Posts Tagged ‘seoul’

Timelapse video of Seoul

Author: Jamie

Over at Hermit Hideaways, they posted a great video by   showing the vibrancy of the great city Seoul. I’ve shared it below.

I took a lot of great video on my recent trip to Korea using my new GoPro camera. Hopefully I will be able to put something together like this. Watch this space. In the meantime, enjoy this video.

Timelapse – Seoul from j0n4s on Vimeo.

We really enjoyed our trip to Seoul. This wonderful buzzing city is just awesome and really worth a stay.
Shooting some time lapses was a great way to explore this urban scene.

We used:

1x Pentax k-5
2x Pentax k-7
3x GoPro Hero

Samyang 8mm/3.5
Tamron 17-50mm/2.8
Sigma 17-70mm/2.8-4.5
Pentax 35 mm/2.8
Pentax 50 mm/1.7
Pentax 50-135mm/2.8

We produced a bunch of images. Even more than I expected and so we bought some more hard drives to bring all this files back home safely.

38.000 pictures
390 GB of Data

For post production I used Lightroom an the wonderful LRTimelapse ( Gunther Wegner

Music: You my wonderful… flower – Lavori Domestici [HWR008 VV.AA.]


Step into Seoul!

Author: Jamie has a pretty cool Facebook app that lets users experience various elements of Seoul, South Korea. It’s part of a bigger push by Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to attract visitors to the Peninsula. In fact, Korea, China and Japan in a (rare) showing of solidarity, are in the process of identifying and developing tourist routes to promote tourism in the greater East Asia region.

Seoul, South Korea

When I travelled Asia, I felt that Korea, being situated between Japan and China, was often overlooked by people on the backpacker trail. Of all the cities I went to though (aside from Hong Kong, which I loved) I felt Seoul was a perfect blend of Chinese tradition and conservatism, Japanese style wackiness, Western influence and thousands of years of uniquely-styled Korean culture that results in an amazing experience. I highly recommend anyone to go there for at least a week.  In fact we are travelling there for the Chinese New Year in January. We’ll definitely be posting about our trip so stay tuned.

Check out the Travel Details section of this blog for information and maps on getting around the city and what to see and do.

Visit Korea

A poem I wrote about Seoul :)


Walled city of Suwon

When I was travelling Korea in 2005, one of my favorite day trips from Seoul was the walled city, Suwon. In fact, it is the only remaining Korean city with a complete wall intact. I had a great time walking around the top of the wall, posing for young school children who wanted to take my photo and enjoying the spring weather.

Suwon Fortress

Suwon was an hour’s subway ride outside of Seoul and short bus trip from there to the wall. The city is quite large, with over a million people, but I was more interested in the historical significance and beauty of the wall and the interior city with its markets and busy alleyways.

Hwahongmun 화홍문

Hwahongmun, otherwise known as Buksumun, is the gate under which the river flows. The gate has the obvious function of being a bridge, but also housed cannons for defensive purposes.


The walls were one of Korea’s first examples of paid labour. The walls still exist today, though they, together with the fortress, were damaged severely during the Korean War.

colorful Suwon

The city was full of colour

According to Wikipedia, Hwaseong Fortress (which means Brilliant Castle) was originally constructed under the guidance of philosopher Jeong Yag-yong. In 1800, shortly after the death of King Jeongjo, a white paper detailing the construction of the fortress was published. This proved invaluable during its reconstruction in the 1970s.

colourful lanterns

These lanterns were hanging in someone's driveway

The fortress walls once encircled the entire city, but modern urban growth has seen the city spread out far beyond the fortress. The walls are now a designated UNESCO World Heritage site and often used in materials promoting the city.

Suwon fortress

The main gate of the wall is now a through way for the city's traffic

I would suggest it to anyone who has a day to spare while visiting Seoul.

Here’s a CNN documentary on the fortress:



Seoul Buddha Birthday


KBS Reports that the 2011 Lotus Lantern Festival celebrating Buddha’s Birthday is well underway in Seoul this weekend.

Buddha’s actual birthday falls on Tuesday this year.

Lotus Lantern Festival

Via Washington Post

The festival, which marks the two-thousand-255th anniversary of Buddha’s birth, will feature a Buddhist ceremony at a sports arena at Dongguk University Saturday night.

The ceremony will be followed by a lantern procession, which is said to be the highlight of the entire festival. Some 100-thousand people will march with lotus lanterns from Dongdaemun in eastern Seoul to the Jogye Temple in central Seoul. The post-parade celebration will be held in Jonggak. Buddhist followers will take part in festive traditional activities.

Today is the last day (Sunday) where foreigners can learn how to make lotus lanterns on the street in front of the Jogye Temple, and take part in activities related to Buddhist culture.

Dragon Lantern

Source unknown

Traffic will be restricted in the sections of the city where the lotus lantern march will take place from Saturday afternoon to Saturday night.

2011 Lotus Lantern Festival List of Scheduled Events (Visit Korean Tourism site for more info)

Title Date & Time Venue
Lighting Ceremony April 26, 2011 (Tue)
In front of City Hall
Exhibition of Traditional Lanterns May 6, 2011 (Fri)
– May 10, 2011 (Tue)
Bongeunsa Temple in Samseong-dong
Eoulim Hanmadang May 7, 2011 (Sat)
Sports Arena of Dongguk University
Lantern Parade May 7, 2011 (Sat)
Jongno Street (from Dangdaemun to Jogyesa Temple)
Hoehyang Hanmadang (Post-Parade Celebration) May 7, 2011 (Sat)
Jonggak Intersection
Buddhist Street Festival May 8, 2011 (Sun)
The main street in front of Jogyesa Temple
Stage Performances May 8, 2011 (Sun)
The main street in front of Jogyesa Temple
(Final Celebration)
May 8, 2011 (Sun)
From Insa-dong to the street in front of Jogyesa Temple
Buddha’s Birthday Dharma Service & Lantern Lighting May 10, 2011 (Tue) 10:00
(Lantern Lighting at 19:00)
Temples across the nation, including Jogyesa Temple

Reported by KBS WORLD Radio



Do you know South Korea?

Author: Jamie

So my dad sent me an email, as he often does when he finds interesting tidbits online that he thinks I will like. Normally they are funny jokes or interesting brain teasers but this time it is a real gem.

David Dutton, a filmmaker of fabulous and beautiful short vids and music videos has compiled an assortment of moments from around South Korea and stitched them together in a way that brings me back to those places while at the same time reminding me that I have to go back.

Three reasons this video is great:

1) Do you know South Korea? is a short video that shares smiles from young and old, the glamorous and the gritty, from Seoul to Busan. It’s as though he somehow went back to 2005, when I was first visiting that country and marveled with me as the sunshine pressed against red maple leaves and fish markets bustled with activity.

2) It is anchored by the melancholic Chemical Brothers song ‘The Pills Won’t Help You Now‘ and a folksy Korean tune I don’t know.

3) The last segment in the last seconds is from a TV commercial I was fascinated with for cellular company I believe. It has  a catchy tune that I am now singing in my head. :)

Check out the video.

Do You Know South Korea? from David Dutton on Vimeo.


Korea Fashion… we like

Author: Jamie

Sexy Korean clothing

According to an article on Arirang, Korea’s newly-appointed Culture Minister, Choung Byoung-gug, the Korean fashion industry is seeking a new direction in order to raise its profile on the global stage. In the story, Choung was quoted as saying, “The fashion industry will not only help in promoting Korea, but it is also deemed a high-value industry. In a resource-poor country like Korea, investing in a creative industry like the fashion industry is a smart choice.”

This is a really good point. Hopefully the parents of today’s youth in Korea will begin to see creative outlets, such as fashion design, as a viable career option, or at least a worthwhile hobby. Too many children are wasting their lives away at cram schools and the like, so that they can become the doctors, engineers and lawyers their parents want them to be. Maybe now they can be the fashion forward designers that they want to be too!

Korean girl fashion

We’ve always loved the unique style of Korea. It is so very Asian but classy and refined. It can be cute and playful but it can also be sleek and modern. Most of all, we love the colors. From modern hanboks to Korean street fashion, colors always play an important role in Korean fashion, both high end and on the streets of Seoul.

Style in Korea

We really like Korean street fashion. That’s why we also really like this video put together by Youtuber s2Sundaees2. It is a compilation of photographs showing Korean street fashion. So many funky styles and so many great options for purchasing online. Just check out some of the below links for a sample of the great selection Koreans have for shopping online.


Etihad is now flying daily between Seoul and Abu Dhabi

Etihad Airways, the airline that Rory works for, has officially begun flying between Abu Dhabi and Seoul, Korea. Rory was part of the crew that flew out before the launch and took part in the press conference as well as events with high-level Korean officials.

This is great news for Rory, as she can now visit her mom whenever she has to work on a flight to Korea and it is good for me also, because now I will be able to see my in-laws as it makes going to Korea a lot easier.

I think that this new service route was a long-time coming. Recently, there has been a lot of big business deals between the UAE (particularly Abu Dhabi) and large Korean businesses (Chaebol 재벌).

I want to do another post that explores the huge Korean conglomerates in more depth. But I think this shows how there are many ties between Korea and the UAE.

For anyone interested, I have put together a map of Korean restaurants, groceries and entertainment venues in the UAE. If you know or find somewhere that isn’t on this map, please feel free to suggest it in the comments and I will add it.

UPDATE – I just saw in the National newspaper today that there will be a Korean film showcase in Abu Dhabi hosted by the Korean Embassy. The free, three-day Korean Film Series will be held at Abu Dhabi Theater starting on Saturday, December 18, marking 30 years of diplomatic relations between Korea and the UAE. A Korean chef will prepare food during the screening and free flights to Seoul will be given away. Abu Dhabi Week did a good article on it too.

Apparently, the event is co-organized by the Embassy and King Sejong Institute, which was founded at Zayed University this past October and is the the first organization to teach Korean language and culture in the UAE.

You can see the schedule here.

Korea in the Middle East

Korea and Middle East countries, particularly the UAE, are benefitting from a strengthening relationship

See Etihad’s commercial here. The site also has some tourist suggestions.


Stu Stu Studio Pics

Author: Jamie

The following photos were taken at a wedding studio in Seoul called Greeda Studio. This was a full day that exhausted us both. We are pretty happy with the results though. I originally posted the rough images that they originally sent us but Rory made me take down the post! These are the final ones that we chose to put into our album. Enjoy and let us know your favorites :) We’ve also recently added photos from the wedding itself as well as details about the different elements of the ceremony. See theme here.

Jamie and Rory




studio pics

wedding photography

wedding photo


Crazy Squid Face Night!

Author: Jamie

I can’t believe it’s already been one month since the wedding.

Well we’ve begun uploading photos from the wedding. It is a harder process than I imagined it would be. There are so many pics and many of them are the same as ones our friends took so we have to weed through them.

Ham Sassaeyo!

While not necessarily in chronological order, the first bunch of pictures we’re posting are for the Ham night (also referred to in this blog as ‘the crazy squid face night!’ (CSFN!) We discussed the process of the CSFN in an earlier post about the rituals involved before the wedding.

We tried to keep everything by the book. This is how it played out:

"I have to put that on my face?"

The Apprehension…

So all of the boys showed up on time in their Sunday best, all suited with pressed ties and coiffed follicles. They saw the Ham (함) or wedding chest placed on top of a bowl on the floor in the center of the room. It was wrapped in silk and quite naturally, the nine of us shifted around it as I brought out the bag of dried squid. Ayham was the brave one to open the bag and he was also very kind to share the aroma with the rest of us. I saw my friends’ eyes immediately turn to me with a sense of disbelief. Nervous laughter was the only way to cope… until I brought out the soju (소주).

Me - "Is it weird that I have one tentacle longer than the other?" Shea - "Jamie, everyone has one tentacle hanging lower than the other!"

Arts and Crafts…

With minimal tools at our disposal (soju, a pair of scissors, some elastic string, a dull knife and Pam’s cuticle mini-scissors) we began constructing personalized demonic masks out of the dried carcasses of the sea’s most ugly creature. They turned out pretty cool actually. Putting them on, however, regardless of the amount of soju in one’s system, is still a major test of friendship, maybe one of the strongest tests known to the post-neolithic man. I just want to thank them again for a very random but memorable night.

It was hard to see where we were walking.

Freaking out the Locals…

It was time to go. Through awkwardly cut holes, we helped my brother, Tyler (aka ‘the Hamster’) put the Ham on his back, careful not to let it touch the floor, then headed out to cross the busy intersection of Sinchon to where we needed to catch the public bus. Chanting ‘Ham Sasseyo!’, which means ‘Wedding chest for sale!’, we went out into the street and startled many Korean’s young and old.

To put it into context, the Ham procession as a wedding rite is not very common anymore. It isn’t mandatory for Koreans and, as traditional Korean weddings are not very popular either, is rarely seen these days. However, because of soap operas and movies, most Koreans still recognize what we are doing. That said, there is still no easy way for a Korean person to react to nine non-Koreans yelling in the streets in mangled Korean language wearing suits and ties with squid stuck to their faces. It’s just not normal. But that’s how we roll!

The little girl in the bottom right corner was stunned!

Is this Seat Taken?

The bus ride was quite hilarious in retrospect. First, I took way too long to pay for us all to get on. Try counting Wan, with all the zeroes, after a few bottles of soju, staring through a squid to an obviously frightened driver as nervous bus patrons stare in disbelief. It takes focus. Eventually he just took the money in my hand without counting and waved us to get on quickly. Once we were on, for some reason, we all acted quite civilized. We all took seats amongst other Koreans on the bus, looked forward or out the window as the bus pulled away, almost forgetting that we were wearing squid on our faces. No one looked at us, they all diverted their eyes, save for Korea’s bravest 5 year old girl. She had a staring contest with Tai that demonstrated true resolve, never squinting, never turning away, just trying to figure out what the hell we were doing in her country, on her regular bus route, wearing her favorite after-school snack on our mugs.

Luckily it was a short ride because I’m sure we were stinking up the bus pretty bad with our fish faces.

The Squid Face Parade

Waking Up the Neighbors…

The last leg of our journey took us through the quiet neighborhood of Rory’s childhood as we yelled ‘Ham Sassaeyo!’, clapping our hands and downing another bottle of soju. We stopped to take a picture in front of a fish restaurant where our fellow sea creatures were swimming in aquariums outside on the street. After only a 10 minute walk we arrived at the gate to Rory’s building complex where her two friends and her brother were waiting for us. They escorted us to her building and my brother Tyler, as the office Hamster, took over to bargain for payment so that we would enter the building.

Tyler haggling for my right to present myself to Rory

The Price is Right…

We climbed the to the tenth floor, stopping at each floor while Tyler demanded more money from Rory’s brother in order to get us to continue to the apartment. When we reached the door, I was presented with a gourd, which I smashed very successfully. We entered the apartment and Tyler placed the Ham on a rice bean cake bowl in Rory’s living room. Her parents opened it and read the official letter stating my family’s desire for a union. Then her mom reached in as she covered her eyes and grabbed one of two silk items. If she pulled blue it means our first child would be a boy and if it was pink it would be a girl. (She pulled a pink one by the way) Then, after accepting the Ham, it meant that her parents accepted the terms and our family’s gifts and she was finally allowed to exit in her hanbok and join us for the huge dinner that Rory’s mom had prepared.

Ready for our feast!

It was a fantastic night, a really original wedding custom that I will remember always. I’m glad my friends had the courage to join in because in the end, I think we all had a blast.

I am working on editing the video from that night and will share it shortly. See all the pics here.

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First week

Author: Jamie

Well I’ve been back about four days now and we’ve managed to do quite a bit of the pre-wedding preparations. 

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First thing of course, we needed to pay everything. That is, we went to the wedding planner’s and paid for our wedding photography, wedding dresses/tuxes, hanboks and some of the items related to the wedding itself. We did our planning with a major agency in Korea called iWedding. They have been quite good and offer a very full service for everything you might need on and around your wedding. 

traditional korean dress

Here we are in our newly purchased and fitted hanboks


After that, Rory’s mom and dad accompanied us to the Hanbok store where we did the final fitting for our traditional outfits that we will wear to the photo studio and at the wedding ceremony itself. We’ve discussed the hanbok in detail in a previous post. The store is Hanboknara. The people at the store are very helpful and professional. We recommend it to anyone looking to purchase a hanbok in Korea, however, Rory tells me it is expensive if you don’t go through the planner. 

Rory's mom sneaking a peak of the wedding dress


 The following day, Rory, her mom and I went to the wedding dress shop. Here she tried on about 5 or 6 dresses that she pre-picked when we were in Korea in December. We chose two different styles, one that was very fitted, shiny and had a beautifully cut train. The second one was more funky and billowed out at the waist. Both were shoulderless. Again, the designer’s name is Chung So Yeon and we recommend her boutique as the service was very warm and they had some beautiful designs. 

After choosing the dresses, I tried on some tuxes (which took considerably less time as would be expected) and we were set for the wedding photography day. Well, except that Rory had us booked for a two hour facial spa session :)  


Some of the coloured cherry blossoms along the Han River


The weather is a bit cooler than usual this time of year, which has meant that the tree blossoms are still very much in bloom. We took a romantic stroll along the Han River to see them lit up by the lights. Some of the pics turned out really nice, though some are blurry. It was one of our first chances to be alone and enjoy some quiet time before the big wedding photography day and when everyone comes from out of town for the wedding itself. 

Enjoy the pics. We will share with you some of the studio pics we took with our own camera when we get them uploaded. They turned out great and should be a good glimpse of what the actual photos will look like. 

drive in seoul

Look at me, I'm driving in Korea