Taekwondo – Korean martial art

Hi guys! Hope you are doing well. It’s been a while since my last post. (I apologise for that😅) Today, I am posting about Taekwondo, Korean martial art which is usually used for self-defence. It is recognized as one of the oldest forms of martial arts in the world, reaching back over 2,000 years. The name was selected for its appropriate description of the art: Tae (foot), Kwon (fist), Do (way of). So, literally Taekwondo means “the way of the foot and fist”.

History of Taekwondo


Taekwondo was developed during the 1940s and 1950s by various martial artists by incorporating elements of karate and Chinese martial arts with indigenous Korean martial arts traditions.

General Choi Hong Hi (9 November 1918 – 15 June 2002), also known as General Choi, was a South Korean army general and martial artist who is a controversial figure in the history of the Korean martial art of taekwondo.

In 1982, the General Session of the IOC designated Taekwondo as an official Demonstration Sport for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea. Since Modern-day Taekwondo’s official birth on April 11, 1955, its development as a sport has been rapid. Over 30 million people practice Taekwondo in more than 156 countries.

Techniques of Taekwondo

Here are some techniques performed during Taekwondo.





Equipment and facilities






The order of belts in Taekwondo



Hope this posting will help you guys to understand better and urge to learn about Korean martial art! Lastly, I will be coming soon with another posting so Stay tuned! 🙂



posted by: sy13599

Zodiac – Know Your Animal!

How have you been doing, followers? I’m sure you have been having fun if you’ve spent time reading all of our posts because they are all very interesting!

Enough with self-flattery, let’s get on with it.

So today, I am going to talk about something that is quite common throughout the world, yet beautifully unique to Korea (and China) at the same time, the Zodiac signs.

Reading this post, you may be thinking of your own zodiac sign. If you were born on the 16th of August, your zodiac would be Leo; if you were born on the 29th of August, your zodiac would be Virgo. However, that is not how it works in Korea.

The zodiac that Koreans follow is also known as the Chinese Zodiac. While its origin is China, both China and Korea have shared, and still share large part of their culture – Chinese zodiac has become ingrained in the culture of Korea.

Chinese zodiac is based on a 12-year cycle, with different animals representing each year of birth. Here is the list:

  1. Rat


People who were born in the year of Rat are said to be more intelligent, adaptable, quick-witted, charming, artistic and sociable. They partner well with those of Dragon and Monkey.

2. Ox


People born in the year of Ox are said to be more loyal, reliable, thorough, strong, reasonable, steady and determined. They partner well with those of Snake and Rooster.

3. Tiger


People from the year of Tiger are said to be more enthusiastic, courageous, ambitious, leadership, confidence and charismatic. They partner well with those of Horse and Dog.

4. Rabbit


People who were born in the year of Rabbit are said to be more trustworthy, empathic, modest, diplomatic, sincere, sociable, caretakers and sensitive. They partner well with those of Sheep and Boar.

5. Dragon


People who were born in the year of Dragon are said to be more lucky, flexible, eccentric, imaginative, artistic, spiritual and charismatic. They partner well with those of Rat and Monkey.

6. Snake


People born in the year of Dragon are said to be more philosophical, organised, intelligent, intuitive, elegant, attentive and decisive. They partner well with those of Rooster and Ox.

7. Horse


People born in the year of Horse are said to be more adaptable, loyal, courageous, ambitious, intelligent, adventurous and strong. They partner well with those of Dog and Tiger.

8. Sheep


People born in the year of Sheep are said to be more tasteful, crafty, warm, elegant, charming, intuitive, sensitive and calm. They partner well with those of Boar and Rabbit.

9. Monkey


People born in the year of Monkey are said to be more quick-witted, charming, lucky, adaptable, bright, versatile, lively and smart. They partner well with those of Dragon and Rat.

10. Rooster


People born in the year of Rooster are said to be more honest, energetic, intelligent, flamboyant, flexible, diverse and confident. They partner well with those of Snake and Ox.

11. Dog


People born in the year of Dog are said to be more loyal, sociable, courageous, diligent, steady, lively, adaptable and smart. They partner well with those of Tiger and Horse.

12. Boar


People born in the year of boar are said to be more honourable, philanthropic, determined, optimistic, sincere and sociable. They partner well with those of Sheep and Rabbit.

The order is very important, since the same cycle repeats itself every 12 years. For those who cannot grasp the order by heart, here is an interesting mythology that may help you:

Upon founding the first country ever on the Korean peninsula, the King declared that whichever animal reaches first shall be given a prize. The diligent Ox started first, but the clever Rat hopped on the Ox, and upon reaching the finish line, the Rat jumped ahead, coming first place and the Ox, the second. 

The Tiger ran in for third, followed by the Rabbit who started late because he overslept. The Dragon rushed from the sky for fifth position, followed by the Snake who caught onto the tail of the Dragon. The famous couple, the Horse and the Sheep ran together. The Horse wanted his girlfriend to come in before him, but his horseshoe came in before her, making him 7th and the Sheep 8th. This was then followed by the Monkey, the Rooster, the Dog, and eventually, the slow Boar!

Now, look for your year of birth on this chart!

Screen Shot 2017-04-30 at 23.45.25

So what is your animal? Do the characteristics accurately describe your traits? If they don’t, that’s also fine! It’s just our ancestors showing off their wit! 😃






World Heritage Sites in South Korea

Hey guys!

I found that there are total 12 UNESCO world heritage sites of special cultural or physical significance located in South Korea, and was very delighted to share with you!

Image result for unesco world heritage criteria

Before getting started, just to let you know, in order to become a part of UNESCO world heritage site, the site have to be of excellent universal value and meet one or more out of ten criteria:

  1. To represent a masterpiece of human creative genius.
  2. To exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design.
  3. To bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared.
  4. To be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates significant stage in human history.
  5. To be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use.
  6. To be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance.
  7. To contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.
  8. To be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history.
  9. To be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals.
  10. To contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity.

Now lets have a look at South Korea’s world heritage sites!

1.Baekje Historic Areas (2015)

Located in South Chungcheong and North Jeolla, with criteria of Culture.

Image result for Baekje Historic Areas

2. Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites (2000)

Located in Incheon, North Jeolla and South Jeolla, with criteria of Culture.Image result for Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites

3. Changdeokgung Palace Complex (1997)

Located in Seoul, with criteria of Culture.

Image result for 창덕궁

4. Gyeongju Historic Areas (2000)

Located in North Gyeongsang, with criteria of Culture.

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5. Haeinsa Temple Janggyeong Panjeon (1995)

Located in South Gyeongsang, with criteria of Culture.

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6. Hwaseong Fortress (1997)

Located in Gyeonggi, with criteria of Culture.

Image result for Hwaseong Fortress

7. Historic Villages of Korea: Hahoe and Yangdong (2010)

Located in North Gyeongsang, with criteria of Culture.

Image result for Hahoe and Yangdong

8. Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes (2007)

Located in Jeju, with criteria of Nature.

Image result for 제주도

9. Jongmyo Shrine (1995)

Located in Seoul, with criteria of Culture.

Image result for Jongmyo Shrine

10. Namhansanseong (2014)

Located in Gyeonggi, with criteria of Culture.

Image result for Namhansanseong

11. Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty (2009)

Located in Gyeonggi and Seoul, with criteria of Culture.

Image result for Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty

12. Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple (1995)

Located in North Gyeongsang, with criteria of Culture.

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POSTED BY @yujinshinblog

What is it with ‘Sunbae’ in Korea?

Hello beloved followers, and hopefully my ‘soon-to-be’ followers! Always nice to come back to write for you guys!

If you have been following our blog, you would have read about the importance of manners and etiquettes in our country and where it comes from – (To learn more, have a read of one of our posts: Manners & Etiquettes). Well today, I would like to talk to you about a fundamental aspect of that culture – the “Sunbae” and “Hoobae” culture.

There are many things in life that decide how two or more human beings interact with each other in society. It can be your position at the workplace that tells you how to treat certain people, and sometimes, it can also be your expertise in a particular field that fetches you respect. In Korea, age and experience play a major role in establishing the degree of formality and the nature of a relationship.

“Age is more than a number. It connotes experience, it connotes capability, it connotes power.”

The quotation above is one that is quite overarching in our country, especially in work environments and schools. In practically all first-time interactions between two Koreans, the first question they would ask each other is their age – it is that crucial. From the moment they find out each other’s age, the younger person will show respect to the older person in all possible ways. Since with age comes experience, age difference immediately establishes the hierarchy, or the power equation in the relationship.

While age is important in Korean culture in general, its role is even more prominent in schools, mostly in secondary schools and colleges. In an environment where the age difference could not be made clearer, how juniors treat seniors and vice versa are sharply different.

The way juniors (“Hoobae” in Korean) treat their seniors (“Sunbae” in Korean) is that of utmost respect. Although the degree of respect differs slightly from school to school, the ‘vertical’ nature of the relationship is more or less the same throughout the country. For example, they will use the same respectful language they use for teachers or an even more respectful one (quite ridiculous in my opinion), they will greet all seniors regardless of whether they know each other or not, and occasionally, if not always, do them a favour! Do all these seem bizarre? Korean students think so too, but it is also important for them to forge good relations with seniors as they can help you in academics or social life with their experience. However in some schools, there is a certain fear that not respecting the Sunbaes ‘properly’ will lead to their hardship and getting bullied by the seniors – something that should definitely be eradicated.

As far as how Sunbaes treat Hoobaes is concerned, it is much more relaxed. Most of the time they look at the juniors as themselves when they were younger, and help them out with their difficulties. However, there are cases where seniors look at the juniors as subservient and take advantage of that by making them suffer – either by bullying them or making them do physical exercises (very similar to that of army) – with the excuse of “building characters”, telling them about how they went through the same thing from their seniors. This has become a major social issue in the country with many parents calling for the youth to move away from the culture of vertical-power-equation-relationship and adopt a more ‘horizontal’ culture of human relations.

To offer my personal viewpoint, I understand that seniors will definitely have a vast range of experience and will help out in situations. However, as more and more seniors are negatively exploiting the respect that the society has entrusted in them,

I feel that the distance between Sunbae and Hoobae must be abridged so that everyone can treat every other person with respect, regardless of whether they are older than you or not.

Thank you!

By @dohoonah



Etiquette level: Korean!

  1. Bowing to anyone who is older than you
  2. Not lifting your spoon until the eldest person does at the dining table
  3. Using both hands when receiving something from somebody older
  4. Not making direct eye contact with elders/people in higher positions
  5. And so on…

The list of etiquettes and manners that are deeply unique to our Korean culture, is simply endless.

A letter signifying ‘Filial Piety’ (It reads “Hyo” in Korean)

If you have been to Korea, or have studied about Korean culture before, you’d know that South Korea is a country of meticulous etiquette and manners, especially between older and younger generations. So today, we will explore some of the most well-known and necessary manners and etiquettes to be followed in different environments. However, before we get into specific manners, it is important to keep in mind that:

  • Confucianism has been the dominant philosophy throughout the Joseon dynasty period,
  • it chiefly valued showing respect to the elders,
  • the philosophy still plays a huge role in modern society.


Our first environment is the dining table. All cultures have their own unique dining etiquettes. For example, Muslim people will say “Bismillah” before eating, Spanish and Latino/a people will never rush off the table when they are done, Japanese people will slurp their noodles to show they are enjoying them, etc. Korea also has its vast set of manners to be followed at the dining table. Here are some of them:

  1. Always receive a dish or glass using both hands.
  2. Never start eating until the oldest person at the table lifts the spoon.
  3. Younger person always pours the water and distributes the glasses around.
  4. Do not leave your utensils stuck into the rice.

Yes, I understand that the fourth one may sound a little strange. It did to me when I first told not to do it by my mother. 😄 First of all, understand that Korean rice is extremely sticky, so utensils do get stuck if you poke them into the rice. The reason why such behaviour is not allowed on the table is because of the belief/superstition that the spirits or ghosts around you would come to your meal and eat it with the spoon/chopsticks that are stuck into the rice! Yes, it is an absurd superstition, but just like all other superstitions, it is still being followed for no genuine reason. 😄

Another environment is when you are at the drinking table. Drinking is a fundamental part of the Korean culture. (Some say it has become so ingrained in our customs because of the excessive stress people get from the hectic modern lifestyle.) So, you might expect such occasion to be a place where you can be as free as you want and release all your stress, but sadly that may not be the case if you are the younger one at the table. Again, one small point to keep in mind is that in Korea, the bottle of alcohol is brought to the table, and it is for the customers to serve the drink for each other. Here are some must-manners:

  1. A seat from which one can see the entrance and lean against the wall behind is the best seat. Let the oldest person sit there.
  2. Never decline the first glass of alcohol. Otherwise, you will end up ruining the atmosphere.
  3. When offering alcohol to an elderly, get up to your knees, support your right arm with your left, and pour gently. Once you have filled the glass, hand over the bottle and offer your glass to be filled.
  4. When drinking alcohol in front of an older person, turn sideways so as to not face the elder when you drink. It is considered very rude to openly drink in the presence of older people.

As you have learned from above, respect for the elderly is an overarching idea that defines the Korean culture. Other than the manners discussed above, there are so many more etiquettes to be followed when engaging in conversation with elderly in general.

After having read this post, one may think, “Oh, what a bad place Korea is for younger people to live!” However, I would like to remind you that all such manners that sound weird come from people’s effort to show respect to their elders.

“They may look strict and impractical, but like all cultures, these are what define Korean culture and these are what make it uniquely beautiful.”

By @dohoonah


Thank you

The Foundation Myth: Dangun Story

The Foundation Myth: Dangun Story


Most countries have their own foundation myths; for instance India has the ‘Ramayana’. In Korea, we have the ‘Dangun Story’.

Here it goes:

A long time ago, there lived Hwanung, son of Hwanin (the God of Heaven), a man very interested in the lives of ordinary human beings. His father, well understanding Hwanung’s passion in mankind, lets him rule the human world. Hwanung went down to the summit of Taebaek mountain with 3 gods and a group of 3000. He called the summit area ‘Sinshi’, which translates as ‘divine mecca’. The 3 gods were ‘Poongbaek (God of wind)’, ‘Wusa (Master of rain)’, and ‘Wunsa (Master of clouds). They were responsible for agriculture, long-living, diseases, punishment, and the good and evil etc.

Coincidently, a bear and a tiger lived together under a cave, praying to Hwanung to let them become human. So Hwanung gave them special wormwoods and garlic, then added “If you eat these for 100 days and stay away from sunlight, you shall permanently transform into human body.” Both kept to his words for 37 days, however at last only the bear transformed into a woman. The bear, named ‘Woong-nyeu’, wanted to have a child, so she begged once again. Hwanung temporarily transformed into human, married Woong-nyeu, then together gave birth to a baby boy. That boy grows up to become ‘Dangun WangGum (Dangun means ‘spiritual leader’, WangGum means ‘a king who possesses a great weapon_knife) ‘. He establishes Gojoseon, an ancient Korean kingdom.

In brief, the Dangun story is about how the child of a god and bear establishes Gojoseon.

Through this myth, we can notice a couple of things.

  1. The transfiguration of the bear doesn’t refer to literal transfiguration. It suggests the tribe that worships bear won over the tribe that worships tiger, and that they contributed in the establishment of Gojoseon.
  2. Hwanung was accompanied by 3 Gods: Wind, Rain, and Clouds. This implies that the society prioritized agriculture. Climate is crucial in agriculture, so Gojoseon needed climate related professionals.
  3. Dangun story, isn’t only a myth, but is a story that reflects the ancient society and history.

Anti-totemism, one way of critical reading:

The Dangun story is a foundation myth. It’s not something that’s been written for pure entertainment, but it has a purpose: it gives a nation divinity and justifies its power. The story says a bear and a tiger lived together under a cave. This does not happen in reality, hence it suggests the bear-tribe and the tiger-tribe neighbored each other. The Dangun story sounds as if it’s a story about two tribes competing against each other for Hwanung. The rule of the competition is to restrain oneself for a longer period. As a result, the bear gets ‘selected’ and the tiger gets ‘neglected’. The bear becomes a woman, marries Hwanung, and gets a child. Therefore, it can be interpreted as the bear-tribe succeeding in uniting with Hwanung while the tiger-tribe fails. Then, what does the success of the bear-tribe imply? The bear-tribe, under the name ‘Woong-nyeu’, becomes part of the Gojoseon royal family. There are no records of Woong-nyeo being particularly worshiped or mentioned. She disappeared from the myth. However this doesn’t imply her story has been erased after the birth of Dangun. Her disappearance is simply the disappearance of recognition that she originated from a bear. People no longer recalls Woong-nyeo as a bear, but recalls her as the mother of Dangun and the wife of Hwanung. Therefore, the success of the bear-tribe means the absence of totemism. It’s an oxymoron.

In totemism, human and bear are neighbors that exchange gifts; human worships them, and only hunts the bears at a certain season to pray to the gods. Such balanced, equal relationship is the nature of totemism, and myths express that value. However, in the Dangun story, it’s different. The bear takes a test given by man (Hwanung); there is a hierarchy relationship. The one who actually gave birth to Dangun is Woong-nyeu, but Dangun only worships Hwanung. These base on a domination and subordination relationship. This also suggests a caste inequality and gender inequality existent in the ancient Korean society.

To conclude,

Myths are not created and retold for simple entertainment. Instead, myths are usually created to reflect a society and belief. The Dangun Story, which is a Korean national foundation myth, does the same.

Furthermore, every story can be interpreted differently. What is your understanding of the Dangun Story?

Hanbok – Korean Traditional Dress

Hello everyone! I am Dohoon Lee, and today I want to talk about the Korean traditional clothes. The reason why I chose to introduce my country’s traditional dress before anything else to you guys is perhaps due to the lasting impression that India had on me for the first month of my life in India. What I found extremely fascinating and captivating during that time was the ease with which people wear their traditional clothes! From kurta pyjamas to sarees that even exposed one’s back and belly, it all came as a shock to the 11-year-old boy who had just come from a country where people barely take out their traditional dress from their wardrobe except for when it is the New Year’s Day or Chuseok. For the last five years that I have been in this country, I have been enlightened by the beauty of kurtas and sarees, and today I wish to do the same to you with our traditional dress, Hanbok.

The History of Hanbok

The origin of Hanbok traces back to the nomadic Scytho-Siberian culture. Coming from a nomadic culture, the unique design of Hanbok allowed ease of movement and also included some shamanistic (spiritual) motifs. The earliest evidence of Hanbok can be found in a mural from the Goguryeo dynasty from 3rd Century BCE, the era of the Three Kingdoms of Korea (Goguryeo, Baekje and Shilla), which is when the main features such as jeogori-jacket, baji-pants and chima-skirt were established. These features have remained almost the same to this day.

Although Hanbok has been worn on the Korean peninsula for millennia, the form of Hanbok that is most widely known throughout the world is that of the Joseon dynasty, which ruled from 1392 to 1897. While the men’s Hanbok did not change a lot, the women’s Hanbok did undergo drastic changes in terms of design.

The length of jeogori had shortened drastically through the Joseon Dynasty

Starting from the 16th Century, the length of woman’s jeogori began to shorten, starting at 77cm, reaching 21.5cm by the end of 19th Century. The chima (skirt) also adopted greater volume, leading to a A-shaped silhouette – which is quite contrasting compared to that of the Goryeo dynasty when the fashion trend was to shorten the length of chima.

The Beauty of Hanbok

Hanbok is beautiful – hands down. I am saying this not only because it represents my culture, but also because it simply aesthetically is. (Please understand if I sound bragging. It is just that I am passionate about it 🙂 ) We define its beauty in 3 aspects:

A pink jeogori with dongjeong (collar), goreum (ribbon); paired with chima

1. The beauty of simplicity

  • Simplicity is perhaps what makes Hanbok a unique attire. The combination of short-cropped jeogori and voluminous chima possess a sense of elegance that cannot be achieved by any other style of clothing. Furthermore, in contrast to European clothing where numerous fabrics and different stitching techniques distinguish each attire, most Hanbok are made with straight fabric, put in linear design. Hence, the dimensionality of the attire only comes to life when it is worn by the person. This truly makes the clothing become a part of the person’s identity.

2. The beauty of harmony

  • The lines of Hanbok are straight, yet beautifully curved – whose harmony gives it an air of grace that is uniquely Korean. The harmony of colours is also significant in Hanbok. It follows the ‘theory of five colours’ (“Obangsaek” in Korean) which are related to cardinal directions as well as the five elements of traditional Korean culture.


3. Beauty of nature

  • Perhaps the most notable feature of Hanbok is the feel of nature that is brought out by the irregularity of proportion when worn and the loose and voluminous shape. This gives the clothing an edge that is devoid of artificiality, making it look more authentic as well as highlighting the fabric. This could be contrasted by the Western clothing where specific stitch works are done to create a desired shape.

Hanbok in today’s world

Despite the beauty and the history behind the attire, due to the rapid inflow of western culture as well as the inconvenience of wearing a more complex attire, our Hanbok has slowly faded away from our daily life – to the level that we only wear it on holidays such as New Year’s Day and Chuseok. On a personal note, this is a trend that I feel bad about. Hanbok is an integral part of what makes Korea different, just like all traditional clothes do, and hence I believe that it should be revived.

In response to the fading away of our traditional clothes, the government is trying to encourage the people to not let go of their traditions by:

  1. Granting free entry into the Royal Palace of Joseon Dynasty (Gyeongbokgung)
  2. Popularising Jeonju – the city of traditions – to provide an environment where wearing Hanbok feels natural.
  3. Subsidising designers who are coming up with modern Hanbok which are both comfortable enough to be worn in daily life, and extremely stylish.










Thank you.