App Guide to Korean Culture – My First App on Google Play
The past few days I have spent my time developing this app on Korean culture and learning Android at the same time. Developing this app has been a challenging and a fruitful experience for me. Finally I have managed to upload it on Google Play. I request you to download this app on your android device and experience it, rate it and review it on Google Play. Since this is my first attempt at developing the app I am sure I might have left a lot to be desired. So I request you to let me know your suggestions on improvement and enhancement of the app in the comment section below.
App Guide to Korean Culture – The Curtain Raiser.
What is this app about?
It is a quick app-guide to Korean Culture. In this app you will be introduced to interesting aspects of Korean Culture like Hallyu, Hanbok, Hanok, Jimjjilbang, Ssireum, Kimchi, Bulgogi, Noraebang and many others. This app is for any one who is interested in Korean Culture or is planning to visit South Korea.
What can the readers find in this app?
The app has 20 slides on various aspects of Korean Culture. I have listed all the content of the app below for you to read it but downloading the app will give you offline access to the contents of this page in a more reader-friendly format.
Hanbok – Traditional Korean Costume
Hanbok is the traditional costume of Korea and is worn by Koreans of all ages on traditional holidays, festivals as well as wedding ceremonies.
A Hanbok is a two-piece outfit characterized by simple lines, buttons that is closed with strings and belts. It does not have any pocket. The women’s Hanbok comprises a wrap-around skirt and a bolero-like jacket. It is often called chima-jeogori, chima being the Korean word for skirt and jeogori the word for jacket. The men’s Hanbok consist short jacket and pants, called baji. Both ensembles may be topped by a long coat of a similar cut called durumagi.
Hanbok can be classified according to its function: everyday dress, ceremonial clothes such as child’s first birthday (Dol Hanbok), wedding (Hollyebok), bridal gown (hwarot), (sangbok) the clothing worn by the bereaved during the mourning period and (jeryebok) the clothing for religious services.
Nowadays Korean women usually wear pink Hanbok for engagement ceremonies and the traditional red skirt and green jacket after the wedding when greeting their in-laws after the honeymoon. On other occasions, they wear Hanbok of almost any color and fabric including embroidered, hand-painted, or gold-stamped silk.
Hallyu – Korean Entertainment Wave
The Korean wave or Hallyu refers to the increase in the popularity of South Korean entertainment and culture beginning in the 1990s in Asia, and more recently, in other parts of the world. The wave represents a surge in the international visibility of Korean culture. The term Hallyu was coined in mid-1999 by Beijing journalists surprised at the fast growing popularity of Korean entertainment and culture in China.
Originally driven by the popularity of Korean dramas in its initial stage, the Korean wave grew into a global phenomenon due to the widespread proliferation of Korean movies and K-pop music videos on YouTube. Hallyu is not only about entertainment industry but also about Korean fashion being the trendsetter in the youth-dominated market.
Some of the popular Korean Dramas are Winter Sonata, Boys over Flowers, Full House, My Lovely Kim Sam Soo, City Hunter, Dream High and more recently Innocent Man. KPOP stars include Girls Generation, Super Junior, SHINee, KARA, 2PM, 2NE1, Wonder girls, Big Bang and others.
Some of the popular Korean Celebrities include Lee Min Ho, Song Hye Gyo, Bae Yong Joon, Moon Jae Won, Kim Hyun Joong, Shin Mina, Geun Jang Seuk, Lee Seung Gi, Jung Ji Hoon and others.
Hallyu is popular in countries like Japan, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Phillipines, Taiwan, Russia, Germany, UK, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Brazil as well as Australia.
Buchaechum – Fan Dance
Buchaechum is a traditional form of Korean dance also called a fan dance, usually performed by groups of female dancers. Many Koreans use this dance during many celebrations. They use fans painted with pink peony blossoms and display a show of dance. In the dance being performed, the dancers represent images using the fans e.g. birds, flowers, butterflies and waves. They wear brightly coloured hanboks, the Korean traditional dress in bright colors. It appears to have developed under influence of both shamanic dance and traditional Joseon Dynasty court performance.
Jukbuin – Bamboo Wife
Juk stands for bamboo and Buin means wife. So, Jukbuin means ‘Bamboo Wife’ in Korean. Jukbuin is used in the summer months to help you sleep when it gets too hot. These pillows are made by tying the strands of thinly cut bamboos into the shape of a large pillow. One has to hug the pillow tight with his arms and legs wrapped around it while sleeping. It is empty inside so air flows through it making the surface of the pillow refreshingly cool, thus reducing the heat when you’re sleeping.
MinHwa – Folk Paintings
Min stands for common people and Hwa stands for paintings. So MinHwa stands for paintings by common people in Korea. Minhwa is much related to the lives of the people. This type of painting was often the work of anonymous craftsmen who faithfully adhered to the styles, canons and genres inherited from the past. Minhwa were believed to possess beneficial virtues to protect the owner and his family from evil forces. They feature popular themes such as cranes, rocks, water, clouds, the sun, moon, pine-trees, tortoises, insects and flowers.
Hanok – Korean Styled House
Hanok is a term to describe Korean traditional houses. Korean architecture lends consideration to the positioning of the house in relation to its surroundings, with thought given to the land and seasons.
The interior structure of the house is also planned accordingly. This principle is also called Baesanimsu, literally meaning that the ideal house is built with a mountain in the back and a river in the front, with the ondol heated rock system for heating during cold winters and a wide daecheong front porch for keeping the house cool during hot summers.
Houses differ according to region. In the cold northern regions of Korea, houses are built in a closed square form to retain heat better. In the central regions, houses are ‘L’ shaped. Houses in the southernmost regions of Korea are built in an open ‘I’ form. Houses can also be classified according to class and social status.
Soju – Korean Beverage Similar to Sake
Soju is the Korean equivalent of the Japanese sake. It is a distilled beverage native to Korea which is clear and colourless. Its taste is comparable to vodka, though often slightly sweeter due to sugars added in the manufacturing process. It is usually consumed neat.
Most brands of soju are made in South Korea. Though it is traditionally made from rice, most modern producers of soju use supplements or even replace rice with other starches, such as potatoes, wheat, barley, sweet potatoes, or tapioca.
While soju is traditionally consumed straight, it can also be used to make cocktails with soju as a base spirit. Beer (Maekju) and soju are mixed to create SoMaek (Soju + Maekju).
Hanji – Korean Handmade Paper
Korean paper or hanji is the name of traditional handmade paper from Korea. Hanji is made from the inner bark of Paper Mulberry, a tree native to Korea that grows well on its rocky mountainsides, known in Korean as dak. The formation aid crucial to making hanji is the mucilage that oozes from the roots of Hibiscus manihot. This substance helps suspend the individual fibers in water.
There are two divisions of hanji art: two dimensional and three dimensional. Two-dimensional hanji art uses paper of various colors to create an image in a similar format as a painting. It can be framed much like a painting. Three-dimensional hanji art is similar to paper mache, in that it can make sculptural objects that may stand unsupported.
Traditional hanji craft forms include jiho, jido, and jiseung. Jiho is a method that uses hanji scraps soaked in water and then added to glue, making a clay-like paste that can be molded into lidded bowls. Jido is the craft of pasting many layers of hanji onto a pre-made frame, which can be made into sewing baskets and trunks. Jiseung is a method of cording and weaving strips of hanji to make a wide array of household goods, including trays, baskets, mats, quivers, shoes, washbasins, and chamberpots.
Hangeul – Korean Alphabet
Hangeul is Korea’s unique writing system created by King Sejong in the 15th century. It is considered to be one of the most efficient alphabets in the world and has garnered unanimous praise from language experts for its scientific design and excellence. Hangeul has 24 characters that are in use today. It consists of ten vowels and fourteen consonants. Consonants, the initial sound characters, resemble a person’s speech organs. The shape of each character is based on the form of different sound articulation units. – giyeok, nieun, mieum, siot and ieung.
Bulguksa – Largest Buddha Temple in Korea
Located about 16 kilometers southeast of downtown Gyeongju, the former capital of the ancient Silla Kingdom (57 B.C.-A.D. 935), is Bulguksa, one of the largest and most beautiful Buddhist temples in Korea. Built on a series of stone terraces, Bulguksa temple appears to emerge organically from the rocky terrain of the wooded foothills of Mt. Tohamsan. This is because it was built in accordance with ancient notions of architecture and principles of geomancy that man-made structures should not be obtrusive but should harmonize with their surroundings. Bulguksa is both monolithic and intricate and takes on different guises as the light and shadows shift and the weather changes.
High up on the mountain behind Bulguksa temple is Seokguram, a man-made stone grotto designed around the worship of a principal statue of Buddha. One of Asia’s finest Buddhist grottos, it reflects the application of advanced scientific principles and precise mathematical and architectural concepts, not to mention great technical skills. It is also a testament to the enthusiasm, courage, and sacrifice of Korea’s early Buddhist monks who risked their lives to make pilgrimages to faraway India to learn first-hand about their religion and its traditions.
Hahoe Dal – Traditional Mask used in Folk Dance
Masks are called tal in Korean and come with black cloth attached to the sides of the mask designed to cover the back of the head and also to simulate black hair. The masks can be categorized in two kinds: religious masks and artistic masks. Religious masks were used in shamanism and to expel evil spirits. Artistic masks were mostly used in dance and drama.
Of special note are the masks featured in a mask dance-drama developed in the Hahoe region. They are composed of two pieces, with the chin coming in a separate piece and attached to the upper part with strings. The Hahoe masks themselves are carved from wood, unlike most other Korean masks which were made of paper or gourds which were immediately burned after use. Hahoe masks, in contrast, were considered sacred and were intended for reuse. They were stored in a box, and many performers before taking it out would offer a sacrifice. It is said that, due to their unique design, when an actor wearing a mask smiles, the mask smiles too, and when the actor gets angry, the mask gets angry too.
Bulgogi – Korean Barbecued Beef
The word bulgogi is commonly translated as Korean barbecue, though it literally means “fire meat” as bul is “fire” and gogi is “meat”. Beef is most often identified with bulgogi, but even pork, chicken, lamb, squid and octopus, for example, can be cooked bulgogi style as bulgogi, like barbecue, is a method of cooking. Bulgogi is more like a party food in that it is generally eaten on special occasions and when dining out or entertaining guests. Koreans tend to favour beef when entertaining or eating out, and bulgogi is one of the most popular beef dishes with Koreans and foreign visitors alike.
Kimchi – National Dish of Korea (Spicy Pickled Cabbage)
Kimchi is a pungent, fermented dish generally consisting of cabbage or turnip seasoned with salt, garlic, green onions, ginger, red pepper and shellfish. It is low in calories and cholesterol and very high in fiber. It is also very nutritious. In fact, it is richer in vitamins than apples.
100 grams of baechu kimchi contains 492 units of vitamin A, 0.03mg of vitamin B1, 0.06mg of vitamin B2, 12mg of vitamin C and 2.1mg of niacin. Kimchi also contains a number of organic acids, produced during the fermentation process, that help sterilize the digestive tract and aid in digestion. Kimchi has high levels of protein, calcium and iron that are derived mainly from the seafood such as oysters, squid, shrimp and anchovies that are used for flavoring.
Kimchi is a good source of fiber and, depending on the ingredients, may contain many of the nutrients and naturally occurring chemicals that can help combat cancers of the mouth, throat, lungs, stomach, bladder, colon and cervix.
To most Koreans, a meal without kimchi, no matter how lavish, is incomplete or even unthinkable. It spikes the rice, titillates the taste buds, and, perhaps, keeps the doctor away.
Ginseng – Medicinal Plant with fleshy roots
Ginseng is a medicinal plant purported to have wondrous palliative powers. Although it grows in other countries as well, it is widely cultivated in Korea where the climate and soil produce the world’s finest specimens. It is a perennial herb that belongs to the Araliaceae family. Scientifically, it is known as Panax schinseng Nees. Korean ginseng is the world’s finest in quality and effectiveness.
Ginseng is used as a restorative or tonic, rather than as a cure for a particular illness. Traditional East Asian medicine officially lists the following effects of ginseng: strengthening of organs; stimulation of the heart; protection of the stomach and enhancement of stamina; and calming of nerves. As such, it is routinely prescribed to people with weak digestive systems and poorly functioning metabolisms. People with stomach discomfort, chronic indigestion, heartburn, emesis, and poor appetite can greatly benefit from ginseng.
Jasu – Korean Embroidery
The making of jasu, or embroidery, appears to have begun in the prehistoric era when the human race first started to make clothes. People used needles made out of bones of fish or animals to sew and weave animal skins and the bark or leaves of trees. Later, as civilization gradually developed, clothes were made, and with the advent of metal needles, embroidery emerged.
From then on, jasu developed as an art form used to decorate textiles, and it, like the embroidery of other cultures, reflects the nation’s particular living environment, customs, and religion.
Korean jasu has a long history. As time went by, it expressed a Korean form of ideal beauty. Along with weaving and sewing, jasu was a method of cultivating beauty in every corner of daily life. Sincere efforts went into every stitch and required delicate dexterity. The full expression of certain Korean characteristics is embedded in jasu.
Taekwando – Korean Martial Art
Taekwondo is a sport which originated in Korea and is now practiced worldwide. Taekwondo uses the whole body, particularly the hands and feet. It not only strengthens one’s physique, but also cultivates character via physical and mental training. Coupled with techniques of discipline, taekwondo is a self-defence martial art.
The evidence of taekwondo’s existence as a system of defence using the body’s instinctive reflexes can be traced back to ceremonial games that were performed during religious events in the era of the ancient tribal states. During religious ceremonies such as Yeonggo and Tongmaeng (a sort of thanksgiving ceremony), and Mucheon (Dance to Heaven), ancient Koreans performed a unique exercise for physical training. This exercise was the original inception of taekwondo.
With this historical background, taekwondo (also known by its older name, taekkyeon) secured its status as Korea’s traditional martial art.
Ssireum – Korean Wrestling
Ssireum, a Korean traditional form of wrestling, is a type of folk competition in which two players, holding on to a satba (a cloth-sash tied around the waist), try to use their strength and various techniques to wrestle each other to the ground. The history of ssireum began at the same time that communities began to form. In primitive societies, people unavoidably had to fight against wild beasts, not only for self-defence, but also for obtaining food. In addition, it was impossible for these communities to avoid coming in conflict with other groups of different blood ties. As a result, people ended up practicing different forms of fighting to protect themselves. During this period, when grappling was a predominant method of combat, various wrestling techniques were born.
With the advancement of human intelligence and political and economic development among local communities in Korea, ssireum developed into a military art. It can thus be said that ssireum’s elevated status as a military art was a natural outcome of social development.
Noraebang – Korean Karaoke Room
A noraebang is an area people pay to go to sing songs in a private room. The concept is exactly the same as karaoke rooms in Japan and within the rooms is a phone where one can order food and drinks. Each room has a number of microphones and song books; one picks a song to sing by inputting the number.
Usually, you would visit such an establishment with friends, co-workers, or family. The purpose is to have a little fun by singing together –or to continue the fun as a “next stop or next round” after the bar.
Jjimjilbang – Korean Bath House
Jjimjilbangs are one of the truly great aspects of a unique Korean culture. These are large, gender-segregated public bathhouses complete with hot tubs, showers, saunas and massage tables. Jjimjilbangs usually operate 24 hours and are a popular weekend getaway for Korean families to relax as the parents spend time soaking in tubs or lounging and sleeping while the kids play away on the PCs.
Jjimjilbangs are also a great deal for the cost-conscious traveler in Korea. For around $10, one can sleep overnight there and enjoy the bathhouse and sauna, and wake up fresh and ready to travel the next morning.
Nokcha – Green Tea from Korea
Nokcha , or green tea, is made from tea leaves that have been dried to retain their green color. It is one of the most frequently enjoyed beverages both at home and in teahouses, and is readily available in grocery stores. Nokcha is a light delicious beverage that can be served hot or cold. Korean people use nokcha to enhance the green color of vegetables and to neutralize fish or meat odors. As to its medicinal effects, the catechin in green tea helps prevent food poisoning and geriatric diseases. People also use green tea for aesthetic purposes: water infused with green tea is used for bathing, while yogurt mixed with green tea powder is often applied as a facial pack.
The tea culture in Korea was widely influenced by Buddhism and Taoism, leading to the development of Suyangdado, the performing of tea ceremonies as a way of cultivating the mind. Tea was thought to soothe the mind and create a peaceful atmosphere. Korea has long been referred to as Geumsugangsan, meaning ‘silken tapestry of rivers and mountains’, and was known as a country flowing with water, a perfect backdrop for the fulfillment of the ancient teaching that says “good tea requires good water.” The best-known tea production regions in Korea are Boseong in Jeollanam-do, Jeju-do, and Hadong in Gyeongsangnam-do, each of which annually holds a green festival.
- Jimjillbang Image – Grrrl Traveler
- Hanji Doll Image – Foo Machi
- Noreabang Image – SeoulFood.org
- Ginseng Image – Colin Roohan
- Hahoe Mask Image – Gillipaw
- Hanbok Image – Min Hanbok
- Other Images – Google Search for Image
- Content – mostly Wikipedia
- App Conceptualized, Designed & Developed in Android by – Brijesh Bolar for the website: TheKoreaGuide.com