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A Community Event Celebrating "Korean Alphabet Day" Crafts, Performances, Food, and Family-Fun Activities On Saturday, Oct 12, the Barnard Asian Pacific Language Academy was transformed into a Korean school in celebration of Hangul Day, Korea’s national holiday known as “Korean Alphabet Day”. Classrooms were filled with various Korean language learning activities, such as learning basic words and phrases through Korean folk songs, a puppet show of King Sejong the Great, the creator of Hangul, author Helen Kim’s book reading of her new children’s book, “Jindo and the Moon”, and calligrapher Yong-mi Park’s calligraphy workshop. This event was sponsored by the International Korean Educators Network (IKEN) and hosted by KKonnect and Barnard APLA. Members of the San Diego K-Pop Flash Mob pose with guests and volunteers after performing at Hangul Day 2013.

Helen T. Kim, author and illustrator of “Jindo and the Moon” was on hand to read her book to the young guests. The Korean version of “Jindo and the Moon” was read to the audience, as well.

First steps in Korean were taught by visiting teachers, Sara Kim, HyunJoo Jeong, and So-Young Han from South Korea:


The children “get the wiggles out”. Dancing was one of the many activities enjoyed by guests attending Hangul Day 2013.

The story of King Sejong the Great was presented via puppet theatre by KKonnect members Byungtaek Lee, Gary Routh, Dani Druther and Simeon Rodgers.

Korea Connection

From Principal Edward Park of Barnard APLA: "Hangul Day was a huge success! Parents and students enjoyed learning all about Korea and the Korean alphabet. Special thanks go out to Jini Shim of KKonnect and Korea Daily for organizing this event, Carol Kim and her crew coming out to volunteer, and IKEN Board members Ellen Park, Chiae Byun Kitayama, and Elena Paul for their generous grant.

“Team Sejong” was the theme of the day, as children paraded happily around the Barnard campus in their bright gold t-shirts.

Photos by Mike Avila and Ji-woong Choi

Calligraphy instructor Yong Mi Park dem- Barnard APLA’s principal Edward Park poses onstrated the fine art of calligraphy, and with his students wearing Team Sejong shirts guests were encouraged to try their hand at this ancient art form.

Special thanks Blue House Korean Restaurant and Korean Traditional Dance Group for the beautiful Hanbok. |


with Gary Routh

It Takes a Nation of Millions The names of different countries are one of the first things that new students of Korean learn. After all, one of the first things a Korean would ask a foreigner is “What country are you from?” One quickly realizes that a lot of country names end in the syllable 국 (“gook”), as in the following examples: 한국 “Han Gook” (韓國): Republic of Korea 미국 “Mi Gook” (美國): USA 영국 “Yeong Gook” (英國): England 중국 “Choong Gook” (中國): China 태국 “Tae Gook” (泰國): Thailand This is of course no coincidence. The 국 (“gook”) comes from the Chinese character for ‘nation’, ‘country’, or ‘kingdom’.

Different etymologies have been given for the character for the origin of this character, so the simplest way to describe it might be by taking a look at its composition: 口 – Enclosure, represents the border around the country. Inside this border are: 口 – Mouth, possibly represents people 一 – A line, maybe representing the ground, or maybe representing “one” people 戈 – Spear, representing the protection of the people Here is a picture of the character with each individual part in a different color:


At the very least it is good to know that국 (“gook”) can mean ‘nation’. Knowing this fact makes it easier to remember useful vocabulary words such as: 국기 “Gook Gi”(國旗): National Flag 國 ‘Nation’ + 旗 ‘Flag’ 국내 “Gook Neh”(國內): Domestic 國 ‘Nation’ + 內 ‘Inside’ 국제 “Gook Che” (國際): International 國 ‘Nation’ + 際 ‘Border’ 국립 “Gook Nip”(國立): National 國 ‘Nation’ + 立 ‘Stand’ or ‘Establish’ 국산 “Gook San” (國産): Domestically produced (Made in Korea) 國 ‘Nation’ + 産 ‘Give birth’ 국어 “Gook Eoh” (國語): National language 國 ‘Nation’ + 語 ‘Language’ 국회 “Gook Hoeh” (國會): The National Assembly (similar to U.S. Congress) 國 ‘Nation’ + 會 ‘Assemble’ or ‘Gather’

외국 “Weh Gook” (外國): Foreign country 外 ‘Outside’ + 國 ‘Nation’ 입국 “Ip Gook” (入國): Immigration, Enter a country 入 ‘Enter’ + 國 ‘Nation’ These are just a few of the hundreds of words ( lists a full 1,722) that use this character. Lets take a look at the Korean words for Korea, China, and America. We should start with Korea itself, which is generally called 한국 “Han Gook” ( 韓國) or ‘Nation of the Han (people)’. How Koreans came to be known as the ‘Han’ people is a long and complicated story – which we might have to save for another article. Though most South Koreans refer to their country as 한국 “Han Gook”, the official name is: 대한민국 (大韓民國): Great+Han+People+Nation, or ‘Republic of Korea’. It is worth noting that North Koreans do not call their nation한국 “Han Gook”. They still go by Korea’s old name ‘Chosun’조선 (朝鮮). The name “Chosun” itself also has a long and interesting history, but that will also have to be saved for another article. Next, lets take a look at China- 중국 “Choong Gook” (中國). 중“Choong” means ‘middle’, so 중국 “Choong Gook”

simply means ‘middle country’, although ‘middle kingdom’ would probably be a more appropriate translation. It is a reflection of the time when China was considered the center of civilization. This is what Chinese people also call themselves (although the Chinese pronunciation of the characters are different than Korean). Finally lets take a look at the Korean (and Chinese and Japanese) word for ‘America’, 미국 “Mi Gook” (美國). The character 美 (미 “Mi”) means “Beautiful”, so together the characters for ‘America’ mean ‘Beautiful Nation’. But the Chinese did not give us this name because of our amber waves of grain, and purple mountains majesty. The character for ‘beautiful’ was chosen because of the way it sounds. In Chinese it is pronounced ‘mei’ and was used as a shortened version of ahMEI-ri-cah. In reality美國 means ‘Mei Country’ more than it does ‘beautiful country’. One awkward aspect of this character and its pronunciation is that ‘gook’ is a racial slur in English. A common explanation you will come across on the Internet is that this term dates back to the Korean War. According to the story, when US troops landed in Korea they were met with cries of “Me-Gook!” (America!) and took this to mean that Koreans were introducing themselves as “Gook”. However usage of the term ‘gook’ goes back well before the Korean war and was used during World War II, and can possibly be traced to Tagalog. The similarity in sound of 국 國 to a racial slur is purely coincidence. |


Korea Connection

Gary Routh is an engineer at The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SPAWAR). He began learning Korean in 1994 using various methods, including the study of Hanja as a helpful tool in building vocabulary. Email him at

Drama Review

Sword and Flower

Romeo and Juliet, Goguryo-Style Beautifully scripted and delightfully enacted, Sword and Flower was a moving melodrama placed in a historical setting. Storyline/Synopsis: My Rating 7/10

Also known as “Blade and Petal”, this drama recounts a story of two major political dynamos at odds with each other at the end of the Goguryo* period in Korean history. The pacifistic King, Yeongnyu, believes that war with the Tang (Chinese Dynasty concurrent with Goguryo) will be the death of the “flower” (the people). The top military general, Yeon Gaesomun, believes that military strength is the only way to save the people, and that meeting the Tang head-on is key to the survival of the Goguryo Kingdom. He sees the King as weak and fears for the safety of the people. Each man firmly believes that what he desires is best for the people. Caught in the middle, in a Romeo and Julietlike dilemma are the children of the two great men: Princess So-hee and Choong, the illegitimate son of the general. In a drama fraught with crossed-purposes and misunderstood objectives, the young people fight to protect the principles important to them, as well as the people they love.

Script/Acting: My Rating 8/10 While filled with action and drama, the pace moves a little slower in Sword and Flower, allowing time for plot development and character development. The tempo befits the drama, however, and as the episodes progress, the drama becomes engrossing. An intriguing aspect of this story is that it does not attempt to create “good guys” and “bad guys” in the typical fashion of many dramas, but instead focuses on the difficult questions decisions intrinsic to leadership. Kim Ok-bin (Over My Dead Body, The Front Line) was Princess So-hee, also known as Moo-young when she infiltrates the enemy camp as a young male warrior. She was the kind of heroine every young woman admires: faithful, filial, loyal, and could sword-fight with the best of them. After witnessing the assassinations and degradation of her father and brother, she became the leader of a cause. Kim Ok-bin combined intelligence, strength and femininity to create a character that was more than appealing enough to garner the attention of the men around her. Her charisma was necessary and credible.

Korea Connection

Yeon Gaesomun's illegitimate son, Yeon Choong craved recognition by his father. Unfortunately, his father’s agenda was at odds with the plans of the woman he loved and pledged to protect: the Princess Sohee. Uhm Tae-woong (7th Grade Civil Servant, Man From Equator), while quiet and subtle in his acting, was powerful as the talented warrior, fighting an inner battle with himself at every crossroads. The chemistry between the two central characters was palpable in its authenticity. Choi Min-soo (Faith, Warrior Baek Dong-soo) was the dark, somber, powerful Yeon Gaesomun. For a character that was, by all intents and purposes, a stoic who showed no emotion for others to witness, Choi was remarkably talented at brooding looks that conveyed more than words. If there was a truly evil character in the drama, it was Yeon Namseng, legitimate son to Yeon Gaesomun. The nefarious young man was brought to life, in all his malevolent, bloodthirsty, maniacally powerhungry glory by No Min-woo (Full House Take 2, My Girlfriend is a Gumiho). Filled with jealousy over the attention his illegitimate brother receives, and with a natural passion for physical violence, Yeon Namseng

personifies the ‘bad gone badder’. No Min-woo’s soft, sweet face wreaks havoc with the viewer's mind as he transforms from well-spoken young nobleman to rogue and scoundrel with the flash of a sword or the swing of a fist- or whip! Cinematography: My Rating 7/10

Creative camera angles did much to enhance and contribute to the storytelling. A few stunts, while silly (and impossible) – i.e. the flipped upside down gaze – were charming, nonetheless. The lighting and sound were also managed and directed in a manner that enriched the story, rather than detracted. Overall Charisma: My Rating 7/10

A wonderful story combined with an illustrious cast created a drama that was a pleasure to watch. While the pace was slower than many viewers might find ideal, the tale is absorbing and the characters are thought provoking. Add to that beautiful sets and scenery and nice musical scoring and you have all the makings of a good evening in front of the television. Goguryo*: An interesting note: “Goguryo” is the name from which the modern name “Korea” is derived.

Cheryl Dawley holds degrees in Chemistry and Psychology, but is working in neither of those fields. Her current television and musical tastes do not seem to include much in the English language except for the odd loan word or catch phrase. Writing about Korean Music and Drama is her passion. Eating Korean food is a moral imperative.



Block B A Comeback We're Thankful For

Track-By-Track: Block B, 'Very Good' (Seven Seasons) Block B started off the year with much uncertainty. Contract disputes resulted in a lengthy legal battle with their former agency, Stardom Entertainment, which put a halt on the group’s activities and a large question mark over their future. Despite only debuting two years ago, their impact has become increasingly tremendous. Their hard-hitting hip-hop style has since reflected greatly in later and similar acts like B.A.P and Bangtan Boys, both of which have cited Block B as major influences and mentors. Now resettling into self-made label Seven Seasons, Block B is finally making their return with a new mini album. ‘Very Good’ offers a brief but varied reassurance to fans that the boys aren’t leaving anytime soon. (In fact, if ‘Very Good’ is any indicator, they’re about to get even better.)

"VERY GOOD": With the electro-infused and frantic

“Very Good” as opening track, Block B makes confident comeback. The energy makes the single sound almost as if they picked right up where the pirate-punks of “Nilili Mambo” left off. Block B leader Zico’s line of ‘How many fake MCs out there?’ directly challenges the current state


of the K-Pop scene, the kitsch of ‘aegyo rapping’ keeping the merits of many in question. The music video concept continues to project this rebellious idea, the ‘bank heist’ setting of the song reminiscent of a strange mixing of Lil Wayne’s “Got Money” and scenes from “The Dark Knight”.

"BE THE LIGHT": “Be The Light” offers a completely different perspective, contrasting its opener with a striking ballad. Lyrically, the song is from the perspective of a lonely boy wishing to be acknowledged and adored by the girl of his interest again, hoping that being in her ‘light’ will rid her from the ‘darkness’ he has been living in. Still, knowing of the struggles Block B went through, one cannot help but consider this something of a metaphor for how the year’s legal dramas stifled the members’ relationship with their fans. While Block B is not necessarily known for being a ballad group, it is nice to see how well they were able to pull a ballad song off, and I hope to see similar songs from them in future releases. "WHEN, WHERE, WHAT, HOW" featuring Jo Hyuna of Urban Zakapa: Kyung’s solo song “When, Where,

What, How” oozes in an understated cool. Collaborations in K-Pop so commonly misuse the featured artists – for example, SISTAR’s Hyorin on Dynamic Duo’s latest album, but the appearance of Urban Zakapa’s Jo Hyuna on this track is both flawless and complementing. One of our past issue’s ‘Indie Women to Watch’, Hyuna adds a new layer of ‘coffee shop’ credibility to the nature of the song, only augmented further by light piano and mellow bass. “When, Where, What, How” brings a new facet to Park Kyung’s image and role within Block B. His quick vacillations

Korea Connection

between rhyme and song prove his label as the group’s ‘lead rapper’ to be a bit of an injustice. Kyung’s got a lot more tricks up his sleeve, and he doesn’t seem to mind showing them off.

Block B promotional picture for 'Very Good' album, clockwise starting from bottom: Zico, Kyung, Taeil, U-Kwon, Jaehyo, P.O, B-Bomb

"NICE DAY": The final song “Nice Day” rounds the album out with another rap-heavy track, opening up by encouraging listeners back onto their feet. The song starts off by making an energetic shout-out to ‘party people’ and is paired with some hollering from the group’s rappers. However, the track the song is laid over does not seem to match the song as much as it probably should have. With embellished horns, drums, and piano, the accompaniment seems to better fit a jazz lounge than the hip-hop stage the hook and verses seem to have been written for. While exploring new genres and styles is integral to the further evolution of a group’s sound, it would have been nice to see something of a ‘throwback’ effort closing the album out. Last album ‘Blockbuster’ somewhat mastered the use of primal beats and urban sound, making it difficult to adapt to this newer approach. Overall, Block B seems to be developing a new plan of attack with their sound, offering a pretty wide range of genres and styles over a short four-track span. Known as something of the resident ‘hip-hop group’ of K-Pop, ‘Very Good’ shows that there are still more sides to Block B begging to be discovered. It will be exciting to see resurgence in production from the group. Just recently enjoying their first music show win on last month’s Inkigayo, the absence of their talent has been evidentially and greatly missed from the K-Pop scene. It’s good to have you back, boys. Now go back in the studio, and record us a longer album!

Block B's "Very Good" music video

Block B, 'Very Good' mini album cover

Dani is the former DJ/radio show host of Remix Reuse Resample on KUCI 88.9 FM in Irvine. She is currently a Korean language student and the proud owner of a BIGBANG lightstick.

Jo Hyuna (center) with Urban Zakapa |


A New Concept

in Fashion When garbage pail kids meets Korean Banchan

Korea has been front and center of the media blitz here in the United States. Couture Prototype, a unique vintage fashion based company, was recently blessed to visit South and North Korea first hand, via an exchange student program.  The war between the North and the South did not stop Carissa Toro from booking a flight; in fact, the scare tactics of the western media actually intensified her desire to visit Korea. Carissa Toro, our San Diego based fashion model, gave us a few firsthand accounts of Korea: “The temples are colorful, the food is amazingly different, and the city-life is similar to most metropolitan areas in the United States.  The conformity of the culture contradicts the infamous KPOP scene, which is a fusion of trendy fast paced Japanese Pop, and Western POP music.”


Korea Connection

After learning about the KPOP Culture, Couture Prototype created a special pair of high heel pumps for Carissa to wear in Korea. The shoes were originally a pair of 1960′s Sam Boyds (Vintage Las Vegas Couture), and then enhanced with a collage of original 1980′s Garbage Pail Stickers. The shoes were complimented with a vintage Anne Klein little black dress, wrapped with a baby blue Fendi belt. The overall look was simple, but the emphasis, was the Couture Prototype custom shoes. During dinner, Carissa noticed the interesting display of Ban-chan, side dish in Korean cuisine, as an artistic correlation to our Garbage Pail Kids shoes. The smorgasbord of side dishes were mirrored by the shoes, not because of the various colors, but the concept of enhancing an already beautiful subject, with extra traditional ingredients. Referring to the seaweed, fermented cabbage, and homegrown vegetables that we Westerners may take for granted. Both Carissa and Couture Prototype want to introduce this new east meets west connection to local San Diego fashion lovers.

Carissa Toro studied abroad at Soonchunhyang University in Asan-si, South Korea and is now majoring in International business with an emphases in Korean language. Couture Prototype Team is a San Diego based company that collects and sells high-end vintage fashion pieces. |


A New Children's Book!

Available in both English and Korean by a San Diego-based author Helen T. Kim About the book: Little Jindo awakens to embark on an exciting adventure, guided by his friend, the moon. Sliding on sand dunes and crossing oceans far and wide, Jindo takes us to exotic and distant lands.  Is it all just a dream? This enchanting story will capture the hearts and minds of animal lovers everywhere.  Jindo and the Moon will surely become your child's new favorite bedtime story. This enchanting tale has been translated from English to Korean!  Available for purchase on and Createspace. "Jindotales was created after adopting my first Korean Jindo dog, "Kabbe" a.k.a. "Gabbey" from Koreatown, in Los Angeles.  It is a forum where Jindo owners can share their adoption experiences in hopes of inspiring others to do the same.  "Jindo and the Moon" is the first book in my children's series and I truly hope you enjoy sharing it with your family." ~ Helen T. Kim


Korea Connection

KKonnect Q&A

Author, Entertainer & Entrepreneur,

Clara Lee and her

Cupcake Theory later, I went through a break-up with my then boyfriend, and surprisingly I realized I was not upset at him but at myself. While going through this period of curious self-reflection, I received a box of cupcakes as a gift from my older brother. Strangely, I made a comparison of the cupcakes’ pretty frosting and the cake itself, to individuals and their outer appearances or outside influences that make them or break them. From this point on, I started to share this idea of “The Cupcake Theory” with friends, and it spread quickly. It was about 2 years ago that I decided I will write a book about it.

The Cupcake Theory, is a powerful and encouraging sweet little book of wisdom that will empower and help women understand how they can flourish in romantic relationships. Through a charming analogy between cupcakes, self-worth, and significant other relationships, the book reinforces concepts of balancing one’s own self-awareness and needs with the desire for fulfilling romantic relationships. Q: How did you come up with the 'cupcake theory'?

Lee: It came from my personal experience of suffering from glaucoma, a break up with a boy, and a gift from my brother. In 2008, I suffered from glaucoma which kept me from doing the things that I loved to do as a student at Boston University doing various internships and activities as a performer and business major. So I resorted to writing, reading, and reflecting; and during this time I realized that the people and the relationships that you have are what matter the most. A year

Q: How much impact does your Korean American identity have on you and your goals?

Lee: It has a big impact. I believe that you are an accumulation of the experiences that you’ve had since you are born. My parents shaped my values, I care about the Korean culture— the manners, the cultural etiquettes, and the values that the Korean American communities hold. Koreans care about things that are on the outside, but also in terms of value, what’s inside—the family, community—is also a very big factor. These I think definitely made me who I am. Read full interview on

Purchase a copy today! Invite Clara Lee to speak at your Event: Contact (323)577-2258 or |


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