Thursday, January 18, 2018

Warning: Watching K-Drama Makes You Hungry...

As I have started watching Korean TV, one thing seems to be true across the board.  Watching K-Drama makes you hungry.  So many shows feature eating that at times I wonder if there is anything else at all to do in Seoul.  And it's not just the dramas.  Some of the variety shows are the same.  For example, if you watch any given episode of "We Got Married" or "Roommate", they will sit down to eat or drink something multiple times.

That being said, certain foods seem to come up the most and I really want to try them when I visit Seoul in 2020. Here are a few types of food and drink that I see most often in my viewing.

Ramyun:  For real, Ramyun shows up EVERYWHERE!  I never really ate much of it growing up, though it was something we often kept around in college because it was cheap.  However, there are Ramyun Shops and all kinds of stuff that people put in ramyun that until I started watching Korean television I would never have thought about.  Shin Ramyun (a popular Korean brand) is VERY spicy for me.  I've been buying it as of late so that I can get used to the spiciness of it.  I've not yet been able to use a whole packet of the seasoning, but I'm up to half a packet and will continue to work up to using a whole one some day.  After I started watching Korean television I started to crave ramyun and I have discovered that putting eggs, cheese, meat and veggies into ramyun is truly delicious and it's a meal that I really enjoy.

Samgyeopsal-gui:  This is BBQ grilled pork belly and it looks so delicious that I am really looking forward to trying it sometime.  To my eyes it looks like thick sliced bacon being grilled and what's not to like about that?  Plus I like that you get to grill it at the table so you can chat with your friends as you cook.  It just looks like it would be a fun meal to have in a group.  If you watch this video you can see how it's grilled and then you eat it in a lettuce wrap of sorts with several other ingredients like garlic and sauces. looks delicious and every time I see it on a show, I want to try it myself.

Coffee and Pastry:  Anyone who has known me for more than five minutes could probably tell you of my love for coffee.  Coffee, for me, isn't just a warm beverage, it's something that you enjoy, savor and share with others whenever possible.  It's been called a "hug in a mug" and I totally agree.  My understanding is that coffee making in Korea is often more of a process than what we generally see here in the States and I'm so stoked to try it out.  Plus, many coffee shops also serve interesting desserts and pastries that are fancier than what we generally see in our coffee houses as well.  I found this video of some coffee houses in Seoul and it shows what I'm talking about.  I'm thinking that when I go, at least one of these places will be on my list to visit for sure.  And there are some others I've heard about too.  Just so much's a beautiful thing.   

There are lots of other foods that you will see on Korean television and if you watch for very long I think it's safe to say that you will start craving some of these foods too.  And if you do, tell me about it.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

All this makes me wonder if watching American television makes people hungry?  It doesn't generally when I watch, but maybe I'm used to it?  What are your thoughts?

Until next time!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Variety Shows...

As I have been learning Korean, one of the most helpful ways for me to hear "normal" conversations has been by watching Korean Variety shows...and I LOVE them.  First of all, they are very very funny.  I can not tell you how long it has been since watching an American Variety/Talk show made me laugh out loud.  Very often American television relies on sexual humor or vulgar language in order to be what is considered funny by many Americans.  However, I do not find that kind of humor funny at all.  In fact, it truly irritates me.  So, finding these Korean Variety shows that have truly witty hosts who have real talent as comedians without stooping to those types of jokes was AMAZING!

One show in particular, called "Happy Together" often makes me laugh out loud and one of the reasons I love it is because the conversations they have (albeit with celebrities) are the same types of conversations my family has when we are sitting around a dinner table.  I told a friend of mine that if someone put a camera up at one of our family dinners, we could be this show.  HA HA!  The clip I posted shows how the show is put together.  It's just a fun and comfortable show that always brings a smile to my face.  You can find full episodes on youtube and on Viki.

Another show I really liked was called "Roomate" and while it's no longer airing, both seasons of the show can be seen on Drama Fever.  I love this show because it was so fun.  It reminded me a little of the "Real World" that was on MTV, but this show was way way better because it was so inoffensive and clean while being interesting to watch.  I liked seeing and learning about different celebrities from various forms of entertainment.  Some of the cast were actors, come were musicians, some were comedians, and at least one was a sports figure.  They were of various ages and stages of life and that too made watching their interactions interesting.  Plus it was neat how each episode was narrated by a different cast member.  I really enjoyed watching this show.  This clip from youtube shows just a bit of the very first episode.  You really have to see more that this to get a feel for the show though, so I highly suggest watching the episodes on Drama Fever.

I also really enjoy watching "Running Man."  That show gives me such great game ideas that I can use for my work.  I know it might seem odd that I would need games for work, but I do.  You see, I am a Pastor and I also plan events and help with programming such as Camps for kids and families, so many of the games shown in this series, with a little tweaking can be used for the things we plan.  For example, the game shown in this clip, just needs to be played at a kids camp sometime.  Don't you agree?   Plus, the cast is really fun and I often find myself laughing out loud at their antics.  You can see this show on Drama Fever as well.

However, my favorite variety show that I have come across is "We Got Married."  This is a show that seems like it shouldn't work, but it does and I can't resist watching it.  The basic premise is two celebrities come together and fake a marriage for a certain amount of time.  They refer to each other as husband and wife (even when not filming the show, but are on other shows), wear wedding rings (or couple rings), and even share the same house during filming.  In the States this type of show would deteriorate into something filthy very quickly, but this show doesn't do that at all.  In fact, it's very clean, very chaste, and just super fun to watch.  Often times, even though it is totally a fake marriage, it seems like they become a real couple...even if they don't really become one.  I always hope they end up really good friends though.  Not sure how you could film a show like that and not become friends since you have to be together so much.  Anyway, it's my favorite.  You can see episodes of this show as well as the Global Version on Viki.  The above clip shows part of an episode with Yook SungJae and Joy who were one of my favorite couples on the show.  They were just too cute.

So those are a few of shows I've enjoyed.  There are others, but those will have to wait until another time.  What variety shows do you like to watch?

Until next time!

Monday, January 1, 2018

How I found K-Pop...

I quite literally came across K-Pop through watching K-Dramas.  I would hear these songs repeatedly during the dramas and wonder who the artists were.  So as I watched more Korean Drama and Variety Shows I continued to look up the artists that were interviewed or whom I heard on the soundtracks of the shows.  That being the case, I first came across groups like T-Max and SS501 whose songs were used A LOT in "Boys over Flowers."  Then I came across other artists through various variety show appearances and dramas like Henry, FT Island, EXO, Twice, Red Velvet and more.

It's really hard to choose favorites for me, but three groups I really enjoy are CNBlue, Got7, and Super Junior.  And when it comes to solo artists, my favorite right now would probably be Eric Nam.

CNBlue I like for several reasons, but first it is that since I have seen all of the members on various dramas and variety shows, it's easy to feel like you know them and therefore want to support them.  Anyone who knows me would probably find that an odd statement because I often tease my family members about being fans of sports figures that they have never met, but I think I can understand a little now how they feel.  Secondly, these guys have real talent and it shows in their music (and in their acting as well).  There are not a lot of full bands in the world of K-Pop (at least not that I have come across yet), so that makes this group stand out too. I like their song "Starting Over" a lot.  The video is so fun and the song is just cool!

Got7 is a perfect example of a group that I came across because of a drama.  They were in a mini-drama called Dream Knight which is where I first came across the group. The show was super cute and made me curious about the group.  When I started to look for their music I could quickly see why they were so popular.  They are very talented singers and dancers, plus they tend to make music that  is easy to remember.  Their song "Stop, Stop it" gets stuck in my head on a regular basis.  I love it!

Super Junior is also amazing for several reasons.  First, they were one of the first groups I came across that had so many members.  Currently there are only 7 active members (plus 2 who are serving in the military), but at one point there were 11 members.  That seems huge to me.  Even 9 seems big (when the two in the military come back).  When I was in choir, I'm pretty sure that many members would have made you an ensemble or choir, but these guys don't give off that feel at all.  They dance together with amazing precision that is hard to look away from and they have great voices as well.  It really is a powerhouse group.  They are not the only large group out there, in fact there are quite a few, but they were one of the first I came across and so will hold a special spot on my list. Also, I should point out that one of the members, Lee Dong Hae, was the lead in the drama Miss Panda and Mr. Hedgehog, that I talked about in my last post.  Several of the other members have been in dramas and on variety shows as well, and they are always fun to watch. Currently, I'm listening to "Black Suit" fairly regularly which is on their current album. 

When it comes to solo artists, I will admit that I am a bit bias when it comes to Eric Nam.  After all, he's from Georgia and as a Tennessee girl myself, you have to cheer on the southern guy!  But, it's not just where he's from.  He's has a great voice, and his talent goes farther than the music world.  He is also fun to watch when he is on variety shows or does interviews with people from across the entertainment industry.  His song "Good For You" is currently one of my all time favorite songs and never fails to put a smile on my face.

These are a few of the groups that I've come across and enjoy.  Who do you listen to?  How did you find them?  I'm always interested in finding more artists and groups to listen to.

An Entirely New World...

About a year and a half ago, I started watching Korean Drama and suddenly an entirely new world opened up for me.  I came upon it, looking only for a way to pass some time. 

Let me explain...You see, about a year an a half ago my Grandmother passed away.  At the time, I was living with her and helping to care for her and when she passed, that house seemed rather large all of the sudden.  I was working...A LOT.  But when I would go home, the house just seemed big, and in the evening, it just seemed strange for it to be so quiet.  So, I opened up my Netflix and a K-drama that I had seen show up in my "recommendations" was there once again.  I had ignored it for literally years, but this night, I thought, "You know, I'll give it a try.  I will have to read the subtitles, so at least it will keep my focus on something other than this empty house."  And with that, I began my journey into the world of Asian Drama.

The first drama I ever saw was a classic in the world of K-drama (though I had no idea it was at the time) called "Boys of Flowers."  This was a show that revolved around the lives of some very very rich and popular boys, with the nickname of F4, and one very poor girl who rather accidentally comes into their world.  It is far fetched, it's got some crazy hairstyles and fashion, it is even rather unbelievable in parts, and it had me seriously dealing with second lead syndrome (where you want the second lead guy to end up with the girl because he's a way better match for her) but I loved it.  It was a fun story that totally took my mind off of what was really happening in my life and that was what I had been looking for.  And it introduced me to K-pop for the first time.  I was looking up the groups that sang on the soundtrack and downloading some of the songs because they would get so stuck in my head.

From there, I started watching other Asian Dramas.  Not just Korean, but also Japanese, Taiwanese, and Chinese too.  I had to very quickly realize that the titles in English sometimes sound quite strange and didn't always reflect what the show was really about, but I loved the shows.  Some of the first ones I watched were:

Miss Panda and Mr. Hedgehog:  This is another Korean Drama. The story of a patisserie chef and the girl he works with.  This one had not only a cute romance story, but also an interesting mystery and every episode showed them making some sort of amazing sweet food that had me craving cake like you wouldn't believe.  In fact, I scoured a Dollar General store looking for Little Debbie's one day because I just couldn't take it anymore.  I NEEDED cake.  HA HA!  (True story...the Dollar General had remodeled and I couldn't find those cakes until I had been through the place like 3 times.)

Minami-kun no Koibito: My Little Lover: This is a Japanese Drama.  It follows the story of a high school girl who somehow shrinks to about 3 inches call.  She is found by a neighbor boy who was a childhood friend and they try to find a way to get her back to her original size.  It's super cute and just fun to watch.  

Inborn Pair: This is a Taiwanese Drama.  I really enjoyed this show too and it was one of the first I saw that dealt with an arranged marriage.  It was fun to see the two leads literally forced into a marriage that they had not planned on and watch them realize that they are, in fact, perfect for each other...though it will not be an easy road to get to that realization. 

So, why this blog?  Well, the reality is that I know very few people who share my interest in K-drama and K-pop and I wanted an outlet to share my thoughts.  So I plan to post on here about the shows I'm watching (or have already watched), the music I'm enjoying, and even about how I'm learning the language.  If you are interested in these things I hope you'll follow along and share your own thoughts and recommendations. 

Korean Food: How it helped me lose 100 lbs.

Stir fried kimchi (left) and my favorite ramen I started on my current weight loss journey in about 2019.  Something that has always been a ...