Getting to Know Korea

It’s safe to say spring weather was short lived not only here in Korea but back home, too. Only three months into my stay and it already feels like North Carolina summers with the humidity over 80% and temperatures slowly creeping over 80. It’s right about now when I start wishing for chilly winter weather again. The grass is always greener on the other side, right?!

This month I wanted to highlight a few of the gracious Koreans who have helped to make my stay here in Korea so enjoyable and comfortable. Aside from the regular hweshiks (dinner with other teachers – more on this in a later post), I’ve had the chance to really get to know my teachers and bond with them outside of class. Below are a few questions I wanted to ask (especially the food ones!), but also through the curiosity of my friends and family back home. I plan on introducing more of these wonderful people to you later in the year, too, so stick around!

Koo Kyoung Hee
Koo is my main co-teacher. She was the one who picked me up the first day from the Gyeonggi Office of Education to bring me to my apartment in Songuri. She is in the middle of planning her wedding, yet still makes time to take me out to things like my first Korean baseball game (Go Doosan Bears!) and help me with anything I may need to help feel more at home in Korea.

Ko Eun Byeol
Ko is my co-teacher on Tuesday and Thursdays at my city school. We teach the fifth and sixth graders together all while sharing a love for KPOP and family stories. I’m also proud to say I helped show her the wonderful store that is called Costco.

Kim Jaehee
Jane is the first grade teacher at my country school. Although we don’t teach together, she has been the reason why my Hangul knowledge is growing. She was kind enough to put together some worksheets so I can practice bit by bit.

What is your job? How long have you worked there? Why do you love it?

Koo: I am an elementary school teacher. I’ve worked here for two years and two months. I love kids and spending time with them.

Ko: I am an elementary school teacher. I’ve worked here for two months. I think the students are our future and I want to help make it a better place, so I teach.

Jane: I’m a teacher in elementary school. I’ve worked for two years. I like teaching and also being a government employee.

Where are you from?

Koo: I’m from Suwon.

Ko: I’m from Gwangju, in Jeolla-do Province.

Jane: I was born in England and lived there until kindergarten, but my nationality is Republic of Korea.

What is your province known for (food, statue, etc.)?

Koo: Beef ribs and Hwaseong Fortress.

Ko: Gwangju is known for art, such as the Gwangju Biennale. Gwangju is also known for grilled short rib patties. Jeolla-do Province is known for food, in general, with all of it being delicious.

Jane: Pocheon is famous for Sanjeong Lake.

What is your favorite food?

Koo: My favorite food is pizza.

Ko: My favorite food is sushi.

Jane: I like a kind of Korean soup called 찌 개 (jjigae).

What is a traditional food/dish in your family?

Koo: Grilled back ribs and gujeolpan (platter of nine delicacies).

Ko: My family likes japchae and we cook it for each person’s birthday.

Jane: Not that much, but if I have to choose a food, it would be dumplings made by my mom.

What is a great place to visit not many people know about?

Koo: Gyeonggi-do Office Street for cherry blossom season.

Ko: I think the Korean palaces are very beautiful. Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace, etc.

Jane: Actually, my favorite places are always crowded. Ilsan Lake Park is one of my favorite places. There is a beautiful lake and I like the peaceful atmosphere there.

Why do you love Korea?

Koo: It has an inexpressible history, four seasons, it’s an IT power and you can travel from top to bottom in one day.

Ko: I’m from Korea and think Hanbok is a very beautiful way to dress. Korea has many beautiful places and delicious food. Korean food is very light. I hope many non-Koreans visit Korea.

Jane: Koreans are warmhearted people. They love to help others. Though we will be more individualized as time goes on, we are still warmhearted.

What is something you wish non-Koreans understood about Korea?

Koo: Koreans are poor at expression but they are more friendly than you think.

Ko: Korea has a painful history including the Korean War and Japanese colonial era. I wish non-Koreans would know the correct awareness of Korean history.

Jane: We’re safe.  Although, we are the only country still in war, we’re not as dangerous as the news makes it seem.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look into the lives of some of the touching people I’ve met here so far. Is there something you want to know about Korea that wasn’t mentioned above? Feel free to leave your thoughts below in the comment section and don’t forget to follow me for regular posts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!

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