm. Sticking with the classic black and white outfits was smart, it allowed the audience to appreciate the dancing  which was crisp, clean and on point. For me Kpop is about the ‘whole’ so the choreography, outfits, presentation etc as well as the music and lyrics must all come together, and UP10TION achieved that. It was a great night of live music and performance.

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But it didn’t end there for those who had paid extra for snapshot photos with the members. Each polaroid photo was $10 each and anyone could buy one, not just VVIPs. The quality is pretty poor, since the lighting was bad and the ones taking the photos were volunteers, but this is where the tour makes money and the fans get another few moments with their biases, plus a photo to commemorate the evening. The boys were obviously tired, but they smiled and thanked each fan. They came across as being sweet, gentlemanly and kind. One even called me Kpopjacketlady as I went up for my photo!

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Thank you UP10TION you gave a lot of fans a wonderful concert and an experience to remember. Good luck on the rest of the tour……….and get some sleep when you can.

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Have a great day everyone.

Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation. All photo credits to original owners.

You may also enjoy reading about MadClown & San E in San Antonio Zion T Delights Dallas Fans, and Busan One Asia Festival.

 

 

The Kpopjacket: In Photos.

I’ve written about the Kpopjacket before including how I had to move all the patches I’d made up until then to a new larger jacket, but this post is basically a photo history of who the jacket has been photographed with. Most of the patches are of groups I have actually seen and they will have something saying where and when. Others were because I liked a group or their logo. As you can see however I’ll soon run out of room and some patches will have to be removed to make way for only groups I’ve seen perform live.

 

Most of the times the Kpopjacket has been photographed was at official photo ops, but on occasion I’ve been able to hang out for a few minutes with the artists.

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From big name stars,

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to lesser known ones.

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I’ve also seen some of the ‘queens’ of Kpop. The women who can command the stage all by themselves.

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And the guys who can make one swoon.

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A co-ed group, which is unusual in Kpop.

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And those who gave the best hugs.

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An artist who made my day complete with his reaction to learning I was putting his group patch on the Kpopjacket. (He also gave the best hugs.)

I want to thank the companies who allow some interaction with the artists, getting these photos with each of the members was a ton of fun.

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The Kpopjacket has been to Korea a few times and did some of the Kpop sites.

The Kpopjacket has also appeared in a few fan photos and has even been interviewed in both Korea and the USA.

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I’ve had a lot of fun both making and wearing the Kpopjacket, but maybe the best thing about it is all the Kpop friends I have made along the way. Thanks guys and I’ll see you at a concert soon.

Have a great day everyone.

All photo credits to original owners.

Changdeokgung Palace: In Photos.

There are five main palaces in Seoul which are all worth visiting, with Gyeongbokgung being the most popular. However, like King Seongjong (ruled 1469 CE- 1494 CE ) I have a great fondness for Changdeokgung Palace. He said “Although Gyeongbokgung is magnificent and splendid, the perfect location in this city is really Changdeokgung.”

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Built within the guidelines of Pungsu-jiri-seol a geomancy system similar to the Chinese Feng Shui it really blends in with the surrounding landscape with many of the buildings nestled among trees. We have visited in both Spring and Fall so the photographs reflect both seasons.

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The Palace was constructed on the orders of King Taejong ( ruled 1400 CE – 1418 CE ) as a secondary palace. It proved so popular that at times ( 1610 CE – 1868 CE ) it became the principal royal residence. One of the big attractions is Huwon, the secret garden located behind the palace and abutting the lower slopes of Ungbong Peak of Mount Bugaksan. To enter Huwon you need a separate timed ticket.

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People waiting for their timed entry to Huwon after having already got their ticket. You can buy a ticket online or on site.

 

 

 

 

Tickets do occasionally sell out.

Changdeok Palace has multiple buildings of interest, including some National Treasures. It is also a World Heritage Site.

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The Geumcheongyo Bridge is the oldest extant bridge in Seoul and was built in 1411 CE. many people cross it without realizing its age and importance. You can see it in the foreground of the above photo.

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Injeongjeon Hall, basically the throne room, was first built in 1405 CE , burnt down during the Japanese Invasions of the 16th century, rebuilt in 1610. then it burned again in 1804 CE and was rebuilt yet again.

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The courtyard markers show where each rank of officials would stand. The courtyard dates from 1609 CE.

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However, one of the reasons I like Changdeokgung so much are all the smaller buildings with their hidden spaces and beautiful walls and gates.

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Just as these kids on a school field trip have found a place to hide I can imagine people having done so for centuries before them.

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I also love rooflines,

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and trees in bloom.

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Changdeokgung Palace in well worth visiting at any season, but Spring and Fall are the best times.

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Have a great day everyone.

You may also enjoy reading Gyeongju: Why you should visit on your next trip to Korea,  Yongyeon Pond: In Photos and Horseback Archery In Korea.

Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation. All photo credits to Elizabeth and Debora Marzec.

 

 

 

 

Huwon: The Secret Garden Of Changdeokgung Palace.

While most first time visitors to Seoul are told to go to Gyeongbokgung, Korea’s main palace, there are actually five main palaces each with something different to offer. The buildings do all have a certain similarity however their surroundings, landscapes, and other aspects make each one worth visiting.

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One of the many reasons for visiting Changdeokgung Palace is perhaps the beautiful secret garden tucked away behind the palace. Huwon needs a separate entry ticket as the number of visitors is strictly limited to help preserve the garden. So you need to buy a ticket to the Palace and a timed ticket to the garden. These tickets can sell out at busy times of the year.

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The palace complex was built in the early 15th century on the command of King Taejong (ruled 1400-1418) who wanted it built according to the principles of Pungsu-jiri-seol.  Pungsu is a system of geomancy somewhat similar to the Chinese Feng Shui. It basically means that the palace was adapted to the landscape and not the other way around.

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This explains why Huwon has been designated an Ecological Scenery Conservation area as the original builders retained much of the indigenous tree cover.

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The entrance to the secret garden is inside Changdeokgung Palace and it is by timed entry. Once through the barrier a long paved walk (uphill, this photo is taken looking back down to avoid having people in the photo) takes you to the garden itself.

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The first area you come across is a beautiful square pond with a small circular island. In this general area there was a library and small pavilions in which to read, rest and meditate.

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Further along there are other ponds and building complexes, one of which was built so the King could see what it felt like to live like a commoner. Well maybe an upper class commoner or scholar since the complex had about 120 rooms!

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The garden landscape was designed to be as natural as possible, with only minor changes to nature to add to its beauty. Fall is perhaps the best time to visit as many of the leaves change color and enhance the natural charm of the garden and buildings.

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It is a bit of a trek to get to the back of the garden but it is well worth the effort to see where the Ongnyu stream flows out from a fissure in the rock. This secluded area of the garden was where the King and his family would go to relax, picnic, drink, write poetry etc.

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There’s a lot of hidden gems and amazing scenery to see as you stroll around the garden.

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We even saw a Korean Raccoon Dog cross the path in front of us, but we were too slow to capture it on film. This shows how the garden, which covers about 78 acres, has been left pretty much in its original state. The buildings have been rebuilt, repaired, and restored over the years, but the garden feels like it has been there forever.

Have a great day everyone.

Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation. All photo credits to Elizabeth and Debora Marzec.

You may also enjoy reading about Yeomiji Botanic Gardens,    Gyeonghuigung Palace,  and  Seokguram Grotto.

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