Yesterday I went to "Korean Language Love Night" at the Korean consulate general in Toronto and it was pretty fun! And before I continue, no, it's not a speed dating service in which you can only speak Korean. Basically the night was for Korea enthusiasts to come together and listen to the consulate staff tell us how awesome Korea is and why we should be totally stoked about it! And we are! or I am anyway! 대한민국! boom* boom* boom* boom *boom*. So basically the consulate went over a bunch of interesting programs and stuff they offer, like the Talk program - anyone who is a university undergrad and wants to teach elementary students in Korea with sweet benefits NEEDS TO CHECK THIS OUT! (Talk program - Korean consulate general - google that yo!). The presentation culminated in a demonstration of the traditional Korean string instrument, played by the leading musician of Korea's traditional music association (it's got a different name but I can't remember it, sorry guys -_-) the Geomungo, which has a beautiful sound. There was delicious food - featuring massive amounts of bulgogi, kimchi, japchae, and kimbap. I also got some prizes!
They were asking the guests questions about Korea with prizes if you got the right answer. The one I got was "Who was the mythical founder of Korea?" and no one seemed to know it, so I slowly put my hand up and said "Tangun?" and I got it right! For those of you who don't know, according to myth, Korea was founded by the son of the king of heaven whose name was Hwannung. Hwannung (for lack of a better word) "transformed" a bear into the first female human and they got together and made Tangun. Tangun started making the place and people that would eventually come to be known as Korea and Koreans. That is a REALLY simplified version, but it's the gist of it anyway. Some anthropologists think that's why Christianity was more well received in Korea than elsewhere in Asia because of the monotheist nature of their creation myth... anyway, to add to my satisfaction an older Korean woman next to me made an exaggerated sound of surprise at my getting it right and I got a free 2 gig USB key for my troubles. I love surprising people with knowledge, so satisfying! And the USB key itself is pretty snazzy.
I suppose its pretty "girly" looking with all those pastel colours, but ya gotta admit, its pretty with its traditional Korean motifs! It even comes with a little case, awe... and the key itself folds in and out, its even encased in mother of pearl! The other prize I got, which was given to everyone were these red ginseng candies.
Red ginseng tastes pretty weird if you've never tried it before, fortunately a friend of mine's mother gave me a whole bunch of red ginseng before I left Korea last summer so I developed a taste for it. Red ginseng is one of Korea's major exports. It's supposed to be super healthy and give you awesome powers and stuff... alright well, not so much, but its supposed to give you energy and keep your immune system up and aid you in your general wellness. I suppose we could all use some of that. One thing they mentioned at the event was that the Korean consulate is having a "I love Korea because..." film contest, where people must make a video explaining why they love Korea. There are some awesome prizes available - the first prize is a trip to Korea and a free K-pop concert. That would be totally fun and awesome, but I am, very likely (at this point) going to Korea for school in September for a year so I'm not too worried about getting over there. The 2nd and 3rd prizes are Laptops and Tablet PC's! WANT! -I'm in the market for a new laptop so I can make videos about my schooling in Korea, but I aint got no job at the moment, so I'll try to win one! Also, if your video is awesome they will use it for promotional tourism material! How cool is that? So basically you have to make Korean (sort of) propaganda, but whatever! I like making videos and I do love Korea for myriad reasons, so its not like I'm lying! Woo! Can't wait to get started!