Friday, May 30, 2008

Hwangsa's in town...

The following article is from the KBS site.

Spring's Unwelcomed Guest

The yellow dust season has come. The clouds of sandy yellow dust that come from China in the dry spring season can cause various skin and respiratory problems. Accordingly, anti-yellow dust items sell well around this time of the year. According to industrial sources, since the yellow dust phenomenon was observed across the nation on March 29, sales of masks, baby carriage covers, nose-washes, strips to seal up windows, etc. have remarkably increased.

Anti-yellow dust items?

Spring has brought with it an unwelcome guest. Yellow dust, called “hwangsa” in Korean, is an annual phenomenon. The dust particles cloud clear skies, causing respiratory ailments. Anti-yellow dust items refer to items aimed at limiting the damage of yellow dust. Ordinary masks, as well as those specially designed to cover the entire face and even the neck, sell well. Baby carriage covers, nose-washes to prevent colds, hwangto (yellow earth) paste packs for skin care, and strips to seal up windows and doors, are also quite popular.

“Dust rain” and “blood rain” - historical records of yellow dust

The country’s weather agency used the term, “yellow dust,” for the first time in 1954. Due to the short history of using the word, many people suspect it might be a recent phenomenon. However, the “yellow dust” phenomenon can be traced back to 2,000 years ago.
An ancient record says “dust rain” fell in the 21st year of King Adala’s reign (A.D. 174) during the Silla Kingdom. The “dust rain” referred to what we call “yellow dust,” and it is the first written record of the phenomenon. After that, it was often mentioned in ancient records as “dust rain,” “yellow rain,” “red snow,” “dusty mist,” “blood rain,” etc.

What is yellow dust?

Yellow dust is an annual phenomenon caused by strong spring winds carrying dust from Mongolia and China across Korea.
Major sources: Taklamakan desert, Gobi desert, and Huanghe river basin
Cause: desertification
Affected area: China, Korea, Japan and southeast Asia

Accelerated desertification of China Year Before the 1960s 1970s-1980s 2000s
Desertification 1,560㎢ 2,100㎢ 2,460㎢

Why does the yellow dust phenomenon take place in the spring?

In the areas where the yellow dust originates, it rains in the summer, plants take firm roots in the autumn, and the ground gets frozen in the winter. In spring, however, the frozen earth melts, producing large quantities of dust particles less than 20 µm in size.

“Traveling” of yellow dust

Yellow dust originates in Mongolia’s Gobi desert or China’s Taklamakan desert, about 2,000-5,00 km away from Korea. The dust storm can travel such vast distances between the two countries, because the light particles ride on an ascending air current, up to 1,000-8,000 meters above ground and later blow down on a descending current. Dry spring weather in the area of origin, ascending air current, westerlies, and descending air currents work together to create the yellow dust phenomenon.

Positive and negative effects of yellow dust

Yellow dust causes various damage - visibility problems, respiratory and eye troubles, malfunctioning of precision equipment, damage to farming, etc. It was said that contaminated heavy metallic dust, foot-and-mouth disease or birds flu viruses might spread with the yellow dust. This has turned out to be a groundless rumor, but shows the degree to which Koreans fear the effects of yellow dust. Yellow dust is not 100% harmful, though. Lime and other alkali substances contained in yellow dust neutralize acid rain, prevent acidification of soil and lakes, and provide organic salts to plants and marine planktons.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Tae Yang goes solo

Big Bang member, Tae Yang is going solo! His two music video's 기도~ Prayer & 나만바라봐 ~ Look only at me debuted on Mnet & they're simply fantastic!

Tae Yang has become my Number 1 favourite Big Bang Member, placing T.O.P in second place ^~

Here is 기도 (pronounced Gi-do) featuring Teddy. Teddy Park is the leader of the YG's hip hop group, 1TYM.

And here is 나만바라봐 (pronounced Na-man-ba-ra-bwa). The basic plot of the music video is that Tae Yang's girfriend is cheating on him with many guys - cameo roles by the other Big Bang members! Tae Yang's solo dance (in black and white) is awesome...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Big Bang ~ With U

I am TOTALLY LOVING this song.... (I added the clip with the lyrics)
T.O.P. is just.... *drool* & *faint*
TaeYang is too good in this.... *drool* & *faint* too!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

It's been one of those great days...

This morning I was just... OK. The gym instructor kept me company for a while and lifted my sombre mood. He kept saying he was hungry, so on my way to school I stopped at the gym to give him something. His face lit up like a child! I felt really happy that I made someone smile.

Since it was Teacher's Day, I bought some things from the bakery for the staffroom. The teachers were so happy. It was a small gesture on my part, but they really appreciated it. My vice principal is exceptionally warm towards mood lifted even further.

My first class of the day was my Special Needs. Sometimes, it's a bit of a challenge trying to keep them focused. Today I wanted to teach them "Head, Shoulders, Knees..." and to my pleasant surprise, they slowly learned the song. It will take a few more times to get it perfect, but I was so proud of them. One girl said to me in Korean, "I love my English teacher". My heart melted. Before I left, they gave me an arrangement of candy.

With my 5th grade class, I tried a warmer that had them in fits of laughter. It was great... one boy got red in the face because he was laughing so hard.

...and then, I had my Kindergarten class. I hadn't taught them for 2 weeks (cause of holidays etc..), so when I walked into the class I had 13 little bodies trying to hug me. Each one gave me a heart shaped letter - one of them: "Dear Sheetal Teacher, I love you very very much".

And then - I met one of my co-teachers from last year. I was overjoyed!

Teachers got to go home at 2:30pm today, but I couldn't as I had to teach my after school class...

The kids were tired and hungry. I had some crackers in my bag so I let them eat it. But... they were still not really interested in studying this afternoon. So - I promised them that I'd buy them a snack after class. I felt sorry for them... being hungry etc.

We played a fun game that they loved. The energy level in the class soared. The two boys at the back who were falling asleep became two of the loudest ones in the class. We had a great time, and afterwards - as promised - I bought them something to eat. I think people were confused out of their minds why 14 kids were following me.

They were so happy ~

My day ended by having dinner with a special person (like my Korean mum)

So on my way home... I thought about the day. And I came to the conclusion that when I'm down in the dumps, the perfect remedy is to bring a smile to someone else's face...

Teacher's Day

Today was Teacher's Day in Korea. I will upload a photo tomorrow of what I received today. My Special Needs class gave me a gift of candy & a carnation, one of my top 6th grade students gave me something that looks like a prize badge with a chocolate, my kindergarten kids each gave me a heart-shaped letter, and I got the sweetest letter from a 3rd grade girl - each line was written in a different colour. My co-teacher translated it for me:

Dear Sheetal Teacher

I'm Ji Su. Today is Teacher's Day. I want to say thank you for teaching us English so well. I am very happy to come to your class to learn English. I liked you from the first class and I think you have a very nice smile. But - I'm sorry that sometimes we don't listen to you and we make noise. I promise, from now one we will study English and be good. I love you as much as the sky and the earth is wide.

Love, Ji Su

Monday, May 12, 2008

Buddha's Birthday ~ May 12

Lanterns are hung to celebrate Buddha's Birthday ~ which is a national holiday in Korea...This is near my apartment:

From Wikipedia:

"The birthday of Buddha is celebrated according to the Lunar calendar. This day is called 부처님 오신 날 (Bucheonim osin nal), meaning "the day when Buddha arrived" or 석가탄신일 (Seokka Tanshin-il) meaning "the day of Buddha's Birthday". Lotus lanterns cover the entire temple throughout the month which are often flooded down the street. On the day of Buddha's birth, many temples provide free meals and tea to all visitors. The breakfast and lunch provided are often sanchae bibimbap."

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Parents Day... My Korean parents ^~

May 8 is Parents Day in South Korea. Children give carnations to their parents and buy gifts to show their appreciation towards their mother's and father's. I consider myself very lucky ~ I have so many 'parents' here in Korea. Here are some of them:

Angelina (more like a big sister, but cares like a mother) & Mrs Lee
They were my co-teacher's last year

Husband & wife, Mrs Ham & Mr Kim. They've really taken me as their third child. They helped me settle in and made sure I was short of absolutely nothing... from food to cleaning materials to clothes hangers! I love them to bits ~
they are the sweetest couple...

4th Grade homeroom teacher, Mr Lee who calls me his daughter. He taught me the basics of Korean, and it's because of him that I can read Hangul .
He is so kind and generous....

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Busan (7) Junco

We went to a bar called Junco, and we got ALL these side dishes for *free* (service). The only thing we ordered was Cajun chicken & a plate of fries... everything else was just 'service'... corn, noodles, soup, mushrooms, fish, crisps, egg bake, fruit etc!

Busan (6) Haeundae Beach

Busan (5) Taejongdae ferry ride

Busan (4) Gwangalli Beach

Busan (3) Jagalchi Fish Market

Busan (2) Motel...better than a hotel!

We stayed at a motel, which in my opinion is much better than some hotels I've stayed in. It was clean, convenient etc... and very reasonably priced. We even had a computer with internet access. *^^*

Busan (1) Lunch in an alley

I spent the long w'end in Busan, which is a 5 hour bus ride from Seoul. Arrived on Saturday and walked around for a while... we found this alleyway where ajuma's (Korean ladies) try to lure you to their stall to eat. My friend and I decided to have lunch there... Korean street food is GOOD *^^* I had tokk-pokki (rice cake in hot sauce) and gim-bap (rice rolled in seaweed).

Paris Baguette cheesecake

This is a Pumpkin Cheesecake from my favourite bakery, Paris Baguette. Their cakes are like works of art...

Children's Day ~ May 5

Yesterday, Monday May 5 was Children's Day in Korea (public holiday). It is likened to Christmas, because children receive gifts from their parents. According to an internet source,

"It was founded by the Korean children's writer Pang Chong-hwan in 1923 as a way to instill in the children a sense of independence and national pride. Children's Day highlights the dignity of children and their need for love, care, and respect. It is also a day to honor adults that have contributed to improving the lives of children."

Some Koreans work till very late (11pm and over), so since Children's Day is a public holiday, parents can truly dedicate this day to their children...

Sinchen Elementary Sports Day (May 1 '08)

Last Thursday (May 1) was Sports Day at my school. The kids ran races, performed dance items etc... There were many parents there, and during lunch everyone camped out where ever and ate delicious food. Some of my students introduced their parents to me and I was given so much food... tok-pokki (rice cake in hot sauce), fruit, cherry tomatoes, bread, ice coffee, juice etc...!

One of my 3rd graders

My Kindergarten babies

6th graders


5th graders

6th graders

6th graders ~ the boy on right always gives me cookies or candy before class!

Lunch time!