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Historic Seoul

The seonbi spirit

When you are tired of apartment buildings, shopping centers, and even traditional markets, it is always lovely to stroll around some of the oldest parts of Seoul.  There are sites here that stretch back into the past and connect the city's present with the endless stream of life that has flowed through this place for millennia.  The grandest of all Seoul's palaces, the Gyeongbokgung Palace compound, is so massive that you can never see it all in one visit.  Its accessibility and cheap entry price make it worth revisiting at least once a season; every trip is bound to yield some new delights.  Construction on the palace began in 1934, after Seoul was chosen as the capital of the Joseon Dynasty.  During the Japanese colonial  period (1910-1945), more than half the existing buildings were destroyed.  However, many of the more majestic structures still stand or have been reconstructed. The traditional changing of the guard ceremonies are recreated several times each day before the imposing Gwanghwamun Gate, whose reconstruction was completed just last August.  On top of its countless treasures to be discovered, the palace compound also houses the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum of Korea.

Where to Eat

There is a little alley running perpendicular to the western outer wall of Gyeongbokgung compound that has some very tasty and affordable Korean restaurants - Saemaeul-Sikdang, a kimchi jjigae specialty house, and a place famous for its broiled fish.  Just come out of the west gate ad go down the alley almost directly across the road.

Getting There

Gyeongbokgung Station Line 3, Exit 5.  Or, for a scenic route, come out of Gwanghwamun Station, Exit 5, to Gwanghwamun Plaza and walk all the way up to the main gate of the palace.

All-Inclusive Ticket

An all-inclusive ticket (10,000 won, valid for 1 month) for Seoul's four major palaces (Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, and Deoksugung) and Jongmyo Shrine is available at the ticket offices of all these five destinations.

More Info

Website: www.royalpalace.go.krT.  (02) 723-4283.  Closed every Tuesday.  Open 9am-6pm (Mar-Oct) and 9am-5pm (Nov-Feb).  Open until 7pm on weekends and national holidays (May-Aug).  Admission 3,000 won for adults, 1,500 won for children.  Free guided tours (about one hour) are available from inside the gate where you show your ticket.  Call ahead for groups of 10 or more.

The most accessible of old Seoul's gates

Seoul was once a citadel, a city surrounded by 18 kilometers of wall.  Four large and four small gates provided access to the nation's capital.  Of the four large gates in each of the cardinal directions, only those in the north and east stand unscathed (the west gate is gone, and the south gate was damaged by arson in 2008).  Dongdaemun ("the great east gate") is known as Heunginjimun, literally "gate of rising benevolence."  The first gate was built in 1396 during the reign of King Taejo, the first monarch of the Joseon Dynasty.  The portal currently standing was built in 1869.  The neighborhood is now better known for the fashion shopping district that sprang up just nearby, but the gate is unmissable, sitting incongruously at the intersection of some of Seoul's busier streets. The gate itself is not usually open to public access, but it is possible to navigate your way around it and admire the centuries-old walls partly overgrown with ivy.  Just north of the gate is part of the old city wall, demolished to allow for the city's expanding girth.  Some of it was used to build what followed - a church just opposite the gate sits upon the wall's foundations.  You can hike along the wall up to Mt. Naksan Park.  South of the gate, at Dongdaemun History and Culture Park, another section of the wall has recently been restored and is now open to the public.

Where to Eat

Try the street food tents just across from the fashion market, south of the gate.  There are lots of cheap and tasty eats there, and the atmosphere is convivial, especially at night.

Getting There

Dongdaemun Station, Lines 1&4, Exit 6.  To find the remnants of the old city wall, take the road immediately north of the gate, to the right of one church and leading toward another church.  Look for the path that comes off to the left.

Where ancestral music is still played

Jongmyo is the royal shrine of the Joseon Dynasty.  Here, nineteen kings and thirty of their wives are memorialized.  Their bodies are not here - just their name tablets.  It is these stone tablets that were the objects of Confucian rituals of ancestor reverence.  Jongmyo was built in 1934, the same year as Gyeongbokgung.  Over the years, the shrine was extended to accommodate more deceased kings and their consorts.  The entire complex was rebuilt in 1601 after being burnt down by Japanese invaders.  A beautiful tradition of music and dance developed in the rite, which is still held on the first Sunday of each May, called the Jongmyo Jerye.  Performers dressed as royal servants play court music, Jerye-ak, and the late monarchs of Korea are venerated.  This music and rite were recognized in 2001 as the first of Korea's Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.  Other ceremonies and performances are held there five times a year.  Even on a non-ceremonial day, Jongmyo is impressive as the longest building ever built in the traditional Korean style, facing a massive courtyard measuring 100 by 150 meters.  It was added to UNESCO's World Heritage list in 1995.

More info

On weekdays and Sundays (except Tuesdays, when it is closed), admission to Jongmyo is only allowed for guided tours.  English tours are at 10am and 11am, and at 2pm and 3pm.  Call (02) 765-0195 to reserve a place, or have a Korean friend do it on the website. Every Saturday, it is open to visitors without guided tours.  Opening hours are 9am-6pm (Mar-Sept) and 9am-5:30pm (Oct-Feb).  Entry costs 1,000 won for adults and 500 won for children.  Website:

Places to eat

Try the handmade noodles (kalguksu) or dumpling soup (manduguk) in the small restaurant above the pharmacy (cheerfully labeled "Have a healthy day") outside Exit 8 of Jongno 3-ga Station.

Getting There

Jongmyo is within five minutes' walk of Jongno 3-ga Station.  From Line 1, take Exit 11 (walk straight and take the first road to the left); from Line 3 or 5, take Exit 8 (walk straight and then follow the road to the right).

Jeong-dong - where the east first met west

This quiet street, running from the side wall of Deoksugung Palace up to where Seodaemun, the Great West Gate, once stood, still resonates with the history of early modern Korea.  Many of Seoul's first encounters with Wester education, medicine, diplomacy, imperialism, and religion took place here on the western edge of the walled city.  It was at the former Russian Legation that the penultimate Joseon monarch, King Gojong, spent a year after his wife, Queen Min, was assassinated.  Nearby, the first western-style hotel in Seoul, the Sontag Hotel, was built.  The beautiful Jungmyeongjeon, recently restored, was once the King's library and part of Deoksugung before becoming a banquet hall, then the location of the treaty that made Korea a Japanese protectorate, and later on the foreigners-only Seoul Club.  In this neighborhood, you will also find Korea's oldest Protestant churches, the U.S. Embassy residence, the first girls' high school in Korea, and much more.  There is an abundance of charming places to eat and stop for a coffee along the way.

More Info

For a more informative walk, follow Tour 2 of "Seoul's Historic Walks" by Chou Insouk and Robert Koehler.

Where to Eat

Since you are in Jeong-dong, it makes sense to try some foreign food.  The Brazilians may not have been there in 1900, but they have a restaurant there now called Ipanema, serving all-you-can-eat Brazilian barbecue.  Opposite the Canadian Embassy and up the hill a little.

Getting There

The neighborhood of Jeong-dong can be reached on foot from City Hall Station, Lines 1&2.  Take exit 1, turn 180 degrees, and take the first left turn.  Follow the wall of Deoksugung Palace along to the roundabout and take the middle road.

-The article courtesy of Seoul magazine

Traditianal Korean Thought

Traditional Korean thought

Traditional Korean thought has been influenced by a number of religious and philosophical thought-systems over the years. As the main influences on life in Korea, often Korean Shamanism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. These movements have shaped Korean life and thought.


Traditional rites and shamanistic practices have developed in Korea for millennia. Throughout Korean history, native shamanism deeply influenced and was influenced by Buddhism and Taoism. In contemporary Korean, a shaman is known as a mudang.

Even though belief in Korean shamanism is not as widespread as it once was, the practices are kept alive. The mudang seeks to solve human problems through a connection to the spirits. This can be seen clearly in the various types of gut that are still widely performed.


Korean Buddhist thinkers refined ideas originally introduced from China into a distinct form. The Three Kingdoms of Korea introduced Buddhism to Japan, from where it was popularized in the West. Korean Buddhism consists mostly of the Seon lineage, which is derivative of the Chen (Zen) Buddhism of China and precursor to Zen Buddhism known in the West through Japan.

Buddhist temples can be found in most parts of Korea and many are considered national treasures.


Haeinsa is a Buddhist temple in South Gyeongsang.


One of the most substantial influences in Korean intellectual history was the introduction of Confucian thought as part of the cultural exchange from China. Today the legacy of Confucianism remains a fundamental part of Korean society, shaping the moral system, the way of life, social relations between old and young, and high culture, and even survived the modernization of the legal system.

Mud Festival

The Boryeong Mud Festival is an annual festival which takes place during the summer in Boryeong, a town around 200 km south of Seoul, South Korea. The first Mud Festival was staged in 1998 and, by 2007, the festival attracted 2.2 million visitors to Boryeong.

The mud is taken from the Boryeong mud flats, and trucked to the Daecheon beach area, where it is used as the centrepiece of the 'Mud Experience Land'. The mud is considered rich in minerals and used to manufacture cosmetics. The festival was originally conceived as a marketing vehicle for Boryeong mud cosmetics.

Although the festival takes place over a period of around two weeks, it is most famous for its final weekend, which is popular with Korea's western population. The final weekend of the festival usually falls on the second weekend in July.

History of the Festival

In 1996 a range of cosmetics was produced using mud from the Boryeong mud flats. The cosmetics were said to be full of minerals, bentonites, and germaniums, all of which occur naturally in the mud from the area.

In order to promote these cosmetics, the Boryeong Mud Festival was conceived. Through this festival, it was hoped people would learn more about the mud and the cosmetics. The festival has become popular with both Koreans and western tourists, as well as American Military personnel stationed in the country, and foreign English teachers working in Korea.

The festival attracted some controversy in 2009 when a group of school children attending the festival developed skin rashes after contact with the mud.


For the period of the festival several large attractions are erected in the seafront area of Daecheon. These include a mud pool, mud slides, mud prison and mud skiing competitions. Colored mud is also produced for body painting. A large stage is erected on the beach, which is used for live music, competitions and various other visual attractions.

A small market runs along the seafront selling cosmetics made using the mud from Boryeong. Various health and beauty clinics offer massages, acupuncture and other treatments utilising the medicinal qualities of the mud.

The festival is closed with a large firework display.


Jesa is a ceremony commonly practiced in Korea. Jesa functions as a memorial to the ancestors of the participants. Jesa are usually held on the anniversary of the ancestor's death.

Kinds of ancestor rituals

There are several kinds of ancestor rituals such as gijesa (기제사), charye (차례), seongmyo (성묘), myosa (묘사). Gijesa is a memorial service which is held on the day of the ancestor's death every year. Gijesa is performed until upwards of four generations of ancestors in the eldest descendant's house. Memorial services that are performed on Chuseok or New Year's Day are called "charye," On April 5th and before Chuseok, Koreans visit the tombs of their ancestors and cut the grass off the tombs. Then, they offer food, fruits, and wine, and finally make bows in front of the tombs. Memorial services that are performed in front of tombs are called "seongmyo". Finally Myosa are performed at the tomb site in the lunar month of October to conduct in memory of old ancestors (five or more generations).


To perform ancestor rituals, the family at the eldest son's house prepare many kinds of food such as wine, taro soup, beef, fish, three different colored vegetables, many kinds of fruits, and rice cake or songpyon.

After midnight or in the evening the descendants set the shrine and in front of the shrine they set up written prayer. Several ritual greetings (kangshin) then follow. The first entails an offering of rice wine; a designed attendant then, recite a written prayer. At the conclusion of the first ritual offering, the eldest son would show his respects by performing a ritual bow twice. Then these things are followed by next eldest sons, sons-in law. When all the ritual offerings are made, all the attendants at the ceremony bow twice and the spirits are sent off until the next year. The table with the food and wine offerings is then cleared and the written prayer recited earlier on during the ceremony is set a fire.

Once all of these steps are completed, the feasting of the food and wine (or umbok) by the family members follows. Consuming the ritual food and wine is considered to be an integral part of the ceremony, as it symbolizes the receiving of the blessings bestowed upon the family.

Modern ancestor rituals

Ancestor worship has changed much in recent years. These days it is common to hold ancestor rituals up to only two generations of ancestors, and in some cases, people only hold rituals for their dead parents. In addition, more people are holding rituals in the evening, not after midnight. People can also perform ancestor rituals in a younger son's house.

Today, in most Korean families, ancestor rituals still remain an important part of their culture and they are faithfully observed. These ancestor rituals, in spite of revised form, continue to play an important part in modern Korean society, which testifies to their inherent importance in the lives of Koreans.

Global Leadership

Global Leadership is the interdisciplinary study of the key elements that future leaders in all realms of the human experience should acquire to effectively familiarize themselves with the psychological, physiological, geographical, geopolitical, anthropological and sociological effects of globalization. As a result of trends, starting with colonialism and perpetuated by the increase in communication, (brought about by the internet and other forms of human interaction based on the speed of computer-mediation) a host of meaningful new concerns face mankind; consisting of but not limited to: human enterprises, international business development and design, and significant shifts in geopolitical paradigms. The talent and insight it will take leaders to successfully navigate humanity through these developments have been collectively gathered around the phenomenon of globalization.

Global Leadership competencies

Global competencies include the following.

Recognizing differences in the world based on

  • Physiological factors
  • Socialization
  • Geographically based factors
  • Anthropological factors
  • Socio-economic factors
  • Race, ethnicity & color
  • Sex and Gender
  • Physical Disability
  • Religion

Using technology to make and maintain truly global connections by maintaining

  • Diversity at all levels of the organization
  • Multi-national corporations and subsidiaries
  • Virtual workspaces and business chains
  • Social Networking
  • Information access and availability

Cross-cultural Competency (C3)

A set of 40 general cross-cultural learning statements (knowledge, skills, and personal characteristics) were recommended by a DoD focus group in order to foster the career development of cross-cultural competence in military and civilian personnel.

  • Willingness to Engage
  • Cognitive Flexibility & Openness
  • Emotional Regulation
  • Tolerance of Uncertainty
  • Self-Efficacy
  • Ethnocultural Empathy

The nine GLOBE cultural competencies are

  1. Performance orientation - refers to the extent to which an organization or society encourages and rewards group members for performance improvement and excellence.
  2. Assertiveness orientation - is the degree to which individuals in organizations or societies are assertive, confrontational, and aggressive in social relationships.
  3. Future orientation - is the degree to which individuals in organizations or societies engage in future-oriented behaviors such as planning, investing in the future, and delaying gratification.
  4. Human orientation - is the degree to which individuals in organizations or societies encourage and reward individuals for being fair, altruistic, friendly, generous, caring, and kind to others.
  5. Collectivism I: Institutional collectivism - reflects the degree to which organizational and societal institutional practices encourage and reward collective distribution of resources and collective action.
  6. Collectivism II: In-group collectivism - reflects the degree to which individuals express pride, loyalty and cohesiveness in their organizations or families.
  7. Gender egalitarianism - is the extent to which an organization or a society minimizes gender role differences and gender discrimination.
  8. Power distance - is defined as the degree to which members of an organization or society expect and agree that power should be unequally shared.
  9. Uncertainty avoidance - is defined as the extent to which members of an organization or society strive to avoid uncertainty by reliance on social norms, rituals, and bureaucratic practices to alleviate the unpredictability of future events.

Dining Etiquette

Dining etiquette

Dining etiquette in Korea can be traced back to the Confucian philosophies of the Joseon period. Guidebooks, such as Sasojeol (士小節, Elementary Etiquette for Scholar Families), written in 1775 by Yi Deokmu (李德懋), comment on the dining etiquette for the period. Suggestions include items such as "when you see a fat cow, goat, pig, or chicken, do not immediately speak of slaughtering, cooking or eating it", "when you are having a meal with others, do not speak of smelly or dirty things, such as boils or diarrhea," "when eating a meal, neither eat so slowly as to appear to be eating against your will nor so fast as if to be taking someone else's food. Do not throw chopsticks on the table. Spoons should not touch plates, making a clashing sound" amongst many other recommendations which emphasized proper table etiquette.

The eldest male at the table was always served first, commonly served to them in the men's quarters by the women of the house. Women usually dined in a separate portion of the house after the men were served. The eldest men or women always ate before the younger family members. The meal was usually quiet, as conversation was discouraged during meals. In modern times, these rules have become lax, as families usually dine together now and use the time to converse. Of the remaining elements of this decorum, one is that the younger members of the table should not pick up their chopsticks or start eating before the elders of the table.

In Korea, unlike in China and Japan, the rice bowl is not lifted from the table when eating from it. This is due to the fact that each diner is given a metal spoon along with the chopsticks known collectively as sujeo. The use of the spoon for eating rice and soups is expected. There are rules which reflect the decorum of sharing communal side dishes; rules include not picking through the dishes for certain items while leaving others, and the spoon used should be clean, because usually diners put their spoons in the same serving bowl on the table. Diners should also cover their mouths when using a toothpick after the meal.

The table setup is important as well, and individual place settings, moving from the diner's left should be as follows: rice bowl, spoon, then chopsticks. Hot foods are set to the right side of the table, with the cold foods to the left. Soup must remain on the right side of the diner along with stews. Vegetables remain on the left along with the rice, and kimchi is set to the back while sauces remain in the front.

Korean chopsticks made of silver.

Drinking etiquette

The manner of drinking alcoholic drinks at dining is particularly important in Korean dining etiquette. Each diner is expected to face away from the eldest male and cover his mouth when drinking alcohol. In the most formal situations, when the eldest male offers a drink, the diner should politely refuse it three times. After three refusals, when the eldest male offers one more time, then finally the diner can receive it.

2010 Fall/Winter Trip

2010.12.3~ 12.5

2010 InKAS Fall/Winter Trip in Jeonju & Muju ♥

InKAS New website

InKAS has now opened a new website!! :D

We hope that this new site will make it easier for you to navigate and find the information you are looking for. Also when applying for services we have made it easier have a overview of what services are available and the status of your application, you will find this in My Applications. We will be continuously updating the website with fresh information and features to improve the communication with the InKAS members.

Please take a good look at My Account page and correct the missing or wrong information about you. Especially check your Type of member and select Adoptee or what ever your type of membership is. That would help us a lot. You can also see your payment status, a lot of our members haven't paid their membership due to some how complicated payment process. This should be easy enough and automatically updates your payment status so you can apply for InKAS services.

Note that the previous address will not be used anymore, is now on the valid address.

The website is still fresh and as any other website unpredicted problems may occur, if so please notify us and we will fix it.

Our email is still the same,

If you have any thoughts you would like to share, please leave a comment below (first login).

2010 InKAS Summer camp

5/21~5/28  2010 InKAS Summer Camp  ♥

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