Monday, March 28, 2011

Interview with Seungji!

In earlier posts I've mentioned my super quick layover in Seoul with the best tour guides ever - Seungji and Hyein. They took my cousin and I on the best whirlwind tour to a palace (Gyeongbokgung Palace, I think...), and on a little walk through the city to a super cute shopping area that was bustling with people. We even managed to run into a traditional Korean wedding ceremony taking place outside. Seungji and Hyein treated us to a delicious meal, where Shannon discovered one of her favorite dishes ever -  naengmyeon - cold noodles in an iced broth. She just kept saying "It tastes like summer!!!!"

Anyways, Seungji has been super helpful this month in answering my questions about Korea, and she even agreed to do a little online interview with me for my blog.  Seungji spent a few months here in San Diego, studying English and living with my friends Gary and Heather, so she has both Korean perspective and experience with American culture.

Sweet Seungji:)

Can you tell us about where you live?

I live in Suwon. Suwon is the provincial capital of Gyeonggi-do. (It's like the Sacramento of California).  It is located 20 miles south of Seoul and surrounded by mountain.  It is traditionally known as "The City of Filial Piety".  Suwon is home of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Gwaseong Fortress (built in 1796).  It is the only remaining completely walled city in South Korea.  As such, the city walls are one of the more popular tourist destinations.  As an industrial centre, Suwon houses a large Samsung Electronics factory.  Suwon is famous for Korean barbecue (we call 'Galbi).

What is your favorite Korean meal?
Korean barbecue!  Actually I can't pick just one:(

What surprised you most about America when you studied here?
  • A mature sense of citizenship. - When I was waiting a bus in America, ambulance sirens sounded suddenly.  Every cars stopped and turned aside to give a way.  And while a bus was running, a girl stood up from her seat and fell forward (not badly).  She is ok but it was her fault.  The bus stopped.  A driver called someone to explain what happened and asked passengers to make a statement about what we saw about the situation.  I was shocked because I had never seen the situation before.
  • Consideration for the disabled, women, children, the aged. - Everywhere is equipped with convenience for the disabled. (especially bus!!!!)
  • Everything is big. size of pizza, hamburger, coke,!!!!! everything!!!!!

    What are the seasons like in Korea?

    Korea has clear four seasons.  In spring, the cherry trees are in bloom and people go cherry blossom viewing.  There are a lot of mountains for climbing close at hand in Korea.  Climbing is popular.  In summer, the humidity is very high and rainy season.  In fall, it is beautiful to turn red, yellow, and people go on a trip to enjoy the autumn colors.  In winter, it's much colder than San Diego and people like to go to ski resort. 
    What makes you proud to be Korean?
    We are the same ethnic.  We have strong belief 'we are the one'.  For example, Gold-collection movement during the 1997 IMF Financial Crisis.  We sought for solution to overcome the economic crisis and it was a good decision.  This movement was the very spiritual base on which the whole Korean people could be united again in the form of Gold-collection movement in 1997.  

    Also there is another example "red devils".

    Nikki's note:  After the IMF Financial Crisis there was a widespread interest in capitalizing on Korea's cultural industry, sparking the "Korean Wave."

    Are Koreans more influenced by Japanese or Chinese trends and fashion?

    I think Korean influenced by Japanese trends and fashion in the past but the Korean Wave has sparked a fad for Korean movies, dramas, and pop music nowadays.  Many young people in Asia like to follow Korean singers' songs and fashion.
    What do you miss from your time here in America?
    I miss a lot of things.  People, Heather's food, beach, Christmas, weather in SD, board games with heather and gary, shopping, trip, Point Loma Nazarene University, end....!!!!! Maybe I miss the time with heather & gary most.  I learned your culture from them and experienced everything with them.  I am sure that most of people who go abroad to study don't learn and experience your culture more than me.  The life in San Diego was the best and I miss everything.

    Huge thanks to Seungji for agreeing to this interview, and to Gary and Heather for opening their house to her! We hope you come back soon, Seungji!


    1. Very cool that San Diego was the US city Seungji got to explore! Her ethnic pride in Korea makes me think that as Americans we tend to feel the same about the particular state we're from. I know I feel that "one-ness" with Californians since that is where I was born and raised.

    2. Interviewing Seungji was an excellent idea (like your meal adventures). You don't want to get too formulaic, but adding a personal touch really increases my appreciation for the subject matter.