Gwangju Day 1: Duck & Democracy!

Gwangju 광주 

Daegu to GwangjuName: Gwang (광) means “light” and Ju (주) means “province.”

Population: 1,471,324 (as of 4/2013) It is the 6th largest city in Korea.

2002 FIFA World Cup: Gwangju World Cup Stadium was one of the venues used for the World Cup

Politics: Gwangju is the main campaign of the liberal Democratic United Party.

Massacre: On May 18-27 in 1980, Gwangju citizens rose up against SK’s dictatorship, resulting in hundreds killed.

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Buddha’s Birthday Plan

It was Buddha’s Birthday and when we tried booking everything, it was too late so we were left with no place to go. Ever the optimistic, Dave came up with this grand adventure…choosing a place on the map and just getting on a bus and just going! Sort of like our very own:

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But me being me, of course I couldn’t just go somewhere and not have a clue about anything. Thank goodness for smartphones. They make everything easier. The idea of going to Jeolla province came up, since we’ve never really been. It’s always Seoul, Seoul, Seoul (Imagine Jan Brady right now).

Away we go! 

Upon arriving, we strolled to the nearby river in the direction of duck street. Maps are a beautiful thing, easily accessible at the Bus Terminal. It wasn’t until later that night, that I remembered about the massacre and the fact that we were here on the eve of its anniversary.

We fell in love

We met up with Laura and Esther, and after a good ole’ time at the festival, we headed out and miraculously found a salsa studio where there were more men then women! Now if you know my friends Laura and Esther, you know how obsessed they are with salsa. So the fact that this place had more men then we are accustomed to in Daegu, made her instantly want to move to Gwangju! Right upstairs was the most chillest pub I’ve seen in quite some time. Speakeasy was amazing, so relaxing and the owner came over and chatted with us. By the end of the night, we had talked to so many friendly people – both Korean and foreign. As the night began to wane, and sleep called, we were ready to love Gwangju forever.

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Beautiful place! Too bad there were so many mosquitoes!

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The place that hit the spot (^_^). 20130517_182254

Duck Stew 오리탕

The best part of the night, a festival to celebrate democracy!

Gwangju Festival 2013

Gwangju Festival Makgeolli

Our Irish Esther approved of the Guinness at Speakeasy. The owner is Irish and sets the bar really high. 20130518_004225

Adventure Time Video: Day 1


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April 2013 in 2 Minutes

  1. Rooftop view of Daegu
  2. Sinchon River
  3. School Lunch –  Some kind of kimchi, sweet & sour pork, mini fishies with walnuts, rice & dried seaweed, kimchi soup with hot dog slices
  4. Salmon on lemon thyme cream cheese and toast
  5. A beautiful school and awesome spring day
  6. Pier in 월포
  7. A beautiful school and awesome spring day
  8. Rainy train ride to Seoul for an audition
  9. Sampler dish at “Comedor” – empanadas and some chipa (baked cheese and yucca bread)
  10. “Comedor” Paraguayan Restaurant in Itaewon
  11. A French trained baker is a dangerous person to know
  12. Duryu Park, with the Daegu Cultural & Arts Center on the other side of the lake
  13. Constanza, my Spanish-speaking friend ^_^
  14. Growing herbs for some cookin’
  15. Gyeongju Marathon – tried doing the 10k and slightly regretted it
  16. Garden of Eden at the Keimyung University Dongsan Medical Center
  17. Daegu Gyesan Catholic Church (대구 계산성당)
  18. Puppy shops!
  19. Amazon crash a Toga Birthday Party
  20. Physical therapy due to the 10k  (ㅠㅠ)
  21. Old meets New – My favorite picture of the month
  22. Best Jogae Gui 조개구이 place! They put the baked sweet potato into cheese as dessert.
  23. Co-worker’s wedding (The bride was my English co-teacher and the groom was the P.E. teacher from my school)
  24. Roman who moved out of Korea about a year ago. He surprised us with a visit!

Chica Vs. Food : Fermented Skate 홍어

The fish

Skates are cartilaginous fish belonging to the family Rajidae in the superorder Batoidea of rays. Stingrays and skates differ primarily in the way they reproduce. Skates are oviparous, that is they lay eggs. Their fertilized eggs are laid in a protective hard case called a mermaid’s purse.

Skate and Mermaid Purse

The fermentation 

Various cultures indulge in eating fermented fish, but Korea has apparently one of the smelliest. Skate doesn’t urinate like other fish – it passes its uric acid through its skin. When it is fermented, the uric acid breaks down into a compound which smells exactly like ammonia. Fish rapidly spoils, or goes rotten, unless some method is applied to stop the bacteria that produce the spoilage. Fermentation is a method which attacks the ability of microbials to spoil fish; bacteria usually cease multiplying when the pH drops below 4.5.

Skate

In Korea, the fish is placed raw into an earthen clay pot and left at room temperature for a few days. Afterwards the uric acid drenching the skin produces ammonia which prevents the fish from rotting. The ammonia causes good and bad bacteria to grow. The good bacteria eventually kills the bad bacteria.

Fermented Fish from Various Countries

The origin

The Mottled Skate was mainly caught off the coast of Heuksando (흑산도) in South Jeolla Province. The island was attacked frequently during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) by Japanese marauders, so the residents were forced to move out. Those people carried several kinds of fish on their journey and most of them spoiled except for skate. [source], The fishermen from Heuksando packed up their belongings and started out on the 5 day journey from Heuksando to Yeongsanpo (Yongsan Port). They brought a variety of fish with them, but it soon all spoiled minus the skate fish, which was preserved. The fishermen ate the fish and enjoyed the sharp tangy taste of the fermented skate. This delicacy was created completely by accident. The people of South Jeolla then began serving hongeo and it became a popular dish eaten on special occasions and at parties throughout the Goryeo and Joseon Dynasties.

Can’t read what is says but these are pretty funny pics. And this one has more cool pics around Korea.

The potential problem

These days, most restaurants use skate from other countries [like Chile] and it is frozen for a year. If hongeo is from Korea, the color is pink. If it’s not, it’s lighter. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed the mottled skate as Vulnerable. Annual catches by South Korea averaged 2,700 tons in 1991–1993 but only 220 tons in 2001–2003, indicating a 90% population decline over a ten-year period. [Wiki]

Landings of skates in Korea, taken by fisheries from adjacent waters, have abruptly declined. In Korea, skates are   usually the species Raja pulchra (Jeong 1999). The average annual catch from 1991-1993 was 2,700 metric tonnes, but the catch in 2001-2003 was 220 metric tonnes (data from homepage of MOMAF of Republic of Korea 2004), reflecting a serious decline in the biomass collected [IUNC report].

The sayings

Fermented Skate Penis 홍어 거시기

Apparently, the female skate is preferred to its male counterpart because of taste and size. Female skate is bigger and has a better taste, where as the male skate is smaller. Fishermen prefer not to catch them because their penis is sharp, like a thorn and has been known to cut people. Needless to say,  for those that have tried eating the less expensive male skate, they will find that even if they add as many ingredients they can muster, the skate penis is flavorless and seen as a culinary useless thing. So in Korea, I’m not sure how popular the saying is, if a guy is useless and underappreciated, then he could be called a ‘Hongeo Penis’ (홍어 거시기)  [source].

The experience

Korean food is all about preservation, so even accompanying the food with pork, may have provided Koreans with a way to kill off germs on the pig meat, that may have been dangerous to consume alone. Nowadays, I think it’s more of a way to neutralize the smell and throw in some makgeolli (fermented rice alcohol) to help with that as well. Let’s just say I was trying to suck the sweetness of the pork and the familiar kimchi taste out of the whole thing, just so I could avoid the horrible ammonia taste invading my mouth! The worse part? It is not easy to just swallow, skate is a cartilaginous fish, making it too freaken chewy to chew (>_<).

The Video

One of the few on Youtube who didn’t seem to mind:

Fermented Skate: 

11th Street Shopping – RODE VideoMic

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The folks over at Community Korea helped find expat ambassadors for 11th Street – an online market owned by SK Planet. I had no idea I would actually get it, so you could imagine the gleeful squealing that occurred when I received the official email congratulating me on my win. I let them know I was interested in buying a mic with the money, and lo and behold my prayers were and answered! WooooOOOoooo! So I ended up with the RØDE VideoMic. The best part is I was able to get the cheapest one at $138,000 WON. Here are the specs:

  • Power: 9V battery powered
  • Acoustic Principle: Line gradient
  • Directional Pattern: Super Cardioid
  • Frequency Range: 40 Hz – 20 kHz, selectable HPF @ 80 Hz/12 dB/octave
  • Output Impedance: 200 ohms
  • Sensitivity: -38 dB re 1 Volt/Pascal (12 mV @ 94dB SPL) +/- 1 dB @ 1 kHz
  • Equivalent Noise: 20 dB SPL (A-weighted per IEC651)
  • Dynamic Range: 114 dB (per IEC651)
  • Maximum SPL: 134 dB (@ 1 kHz, 5% THD into 1k ohm load)
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 74 dB (A-weighted per IEC651)
  • Battery Life: >100 hours
  • Output Connection: 3.5 mm (1/8 inch) stereo jack plug
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 2.56 x 9.84 x 4.02 inches (65 x 250 x 102 mm)
  • Weight: 6.21 ounces (176 g)

RODE VIdeoMic on Nikon 5100

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So without further ado, here is my review video:

For a RØDE VideoMic review, here is a great review I saw on Youtube, just click here.

Thank you again to those at 11th Street and Community Korea. Check out their websites! :

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