Korean’s “Brushing Teeth” Culture

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Annyeong!

Since we were little, we were taught to brush our teeth at least two times a day: In the morning and before we go to bed. I think that is the usual frequency of people brushing their teeth. But after almost 6 months living in Korea, I found that Koreans’ way of brushing teeth is unique for me. Everyday, (especially after lunch time or dinner time), the bathrooms and toilets in every public places are crowded with people fighting for a sink to brush their teeth. These public places include school and universities’ bathrooms, public toilets in subway stations, malls, and even tourism places. Back in Indonesia, I don’t think I usually saw someone brushing their teeth after lunch in malls, schools or restaurants.

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I once asked my Korean friend why they brush teeth so much even in public places. And she said that it’s just a habit and perspective how Koreans really value oral hygiene. That is why they ALWAYS bring a toothbrush and a tooth paste in their bags, everywhere they go. I usually witness my friends “disappear” to the bathroom before classes start, after eating lunch in restaurants, or even in malls- and then come back a few minutes later, carrying a set of toothbrush and toothpaste in his/her hand. There is even a joke saying that you could forget to bring your phone, but don’t ever forget to bring your toothbrush! Lol

Aside from the cultural thingy and habits, there may be some scientific reasons on why Koreans need to brush that much:

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  1. Korean foods contain a lot amount of chili powder. (KIMCHI, for example). This Korean chili powder, (고추 가루), isn’t really powder at all and should be called ‘flaked chili’ or ‘coarse chili powder.’  Flaked chili is not easy to “flush” with just drinking water and chili speckled teeth have never been nice to look at. (it could be so embarrassing, tho!) Those flakes grip the surfaces of the smoothest enamel and easily embed themselves between the teeth.
  2. The second ingredient that could be commonly found here is Kim, (김)- which means seasoned seaweed. This seaweed is commonly used in Kimbap (sticky rice with fillings wrapped with seaweed), Fried Rice, and many other foods. However, having this seaweed stuck in your teeth after eating could be embarrassing. Substantial, dark green patches on the teeth can be mistaken for missing or severely rotted teeth or an advanced fungal infection.
  3. Garlic, is also a common food that you could find in almost every Korean food. So that could be one of the reasons why Koreans brush their teeth after every meal!

I hope this post could help you in knowing Korean culture little by little!

Best regards,

KoreanMate

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Launching Buku “Menggapai Asa di Korea” di KBRI Seoul

credit: koreanmate

credit: koreanmate

Hari Sabtu tanggal 14 Maret 2015 lalu,bertempat di Ruang Serbaguna KBRI Seoul,- Perpika (Persatuan Pelajar Indonesia di Korea) bekerja sama dengan KBRI Seoul, Senior Public Diplomacy Group-Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea (SPDG-MOFA) serta INAKOS (International Association of Korean Studies in Indonesia) mengadakan peluncuran buku “PERPIKA untuk Indonesia” yang pada edisi perdana ini berjudul Menggapai Asa ke Korea. Buku ini berkisah tentang berbagai cerita kehidupan pelajar Indonesia di Korea Selatan. Peluncuran buku dihadir oleh Duta Besar RI, Bapak John A. Prasetio, perwakilan dari Senior Public Diplomacy Group, MoFA yang dipimpin oleh Bapak Choi Ha-kyung, Prof. Yang Seung Yoon dari Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Staf KBRI Seoul, Pengurus Perpika, para penulis buku dan mahasiswa Indonesia lainnya.

Dalam sambutannya Dubes RI menyatakan bahwa buku ini merupakan cerminan perjuangan pelajar Indonesia di Korea, terutama bagi pekerja Indonesia yang juga tergabung dalam Univeritas Terbuka Korea. Perjuangan mereka memang tidak mudah, karena selain bekerja juga harus menempuh pendidikan di Universitas Terbuka. Beliau juga mengutip alur film Korea berjudul “Ode to My Father” yang menceritakan seorang anak yang berjuang dalam hidupnya untuk menjadi sukses dengan membawa pesan-pesan dari ayahnya.

credit: koreanmate

credit: koreanmate

Presiden Senior Public Diplomacy Group, MoFA, Bapak Choi Ha-kyung menyatakan kebanggannya atas terbitnya buku ini dan diharapkan dapat menjadi bahan acuan bagi pelajar-pelajar lainnya. Ia juga mengatakan bahwa kian hari makin banyak orang Korea yang mengenal dan tertarik dengan Indonesia. Memang,selain anggota PERPIKA, pada malam itu hadir juga mahasiswa-mahasiswa Korea yang belajar sastra Melayu-Indonesia di HUFS (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies).

Buku ini merupakan wadah sejumlah 23 anak bangsa dalam menuangkan pengalaman belajar dan berkarya mereka di Korea. Dari semua penulis itu, sebagian besar adalah mahasiswa Indonesia yang tengah menempuh ilmu di berbagai universitas di Korea. Sementara itu, 5 orang di antaranya adalah para pekerja migran Indonesia yang juga menyandang status sebagai mahasiswa Universitas Terbuka Indonesia di Korea (UT Korea) ditambah 2 orang yang merupakan mantan tenaga migran Indonesia. Buku ini merupakan hasil kerja keras dari Kementrian Akademik dan Riset yang dipunggawai oleh Adam F. Nugraha, Suray A. Nugroho, Riezqa Andika, Theresia Ratih, Yus Chaniago, Anne Soraya, dan Fardhila Rochman.

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Buku Menggapai Asa di Korea ini penuh inspirasi karena penulisnya menceritakan perjuangan mereka mendapatkan beasiswa/ pekerjaan di Korea secara lugas dan jujur. Mereka menyemangati para adik-adik kelas atau siapapun yang ingin ke Korea untuk percaya bahwa dengan semangat dan kerja keras, semuanya tidak mustahil untuk diraih. Buku ini juga mengulik adanya perbedaan budaya antara Indonesia dengan Korea yang harus dijembatani oleh para pelajar Indonesia di Korea.

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[purchase_link id=”http://www.perpika.kr/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Artikel-Peluncuran-Buku-PERPIKA-untuk-Indonesia-plus.pdf” style=”button” color=”orange” text=”Download here”]

THE NEW PRE-PAID EG SIM CARD: THE BEST SOLUTION WHEN YOU TRAVEL IN KOREA

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Annyeong!

One of the problems that we (as foreigners) have when travelling to Korea is that it is not that easy to buy a SIM-card here. Unlike Indonesia,-who has so many providers like XL or Simpati,- Korea only has a few providers to choose from . In Korea, there are three mobile telecommunications service providers: KT, SKT, and LG U+. These providers operate authorized service centers and phone retail stores called 공식 인증 대리점 (gongsik injeung daerijeom), where you can subscribe to a phone service and purchase a mobile phone. An authorized store should carry the logo of its parent company (and not others), as well as a sign that says “공식 인증 대리점.”

Mobile phone subscriptions require proper identification and proof of residency. Usually, a valid passport and an alien registration card suffice as documents for review by the service providers. The Status of Stay, shown on every alien registration card, determines the eligibility for subscription to either pre- or post-payment plan. Some foreigners may not be eligible to subscribe to the post-payment plan. If you subscribe to a pre-payment plan, you must either have your own mobile phone or purchase a new one.

These three main providers have the largest area of Wi-Fi connections including in subways and roads.

However, if you are only travelling or staying in Korea for less than 6 months, then it would be so difficult for you to get a SIM-Card. They usually charge a very high price if you don’t stay that long. The other options would be renting a phone (which would also cost a lot but easier than buying a SIM card) or buying a Wi-Fi egg (if you go in groups).

As I would only live in Korea for 5 months, then it would be so expensive if I need to buy or rent a phone here; but in the other hand  it would be difficult for me to connect with my family and friends if I don’t have any SIM-Card. However worry no more, because there is a new Pre-Paid SIM card called the EG (Ever Green) Sim Card in Korea!! *celebration time*

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To find out more about EG SIM card, you can visit their official website : http://www.egsimcard.co.kr and click the “ENGLISH” button if you don’t understand Korean!

With EG SIM card, you can enjoy:

  • Both voice and data with your own phone at affordable prices
  • Access to internet anywhere in Korea using Korea’s best quality mobile network
  • Various ways to recharge – through homepage, smart phone application and local convenient stores

EG Sim Card is perfect for:

  • Tourists with smartphone who need or want internet access anytime & anywhere regardless of Wi-Fi hotspot availability
  • Foreigners who live temporarily in South Korea

There are two ways to buy this simcard : Via online and offline. If you want to buy it via online, then you could simply go to http://www.egsimcard.co.kr/eng/buy-eg-sim-card/online/buy-egsimcard.asp and follow the instructions!

I got a brochure about this new sim card and was totally interested in buying it so I decided to visit their offices. Rather than buying it online, I chose to buy offline so I visited the Mobile Agency in Myeong Dong Area. It is near the China Embassy.

EG Mobile agency (Myeongdong)

34, Myeongdong 2-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul, 100-011

OPEN 10:00 ~ 18:30 , Monday~Sunday

(Please be aware that you must be in Korea for 5 days before you could buy a sim card via offline).

EG Mobile Agency in Myeongdong

EG Mobile Agency in Myeongdong

The office is quite small but comfortable. There were two women sitting there who speak fluent Korean,English,Japanese and Chinese- so you do not need to worry about communication!

Make sure to bring your passport or Alien Registration Card with you because they need it for registration. You could also choose the 4 number digits for your new phone number! After they explain about the data usage and charges, you need to wait for 20 minutes for the sim card to be activated. There is a coffee shop downstairs so you could go and relax yourself there!

After 20 minutes, your sim card is now ready to use! The price is 30,000 won but it already includes a 40,000 won balance that you can use for internet, calling, messaging and others. Please be aware about the validity (Expiry date) of your data package! If the expiry date passes, you cannot use the service anymore. If the balance is empty, the service is also no longer valid. So please be careful to top-up your balance before the expiry date!


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You can top-up as much money as you want before the expiry date. The balance must be only recharged per 10,000 won. There are three ways to top-up your balance :

  1. Payment by Credit card (VISA/MASTER/JCB/AMEX)

Just click the EG SIM Card application in your phone-Top Up menu- Top Up for Voice-Payment option- credit card

  1. Payment by Bank Credit Transfer

Hana Bank 190-910331-19907 (but I don’t recommend this way because it’s too complicated)

  1. PAYMENT BY CASH!! *the easiest*

Just go to the MyeongDong Mobile Agency office and buy it there!

I’ve been using it for a week now and I must say that EG-Sim Card works very well! Before, I need to go to coffee shops, Cafes, or big malls just to get wi-fi and contact my family/friends but now I could chat online or browse the internet anywhere anytime, even inside the subway trains (that is like 3 levels underground LOL)

Wishing you a safe and fun experience during your trip/stay in Korea!

Best regards,

KoreanMate

March 2nd: The Spring Semester Begins!

Chalkboard with words "back to school"

Annyeong!

So I had arrived in Korea for 4 days and now I am currently living in Seoul, South Korea. In Korea, there are two academic semesters each year which are the Fall Semester and Spring Semester. Most Korean universities admit new students twice a year. For Spring semester starting in March applications are usually opened from September 1 to November 30. For Fall semester starting in September applications are opened from April 1 to June 31. Each semester is about 4 months. Vacations are in Summer and Winter, with each vacation each spanning about 2 months. There are also summer and winter classes, and many Korean universities offer Korean Language Courses in summer and winter for international students.

The interesting thing is, unlike in Indonesia, almost all universities start their semester in the exact same day. Today is March 2nd and guess what…it’s the first day of Spring Semester! For the past few days, I always see Korean students in streets, subways and buses bringing small bags to go hang out with their friends. Late at night, they will still be seen in the streets and clubs, playing until midnight or maybe dawn.

But as today is the first day of spring semester, the view changes. Since 8 am in the morning, the subways-buses-and streets are filled with Korean students bringing their laptop and backpacks walking to their own universities, including my university: KyungHee university. Usually, the dorm is still quiet in 9-10 am in the morning as everyone is still sleeping. But today, the dorm is so busy and crowded with students being fully dressed since 8 am in the morning! It’s crazy how they really wake up early to eat breakfast, shower, get make up and dressed nicely to go to the class. They really don’t want to be late at their classes.

Yes, one of the important things in the university life here is your attendance. The attendance is counted as a percentage of your final grade and you must have a minimum of 70% full attendance to be able to join the final exams. If you miss the class more than 30%, then you will be given an “F” grade. So basically, being absent can make you fail immediately. I don’t know how all universities in Indonesia is working but at least in my university in Indonesia, your attendance does not affect your grade. You have a “maximum absence” for each course, depending on the credits. And those attendance only determines whether you are able to take the final exam or not.

During lunch, almost all book stores, libraries and study rooms are occupied with students. I personally think that Koreans really prioritize their study. One of the most common grading system here is called a “relative grading” which means that your grade is affected by the class proportion. For example, only 20% of the class could get an A. The rest got a B, C and D. So that is the reason why everyone seems eager to study. It’s because the competition level among each students are really high here.

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spring semester starts!!

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wearing full gear lol

As for the weather information, it is still really cold here in Seoul. In the morning and night, the temperature could drop to below zero. Sometimes it reaches -7 degree celcius so it is really cold here. Everyone is still wearing jackets and long pants. As for me, who came from a tropical country like Indonesia, wears layers of clothes, gloves, and masks on. Yep.

So wish me luck for the Spring Semester!

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Best regards,

KoreanMate