random cute stuff i find while wasting my time online, lots of diy/décor inspiration and the occasional zombie-related post.
A couple weeks ago I decided to finally take my mom to a Korean restaurant for lunch. She loves spicy food, so I knew she was going to like all those rich flavours and I was pretty much dying to eat some kimchi ‘cause it’s been ages since I last had it. There are quite a few options to choose from, but I decided to try Portal da Coreia, situated in São Paulo’s Japanese neighbourhood. This restaurant is actually a bit known around here, since it’s been featured on quite a few newspaper/magazine/internet articles dealing with Korean or Asian food and it’s an easier place to reach from where we live, so that’s where we headed to.
The doors closed as soon as we left; we really were the last customers!
It was a Friday and the restaurant, fortunately, was almost empty. Apparently, most people had already eaten and we were the last ones to arrive. According to the lady cashier, that just doesn’t happen on Friday nights and Saturdays, so booking is highly recommended.
Looking from the street, the place is not impressive at all. When you go inside, things change a bit. It’s certainly not super sophisticated, but it looks nice and feels cosy. As I do tend to prefer very solid furniture, the place’s heavy tables and chairs pleased me to no end.
As it was my mom’s first time, I thought we should order some basic and well-known dishes: I ordered bulgogi and she chose daeji galbi. The portions were quite big and, even though they weren’t officially suggested for two, were more than enough for the two of us to share both, which was great. The sidedishes were pretty good and as we ran out of kimchi, one of the waiters even offered to bring more.
One really important thing was that they taught us how to use the grill. All tables had one, but I had never used it before, so I was a bit baffled. The waiter, then, was more than helpful and explained in detail what I was supposed to do. The lady to whom we paid was also super nice and made the whole experience even more agreeable.
It looked better in person, I swear!
From what I could see of the menu, they offer all known dishes (known to me, that is, haha), so I believe it’s a pretty good alternative to people who want to try Korean food for the first time. The above mentioned friendly staff is one other positive point (am I crazy for taking waiters’ dispositions into account when recommending a restaurant?).
Unimpressive-looking menu; thank God the food was delicious! ;)
Oh, and the end reserved a little surprise: the check was delivered in the case below, with a lovely little doll wearing a hanbok. A bit dirty, yes, but still quite cute!
So, to sum it all up: good food, good environment, good service. I’m definitely coming back for more!
Portal da Coreia
Rua da Glória, 729 - Liberdade
(11) 3271 0924
I had originally thought about publishing this and some other posts about Korean events that happened in 2011 before the year ended, but things were hectic and, well, I lost my flash drive with the cropped pictures. Better late than never, of course, but I feel a bit about being such a mess in the recent times. Anyway, let’s move on!
Small “shrine” to King Sejong
To celebrate Hangul Day in 2011, USP’s group of Korean studies got together with the Korea Foundation and the South Korean consulate to create the exhibition “Hangul, more than an alphabet”. The event took place in one of the university’s libraries and offered visitors information on the origin of Hangul, as well as showcasing some objects with Hangul characters, poems and kids books written by Korean authors and translated into Portuguese (great, but what about a few grown-up books, too?).
Korean kids books translated into Portuguese
The posters on how Hangul works (below) were not completely new to me, since they were the same ones featured in that cultural festival I attended months ago. That wasn’t a problem, though, because, in all honesty, I hadn’t read them before. =p
After going through them, I learnt a few things, like how the Korean language, with its 72 million speakers, is the 14th most spoken language in the world and one of the few to have its own writing system. Other interesting findings include the fact that the vowels were created based on three fundamental elements - sky, earth and man.
Seo Jeong-ju’s Beside a chrysanthemum; part of Yi Sang’s Wings; Kim Chun-su’s Flower
Of course, these facts can probably be found on Wikipedia (which has, apparently, a quite complete page on Hangul), but I do hate using the internet for reading/studying long texts - I get headaches -, so having the chance to check the posters out was quite fortunate.
Facsimile of Hunminjeongeum, the 1446 document that describes the Korean alphabet
But what I found really interesting was something else. Because of the wide range of sounds that the Korean alphabet can represent, it was deemed by linguists the alphabet best fit to render languages that have no written form. And, in fact, something like this was attempted with some of the inhabitants of Bau-Bau, a city located in the Indonesian island of Buton. Since the Roman alphabet cannot represent many of the sounds in the native language of the Cia-Cia tribe, Hangul was suggested as an alternative and teachers were even sent from Korea. Now, apparently the project was discontinued, but you can read more about it here and here.
A couple more pictures I took there:
Random objects embellished with the Korean characters
basically, Hansel and Gretel is a story about a man who gets lost in dark, deep woods, and encounters a strange family
a family that wants him to be the newest member
Yesterday, I watched the first episode of Grimm, so when I saw this on my reader, I thought it was quite appropriate. I’ve tried watching this movie before, but I can never find a good downloadable file. =p
here’s one most of you probably haven’t heard of—it’s creepy, magical, and gorgeous, Hansel and Gretel is absolutely one of my favorite fantasy movies.
The São Paulo International Film Festival ended last weekend and I’m glad to say that I managed to see all four Korean movies being shown, yay! I was afraid of not being able to see The Yellow Sea because the movie got stuck in Customs when entering Brazil, but things were sorted out and the organization scheduled three sessions so no one would be disappointed. Wanna know how it all went down? Well, I’m more than glad to share the experience with you all*!
It was the first time that I selected movies with such a specific end in mind. I usually go watch something because I like what I know of the plot or because I’m interested in the director or actor, so it was definitely interesting choosing only the Korean flicks to watch. It was like a second Korean Film Festival (read more about it here), albeit a much smaller one.
I started my “odissey” with Dance Town (댄스 타운), the third in Jeon Kyu-hwan’s trilogy of city tales (the other two are Mozart Town and Animal Town, both of which I wasn’t aware of). It shows Lee Jung-nim, a North Korean middle class woman, who defects to South Korea after being accused of watching a porn movie. In Seoul, she’s given an apartment by the government, finds a job and awaits news of her husband, who wasn’t able to go with her. It was a good start and I enjoyed the acting, but there was a sub-plot with a teenage girl which was quite unnecessary and didn’t really seem to fit or to flow well with the main story. Overall, though, it was quite good.
The second one in the queue was Haunters (초능력자), a pretty cool action flick. It revolves around a young man that can control people within his eyesight. One day, while trying to rob a pawn shop, he meets this other guy who is unfazed by his power. From this moment on, of course they get into a sort of cat and mouse game that will end badly for one of them. The action scenes were pretty good and the actors delivered good enough performances. Now, it is not perfect and there are many flaws and situations that are left unexplained, but it was highly enjoyable. My only big complaint is about the ending, which sucked big time and was very disappointing. Besides, it didn’t really seem like a likely sequence for what the director was doing ‘til then, you know? The final minutes caught me unawares and left me very disappointed. But, as I said, it was great fun and I’d recommend it.
Then came The day he arrives (북촌방향), a black and white feature that shows a movie director on a quick visit to Seoul, looking for a friend and then going out with him and friends. As the days go by, things seem to repeat themselves and there’s this sort of annoying lack of real action that impregnates every single second of the movie. I read a review that said that it shows well how repetitive our daily lives are and how it is a good portrait of times when we think we’re going forward but, in fact, we’re walking on the same spot or, even worse, backwards, and it was like that for me, at least.
The last one was The Yellow Sea (황해), another action movie that left me quite depressed.The screening I attended happened after a long and tiring day and it was totally worth it! I must admit I still prefer The Chaser (추격자) - a movie by the same director and with the same main actors -, but this one was every bit as exhilarating as the former and barely lets you catch a breath. It was also quite fun to see Ha Jung-woo and Kim Yoon-suk sort of reverse the roles they played in The Chaser. The plot revolves around a taxi driver that lives in the China-North Korea border and is neck-deep in gambling debts. His wife went to Seoul to work and get money but hasn’t contacted him ever since, leaving him to pay for the money necessary for this, too. So, desperate, he accepts a job offer from a local gangster: he has to go to Seoul and kill a man. Obviously, this cannot turn out well and you already know that tense moments will follow.
The audiences for these movies were reasonably large, I’d say. Dance Town and The day he arrives were the ones in which people were more respectful, I guess. One thing that really annoys me is when something a bit absurd happens onscreen and the whole cinema comes down laughing. That happened a lot when I watched Lady Revenge and, let’s face it, that is not a light movie. It happened a bit in The Yellow Sea, too, as a result of the combination of the over the top action sequences (and I mean that in a good way, I loved them all) and the leading character’s resilience.
All in all, I thouroughly enjoyed all movies. It’s not like we have many chances to watch Korean films in Brazilian cinemas, so it was definitely a great opportunity!
* Please, keep in mind I’m not a film critic, I’m just expressing my personal and amateuristic views of what I watched! And click on the names to check more lenghty synopsises (this word looks really odd in the plural).
This is nothing new, but it’s been in my drafts’ box for a while, waiting for me to write a comment. I was just finishing a post on some Korean movies that were screened in São Paulo International Film Festival and as I couldn’t prepare the pictures in time for it to go up now, before I leave for work, I decided to postpone it ‘til tonight and publish this one.
So, to sum it up, a short story written by a Korean writer made it all the way to The New Yorker. Great news indeed, right? Click through to learn more about it.
And if you’re interested in Korean literature and would like a bit of a background on why it has been gaining recognition and also get to know a few writers, this article on The Korea Times is a good start. Korean Modern Literature in Translation is also a great source on the subject. Be sure to pay the site a visit!
Every year, the São Paulo International Film Festival screens hundreds of movies from all over the world in the ten days or so that it lasts. For serious movie lovers, it is a marathon; some even take leave from work during the event, in order to attend as many sessions as possible in one day.
The Yellow Sea
This year, four Korean movies are being screened: Dance Town (댄스 타운), The day he arrives (북촌방향), Haunters (초능력자) and The Yellow Sea (황해). As usual, they’re being shown sometimes at ridiculous times, like 2.30 pm. I mean, I wish I could leave work in the early afternoon to go watch a movie, but, somehow, I don’t think my boss would approve of that.
Anyway, I already watched Dance Town in a session last weekend and quite enjoyed it. The cinema was almost empty, though. Not a lot of people interested in the plot, maybe? The session took place in a cinema not close to Paulista Avenue and its surroundings, the area where most of the movies are screened, so I guess folks just prefer keeping to there in order to catch more sessions, more movies.
A bad piece of news for those wanting to watch all four Korean movies: the copy of The Yellow Sea is stuck on Customs and couldn’t be exhibited so far. How depressing is this? That was the movie I wanted to watch the most and my country won’t clear its entrance. Way to go, right?
The day he arrives
For more information and schedules, check www.mostra.org.
Movies being screened and directors: Dance Town (댄스 타운), directed by Jeon Kyu-hwan (전규환); The day he arrives (북촌방향), directed by Hong Sang-soo (홍상수); Haunters (초능력자), directed by Kim Min-suk(김민석) - who co-wrote The good, the bad and the weird (좋은 놈, 나쁜 놈, 이상한 놈) -; and The Yellow Sea (황해), directed by Na Hong-jin (나홍진).
How great is this idea? I had never paid too much attention to it, but come to think of it, the shape of each letter/symbol in the Korean alphabet suits this type of thing really well.
Go here to see more contestants’ ideas (Hangul ice tray, Hangul furniture… there’s all sorts of interesting stuff).
Hangul Paperclips (2008년 한글 디자인 공모전 수상작 - 2008 Hangul Design Competition Winner) via okitokki.
I found this on Lauren Kilberg’s Facebook page, saved it in my drafts folder and forgot all about it. But since I’ve started playing Pucca’s restaurant, I’ve developed a horrible craving for Korean cuisine and was reminded of a few food-related posts I had saved. 계란찜 (gyeran jjim), one of the many different types of 반찬 (banchan or side dishes) is a casserole of steamed eggs and, well, I don’t even need to tell you how delicious it is, right? Just seeing the ingredients does the trick of leaving me starving!
Oh, the illustration was made by Anna Lee.
As much as I love seeing those professional pictures of touristic places from all over the world, I do prefer snapshots of everyday life because I’m always super curious about how people live in faraway places and how they look at their surroundings. That’s why I love Instagram. I mean, where else can one get constant updates from people that are, in some cases, on the other side of the world so easily?
And I do mean on the other side of the world. A few of my favourites instagramers live in Korea and share everyday a piece of their life with everybody. It is truly amazing to see mundane things and aspects of people’s lives portrayed with so much creativity and care.
That’s why I decided to show a few of these pictures in here. They are ordered alphabetically by the usernames and all of ‘em have said username pasted on a corner. Also, if you click them, you’ll be redirected to their “official” page online. Enjoy!
Click below to see all the other pictures!