Korean Non-Verbal Performance – Flying Through Time

Korea Non-Verbal Performance

Visitors to South Korea had heard or came across names of Korean Non-verbal performances such as Nanta. The Korean Non-verbal performances keep audiences entertained with the exaggerated expressions, non-verbal jokes as well as the stunts. Through these non-verbal performances, audiences will be introduced the Korean culture, be it dance, martial arts or cuisine. The more popular Korean non-verbal performances in South Korea are Nanta, Chef, and Jump, which has been running in Korea for more than 10 years.

Flying Through Time standee at the entrance of the theatre

Flying Through Time

The third Korean non-verbal performance to hit the shores of Singapore for the past 6 months is Flying Through Time. This is also the third performance that I have watched over the past months. Flying Through Time is directed by Choi Chul Ki, the same director who brought previous Korean non-verbal performances such as Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab and Jump that was shown in Singapore in the past few months. Flying Through Time is a new adaption of Director Choi’s popular show Flying in Korea.

Posting with the standee outside the theatre

The Plot

Flying Through Time is set in ancient Korea about a mythical relic that was bestowed by a fairy that was stolen by a villain. When the hero of the show found out, he battles the villain to retrieve back the mythical relic. In the course of the battle, a time portal opens up and the villain escaped the portal with the relic. The hero pursued the villain through the portal and ended up in modern-day a cheerleader training centre in Singapore where the hero continues to hunt the villain and retrieved the mythical relic. In the midst of the pursuit, the hero fell in love with one of the cheerleader members. Towards the end of the performance, a time portal opens up again for the ancient beings to return to their timeline. The hero, not wanting to leave his love behind, returns through the time portal to be together with his lover.

The first part of Flying Through Time uses multimedia projection as the backdrop

I find the use of multimedia as the backdrop rather refreshing

Korean cultural dance at the beginning of the show

Modern dance towards the end of the show

Cheerleading dance during the show

My Thoughts on the Show

The plot is easy for audiences to understand, even without language. I thought the virtue of these non-verbal performances lies in the non-complicating plot that one still have to ponder over the flow of the plot. The show is rather entertaining. I particularly like the interaction with the multimedia projection where one of the actors interacted with the projection of the villain. The timing and the placement of the actor onstage was immaculate, creating the impression as though he is fighting a real person. Unlike the previous non-verbal Korean performances that made its run in Singapore, Flying Through Time uses wires to hang the actors up in the air in several scenes, which was both refreshing and impressive. There is a scene where the actors were performing aerial dancing with the hammocks, mixed with gymnastics, creating a graceful visual effect. Interaction with the audience by getting a member of the audience on stage to participate in the play is a signature of Korean Non-verbal performances. I always enjoy this segment of the Korean non-verbal performances, which not just adds more laughter to the performance, it also immerses the audience into the performance.

I like the use of wires that suspend the actors in the air 

A scene where the actors are fighting on wires in the air

Aerial dancing segment during the show

More aerial dancing

Mix of gymnastics and aerial dancing

My friend being pulled to the stage during the show

Interaction with audience is a signature of Korean non-verbal performance

My friend participating Flying Through Time

The actors whispering to my friend on how to react to achieve a comedic effect onstage

My friend on the stage

Interaction with audience segment 

My friend part of the show

My friend trying to coordinate with the act during the show

My friend was given an inflatable club by the actors as a souvenir for his participation in the show

One of the things that I watched out for during the Korean non-verbal performances is the anti-gravity stunts. In Flying Through Time, the audiences were treated to a plethora of such performances, not only from the male casts but also the female casts. The show has numerous anti-gravity stunts such as somersaults, gymnastics and Taekwondo. I was awed by a scene where one of the actors performing a Taekwondo fly kicking stunt where he smashed a wooden plate with his leg that was held up high by an actor who was sitting on the shoulders of another. I was also impressed with some of the gymnastics move where one of the actors had his body positioned parallel to the floor held in place with his strong arms on the stand of the parallel bars. The several scenes of cheerleading performances, where the actresses were tossed into the air and caught in time by their male counterparts on stage, shown precision in timing of the performances which is very impressive. However, I do find the use of local Singapore colloquial mixing Hokkien with English and Mandarin is unnecessary as the performance is sufficient to create laughter in the theatre. It is a good thing that the use of these languages isn’t too excessive. I also find the use of gymnastics in the show, though impressive, seem a little out of the place and seem like a force fit into the show. Nonetheless, my friends and I still enjoyed Flying Through Time. The stunts that are being performed during the show is worth the ticket price.

Gravity-defying act is a signature in Korean non-verbal performances 

An actor doing fly kicking in Flying Through Time

It takes a lot of muscle to pull this stunt

Taekwondo performance in Flying Through Time

Gymnastic performance in Flying Through Time

Female casts doing somersault in Flying Through Time

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Winter Activities in South Korea

In the winter months of December to February, the Koreans did not allow the cold winter to prevent them from having fun. Other than hitting the ski slopes 1 of the 16 ski resorts in South Korea, there are several festivals and “must-do” activities that visitors can do while travelling in South Korea.

Gyeongbukgung Palace in Winter

PyeongChang Winter Olympics

The biggest event in South Korea for winter in 2018 is the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, to be held from 9 to 25 Feb 18. The hype of the Winter Olympics started since early 2017 as the country gets ready to welcome athletes from over 100 countries competing in over 100 events over 15 disciplines during the winter version of the games. The Winter Olympics will be held in PyeongChang, a county in the province of Gangwon, where the majority of the ski resorts in South Korea are situated. Several of the ski resorts are designated as the venue for the Olympics Games, where one will be able to experience the adrenaline and the excitement of the games. Not in South Korea in February? One can still catch the Paralympic Games from 9 to 18 Mar 18, where more than 3000 Paralympians will be competing for the gold medals in 80 events across 6 disciplines.

PyeongChang Winter Olympics is the biggest event in South Korea in 2018
Skiing is one of the events in PyeongChang Winter Olympics
Snowboarding is one of the events in PyeongChang Winter Olympics
Me and my nephew with the mascots of PyeongChang Winter Olympics Games

One of the events during the Olympic Games that should not be missed in the opening ceremony. The opening ceremony marks the start of the Winter Olympics Game to be held in PyeongChang Olympic Stadium, where one is expected to be treated with stunning visual effects. Expect traditional Korean cultural performances as well as neo-cultural performances such as K-pop performances during the opening ceremony. The opening ceremony will be held on 9 Feb 18. Travelers to South Korea in March 2018 still can catch the Opening ceremony for the Paralympic Games on 9 Mar 18. Tickets for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and Paralympics can be purchased online here.

PyeongChang Winter Olympics Show

The opening ceremony will include traditional Korean Cultural performance

Ice Fishing

The South Koreans flock to frozen rivers when winter months hit the country. One would see a countless number of tents, stools and people gathering on top of these frozen rivers. On closer inspection, holes are being drilled on the surface of these frozen rivers, a line or sometimes a rod is being lowered into the hole. This is ice fishing. Ice fishing is a favourite winter-only activity that is enjoyed by the Koreans and tourists alike. One would rent a spot or pay more for a tent to shield from the chilly cold wind in winter and try their luck on fishing on these frozen rivers. On some rivers, one can fish a trout. These freshly caught fishes can then brought to a nearby restaurant for the chef to whip up a fresh fish meal. Do note that live baits are prohibited to prevent water pollution.

Ice fishing is a favourite winter-only activity in Korea, where families and friends gather to try their luck in catching a fish on the frozen river

Ice fishing can be done in Hwacheon County in Gangwon-do. In fact, since 2003, Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival has been organised annually where hordes of locals and foreigners flocked to the county. One of the highlights of this festival is Ice fishing, on top of other activities such as sledding, ice skating. The Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival will be held from 6 to 28 Jan 18. More information on the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival can be found here. Also located in Gangwon-do, PyeongChang County is another venue where one can experience ice fishing.  The PyeongChang Trout Festival takes place from 22 Dec 17 to 25 Feb 18, where visitors can try their hand at catching the freshest trout from the Odaecheon Stream. Similar to the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival, there are a variety of winter-only activities that one can expect on top of the signature trout fishing. More information on the PyeongChang Trout Festival can be found here.

Ice fishing at the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival

Ice fishing at the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival

Ice fishing at the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival

Ice fishing at the PyeongChang Trout Festival

Ice fishing at the PyeongChang Trout Festival

Ice fishing at the PyeongChang Trout Festival

Visiting Winter Festivals

During winter, a series of winter festivals have been lined up in South Korea. This is a time where the Koreans wind down and have fun despite the low temperature that comes with the season. Most of these festivals are themed around snow and ice. On top of the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Fishing Festival and PyeongChang Trout Festival, here are some other festivals that one can part take while visiting South Korea during winter months.

Taebaeksan Snow Festival

One of the snow festivals that should not be missed, especially for those who are travelling to South Korea for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, is the Taebaeksan Snow Festival. Taebaeksan Snow Festival The festival offers visits a variety of activities and events that will excite and amuse visitors to the festival. Various performances are lined up during Taebaeksan Snow Festival to keep visitors entertained. There will be a lot Instagram, Facebook postings opportunities for visitors available during the festival with the large-scale snow sculptures. Visitors can even have fun snow sledding with the stunning Mt Taebaeksan as the backdrop. Taebaeksan Snow Festival takes place from 19 Jan to 11 Feb 18, at Taebaeksan National Park in Gangwon-do.

There are a lot of photo opportunities with the snow sculptures in Taebaeksan Snow Festival

Snow sculptures is a major highlight in Taebaeksan Snow Festival

Snow sculptures at Taebaeksan Snow Festival at night

Visitors to Taebaeksan Snow Festival can have fun sliding down the ice slides

Lighting Festival at The Garden of Morning Calm

The Garden of Morning Calm is the largest private garden in South Korea, covering a massive area of 30,000㎡. The all-year garden, located in Gyeonggi-do, is an excellent spot for families and photographers to visit. The garden is designed with a balance of Korean’s concept of natural curves with asymmetry and plants with synthetic material. The garden houses some 5,000 species of plants in 20 themed sections. During winter, the Garden of the Morning Calm will be dressed with colourful lights, giving the garden a different personality compared to the other seasons. At nightfall, the white snow-covered garden will give way to a plethora of colours, which adds a festive glow during winter. The Light Festival at the Garden of Morning Calm is the largest festival of lights in South Korea with the garden illuminated by over 30,000 lights. The Lighting Festival at the Garden of Morning Calm takes place from 8 Dec 17 to 25 Mar 18.

The Garden of Morning Calm being illuminated with colourful lights during the Lighting Festival

Lighting Festival at The Garden of Morning Calm

Lighting Festival at the Garden of Morning Calm

The beautiful lights during the Lighting Festival at The Garden of Morning Calm in winter

Winter in South Korea – Ski Resorts in South Korea

Winter in South Korea

Winter in South Korea started from the month of December through to February with January being the coldest month in winter. I visited South Korea (mainly staying in Seoul and made day trips out of Seoul) in January 2016. While it hadn’t snowed, the temperature is around the region of 5℃ on average. Coupled with the chilling wind, it made winter in South Korea felt colder. When it comes to winter, one of the things that comes to one’s mind is hitting the ski resorts in South Korea. South Korea might not be the top choice for ski holidays, especially when Hokkaido in the neighbouring Japan has long been “the”choice for skiing”. South Korea with its geography make up, especially in Gangwon-do where Winter Olympics in 2018 will be held in the city of Pyeongchang, is blessed with powder snow comparable with those found in Hokkaido. The world-class skiing facilities here is a fraction of the prices compared to neighbouring countries, allowing holidaymakers and professional skiers enjoy skiing and fun at the ski resorts without breaking their bank. There are a total of 16 ski resorts in South Korea. 14 of which found in the north part of the country spreading across the provinces of Gangwon-do and Gyeonggi-do. Half of the ski resorts in South Korea are located in Gangwon-do. With the Baekdudaegan Mountain ranges running through, the province of Gangwon-do receives the most snow annually. Of the Ski Resorts in South Korea, here are 3 that one can check out while planning a winter trip to South Korea.

Location of the 16 Ski Resorts in South Korea

Location of the Ski Resorts in Gangwan-do

High1 Ski Resort

High1 Ski Resort is one of South Korea’s leading Ski Resort and is the only resort in South Korea that is located in the mountains. The ski resort features over 21 km of slopes within a 4,986,775㎡area. High1 Ski Resort has 18 ski slopes catering to all levels of expertise in skiing. All of the slopes are at least 1.5 km in length and the longest slope stretches for 4.2 km.  The resort offers 5 slopes for beginners, 11 intermediate slopes and 2 expert slopes. The resort has three 8-person gondolas, one that takes visitors from the entrance of the resort to the midpoint of the resort, and another that takes visitors from the midpoint to the peak of Mt Jijansan, and yet another one that takes visitors from the peak of Mt Jijansan along the mountain range to High1 Hotel. There are activities available for visitors who do not ski in High1 Ski Resort, ranging from sledding to gondola rides. There is even a casino in High1 Ski Resort, the largest casino in South Korea.

High1 Ski Resort slope map

Gondola station on the peak of Mt Jijansan

Non-skiers can take a gondola up to Mt Jijansan and enjoy the spectacular views

One of the slopes in High1 Ski Resort. I took this picture while riding the gondola up to the midpoint of the resort

Some of the accommodation available in High1 Ski Resort

High1 Ski Resort Mountain Ski House

Mountain Ski House where one can take the gondola up to mountaintop

Me with Mountain Ski House in the background

One of the slopes in High1 Ski Resort

I visited High1 Ski Resort in Jan 2017 during my trip to South Korea. Back then, I was looking for a ski resort that has sledging as both my friend and I had never skied in our lives before and would like to try if we can find an instructor to teach us. We wanted a ski resort that has sledding and something to else to do. A search on the trusty Google leads us to High1 Ski Resort. Located some three hours by KTX from Seoul, High1 Ski Resort seems like a good choice for us. Other than the ski slopes, there is a small sledding slope and a gondola system that would take us up to the peak of Mt Jijansan. While we did not manage to learn skiing or take the gondola to the peak of Mt Jijansan when we were there, nonetheless we still had fun with sledding in High1 Ski Resort.

My friend on a sled getting ready to slide down the slope

Me and my friend sitting on the sled getting ready to slide down the slope

My friend with the sled after a session down the slope

Us getting ready to slide down the slope on a sled for the Nth number of times

My friend and I at the foreground of the Mountain Ski House in High1 Ski Resort

Phoenix Park

Phoenix Park PyeongChang is perched 700m up upon Mt. Taegi (1,261 m above sea level), this ski resort is large and harmonizes well with the surrounding landscape. The resort is equipped with world-class facilities, making it an excellent choice to be designated as one of the venues for the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics in 2018. Phoenix Park has a unique vast base of 500m that which the courses converge to. The ski resort has 21 ski courses within a 3,978,575㎡ area.  Of the 21 ski courses, 7 cater for beginners, 10 for intermediate skiers and 4 for expert skiers. There is also a dedicated 90m sled slope for non-skiers to enjoy the natural beauty that Mt Taegi offers. This sled slope is fenced up so sledders can have fun sledding down the slope without worries. For those who wanted to learn skiing, Phoenix Park has a ski school that provides a one-stop service that includes rental of skiing equipment Phoenix Park PyeongChang has a renowned snowboarding park complete with a halfpipe, tabletop, round quarter, and rails. The park also has 8-person gondolas and a system of 8 lifts. Phoenix Park PyeongChang is located less than 2 hours from Seoul, making it a perfect destination for a day skiing trip. Come February 2018, Phoenix Park will turn into the event venue for freestyle skiing and snowboarding events of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Visitors can pay a visit to Phoenix Park and get themselves immense in the adrenaline of live actions during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Phoenix Park Ski Slope Map

On top of Mont Blanc in Phoenix Park Resort

At the base of Phoenix Park Resort

The 90m sledding slope in Phoenix Park Resort

YongPyong Resort

YongPyong Resort is the most popular ski resort in South Korea is also the largest in the country. It is located in the centre of the Baekdudaegan Mountain Range, just a little over 2 hours from Seoul. The ski resort boasts a total of 28 ski slopes within a massive 16,200,000㎡ area. Of the 28 ski slopes, 10 caters to beginners, 7 to intermediate skiers and 11 for expert ski slopes. With such a large selection, one will be able to find a slope that one is comfortable in skiing on. Due to the geographic location, YongPyong sees an average of 250 cm of snow every year, making this resort the best place for skiing in South Korea. There are a total of 15 ski lifts that connects visitors to the various parts of the ski slope in the resort. YongPyong also caters facilities for non-skiers. For visitors who want to do sledding, YongPyong has a 200 m long three-lane sledging slope that is guaranteed to provide hours of fun for non-skiers. On top of these, visitors to YongPyong should cater some time for the gondola tour, which stretches over Asia’s longest course of 7.4 km offering visitors a breathtaking view of Balwangsan Mountain. As a pioneering venue of skiing in South Korea, YongPyong naturally will also be an event venue for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. The resort will host Alpine Skiing events during the games in February 2018.

YongPyong Ski Slope Map

The ski slopes in YongPyong Ski Resort

The 200m sled slope in YongPyong ski resort

Visitors can take the gondola for breathtaking views around YongPyong Ski Resort

Celebrating 10 Years of Korea Plaza In Singapore

What is Korea Plaza

During one of our meetups, the Director of Korean Plaza in Singapore invited all the PyeongChang Winter Olympics Supporters in Singapore for the 10th Birthday celebration of Korea Plaza in Singapore. For those who do not know the existence of Korea Plaza, it is located in Samsung Hub along Church Street. For those who are travelling to Korea, Korea Plaza has tons of information and brochures on different parts of Korea to aid one in the planning of their Korea trip. At times there are brochures for visitors which offer great discounts on attractions and transport to be used in Korea. I have been to Korea Plaza several times when I was planning my trip to Korea last year and have found valuable information on the places that I visited.

Korea Plaza in Singapore

Korea Plaza is more than a place for travel information about Korea. One can learn more about the Korean culture in Korea Plaza and even experience wearing the traditional costume – Hanbok in Korea Plaza. One can join Wah! Korea Club  (join from the link here: http://bit.ly/JOINWAH) for free and take part in the Korean Cultural activities each month in the premises of Korea Plaza. There are classes such as Basic Korean Language for travellers, Korean cuisine classes for making of Kimchi, Tteokbokki, Bibimbap that members of Wah! Korea Club can sign up for.

Wah! Korea Club

Korea Plaza Anniversary Event

On 25 Nov, my friend and I checked out the 10th year anniversary event in Korea Plaza. To promote the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics in 2018, there is a huge poster in Korea Plaza promoting the event. Most of the activities in the 10th-anniversary event are also linked to the Winter Olympics. There is a station where one experience Ski Jumping on the VR machine. I tried the VR and it is very realistic, feel as though I was doing the Ski Jumping. Another station that is popular with attendees of the event is the Hit the Olympic Date Station, where one stand to win a pair of the PyeongChang Olympic Mascots if one manages to stop the buzzer on 9 or 10 Feb, when the Winter Olympics opens. Other than these activities, we had our turn in wearing of the Hanbok, something that we did not even do when my friend and I visited Korea last year.

Korea Plaza 10 Anniversary Celebration

My friend and I with the poster for PyeongChang Winter Olympics 2018

My friend won the last pair of PyeongChang Olympics Mascot plush toy while playing “Hit the Olympic Date” game. Everyone at the event applauded for him for winning this last set.

Me in a Hanbok. I look funny in it

My friend and I in Hanboks during the event

My friend and I in Hanbok

We were also treated to Korean Street food during the event. Of the food, I liked the Tteokbokki the most. It is flavourful but not overly spicy, and the rice cakes are cooked to perfection, not too hard and not too soft. Other than Tteokbokki other street food such as Kimbap and Eomukguk is also available. During the event, there is a lady who calligraphies one’s name in the Korean Language. My friend and I had our names calligraphed in the Korean language. The event ended with a lucky draw for visitors who attended the event.

Tteokbokki

Kimbap

Eomukguk

This lady was writing our names in the Korean Language

I won this pair of PyeongChang Winter Olympics sunglass by The Northface during the lucky draw

Special PyeongChang Korail Pass

Speaking of travelling in Korea, the Korean railway company – Korail has recently launched a special Korail Pass. To commemorate the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics, foreigners visiting Korea can purchase the special PyeongChang Korail Pass. The pass can be used on all trains throughout Korea unlimited times between 1 Feb to 25 Mar 18. This is a great way of saving money on transport during one’s travel in Korea. The pass is valid for purchase until 10 Jan 18. There are 5-day and 7-day pass options available and prices starting from 168,000 won for an adult pass. One can even reserve seats on the Korail network up to 30 days in advance. More information on this special PyeongChang Korail Pass can be found at http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/TRP/TP_ENG_8_4.jsp. The PyeongChang Korail Pass can be purchased at www.letskorail.com/pyeongchang.

The Special PyeongChang Korail Pass comes in 5 or 7 days ticket

Korail in Winter

Heart and Soul of Korean Culture – Hansik (Korean Cuisine) in Gangwon-do

Hansik

One of the best ways to immerse in the Korean culture is through its food. Mention about Korean food, Kimchi and Bibimbap immediately come to one’s mind. There are more than Kimchi and Bibimbap to Korean Food. Korean Food is characterised by its strong flavours, typically combining 3 essential sauces: Ganjang (soy sauce), Doenjang (soybean paste) and Gochujang (Korean chilli paste). Gangwon-do in South Korea has its distinctive cuisine. Surrounded by Taebaek Mountain range and East Sea, Gangwon-do benefits from the fresh ingredients from the mountains and the sea. Due to its geographic makeup of the province, dry fields have been cultivated for farming of corn, potato and buckwheat. And having the East Sea to the east of Gangwon-do, the province is blessed with the freshest catch from the sea. The cuisine in Gangwon-do revolves around corns and potatoes, which has been made into rice, rice cakes and rice wine. While the buckwheat has been a staple food for people in Gangwon-do. Here are three of my top picks that are the signature cuisine in Gangwon-do, where one can taste food from the mountains to the fields to the sea.

Places where one can taste food that is only found in Gangwon-do

(published by Korean Travel Organisation)

Food from the Mountains – Yangyang Songibap (Pine Mushroom Rice)

Yangyang region is famous for producing the highest quality pine mushrooms in South Korea. Of all the cuisines made with pine mushrooms, Songibap (steamed rice with pine mushrooms) is the most popular here. Pine mushrooms are aromatic in flavour, rich in nutrients like vitamins B1 and B2 and are thought to prevent cancer. Songibap combines the delicate flavour of the steamed rice complementing the robust flavour of the chewy pine mushrooms, giving it a flavourful and earthy taste to the dish.

Songibap

(Photo credit: http://mengnews.joins.com/view.aspx?aid=2920045)

Food from the Fields – Bongpyeong Memil Guksu (Buckwheat Noodles) and Memil Muk (Buckwheat Jelly)

What place to enjoy authentic buckwheat cuisine other than Bongpyeong, a town located in the northwestern part of PyeongChang county, renowned for growing the best quality buckwheat in South Korea owing to its geographical makeup. Koreans have been making and enjoying noodles and jellies made of buckwheat since ancient times. Cuisines made from buckwheat is said to have lower calories and benefits of reducing blood pressure. There is no lack of restaurants serving up buckwheat cuisines in Bongpyeong, one of the best restaurants in this region is Migayeon. Migayeon is renowned in the area for their buckwheat menu, everything in this restaurant is made with buckwheat.  Their buckwheat cuisine, usually served with the freshest vegetables and high-quality meat, is as tasteful as it is nutritious.

Buckwheat Jelly (Memil Muk)

(Photo credit: http://www.migayeon.co.kr/en/)

Buckwheat Noodles (Memil Guksu)

(Photo credit: http://www.migayeon.co.kr/en/)

Food from the Sea – Samcheok Daege Jjim (Steamed Snow Crab)

Nested by the coast of the East Sea, Samcheok is blessed with the freshest catch of seafood. People flock to this southeastern city of Gangwon-do for the seafood. One of the dishes that is a must try here in Samcheok is the Daege Jjim or Steamed Snow Crab, where it is famous for its abundant catch of the large meaty snow crabs. Visitors will be able to taste the freshest catch from the East Sea. Snow Crab is popular amongst the shellfish owing to the abundant meat in its legs. Daege Jjim here in Samcheok is steamed in order to preserve its freshness. One of the popular ways to eat Daege Jjim is to add steamed rice to the shell, where the intestines and roe are, which tasted buttery.

Snow crab is best enjoyed steamed where one can taste its natural flavours

(Photo credit: http://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/korea-food-map/index.html)

Steamed rice mixed into the shell of Daege Jjim

(Photo credit: http://m.kenterin.net/article/10518e)

Jump – A Korean Non-Verbal Musical Comedy

A Unique Korean Contemporary Culture – Korean Non-Verbal Musical Comedy

A musical that is unique to the Korean culture is their non-verbal musical comedies. Such shows infuse dance and sometimes martial arts (depending on the show you watch) into a musical that makes speaking redundant. Nevermind that you do not understand the Korean language, one will still be able to understand the general plot of the show and laugh off the funny bits.

Of the Korean non-verbal comedies, Nanata, Chef and Jump are the more popular ones with locals and visitors to Korea alike. A few months back, I managed to catch the localised version of Chef in Singapore. After that show, I saw that another Korean non-verbal comedy is coming to Singapore, I wasted no time and recommended my friends to watch the show. The show Jump is in Singapore for 4 shows from 6 to 8 Oct.

Poster of Jump at the entrance to the theatre

Stage setting

Synopsis of Jump

The show Jump is a martial arts comedy. The scene is set in a martial arts house, where the students were seen cleaning and practising their respective areas of martial arts, ranging from Taekwondo, Taekkyun, Drunken Fist and gymnastic skills. The family of martial arts enjoy challenging each other to martial arts showdowns displaying their awe-inspiring expertise. The plot thickens when the house is being broken into by 2 burglars in the middle of the night. When the family discovers the burglars, a battle took place between the family members and the burglars.

Casts of Jump

One of the actors interacting with audiences before the start of the show

Jump is a mix of martial arts and dance that provides laughter to audiences

One of the many somersaults performed by the actors

There are a lot of “flying” movements throughout the show

Review on Jump

Never mind the lack of fanciful Phantom of the Opera-like stage sets, never mind the fact that the plot of the show is simple, I find the show Jump very entertaining. The purpose of Jump is very simple, the infusion of martial arts (mostly Korean’s National martial arts – Taekwondo) with dance to produce a comedic effect. Jump kept audiences laughing throughout the 1½ hours of the show time.  I like the use of imagination in the show. There is a scene portraying the grandmaster’s speed in his martial arts, every actor on stage moved at a controlled slow speed where the grandmaster moved at normal speed. There is also a scene where the actors portray the grandmaster’s flying skills where the actors carried him horizontally. Such scenes are common in Jump. There are no wires that hang the actors on stage, all are done with what seem to be years and years of practice in their acrobatic skills. There are a lot more actions and acrobatic stunts in the show, displayed by both male and female casts of the show. Compared to Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab that I watched a few months ago, I like Jump better mainly due to more actions in the show. The neon light display of staff stunts in the dark was amazing, feels like one is watching light sabres being used from a scene in Star Wars live. A couple of audiences are invited up to the stage to interact with the casts of Jump, this adds to the comedic effect in the show. I highly recommend visitors to Seoul to catch Jump as such non-verbal comedies are uniquely Korea.

Actors in one of the fighting scenes earlier in the show

Female casts displaying their skills with a staff

Incredible flexibility displayed by one of the casts of Jump

Some of the stunts require not just agility, but strength too

One of the fighting scenes in Jump

Another fighting scene in Jump

This is towards the end of the show where the cast displayed coordinated Taekwondo

I like the neon staff display

One of the staff even light up at both ends, feels as if this is a scene from Star Wars

More “jumping” actions in the show Jump

The acrobatic display stunts audiences

The casts make all these flipping in the air looks so easy

A gravity-defying flip

All the casts of Jump in coordinated martial art moves

The grand finale of the show Jump

The show ended with all the casts displaying their martial arts skills

Strolling Amidst the Autumn Foliage in Gangwon-do, South Korea

As the leaves turns from lush green to red and yellow in South Korea, autumn has arrived. The top pick for viewing autumn foliage in Gangwon-do on most travelers mind would have to be Seoraksan National Park, with its expansive area and no lack of trekking trails. Other than the usual Seoraksan (which has been extensively covered), I picked three other spots in Gangwon-do where one will also be able to enjoy the colours of the autumn in Gangwon-do. Gangwon-do is blessed with numerous mountainous sights. Baekdudaegan, the spine of the Korean Peninsular, is a mountain range that runs through the Peninsular. Most of Gangwon-do’s spectucular natural sights lies along Baekdudaegan, including Taebeak mountain range where Mt Seoraksan and Mt Odaesan is located.

Places in Gangwon-do to visit in autumn apart from the popular Seoraksan National Park

Nami Island, Chuncheon

Any Korean drama fan would have watched Winter Sonata, the K-drama that launched Korea Wave throughout the world. Nami Island is no stranger to these fans and those of us whom have watched the drama series. Nami Island, being the backdrop of Winter Sonata, has seen a surge in tourism after the airing of the drama. Located in Chuncheon county in Northwest Gangwon-do, the small half moon shaped island covering some 430,000㎡, is especially charming in Autumn.

There are no lack of spots to enjoy the autumn foliage on Nami Island. Visitors to Nami Island in autumn will be treated with clean and smoothing scent of bushy pine trees and tall redwoods that line the island. Other than the 20 gardens located in various corners of the island, there are numerous walking paths with trees lining up on either side of the paths for visitors to stroll on. The central artery across the island is dripped with the Korean Pine Trees, which visitors will encounter once arriving on Nami Island. From here visitors can choose to stroll amongst the Metasequoia trees,  Ginko trees, Cherry trees, White Birch, Cornel trees, just to name a few. Amongst the lanes, the most photographed and scenic would be the Ginko tree walk path, which is especially charming during autumn with tree leaves turning bright yellow. Other than strolling on Nami Island, visitors can rent a bike or the electric car around the island. There is even a UNICEF Tram that brings visitors around.

Visitors to the island can opt for the traditional ferry that departs every 30 mins and every 10 to 20 mins during peak hours of the day across the Han River. The more adventurous visitors can opt to cross the Han River to Nami Island via the zip line, where one will be treated with magnificent views around the Island.

Map of Nami Island

(image credit: http://res.klook.com/image/upload/v1486643761/Korea/Nami_Island_Map.png)

Nami Island during autumn
(image credit: 
https://namisum.com/en/) 

Nami Island during autumn
(image credit: 
https://namisum.com/en/) 

One of the walk paths on Nami Island

(image credit: https://namisum.com/en/) 

Nami Island is dotted with red, yellow and orange leaves during autumn

(image credit: https://namisum.com/en/) 

Ginko tree lane in Nami Island
(image credit: 
https://namisum.com/en/) 

Wondae-ri Birch Tree Forest, Inje

Wondae-ri Birch Tree Forest is more popular as a winter destination thanks to the tall slander Birch trees that creates an exotic Siberian feel with white trees thrusting into the sky from the snow covered ground. Visitors flock to Wondae-ri Birch Tree Forest as it is believed that Birch Trees possess mystical power of healing. Wondae-ri Birch Tree Forest is as charming in autumn as it is magical in winter. Instead of a land of white, Mother Nature painted the whole landscape with yellow and red in autumn. Coupled with the presence of leaves, which creates a smoothing rustling sound as wind blows through the forest, making it seem like the trees are whispering to visitors to this land. Wondae-ri Birch Tree Forest is about 20km outside the small mountain town of Inje. The hill that Wondae-ri Birch Tree Forest sits on may seem ordinary at first, one has to immerse in the midst of the Birch tree forest to feel the tranquility the forest brings.

Wondae-ri Birch Tree Forest is located on the side of Wondae Peak in Wondae-li. Visitors to Wondae-ri Birch Tree Forest can choose to stroll along one or all of the 4 courses namely Birch Forest Course (0.9km: 40-50mins), Healing Course 1 (1.5km: 1½ hours), Exploration Course (1.1km: 40mins) and Healing Course 2 (2.4km: 2hours). The walks on these trails are relatively easy as the slops are not steep, providing visitors a relaxing time to enjoy the forest.

Wondae-ri Birch Tree Forest in Autumn

(image credit http://gangwon.com.my/color-your-autumn-in-gangwon/)

Mother Nature painting Wondae-ri Birch Tree Forest with yellow and red in autumn

(image credit: http://www.yonhapnews.co.kr/bulletin/2016/02/25/0200000000AKR20160225180400062.HTML)

Wondae-ri Birch Tree Forest is as charming in autumn as it is magical in winter

(image credit:http://blog.jeep.co.kr/?p=497&ckattempt=1)

View of Wondae-ri Birch Tree Forest in autumn

(image credit: http://blog.jeep.co.kr/?p=497&ckattempt=1)

Wondae-ri Birch Tree Forest in autumn

(image credit: http://blog.jeep.co.kr/?p=497&ckattempt=1)

Odaesan National Park

Odaesan National Park is one of three national parks in Gangwon-do, covering an area of 304㎢. Odaesan National Park compresis of 2 districts, Woljeongsa district despite being in a high territory, has some beautiful trails for hiking; and Sogeumgang district whose rocky formations are a sight not to be missed. Compared to the neighbouring Seoraksan National Park, Odaesan National Park isn’t as crowded and makes this the perfect place to enjoy the tranquility of the forested autumn foliage in Gangwon-do.

Map of Odaesan National Park

(image credit:http://english.knps.or.kr)

Odaesan National Park in autumn

(image credit: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264215)

Odaesan National Park in autumn

(image credit: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264215)

There are no lack of walking trails for everyone wanting to experience the beautiful autumn foliage. Trekking trails can be found in Woljeongsa district of the national park. For the mild trekkers, Woljeongsa Temple is a great place to start. The short 1kim Fir Tree Forest crosses over some streams, is also a filming site for the Korean drama Goblin. The Woljeongsa Fir Tree Forest trail is rather flat, which makes it suitable for most visitors to enjoy the bursts of red, orange and yellow forest in autumn. For the more adventurous trekkers, Sangwonsa at Odaesan National Park would be the starting point. There are numerous trails for varying degree of difficulty for trekkers to choose from, ranging for the shortest 4.4km (takes around 2½ hours to complete) Dongdaesan Mountain Course to the longest 18.7 km (takes around 10 hours to complete) Durobong Peak Course.

Woljeongsa Fir Tree Forest in autumn

(image credit: http://k-popped.com/2017/09/3-best-k-drama-filming-locations-to-visit-during-autumn-in-korea/)

Woljeongsa Fir Tree Forest in autumn

(image credit: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/xjVi_BuTGXE/hqdefault.jpg)

There are also no lack of opportunities to enjoy the autumn foliage in Sogeumgang district. For a start, visitors can take a short 2.2km (1 hour) hike from Guemgangsa to Guryong Falls and enjoy the autumn foliage along the way in the lust vegetation amidst a land of streams and rock formations. Visitors will also be treated to sights of groups of locals gathering for picnic on the flat rocks along the route towards Guryong Falls. The more adventurous hikers can continue the trail for more autumn foliage opportunities which is part of the 13.7km (takes around 10 hours to complete) Sogeumgang Course. The Sogeumgang Courses passes through forests, beautiful gorges and rivers towards Noinbong Peak.

Guryong Falls in autumn

(image credit: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=789858)

Noinbong Peak in Odaesan National Park

(image credit: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/6232468#)

Places to Visit in Gangwon-do During Winter Olympics

The adrenaline and actions for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics will take place in less than 200 days time. Besides soaking in the thrills and excitement as well as watching the opening and closing ceremonies of Winter Olympics in PyeongChang in awe, there are numerous places of interest that Winter Olympics goers can visit whilst in PyeongChang. PyeongChang is one of the 11 counties and 7 cities in Gangwon-do, while Gangwon-do forms up one of the nine provinces in South Korea. Situated in the North-Eastern part of South Korea, Gangwon-do borders North Korea to the north and East Sea to the East. The province covers more than 20,000㎡ in area, with over 80% of the province being mountainous. Here are some of the places that visitors to the PyeongChang Olympics can visit while in the province.

Map of Gangwon-do

For the Nature Lover – Seoraksan National Park

One of the “must-go” places of interest in South Korea is Seoraksan National Park. This iconic national park was designated UNESCO Biosphere Protection Site, with oddly shaped rock formations, dense forests, abundant wildlifes, hot springs and ancient temples. Nature lovers would find it hard not to fall in love with Seoraksan National Park. The national park has a total of 15 hiking trails ranging from 1km to 24km, hikers of all levels of fitness are bound to find a trail that suits them.

Entrance to Seoraksan National Park

Seoraksan National Park

Rock formation in Seoraksan National Park

I visited Seoraksan National Park both my twice visit to South Korea, the beauty of Seoraksan National Park never fail to captivate me. Mt Seorak, the centre piece of Seoraksan National Park, stood majestically welcoming visitors to this area. Seoraksan National Park has activities catered for all visitors. Other than the hiking trails, a cable car system operated since 1970, has taken numerous visitors up Mt Seorak to soak in the views of the surroundings. From the summit station, visitors can walk up to Gwongeumseong Fortress, built around 1253A.D. during Koryo Dynasty to fend off Mongolian invasion. Instead of finding a building, what I saw at the Gwongeumseong Fortress was a bunch of rocks. As the fortress is built on top of the mountains, visitors are treated to views of the Seoraksan Mountain Ranges and fresh mountain air here.

View from Mt Seorak 

View from Mt Seorak 

View from Mt Seorak 

At Gwongeumseong Fortress

The other side of Mt Seorak

View from Mt Seorak

Nested within the valley in Seoraksan National Park is where Sinheungsa Temple sits. The ancient temple was believed to be built in 653 and is the oldest Zen temple in the world. With the surrounding tranquil mountain, I experienced a sense of peace and zen when entering the temple grounds. I could spend the whole afternoon here, sitting under the tree in the courtyard, enjoying the peace and calm the temple offers. This is a good place to escape from the sometimes massive amount of visitors to Seoraksan National Park.

Bronze Buddha Statue in Seoraksan National Park 

Temple building beside the Bronze Buddha Statue

Entrance to Sinheungsa Temple

The peaceful Sinheungsa Temple grounds

Sinheungsa Temple

The peaceful Sinheungsa Temple grounds

The peaceful Sinheungsa Temple grounds

For the History Buffs – DMZ

North Korea has always been a mystery to most people around the world. There are several places in Gangwon-do that allows visitors to get up close to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea. Cheorwon county is one of the more popular places for visitors to get up and close to North Korea. Other than Cheorwon being situated on the North Western part of Gangwon-do, the county, bordering between the two Koreas,  was part of North Korea before the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement that created the DMZ between the two Koreas. The war broke out in Cheorwon during the Korean Wars, which saw the county being divided into two, with Cheorwon being claimed by South Korea. Speaking about visiting DMZ, many people flock to Joint Security Area (JSA) in Panmunjeom, which is more expensive and crowded to peek into North Korea. Cheorwon offers a cheaper and less crowded alternative for those who are interested to learn more about the history of Korean wars and the aftermath of the war.

DMZ (image credit: https://koreaprivatetours.com/tours/cheorwon-dmz-tour/)

View of DMZ (image credit: https://koreaprivatetours.com/tours/cheorwon-dmz-tour/)

Cheorwon saw the fierce fight during the Korean War and reminiscence of war is still present today. Most of the War sites lie within the Civilian Control Zone that spans 20km from the border. The Second Tunnel, dug by North Korea in 1975, allows visitors to experience what the soldiers went through during the Korean Wars. The tunnel was a tactical move for the North Korean Army to infuriate into South Korea. About 1km of the 3.5km tunnel lies in South Korea and it’s large enough for some 16,000 soldiers to stream through per hour. The tunnel isn’t as cramp as the famous Vietnamese tunnel, however headroom can be a challenge at some parts of the tunnel. A 150m staircase leads down to the well-lit albeit damp tunnel, which brings visitors just 300m from the border.

Entrance to 2nd Tunnel(image credit: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264482) 
Inside the 2nd Tunnel (image credit: https://koreaprivatetours.com/tours/cheorwon-dmz-tour/)

The Cheorwon Peace Observatory lies about 1km from the DMZ, which makes it a great place for visitors to glimpse into the mysterious North Korea. Due to the proximity to the North Korea, the coin-operated binoculars found on the second level of Cheorwon Peace Observatory allows visitors to gaze into North Korea and its ‘propaganda village’ of Seonjeon. There are exhibits on the first level of the observatory displaying photos of the Second Tunnel, military barracks, checkpoints, and the DMZ. A short video clip is shown in the auditorium at scheduled timings on the Korean Wars, however the clip is in Korean language.

Cheorwon Peace Observatory
(image credit: 
http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264482) 
Exhibits on the 1st floor of Cheorwon Peace Observatory(image credit: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264482) 
Exhibits on the 1st floor of Cheorwon Peace Observatory(image credit: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264482) 
Observation Deck on 2nd level(image credit: https://koreaprivatetours.com/tours/cheorwon-dmz-tour/)

Not far from the Cheorwon Peace Observatory is the Woljeong-ri Station, left as a memorial to the railway line between Seoul and Wonsan, and housing the battered, twisted remains of a bombed train.

Woljeong-ri Station(image credit: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264482) 

After passing a few battle-scarred buildings, visitors arrive at the former Labour Party HQ. Here is where one would be able to see the reminiscences of the Korean war. The surviving facade look and feels eerie, more like a haunted house. This building is where many civilians were imprisoned and tortured when Cheorwon was part of North Korea. Visitors are not allowed to enter the whatever remains of the Labour Party HQ as the building is being cordoned off, however looking up at the facade of the building is sufficient for one to feel the sufferings that war brings.

Ruins of the Former Labour Party HQ (image credit: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264482) 

Ruins of the Former Labour Party HQ (image credit: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264482) 

Ruins of the Former Labour Party HQ (image credit: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264482)

Ruins of the Former Labour Party HQ (image credit: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264482) 

For the Cultural Seekers – Naksansa Temple

One of the oldest temple in Gangwon-do, Naksansa Temple has a 1,300 year old history and is found by the ambassador of the 30th King of Silla Period in 671 after his return from China during the Tang Dynasty. Since then Naksansa Temple has been rebuilt several times and the most recent reconstruction of Naksansa Temple was in 1953 as the temple fell victim to the Korean Wars. Naksansa Temple is a major cultural attraction in this region, that also offers temple stays for visitors who wants to immense into the religious culture of South Korea. Through the temple stay, visitors not only are able to experience the life of Buddhist practitioners, they can also learn the various aspects of Korean Buddhist Culture and history through stories told by the monks in the temple.

Map of Naksansa Temple (image credit: http://www.koreanbuddhism.net/bbs/board.php?bo_table=250&wr_id=7)

There are two gates that forms the main entrance to Naksansa Temple. The first gate that greets visitors to this ancient temple is the Iljumun Gate, which is also called the One-Pillar Gate as it appears to be supported by a single pillar when viewed from the side of the gate. This gate sybmolises the one true path of enlightenment and purification that one must leave their worldly desires when entering the temple. The second gate that visitors will pass through before hitting the temple grounds is the Hongyaemun Gate, which is built by King Seo in 1466. The Hongyaemun Gate is built with 26 stones representing the number of counties.

Iljumun Gate – The first gate at Naksansa Temple (image credit : http://en.gangwon.to/cyber/en/board/read/id/en_themetour/page/2/num/34)

Hongyaemun Gate is the second gate that visitors will come across before hitting the temple grounds (image credit: http://en.gangwon.to/cyber/en/board/read/id/en_themetour/page/2/num/35)

Naksansa Temple is spread out over a large area and houses numerous cultural assets. A little further from Hongyaemun Gate, the first thing that greets visitors is the bell pavilion to the far left side, housing a large copper bell, one of the cultural assets in Naksansa Temple. Further from the entrance is where one would land themselves into the Cheonwangmun Gate, with statues of the Four Heavenly Kings guarding the temple. Sitting in the middle of the upper courtyard is another cultural relic of this temple, the seven-tiered stone pagoda. The temple building behind this pagoda houses the statue of Gwanseeum-Bosal. Further into the temple grounds, up a small slope is where visitors can find a large statue of Gwanseeum-Bosal. This 18m tall statue, looking out into the East Sea, also called the Haesugwaneumsang. The Haesugwaneumsang (Bodhisattva of Mercy) stands on a 9 foot tall pedestal looks peaceful and serene.

Copper Bell Pavilion in Naksansa Temple (image credit: http://chdkstks.tistory.com/233)

Seven-tiered pagoda in front of the temple (image credit: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264245)

Golden Statue of Gwanseeum-Bodal inside the temple behind the stone pagoda (image credit: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264245)

The 18m tall stone Haesugwaneumsang that looks out into the East Sea (image credit: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264245)

The other highlight in Naksansa Temple is the pavilion built on top of the cliff facing the East Sea. Uisangdae Pavilion was built where Ui-sang used to sit and mediate. The view from this pavilion is stunting and peaceful. One can simply spend some time here and enjoy the scenery of the sea. A little further from Uisangdae Pavilion is where Hongryeonam, a small Buddhist temple built above a stone cave sits. There is a 10 cm hole under the sanctuary floor where visitors can peak through the view the sea.

Uisangdae Pavilion(image credit: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264245) 

View of the East Sea from Uisangdae Pavilion (image credit: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264245)

Hongryeonam, a small temple built on a cave(image credit: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264245) 

Hongryeonam up close (image credit: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264245)

Winter Sports and PyeongChang Olympics 2018

With PyeongChang Winter Olympics happening less then 200 days from now, there are no lack of winter sports that I would certainly be watching out for. In one of my previous post, I mentioned there are a total of 102 Gold Medals up for grabs across 15 winter sports for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics game and 80 Gold Medals up for grabs across 6 winter sports for the Paralympics Games. Of all the winter sports, I like Luge, Skiing and Ski Jumping most. I had the opportunity to try out the amateur versions of these winter sports.

PyeongChang Winter Olympics is less then 200 days away

Sledding – an Amateur version of Luge

I was in High1 Ski Resort, 3 hours train ride from Seoul, last year for winter. Coming from a tropical country, snow is never seen here in Singapore. As I have never tried skiing before my trip, I was hesitant to try skiing without going through proper lessons. Being my first winter sports, I wasn’t ambitious in trying skiing, and opted for sledding instead. Sledding requires me only to slide down a short slope on a sled. Sledding is a fun version of the Luge, which is a competing sport in the upcoming PyeongChang Olympics. Luge is a fast sliding sport where competitors (one or two lugers) race down 1,000 to 1,500m track while lying face up with their feet stretched in front of them. Runs are timed up to 1/1,000 of a minute. While the sledding is not as intensive nor the track is as long, however it gave me a glimpse of luge as a winter sports. Sledding requires no training, all I did was to grab a sled and slide down the slope. The only “technical” part about sledding is the braking. It is a fun sport for amateurs and families.

High1 Ski Resort, 3 hours train ride east from Seoul

The ski slopes at High1 Ski Resort in Gangwon-do

My friend getting ready to sled down the slope in High1 Ski Resort

Me and my friend trying sledding for the first time. This is our first time trying a winter sport

My friend with the sled in High1 Ski Resort

The snow in High1 Ski Resort is perfect for sledding

High1 Ski Resort in Gangwon-do

My First Shot at Skiing

As I visited Hokkaido earlier this year, I finally got to try skiing. I took a beginners lesson on skiing and I loved it. Without the use of poles, the trick to skiing is really to control the braking speed with the inverted “V” shape that one would need to form with the skis. Prior to learning to ski, I always thought that the poles are used to control the speed and was initially puzzled why I was not provided the ski poles. After some clarifications by the instructor, I realised that the poles are used to increase the speed of skiing down the slope, especially for Alpine Skiing, another event in the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics, where competitors slides down snow-covered slopes on skis with fixed heel bindings. Alpine Skiing is comprised of largely two types of disciplines: the speed (velocity) events and the technical (skills) events.Skiing down the slopes gives me a sense of freedom, just letting gravity doing its job. I can imagine the exhilaration the competitors must have feel during velocity Alpine Skiing, rushing down the mountain at great speeds. Skiing is a fun sport and is a fun even for kids.

Having ski lessons

I was glad that I managed to ski for the first time

My friend learning to ski

A Skier in action

Skier coming down the slope

Despite still learning to ski, we immediately fell in love with this winter sport

Me on a chairlift up a ski slope for beginners

My friend skiing down the slope under the watchful eyes of our instructor

The Elegant Ski Jumping

I had the opportunity to watch Ski Jumping broadcasted over the television when I was in Hokkaido. Prior to visiting Ski Resorts, I always thought Ski Jumping is boring. However with my very limited experience in Skiing, I came to realise Ski Jumping is quite fun to watch. The skier glides down a ramp at 90km/h to jump and fly as far as they can go in Ski Jumping. Because the downhill launch souring through the air is so beautiful, it is also called “The flower of ski sports”. Just looking at the jump from the slope is enough to deter me from trying this sport (perhaps one of these days I might try this sport). Ski Jumping is both elegant and thrilling just by watching it. This is also one of my favourite winter sports. Ski Jumping is also an event in the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Can’t wait to see Ski Jumpers in action during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in 2018.

Ski Jumper in action (image credit: https://www.pyeongchang2018.com/en/sports/ski-jumping)

Chef : Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab – Immensing in Korea’s Non-verbal Comedy Musical

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One of the dancing scenes in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

Non-Verbal Comedy Musicals in  Korea

Non-verbal musicals that infuses Korean culture, be it food or lifestyle with dance and acrobatics, is one of the must-dos while visiting South Korea. These popular musicals are watched by Koreans and visitors. Several years ago I had a chance to watch Jump, one of the several such non-verbal musicals, whilst traveling in Korea. I was amazed by the fact that despite no language was used, I was still able to understand the show and was kept entertained throughout the show. It is refreshing that the Koreans are able to pack laughter throughout the theater despite not using any form of language. My friend and I managed to catch one of such non-verbal musicals that has made its round to Singapore. Chef: Bimbap is a show about a group of chef learning to make a perfect Bibimbap. It combines dance, beat boxing whilst introduces Korean’s iconic dish, Bibimbap to the audiences.

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Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab standee outside the theater

Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

The show that is being shown in Singapore, Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab, feels like a localised version of the original show Chef. The story seem slightly different from the original Chef. Instead of having a group of chef learning to make a perfect Bibimbap, Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab is about 2 chefs (green and red chefs) pitting their culinary skills to outcook each other. The show saw both chefs taking turns cooking up cuisines from sushi to pizza to Chinese chicken noodle and ended off with a show down of both taking the stage, with one side cooking the Chili Crab and the other Bibimbap. Despite departure from the orginal show, Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab, still has the same theme throughout and did not lose its essence of infusing break dancing and beat-boxing into the show. The 1-hour show saw the use of beat-boxing live on stage most of the time, with small occasions where recorded music was used or complimented with the beat boxing. The actors doing the beat boxing seem to be masters of the art, verbalising musics for the most part of the show (including the Korea Folk Song, Arirang). There is segment where they beat- boxed a series of songs from K-pop songs to Michael Jackson hits. The beat boxing added to the entertainment value of show.

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Beat Boxing was performed lived on stage

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Beat boxing was the main source of music throughout the entire 1 hour show

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One of the character singing to the tune of beat boxing

Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab packed laughter in the theater for the entire duration leaving audiences amazed by the breakdancing of the actors. There is a segment where one of the characters sang and the light went out. In pitch black emerges luminous hands mimicking fishes and scenes of underwater. There is even a diver swimming underwater in this scene. Audiences later were made known how this diver underwater was created with the diving appearing in a comic way. Audiences were also invited up to the stage to become part of Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab at times during the show, which adds more comedic effect to the show. Watching Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab does reminds me of similar performance that I watched some years ago in Korea, which has earned itself a place as a pop-culture of Korea. The show is highly recommended for one who wants to immerse themselves into this aspect the Korean Culture.

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Scenes in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab where the 2 master chefs pit against each other

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Scenes in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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The underwater scene in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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Break dancing in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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Scenes in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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Audience (the guy in the middle) were invited to the stage to participate in the show

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Final showdown in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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Audiences were treated to breakdancing in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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More breakdancing in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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Breakdancing in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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Scenes in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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Breakdance showdown in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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Breakdance showdown in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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Scene in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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Audiences were treated to a series of dance and songs in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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The cast of  Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab