Korean Escapade 2010: My Fabulous Finds in Korea

While in Korea, I made two awesome purchases. One is the Beethoven Virus Original Soundtrack Special Edition. It was not a planned purchase but when a friend pointed this out to me, I immediately bought it. I know…I’m such an impulsive buyer!

BV OST Special Edition with the Box cover

3 CDs containing music from the series

Spreadsheet of Kang Mae (Kim Myung Min)

Back panels of the CD cover

The second one is the Hanbok, the traditional Korean dress. It is often characterized by vibrant colors and simple lines without pockets. Although the term literally means “Korean clothing”, hanbok today often refers specifically to hanbok of Joseon Dynasty and is worn as semi-formal or formal wear during traditional festivals and celebrations. I so love my hanbok! But wearing it is really a challenge because it made me perspire more. And to think, I do not have the prescribed undergarments yet!

I'm wearing the hanbok which I bought from Korea

Intricate embroidery of my hanbok

Embroidered sleeve of my hanbok

Embroidered otkorum

Embroidered skirt


I would have loved to have the shoes and the headdress but budget was really really tight. Instead, I bought two accessories which can be used for the hanbok. Nice!

Hanbok accessories



Korean Escapade 2010: Of Bulgogis, Malls, Markets and Shopping

Lunch was a continuing love affair with bulgogi. I fell hard. Really hard with this dish.  The side dishes were also amazing. During this trip to Korea, I forgot that I am on a diet. Usually, my meals consist of no rice but I really forgot about it. Oh well, it is good food so I have no regrets.

Bulgogi Lunch, South Korea, October 2010


Yummy bulgogi, South Korea, October 2010

After lunch, we went to a Korean Ginseng shop. Unfortunately, picture taking was not allowed. We got to know the different kinds of ginseng. I bought one bottle of ginseng concentrate for my Mom. I hope that she drinks it. I also bought a bag of rice crispies for pasalubong. We also went to the amethyst store and there we were shown different products made of amethyst. Amethyst is a stone known to bring healing. I didn’t get to buy because it’s really expensive.

Next stop was Namdaemun Market. We only had one hour to tour the place and buy stuff that we needed to buy. Namdaemun reminded me of our very own Divisoria. I did not get to roam the place much for fear that I would get lost. However, I was able to buy some shirts with Korea printed in it for a reasonable price. It was such a good deal.


Namdaemun Market, South Korea, October 2010

Merchandise, Namdaemun Market, South Korea, October 2010












After our trip to Namdaemun, Kuya Hong brought us back to the hotel. Our guided trip has come to an end. We were fortunate that we had him as our guide. We would love to have him in our next guided tour.

We rested for a bit and then proceeded to COEX Mall for some shopping. I did not buy anything from there..again.  I was just content to see and explore the place. Using the subway, we went to Myeondong, another shopping district. However, I was surprised to see billboards of Kim Myung Min in his LIG advertisements. I had to take a photo.


Kim Myung Min Advertisements in a subway, October 2010

At Myeongdong, I was just amazed with how Koreans buy stuff. I would see ladies buy several bags of cosmetics, apparel and the like. I was not planning on buying anything but when I saw a special edition of Beethoven Virus Original Soundtrack, I immediately bought it. So much for self control, eh?

Rolling store at Myeongdong, South Korea, October 2010


Myeongdong, South Korea, October 2010













It was almost midnight when we decided to go home. We were all dead tired and another busy day is waiting for us so we need all the rest that we can get.

Next stop: Seoul City Tour

Korean Escapade 2010: The Saga of the Ninjas Continues

Still October 21…

We left Nami Island at around 4:00 in the afternoon and took the cab going to Gapyeong Station. Our next stop was Petite France, which was located near Cheongpyeong Station. We were lucky because the train going to Cheongpyeong was arriving in a few minutes. From Gapyeong to Cheongpyeong, the travel time was about 20 minutes. We arrived at Cheongpyeong station around 5 in the afternoon but there was no sign of the shuttle bus which would take us to Petite France. We decided to take the cab…again. The trip to Petite France was like going to Baguio or Antipolo with all those blind curves and zigzag roads. There was a time during the brief ride that we felt that we got lost but we arrived at Petite France after 30 minutes.  Imagine our relief to know that we were finally there!


Petite France, South Korea, October 2010

Since we only had 30 minutes to explore the place, we immediately went to the sites that we wanted to visit.

Petite France: Retracing Kim Myung Min’s (Kang Mae’s) steps in Beethoven Virus

Petite France is a French cultural village set in the Korean countryside. Petite France serves as both a French cultural village and a youth training facility (Goseong Youth Training Center), and consists of 16 French-style buildings where visitors can lodge and experience French food, clothing, and household culture. ‘Petit’ means ‘small and pretty’ in French, and this village is located on the hilltop overlooking the beautiful mountain scenery of Homyeongsan (Mt.) and the clear surroundings of Cheongpyeongho (Lake). Building heights were adjusted using natural hills, and every house in the village were arranged to overlook the lake. Such structure disposition and internal decoration of construction materials, rooftop, windows and floor are all French. (From http://www.korean-city.blogspot.com)


Petite France, South Korea, October 2010


View of the lake, Petite France, South Korea, October 2010











Array of buildings in French style, Petite France, October 2010





A portion of the amphitheater, Petite France, October 2010










I have always wanted to visit Petite France because it was one of the filming sites of Beethoven Virus, one of my all-time favorite Korean dramas. Moreover, it is the location of the study room of Maestro Kang Gun Woo or Kang Mae, played by the brilliant Kim Myung Min.  I may not have met Kim Myung Min himself but it was a great comfort for me to have visited his study room when he portrayed the acerbic tongued Kang Mae.


Kang Mae's table and chair, Petite France, October 2010


A portion of Kang Mae's office, Petite France, October 2010












We did not have the chance to explore the other buildings because it was already 6 in the evening. Our main problem was getting out of Petite France because it was such an isolated place. We asked the receptionist for help and so she contacted two cabs to fetch us. While waiting, we felt the air as it turned colder. Good thing the cabs arrived after 15 minutes or so.

We arrived at Cheongpyeong station in time for the arrival of the train bound for Cheongnyangni. We thought that we missed the train already and we had to wait for an hour for the next.  We were indeed lucky!

Since the ride was one hour, we had time to decide that we had to re-schedule the Lotte World trip for another night as we might not be able to make it. We decided to have dinner first at Dongdaemun and then visit Chonggye Stream which was nearby.


Dongdaemun, South Korea, October 2010

Dining at a Korean Restaurant

We were so hungry, we could eat a horse! We picked a fancy Korean resto which was established in 1972. When we got there and looked at the menu, we wanted to go out and look for another place. So expensive! However, we figured that we would eat in small restos the following nights so that we are still on the budget. Hahaha!

Side dishes, Korean restaurant, Dongdaemun, October 2010

And so we ordered pork spare ribs, pajeon, bulgogi. Of course, a Korean meal is not complete without the side dishes or banchan, which could consist of 2-12 kinds. Of course, kimchi is usually included.


Pork spare ribs, Dongdaemun, October 2010

I’m a great fan and lover of pajeon. However, I fell in love with bulgogi! This is one dish that I have not had the chance to eat often in Korean restaurants in the Philippines. But the authentic bulgogi was heaven! I. LOVE. IT. SUPER.


My new love, BULGOGI! Dongdaemun, October 2010

After dinner, we headed to Chonggye Stream for some picture-taking and some walking. We decided that we would walk back to our hotel for some exercise. However, when we realized that we were walking for a much longer time already and no sight of our hotel still, we decided to  get a cab because we were all dead tired. On our way back to the hotel, we found out that we headed the wrong way – we walked farther from the hotel instead of walking towards it. What an adventure!

Oh well, the most important thing was that we got back safe and sound.

Korean series: Revisiting Beethoven Virus


Since I’m on a Kim Myung Min mode since last night, let me share with you an entry which I wrote in my multiply blog in January 18, 2009. My KMM addiction started when I watched the phenomenal Korean drama series, “Beethoven Virus,” which aired in September –November 2008.

Beethoven Virus: Its Appeal

Kim Myung Min as Maestro Kang (image from MBC.com)

Maestro Kang conducting (image from MBC.com)

I first watched BV online in November 2008, while the drama is currently airing its final episodes. I’ve been meaning to write about this touching drama; I’ve only managed to write about how I can’t get enough of the phenomenal Kang Mae/Maestro Kang (see earlier post). But I felt that I’ve not written enough, that there is so much more to share about how this drama affected me. So, during the Christmas break 0f 2008, I made it a point to watch Beethoven Virus again.  This time, a rewatch of the whole series not just my favorite Kang Mae scenes or Kang-Mi (Kang Mae and Du RuMi) scenes and since I had no work, I was able to pay close attention to some things that I might have missed out.

So, what do I love about BV? Why am I so addicted to it? What was it about the series that I find touching and memorable?

Kang Mae smiling (image from MBC.com)

Kang Mae flirting a little? (image from MBC.com)

My first answer is: I find Kang Mae and his personal journey, his metamorphosis, appealing (Don’t I just love to write about him, LOL!). Kang Mae is one interesting yet complex character that I’d love to probe into. As described, he is a no nonsense conductor and a perfectionist. He is known in the music community as the conductor who interprets the musical score closely to how it was really intended by the composer, or to put it simply, his renditions are seemingly perfect. There is one major observation though, his music is somewhat suppressed as if the emotions coming from his music are stifled. The masterpiece certainly speaks about its creator, as they say. Kang Mae’s music is a reflection of his personality – stern, rigid, upright and incapable of emotions, or at least that what he thinks so or what’s he is attempting to do. Having a harsh childhood and having his share of trials and challenges in life, he has learned to erect walls between himself and the world; having only his music and his dog as companions. He thinks that feeling or facing different kinds of emotions makes one weak and vulnerable so he built up these defenses so that nothing can harm him. He dislikes change. And so, when he meets the orchestra members, especially Du Ru Mi, he in plunged into a world that he has avoided for so long. He is made to feel various kinds of emotions, no matter how hard he tried to deny it. It was touching to see Kang Mae struggle in coming to terms to his being emotional; that he is human after all.  And no matter how hard he convinces himself – that he is invulnerable; that he doesn’t care at all and that he can totally return to his old self; he is in fact a changed man. This is manifested in a change in his music as well as how he views and deals with his orchestra members.

A changed Kang Mae (image from MBC.com)

A pensive Kang Mae (image from MBC.com)

In the end, he acknowledges that he is new at this – that he’ll never know when he’ll waver again but he also knows that he cannot run from his feelings anymore; except that he needs time to get accustomed to this new side of him.

Missing Kang Mae

I’m missing my acerbic-tongued Kang Mae. I plan to have a Beethoven Virus rewatch soon. I need to have my happy pill so I’m going to get some from Kim Myung Min. I’m re-posting a blog entry which I wrote in November 10, 2008.

Just Can’t Enough Get Enough of Maestro Kang

When I first learned that Lee Ji Ah is having a new series, I couldn’t contain my excitement. I loved her in The Legend and I couldn’t get enough of her. So, I was really ecstatic about this series. However, my enthusiasm was somewhat dimmed when I saw some photos used as promotional materials. Oh, I love Lee Ji Ah and I like Jang Geun Suk; but what really caught my attention was the “older, far from handsome and mean looking” orchestra conductor, who forms the last part of the triumvirate. My mind was like, “WTH? That’s the male lead? He is so…not handsome! How can I watch that?”

Oh God, I was really mean, I know, but at least I was honest enough to say that. So, I had second thoughts watching BV, honestly. I was so used to seeing hunks as leads in dramas and the image of “that man” stalled me for about a month. But then, I remembered that my main reason for wanting to see this is Lee Ji Ah! So, I said, “Ok, I’m going to start this and then I could just stop if I don’t like it at all, right?” I started watching it reluctantly …

A Change of Heart

Yes. I definitely had a conversion; a complete turnaround. Instead of having LJA as the main reason for being addicted to BV (Well, she went down to second. LJA lovers pls. don’t hate me! I love her too.), it was the “older, far from handsome and mean looking” orchestra conductor who kept me glued to my computer screen and patiently wait for the video streaming to finish.

Maestro Kang Gun Woo, Maestro Kang or simply Kang Mae (a nickname given by his orchestra members), is a renowned orchestra conductor. He is brilliant, awesome and really excels in his craft. However, he is the least likeable character in the series… at the beginning at least. For one, he looks very menacing with his stoic appearance. He is snobbish and intimidating; he thinks himself as God; and possesses an acerbic tongue. He is a total jackass! He is known to be an orchestra killer because he does not last in an orchestra for more than six months, either members had to quit; thus orchestra had to disband or he simply leaves. Need I say more?

Beneath the very proud egoistic facade, there is so much hidden inferiority complex and fear, often camouflaged by his aloofness and merciless sarcasm outlook in life. But no matter how despicable he behaves, hints of kindness would come from him from time to time. The feared conductor is an epitome of someone whose bark is much, much worse than his bite. Despite his abrasive and callous behavior, I’ve completely fallen in love with Kang Mae.

This is all because of the superb and brilliant performance of Kim Myung Min. His endearing portrayal of the maestro was flawless that instead of despising his character; I was “utterly, utterly charmed” (God knows, how many times I’ve used this phrase to describe how hard I’ve fallen!). I couldn’t imagine how a hateful character can be as charming and loveable at the same time. Only a great actor like KMM can pull it off! It’s the first work of KMM that I’ve seen and I proudly admit that I’m an enamored fan of this underrated yet exceptional actor. I’m just so glad that he has been given good and challenging roles over the years. Plus, people are starting to notice his intense performances (case in point, he won the Daeksang Award last November 1 for his role as Maestro Kang in BV while it is still airing).

KMM rocks; Maestro rocks!
KMM is LOVE! Kang Mae is LOVE!

Photos from: MBC