Thursday, May 31, 2012

Plot Predictions for Rooftop Prince or 옥탑방 왕세자

Although the Korean drama "Rooftop Prince" or 옥탑방 왕세자, ended last week I find myself just starting to watch it. Actually, I don't keep up with the K-dramas these days as I started to get turned off due to the usual story line coming up over and over. But through the blah-blah wheel that is the internet, I decided to give this one a try. So far it has me interested, but I've only seen the first two episodes. Usually, the first handful of episodes are the best parts of a K-drama, then it sort of starts to get into a routine until the last handful of episodes. 

While watching the second episode I started to predict what will happen in this series, and thought it would be a fun blog post. That is why I am here today to give you my predictions for how things will go down in this 20 episode ride-of-fun. 

Brief Intro:
The drama starts out in the Joseon dynasty period of Korea, which is 300 years ago. Basically you've got the tale of the "Crown Prince" growing up, getting a princess and then discovering her dead in a nearby pond. Officials say it was an accident, he declares it murder and puts a team together to solve the mystery. While they pursue the case a team of assassins is hot on their trail, and as they leap off a cliff the story shifts and they end up in present day Seoul.

They end up in a girl's house, which is a "rooftop" style. Out here people live in "Villas" which is a smaller apartment complex with several floors. On the roof you can find a smaller sized box-house up top. Usually for storage but people renovate it for living in, and that is the case here.

So you got this twist of two worlds coming together, but that's not all. In the present world you have two step-sisters who hate each other, a dead guy who looks like the prince and some more sob stories. 

The main theme so far is that a rich family lost their son in America. A cousin of this family actually murdered that guy and so is now trying to claim his seat in the family business. Anyways, the Crown Prince looks like that guy so there is the scandal.

  • The Crown Prince and the Girl (sorry I don't know recall her name) from the rooftop dwelling fall in love. Their love gets torn apart at some point and they fight to be together. His minions find love too.
  • The Crown Prince ends up taken in by the rich family, cousin gets jealous and worried and causes a scandal.
  • Step-sister to girl in rooftop uses her fury to wreak havoc on step-sister. She is also in love with the evil cousin dude, but probably they break up. 
  • At some point some of the cast end up on Jeju.
  • They solve the murder mystery but it has a twist to being related to the modern world somehow. 
Anyways, it's been a fun drama to watch so far, and the male actors are cute. I hope this one doesn't disappoint and gives a somewhat realistic if not fantasy related ending. 

For a good source on the first episode and to get a better feel for the show go to the Dramabeans site. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Language Exchange Cafe Meetup: Hyehwa

These days I know I need to learn and use more Korean. Especially when someone asks me, "How long have you been in Korea?" To which I say, "Four years now." And then the usual response is, "Oh! You must speak Korean very well!" Sorry, not really.

It's a sad fact that clouds my life here in Korea, but don't get the wrong idea. I know how to read Korean very well and have a good bag full of phrases and sentences I can use to get by. I understand most of what people say around me, but as far as conversation and full understanding that is still yet to be accomplished. So I have decided to try out language exchange happenings through group meetups.

I found one such group through, and it looked promising. They have several locations you can go join, and I was pleased to see one open up near me in Hyehwa. 

Yesterday, I finally decided to head out to the meet up and see what would happen. I was kind of skeptical since I don't really have a heavy Korean language background and was worried the folks there would be expecting a lot.

I showed up to the Serendipity Cafe, where I looked at their menu and decided to just get a bottled lemonade instead. After sitting around on the 2nd floor, I realized that maybe the party was upstairs on the 3rd floor. I was right, and found a check-in desk at the front where you write down your name and stamp the paper according to the languages you know. Mine received a "K" and "E" stamp for Korean and English. However, I wish I could have just stamped half the Korean one.

I sat down and found myself sitting next to some friendly looking people. Things started off with a few giggles but the basic questions were asked, in English. I told the folks that I knew Korean but not enough to make conversation, yet was fine with just speaking English if they wanted. Conversations started and I found myself having a good time.

As time went on and I got to know the other half of the table, I did find myself learning some Korean and practicing it. The most problem I see is that my brain starts to really get tired fast of all the new language learning, but I trucked on.

Generally, I mostly wanted to meet new people and I accomplished that. Plus I got a sense of what it is like to go to one of these exchange things and I can see it probably depends who you sit next to. Apparently, the Hyehwa meet up was a lot smaller than the usual ones in Gangnam or Hongdae. I kind of can't imagine being part of a huge crowd for language exchange. I think I like the smaller scene better. I also think what was best was making new friends and if you feel like it can meet later on for more practice.

Anyways, if you are interested in joining one of their meetups I would highly suggest it. You can find them on the following sources.

If you know of any other groups that have worked for you with language exchange, do share with me as I would love to see what they are like. Anyways, I hope this language exchange business helps motivate me to really learn and use Korean this year. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

호미화방 Still the Best Art Supply Store Around

I recently spent a good amount of time in the Homi Art Supply Store in Hongdae, and have to say it is still the best art supply store around. Granted, I haven't been to many others but those that do claim to be art stores are not as thorough in their supplies, and tend to lean toward the crafty end of things.

The selection of supplies range from Korean companies to familiar Western brands.

After spending about two hours in there I walked away some new sketchbooks, pencils and a whole lot more. It's a fun place to get lost in.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Two Models One Stage

Last Saturday, after the Sketch and the City class there was the usual life drawing session from 6 to 8pm. This time, however we were treated to two models. It was an incredible challenge, especially for myself since I already have a problem with getting the whole model on the page.

Nevertheless, it was still a great time.

I did some sketching in the white paper book first, then for the longer poses moved to my black paper book. I had fun using the colored charcoal pencils and just figured if I focused on one section that would be fine.

The studio (Jankura Art Space) is going to have all sorts of different model-nights coming up, so take a look. Also if you want to see other people's drawings, check out this link.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Jenny's Bread & Hongdae's Streets

As you might have gathered by now I spent a good amount of time in Hongdae recently, and instead of posting everything in one shot I'm breaking things up. In this post, I'm going to take you to one of my favorite lunch spots, Jenny's Bread. I have been to this place several times, and you can catch a 2010 post here and a 2011 post here.

I think the challenging part is finding the location, however it is quite easy. Instead of the plain looking shop that marks the side-street entrance, there now stands a juice place. So if you see this juice-joint, take a right and head up the hilly street.

As things curve and you go up more, you will come to the first left. Take this and you'll soon see Jenny's Bread on the right.

The place wasn't too packed, just a few folks enjoying a good meal. I had the mushroom sandwich lunch special. This means I got their usual pumpkin soup, which was scrumptious!

The sandwich was as delightful as usual, with home made fries on the side. What's great about this place is the freshness in the quality of their dishes, and the care to which they understand taste. Even the ice-tea came to me unsweetened and was very refreshing.

It was a great meal, indeed and I enjoyed seeing a street cat and trashed shoe on the way out.

I meandered back into the crowded streets of Hongdae, passing the park that has an open arts-and-crafts market every weekend.

I really enjoyed the above hand-crafted jewelry and bought myself a ring. I hope to come back again and find this vendor so to be able to unload the cash.

Hongdae is always full of surprises and new places are popping up everywhere.

Now for some bonus black-and-white shots:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sketch & The City 2012: Spring Outing

The view: A crowded urban exterior in the place called Itaewon.
                                The set up: Easel, art pad, watercolor pencils...

The progress:

Other view:

On Saturday, May 19th, I participated in the first Sketch and the City event for 2012, near the Jankura studio space in Itaewon. I came a little late but had enough time to set up and make something. It was a lovely spring day, with a cool breeze and sunny weather. 

People passing by enjoyed admiring the works in progress, making comments and saying "Wow!" It was a good time and gave me practice.

The final work:

Using watercolor pencils has been a fun new tool I've picked up, but I kind of missed using paint during this event. However, I'm still getting the hang of this medium, so we'll see.

Even if you don't have much experience with drawing or painting, I recommend joining the Sketch and the City events as a way to enjoy the Seoul scene.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Walking Past the 1st Shop of Coffee Prince Cafe

Yes, I have seen the drama, "The First Shop of Coffee Prince" or 커피프린스 1호점. Out of the select number of dramas I have seen, I did enjoy this one. Mostly because it was fun to watch the character get all muddled over starting to like a boy, who was really a girl. Need help knowing what this drama is about, go here.

When dramas finish their run of episodes they leave behind the places they shot at or built along the way. There are whole "villages" around Korea where you can go and see famous drama filming sites and sets. So it is with the cafe that was created and left behind in the Coffee Prince drama.

In Hongdae you can still come by and see the shop, even go inside and enjoy a cup of coffee. Tourists flock to this site to see in person their beloved drama. In fact, as I approached the cafe two Japanese tourists were in front of me.

Today the place looks like and old cafe, with the greenery getting the best of the structure. Things could use a cleaning here and there, but perhaps that's not necessary.

How to get to:

View 1st Shop of Coffee Prince in a larger map

It's along the way to the Design Museum, which I talked about in my previous post. I would recommend swinging by and admiring the cafe, along with all the drama fans inside.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fantastic Baby? Or Fantastic Chicken?

The students have been singing a funny song in class. Another infiltration of Korean popular culture in the classroom. So I started to wonder what the source was, as I am kind of out of touch with Kpop these days. Turns out they were singing a parodied song to "Fantastic Baby" by BigBang in the tune of "Fantastic Chicken."

After having watched both videos I find the "Fantastic Chicken" a lot more amusing. Of course it's hard to get over the new looks of the BigBang members, and their cuteness. Here are the videos so you can see for yourself...

Fantastic Baby - BigBang

Fantastic Chicken - SLRHYMO

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Alternative Space Loop: Contemporary Art Space in Hongdae

With a name like "Alternative Space LOOP" and a location tucked in one of the neighborhood streets of Hongdae, I couldn't help but be enticed to visit. It was a little tricky to find (directions at the end of the post), but with a bit of map viewing beforehand I was able to find my way.

I arrived just as the gallery sitter came to open the doors and put out the signs. So perhaps, I was early or maybe she was late. No matter, I took in the scenery of a small residential area with a gallery tucked in and also a neat little cafe.

Currently at Alternative Space Loop is the show, "2012 Henkel InnoArt Project" which is defined as:

Through the 2012 Henkel InnoART Project, we aim to introduce ideal examples of co-existing and sharing with other beings. ...The goal of the project is to introduce this instant bond that allows for the acceptance and understanding of other beings. What is important here is not ‘the state of bond’ but ‘the endeavor to achieve a bond’, which will be accomplished through cooperation on many levels. For example, a sort of collision generated by the combination of a corporation and an art community, an education community and an art community, two different genres, or two different age groups and a new type of experimental art created from such combinations are to be put on display.
From this I am going to take that the artists were trying to convey different ways of "co-existing" and how that is achieved. So then when I first walked into the building I was greeted by the sounds of muttering, images of video art on the wall and two desks empty but with what appeared to be left-overs from a performance piece. I was intrigued.

Notice the "dots" on the wall, this carried itself elsewhere in the downstairs exhibit. But I wandered upstairs and found that there was a nice cafe, with cozy places to sit and walls full of Art books and magazines.

I definitely feel like going back, solely for the purpose of sipping something cool and checking out some of their books. I then meandered upstairs to find closed doors, but shelves of DVDs. I think they were the gallery's archives.

I then proceeded downward to B1 to see the rest of the exhibit, which consisted of sculpture, installation, photography and painting.

As frequently pointed out, many of us incorrectly use the word ‘wrong’ in place of ‘different’. We often subconsciously think that what is different is wrong or negative. The purpose of this project is to recognize the state of being different as is, to demonstrate the importance of keeping a moderate distance from others based on this recognition, and finally express the underlying value through an artistic language.

I'm starting to see the message or language used in this exhibition. The dots that are placed here and there obstruct the main painting or photograph, but in the end makes it different and unique. Yet at the same times ties in with the other works.

I enjoyed the following work as it was a deconstructed image of the Korean peninsula. It definitely had a more translatable feel to it.

What I liked about the sticker dots were that you can see they were placed above the picture. Not just part of the print, but almost another layer to the piece. The pieces in the center of the room, seemed to evoke thoughts of juxtaposition.

Runs from 3/29/2012 - 5/24/2012. So just about one week left.

Location and Contact:
335-11 Seogye-dong, Mapo-Gu
Seoul, Korea

How To Map:
- Head out of exit 8 from Hongik station
- Go towards the loop and head left.
- Get to another loop and turn in right with a Family mart on your left. Go up this street for a while.
- When you see on the a cafe called "Free Heart" you want to turn right into the alley.
- Keep going and you will see the obvious structural building pictured above.


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