HANGEUL (KOREAN ALPHABET)
Hangeul, one of the most unique creations of the nation, was introduced in 1443 by King Sejong (r. 1418-1450), the 4th king of the Joseon dynasty. In order to help all commoners to easily read and write this new alphabet, Hunminjeongeum (meaning "Proper sounds to instruct the people" in Korean) was created. The name of the language was changed to the current Hangeul in the 20th century.
Hangeul is a series of scientifically designed characters. The alphabet is composed of basic consonants and vowels, each with a set sound, and a dot or a line added to form more sounds. The 5 main consonants (ᄀ, ᄂ, ᄉ, ᄆ, ᄋ) imitate the shape the lips and tongue make when producing that particular sound, while the 3 main vowel components (ᆞ, ᅳ, ᅵ) symbolize the sky, the earth and mankind respectively. Originally composed of 17 consonants and 11 vowels, only 14 consonants and 10 vowels are used in modern Hangeul.
Hangeul, as a written language, did not have any influence from pre-existing writing systems. The language is very easy for all to learn, evidenced by Korea's illiteracy rates being one of the lowest in the world. Of all Korea's cultural assets, the citizens are most proud of Hangeul and thus designated October 9 as Hangeul Day, to memorialize and celebrate the invention of the alphabet. In addition, the UNESCO inscribed Hunminjeongeum Haerye; The Hangeul Manuscript, on the Memory of the World Register in 1997.
LANGUAGE PROGRAMS IN KOREA
Many large universities in Korea offer Korean language programs for international students looking to study in Korea. While attending classes in a university campus setting, international students can become friends with Korean students and experience the local culture. Tuition fees and course curriculums vary from school to school, so choose the course and school that best suits you.
For more information visit the website : Visit Korea
TEST OF PROFICIENCY IN KOREAN (TOPIK)
The Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) was designed as a tool for testing the proficiency of non-native Korean speakers. The test is largely divided into 2 levels: TOPIK I and TOPIK II, where the latter denotes a higher proficiency in the language. The score is valid for 2 years from the date of test results issued, and test takers can find the schedule as well as register for the test at the official TOPIK website.
Eligibility and Benefits
Test takers come from a wide range of backgrounds, including both overseas Koreans and foreign nationals who study Korean. The test results are useful when applying for Korean universities, companies, public institutions, or acquiring permanent residency status.
|TOPIK Ⅰ (Beginner)||Listening/Reading (Multiple choice questions)||Level 1||Use of basic commands, such as self-introduction, purchasing, ordering, etc. Express oneself and understand others in everyday conversation by making simple sentences from 800 basic words.|
|Listening/Reading (Multiple choice questions)||Level 2|| Discussion of familiar topics employing a vocabulary of 1,500∼2,000 words. Distinguishing correctly between formal and informal situations.|
|Listening/Reading (Multiple choice questions) Writing (Essay questions)||Level 3||Carrying out transactions with people in public spaces. Understanding the differences in fundamental characteristics between writing and speech.|
|TOPIK Ⅱ (Intermediate Advanced)||Listening/Reading (Multiple choice questions) Writing (Essay questions)||Level 4||Comprehension of news articles, general social issues and abstract topics with accuracy and fluency. Comprehension of essential idioms and understanding of representative aspects of Korean culture.|
|Listening/Reading (Multiple choice questions) Writing (Essay questions)||Level 5||High fluency in using the Korean language in professional research or work. Understanding and discussing less familiar topics in politics, economics and other fields. Usage of appropriate expressions, distinguishing formal and informal, written and spoken, by context.|
|Listening/Reading (Multiple choice questions) Writing (Essay questions)||Level 6||Absolutely fluent in the Korean language for professional research or work. Capacity to understand and express oneself without problem, including when discussing unfamiliar topics.|
Korea's Traditional Costume, Hanbok
Hanbok is the traditional attire of the Korean people. Worn daily up until just 100 years ago, hanbok comes in various shapes and colors, reflecting the culture and lifestyle of the its time. Nowadays, it is only worn on special occasions or anniversaries. It is a formal wear and many Koreans keep a hanbok for such occasions.
While the traditional hanbok was beautiful in its own right, the design has changed slowly but surely over the generations. The core of hanbok is its graceful shape and vibrant colors, which have had a major impact on the modern fashion industry. It is hard to think of hanbok as everyday wear but it is slowly being revolutionized through the changing of fabrics, colors and features, reflecting the latest trend. Many aspiring hanbok designers have altered hanbok for everyday wear with traditional elements at the base of the garment but having a distinct modern feel.
Features of Hanbok
The unique lines of hanbok appear at their greatest when the wearer is in motion. Hanbok is creative and expressive in its design. Another special feature about hanbok is the shape, having a slim top and wide bottom, similar to a bell. The jacket should be tight and fitted while the skirt is. The tightly fitting jacket attractively reflects the shape of the upper body. The wide and flexible skirt flatter the wearer’s gracefulness by hiding the movements of the lower body, so the wearer appears to be floating on air. Hanbok fabric is colored using natural dyes. The colors of nature are imbued in the cloth, giving hanbok a depth and richness not found from artificial dyes. A full set of hanbok for men consists of a vest, jeogori (top jacket), and a pair of pants while women's include a jeogori, undershirt, skirt, and a pair of pantaloons.
For modern Koreans, hanbok are the formal clothing worn during Korean holidays or on special occasions. Children wear hanbok on their first birthday and adults wear it for their wedding ceremony or major events within the family, including funerals. Although hanbok have become the ritual dress of choice worn only on traditional holidays, Koreans' love for hanbok is tremendous. The number of people wearing stylish hanbok modified to suit as an everyday wear continues to increase, and many enjoy outing in hanbok by renting one from hanbok rental shops.
TRADITIONAL KOREAN HOUSES
Hanok refers to houses built in the traditional Korean style. While tile-roofed and thatch-roofed hanoks were equally common, the former were typically noblemen residences while the latter were mostly houses of the commoners in the past. These days, most traditional hanok that are still used for housing have modern facilities installed within.
There are two main charms to hanoks. The first is the unique heating system of ondol. A layer of stone is laid down below the flooring and when heated, the heat spreads up into every room of the house, keeping both the floor and the air surprisingly warm in winter. The use of ondol has influenced the Korean culture to a lifestyle of sitting on the floor, even in modern times. Because the floor is used for eating, sleeping, and general leisure time, people take off their shoes when entering a Korean home. This custom started with hanok and the ondol system.
The second attractive point to hanok houses is that they are environmentally friendly. The materials needed to build a hanok house are free from chemicals, making it a healthy environment. The pillars, rafters, doors, window frames, and floor are wooden, while the walls are a mixture of straw and dirt. The paper to cover the frames of doors and windows was made from tree pulp. As the building materials used are all natural, hanok houses have excellent breathability, perfect for escaping the summer heat.
Experience the traditional culture for yourself through the many hanok villages in Korea, including Jeonju Hanok Village, Andong Hahoe Village, Bukchon Hanok Village, Namsangol Hanok Village and Naganeupseong Walled Town
TRADITIONAL KOREAN MUSIC
Koreans have the unique characteristic of lyrical sensibility, using music to express their emotions. Traditional Korean music can be divided into music listened to by the royal family and by the commoners, each differing greatly in style.
Jongmyo Jeryeak, royal ancestral ritual music, the representative royal court music played during ancestral rites of Joseon kings, was solumn and splendid. In contrast, the commoners who wished to overcome difficulties of the working class usually sang folk songs and pansori, a traditional Korean music that narrates a themed story. With a distinct, inimitable sound, rhythm, and singing technique, pansori was designated as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO.
Traditional Korean music has also greatly influenced Korean pop music. Recently, there is a growing trend of fusion art troupes where traditional Korean music is combined with contemporary elements. Performances such as "Nanta" and "Gugak B-boy" were created through the mix of traditional Korean rhythms and band music. Such fusion music has since been receiving global attention along with hallyu, showcasing Korea's important cultural code to the world.
INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVALS
Film festivals subject to online streaming only or cancellation due to COVID-19. Please check before visiting.
Out of the many great and small film festivals that are held in Korea each year, the three international festivals, Jeonju International Film Festival, Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival, and Busan International Film Festival, are not to be missed. The charms and excitements of each festival are as unique as their venues and times.
Jeonju International Film Festival
The Jeonju International Film Festival, recognized by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations and held in Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do, is a non-competitive competition that still manages to feature a few elements of competition within the categories of international films, Korean films, and Korean short films. Under the slogan of “Outlet for Cinematic Expression,” the festival focuses on the freedom of expression.
Period: May 28 – September 20, 2020
Website: www.jeonjufest.kr (Korean, English)
Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival
Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival is a non-competitive festival with some competitive elements held every year in Bucheon, Gyeonggi-do. The festival’s identity is centered on the ideas of love, fantasy and adventure, with the main focus on fantasy movies. Audiences will enter the exotic fantasy world, watching different genres of movies including horror, action and romance.
Period: July 9 -16, 2020
Website: www.Bifan.kr (Korean, English)
Busan International Film Festival
Busan International Film Festival was the first film festival in Korea recognized by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations and is held annually in Haeundae-gu, Busan every October. The festival has received much fanfare in Asia and has attracted the attention of professionals in the film industry all over the world. The festival screens a variety of movies including international premieres and experimental films.
Period: October 21-30, 2020
Website: www.Biff.kr (Korean, English)