About that Korea Our Stories Contest

Happy Pi *π* Day!

Do you remember this post? Where I asked you to vote for my entry for the <Korea Our Stories> Contest?



First thing first! THANK YOU  for the 1335 clicks on that heart in only 10 days!

The result came out weeks ago, and I just found the chance to share it with you all today. I feel bad to let you all know that I did not win. Sorry to disappoint you all with that. But no, I’m not sad/disappointed at all for so many reasons more amazing reasons.

Let me tell you that this would mean I can *finally* share what I actually wrote for my entry (yes, it’s in English – not in Korean), which I’m so ecstatic about! Before that, I just want to tell you that I’m not disappointed at all for the result. It was such a rewarding experience by the fact:


  • The amount of support was overwhelming(and LIKES, shares, friends who were more passionate and excited that I was *Ci Sophie and Ko Andry for the moral support that I actually whipped my self to write sth and actually submitted it, Mom et friends, Christina and hubby, Cherlene, Hera, Joanna, Sel JP II members, M3LCY, Vincy, 우성걸, 김민국, 김은총, 은혜 언니, 영해 언니, 윤주 언니, Kevin Kwok, Cathy 언니 and 형부- just to name a few cause you guys are just . . .*tears of happiness and 감동*). Never had I, in the x years of me pursuing this passion, felt so supported and motivated. I always felt that I was going against the grains, and no one would understand why I love this world so much.


So all in all, it was a HUGE honour to be a part of this contest and what an awesome experience! THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR LOVE AND SUPPORT! I love you all!

So without further due, to celebrate my personal victory, here I share with y’all my entry for the 국가브랜드 공모전 – 글(Writing):



Jeong (情)
Jeong. It is a concept that cannot be easily translated with plain words. Jeong is an emotion that has multiple spectrum and could be defined as love, connection, bond, or affection, etc.. The concept of jeong is not exclusive to Korean culture. However, the Korean concept of jeong is radiated through its heritage, and garnered from the cultural bound of the societies’ interpersonal interactions.

You might wonder, how a foreigner like me would be able to grasp the essence of such profound Korean concept of jeong, let alone to be able to share it as an introduction of Korea to other enthusiasts. The understanding that I have might still be shallow; however Korean jeong, that could be found through its food and from the intriguing figure of speech of “have you eaten yet?”, is to me the very soul that makes Korea. Since it is really hard to describe the concept with words and only words, let me share you my experience on how I could portray Korea as Jeong.

Into the Koreaness – The Experience
My name is Meda, known in the web as edrea or edrea MJ. I am an ordinary 8-5 office worker during the day, a “blogger” whenever I’m not on my day job, and a dreamer in between. It all started from the early 2000s, during which time, everyone else around me was emerging themselves in other cultures. That was also the time when the first Korean drama was broadcasted in Indonesia. The new language and the different culture exhibited in the drama grabbed my attention and interest. And from then on, I started on my journey into picking up bits and pieces of Korean language and its culture, and planting them in my brain and heart.

Fast forward to a couple years later, I found myself in Vancouver, Canada, where I encountered the “real” Korean people and culture. And not from behind the TV screen. My learning journey started to become as real as it could be. I might not have the chance to sit in a classroom to formally learn about Korean history, language, and/or culture. But my kind of learning had started to feel real to my senses, through the interactions with my new found Korean friends, unnis, oppas, dongsaengs, hyungboos, seonsangenims, etc.. And I started to be able to taste the culture. Literally. Through food.

Korean food, to be exact, is the first tangible cultural item that could reach Korean enthusiasts all over the world. It should, in my opinion, be named as the true pioneer of Hallyu wave. As, through the five senses, K-food opens the gate to the introductions of Korean heritage and tradition. K-food introduces us to the land-sea-sky harvests in each bite of it, while bursting your palate with the tastes of its heritage, tradition, and personality.

I could not think of a meet up with my Korean friends, unnis and oppas that happened without an eating scene. A couple years ago, while organizing a summer event for a Korean-English language meet up in Vancouver, I had the chance to have a team meeting over a Ramyun and Kimbap lunch session. I was so ecstatic to finally try the two most famous food items that had always seen in Korean dramas. That was the first time that I saw and tasted danmuji and burdock root. To be honest, I had not even heard about them before eating that first roll of kimbap. Many casual lunch sessions later, I discovered the practicality of a bowl of ramyun that somewhat reflects the fast pace culture that most of Korean people have. And if a roll of cheese kimbap could tell you anything about the culture, it would be that they are not afraid to embrace the traditional ideas together with the modern ones.

As we got to know each other better, our quick and practical lunch sessions slowly turned into gatherings of a bunch of good friends and acquaintances. During a very wet-and-cold fall, one of my unni invited me to her place to celebrate Chuseok with a few other friends. As it turned out, she made us an abundant pot of steaming galbi-jjim. She served us a very special traditional Chuseok dish that was slowly prepared with care and stuffed with ingredients that Fall in Korea has to offer. Through her galbi-jjim, she introduced us to one of the biggest holiday in Korea, while preserving the Chuseok tradition with her new found family.

Another thing that I got to love is how banchan/side dishes is served, in Korean restaurants, along with whatever you actually ordered from their menu. A tradition of sharing, that will make sure that you are going to be well-fed. The vast varieties of banchan dishes show multiple techniques of cooking in one seating. Banchan is also the most common thing Korean mother would send in their care-package to their children who are studying or working overseas. And anyone who received it would treat it as a very precious treasure. If I were them, I will try my best to save my mom’s home-cook banchan and eat it only when I’m feeling homesick.

But that was not the case for one of my dongsaeng. One day, when I was feeling under the weather, she texted me saying: “Unni, I just received some banchan from my mom. I want you to try my favorite myeolchi-bokkeum/stir-fried dried anchovies”. I was really touched by her one text. But, to my surprise, she continued on: “Also, since you are having a cold, I will give you some homemade yuja tea (tea made with thinly sliced yuzu citrus’ peels with honey and sugar). Drink it and you will feel better”. On the day we met, she gave all her precious goodies and explained to me how good yuja tea is for your health. She listed out the health benefits of it from head to toe. And it came to me, not only from picking up Grace’s passion about yuja tea, but also from learning bits and pieces of Korean ingredients and cooking techniques, that Korean people cares a lot about health properties of their food. And when they are sharing that food for you, they are caring for your well being.

On one of my visit to Seoul, I toughen up myself and decided to make it as a solo trip. I stayed at an apartment owned by a Korean-American couple that I found through the internet. A total stranger’s place. The owner, who is Korean, picked me up at the nearest subway station. After talking to the owner of the apartment, he found out that I’m a Korean enthusiast who has been learning on my own and blogging about it online. Since I came to Seoul on my own, and it was my first stay without a tour guide is Seoul, he invited me to hang out with some of his friends at a traditional market near his place. So I spent the first night of my solo adventure, at the bustling Sindang Market, savouring the scene of regular Korean life during the night with Korean jeon/pancake and makgeolli/rice wine.

Once we were done with the so-called 1-cha/first hang out base, we moved on to 2-cha/second hang out base in another the glitzy glass and hip side of Seoul: Gangnam. My korean hosts know the owner and bartender of the bar we went to. And to my surprise, they kept on talking to me in Korean and were so friendly. Even though I understood only 30% of it. For the rest of the night, they tried their best to show the Korean fusion style of food and drinks and hosted this foreigner who fell in love with their culture. And once again, I was mesmerized by the harmony of the solemn tradition and the dynamic modern feel to the Korean society. And I was, and still am, grateful for Korean people’s welcoming gesture to a stranger like me for embracing their culture.

There are many other instances that I could share to show, that what you see in Korean shows, especially the ones displaying Korean food, its origin, health benefits, and cooking techniques, are not just shows. You could relish Korean jeong and its nation’s personality from their food and the gestures that come along with it. Well, at least that is what my experiences taught me.

It takes time to get to know someone. From being just an acquaintance, I spent a lot of time and shared a lot of conversations, before I feel comfortable to call someone my chingu, sunbae, unni, or hyungboo.

As it takes time to develop jeong with the Korean people around me, and so it is for an Korean enthusiast to develop jeong with all the Koreanness, and vice versa. It is like the uniquely Korean art of preserving food. As time goes by and as the more it becomes well fermented, the deeper the taste will be. It might started from a song, a dish, a place, or an item. If you reach deeper, those things are your gateway to find the true characteristics and many rich layers of Korea. And before you know it, the interactions from getting to know Korea, will turn into the warmest and welcoming affection that will introduce you to a more dynamic world of Korea.

At least for me, when I decided to pick up an Indonesian-Korean dictionary at a local bookstore when I was in high school, I would not have had been able to imagine that one day I would found myself in such an ever learning wonderland as this is. There are so many other instances in which I could connect the dot between the jeong of Korean people and K-food. And before I know it, these greetings: “nice to meet you!”, “do you speak Korean?”, “how come you can speak Korean?” and “what is your name?”, has slowly turned into jeong filled greetings of: “I have not seen you for a while, let’s have dinner!” and “Meda-ya, it’s good to see you. Have you eaten yet?”

“Have you eaten yet?”
Every language has their own way, words, and figure of speeches to ask, what is in plain English, “how are you”. One way of how Korean expressed “how are you” is by saying a greeting that literally means “have you eaten yet”.

At one of the Korean language club at the university I attended, my group’s tutor explained that the greeting derived from a heart wrenching condition surrounding the history of war. As we heard, from stories of wars around the world, war caused hungers and devastation to humanity. Deriving from the hardships that war brought upon the nation, Korean started to use the phrase, in its literal meaning, to ask if one has had food to fill and warm their body. Flourishing as a great country with abundance of food, the figure of speech is still widely used to show concern of someone’s well-being. As their everyday “how are you”.

“Have you eaten yet?”is a simple greeting. It often becomes a rhetoric question. It embodies, nevertheless, the jeong that Korean people has for their own kind and for everyone that shows deep interest in their country and culture.

The Soul of Korea
So, what makes Korea? Well, discovering Korea for me is like tasting a well fermented kimchi. Starting from the taste buds that discover the unique taste of it, to the acquiring knowledge of the rich tradition that is embed in every ingredients used to make the kimchi, and finally to the discovery of jeong of very hands that prepared it. As kimchi tastes gets more profound the longer it gets fermented, so could one foreigner discover the warmth welcome and the deeper of jeong, Korea has to offer once one has started to emerge deeper into the history, the heritage and the culture.

And the next time you receive an invitation to devour Korean feast of food, accept it with an open heart and mind. Be prepare to discover the harmony and the dynamic of Korean jeong. From past to present, from its land and its people to your soul.
Now, have you eaten yet?


Unto the next exciting adventures of learning and exploring Korea!





I Don’t Speak Korean for Business



I have been doing (almost) planned posts for this blog. But, I also miss the days where I share you bits and pieces of my thoughts of my learning process.

Indonesians call it: “curhat (: pouring out/telling someone things that you have been keeping in your heart)”

So yes, I speak beginner-intermediate Korean. No I’m not THAT fluent. Yes, I can converse with my friends. I can read, write, speak, and understand Korean. I know a lot of expressions. I have been learning on my own *autodidact* so I imitate and pick up sentences here and there, but, I am super lacking in the grammar side of the language. That said, no, I can’t use it for business purposes. As you are reading this blog, you might figure that I am still learning.

OK, maybe not to this extent


Here are some background stories of this curhat: The nature of my work requires us (the employees, or at least those in my team) to be bilinguals/polyglots, we support clients from all over the world. However, we only support a number of the official languages.

I met this super kind and nice sunbae (ㅋㅋㅋㅋ 언니 읽고있죠)

Just imagine that my sunbae IS Jun Ji-Hyun ㅎㅎㅎㅎ

and started practicing my Korean with her everyday = people thought I speak fluent Korean. One day I was assigned to a special task to help in Korean *which wasn’t, and still is not, one of the officially supported languages*.  And for some reason, the whole team thought that we do support Korean and that every Korean related works/issues should ALL be directed to me. This has been the source of stress and 부담 at work.


Ummm… na ah. I did not (and have not) signed up for this.


OTL 금지


Here goes the frustration of a non-native Korean  who is expected to understand everything. Whenever my colleagues asked me to help them for Korean clients/related issues. It always feel like I am caught in the middle. They know I can speak Korean. But I also know my capacity/the limit of my ability. Like literally, everything. Imagine that you just know how to swim, and you are able to swim laps. But, people just throw you to join an open water swimming competition.




So I’m faced with two roads:

The road that allows me to feel embarrassed that apparently I am not THAT good vs. The road that will whip my ass off so I could level up.

I think, I decided the second option (but still feeling a bit defeated *my human ego being crushed*).

I came to an understanding that despite of being able to understand some percentage of the language, learning languages – or learning anything really – should all come to this:




Only if you have humility, you will accept the fact that you are not good enough yet. The uncomfortable feeling of discontentment of where you are now (in terms of level/skills/ability) will sip in. And with humility, you’ll find the courage to seek ways to be better.

Accepting that you are not able to place yourself on the higher level than you are right now is also a form of humility. Knowing where you are lacking, to be able to focus on working on it/fixing and adding whatever necessary.

Unless you know yourself – and your capacity, other people will not be able to understand and will only assume that you are THAT good.

dream big


Coming back to my curhat, I know that I’m still not capable to handle Korean language for business. It is way too different, in terms of grammar-terms/vocabs , with the everyday Korean with say my unnies/friends. It honestly hurt my pride a little bit.

I signed up for a Korean class in Langara College Continuing studies. Since it’s a formal class form, all the other classmates have that thing that I’m lacking: 문법/grammar. It honestly hurt my pride a little bit well.


I know I have other qualities that my classmates do not have and by learning together, it will be fine. I will just believe that I have the potential to master this language. Even to the Korean for business/politics/reading news, etc. One day.


If you Korean/Intermediate Korean speaker. Here’s how you could help your friends dying to learn the language *if you care enough to do this, of course*:

Never. Ever. Be silent about the mistakes they make. Let them know which parts/words that need to be fixed and how. Don’t assume that they are good enough. “Oh, you’re good enough for a foreigner” will never help them get anywhere far enough to where they would like to be.



Let’s keep on learning.


Here’s a song for all of you dream-chasers out there:


Until then,





#PracticeMakesPermanent: K-Drama vs K-Show

Happy Spring-is-still-2-months-away Wednesday!

Ever since I started revamping and trying to resurrect this blog I have not really shared with you, any of my Korean learning experiences. I did try sharing them in the past posts, and it is not like I want to keep it as a secret. Trust me there is no secret whatsoever. But, the way I learn Korean is not a studious kind, and more like unconventional one *as you might have figured by now*.

But today I will try to share one of them anyways. Who knows you will benefit from it. Sharing is caring right? 😉

One of my learning methods is by watching a lot of Korean dramas , movies, and Korean TV Shows. Like a lot of them. Everyday *well, almost*. Throughout the years, though, I feel like Korean drama (k-drama) and Korean TV show (k-show) each has different, how should I say this, “qualities” than you can take for your Korean learning journey. Trust me, I have been doing this circa 2002!


K-Drama vs. K-Show


So here are just a few of the different qualities of learning Korean by watching k-drama vs. k-show that I could come up with (and why sometimes I prefer one over the other):

If you’re watching k-drama, most of the time, the pace that the casts have when they’re reciting their line is quite the same*if not slower* compared to a regular conversation. This way you catch how a sentence is formed better than if it said in a k-show *try to catch what the nation Yoo Jae-Suk is saying in most of his shows. Yep. Good Luck!*. Plus Korean drama they might have OST songs playing in the background, but so much less background noises *yelling, laughing, sound effects* that would distract you from catching the lines/sentences being said.

To add unto this, since k-drama lines are more scripted than k-show *less improvisations/ad-libs, you might be able to pick up more grammar lessons there.

I just mentioned that you might be able pick up grammar lessons more when you’re watching kdrama than kshow. But, I have a problem with the choices vocabs they use. They’re just kinda iffy to be used in daily life.

Simple and most common used word that people might picked up from a k-drama is: 당신 (dang-sin). Imagine calling everyone 당신 for “you”. It might be described as the standard polite way, but I rarely hear them being used in daily life *unless you’re ahjumma-ahjussi couple calling each other, or if you’re really angry and trying to pick up a fight*.

Itching to say the word “dang-sin” now? Just sing this song:
당신은 사랑받기 위해 태어난 사람~


For this one, you can benefit from both of them. Need to learn proper intonation 반말 (banmal/informal figure of speech) and/or 존댓말 (cheondaemal/formal figure of speech)? They both could teach you that. Remember that k-show will be more casual and day-to-day; whereas k-drama will be filled with the character’s emotions, but slower and easier enough for you to pick up (and imitate).

Repetition and on screen captions

Have you heard exclamations or one word that you could catch being said over and over again in a k-show? Have you seen letters written all over your screen while the words are being said? Like big letters. Repeated throughout the show like this:

Yeah, you have seen this a lot on TV shows, right?!

To me this is a great benefit *especially for beginners* as they are repeated, and most of the time, written in big and flashy colours. They are usually written to emphasize exclamations or reactions like 대박 (Daebak) or ㅋㅋㅋㅋ(kkkkkk). You’ll usually get to know the meaning by watching what’s going on when they are displayed. They’re often repeated, you’ll grasp the meaning in no time. But if not, and if you’re lucky) it can make it easier for you to remember the pronunciation and how to say it exactly as how it means (try: 대~~~~~~박!). Since it’s an exclamation, you’ll hear someone saying it at the same time the word(s) is displayed. It will help you remember how to say and read the word. BUT! Because they’re mostly adjectives and/or exclamations or reactions, they can’t help you make a good whole sentence. Some of them are actually captions of what is being said. but, they’re more like summary or the short version of it. Oh well, enough to impress your Korean friends and to text them in style tho.

As for k-drama. When I started to watch k-dramas, I remember I often tried to read signs or any letters popped up on the screen during a scene. But, man, I had to pause a lot because they’re so small and they go by a scene so fast. I feel like I could not check my pronunciation nor could I understand the meaning unless I looked for it myself. However, I still it is a good practice to know your Hangul!


K-Drama or K-Show, as long you’re picking up bits and pieces *and not just plain adoring the casts and watching ’em for entertainment purposes only*, I bet they will help you in your quest to master the language!

Which one do you like watching more? Do you feel like you can learn more from K-drama or K-show? Spotted more good points? Share it with us on the comment below or tweet them my way @edreaMJ!

Just remember, #practicemakespermanent

Happy learning,

One Step Closer – Korea Our Stories 2015

한걸음 더 가까이 – one step closer

Hello Friday, today is not a day for Korean drama. Today is the day where I ask you for a huge favour of love and support.


The Background Story

It started from finding a kind of random posting of a contest on Facebook: <What Makes Korea?/국가브랜드 공모전>.

And then this.

As I have mentioned in the previous post, I joined to prove that I am capable to defeat myself and actually do what I have always wanted to do. I pushed myself to the maximum limit of my creativity, and courage to actually submit my work (and tried my best to crush my self-doubts). I have to be honest, I did think about it days and nights, but the end result is still clumsy and far from perfect. It will be too embarrassing to call  it a well-done piece. Although my essay is lacking in many ways, it does reflect my sincere and sentiment of the topic I chose.

Who could have imagined that, with that piece of self-proving-but-not-actually-aiming-for-the-win essay, I would receive this notification:

20151118_212518 (1)

So I would like to ask you for your love and courage. If you know me personally or not, you would kinda know *or guess* the level of my passion and love towards Korea. So, please do join me in the next step of the fight. We will never know where this could bring me to. So I thought, even though passing the first round is good enough for me *happy and excited*, let’s just try to put some more effort :). Unto the next round!


So this is how you can help me

Offline Voting: 한국에 *서울특별시*계신 친구/언니/오빠들 등등…(For those in Seoul, South Korea)

November 20 to 29, 2015. If you have time, there will be offline exhibition/voting for <What Makes Korea Contest> from  The venue: the lobby of Children’s Museum in National Museum of Korea located in Yong-san, Seoul.

Please come and visit (and share the love by voting). You might find my essay there. It’s called: 《Jeong (情), K-Food, and “Have You Eaten Yet” by Medarda Edrea Joseph》.

Online Voting: 

25th of November ~ 4th of December 24:00 KST (10 days’ duration). Voting will be held at the official website: www.koreaourstories.kr/2015.
Detailed instructions will be provided soon *I will update it once I have received more info*.


Clumsy and way far from perfect. It conveys my deepest passion and love for the culture nevertheless.

You can vote once per day from today to Dec 4th, 2015 KST

How to vote:
1. Go to http://koreaourstories.kr/2015/국가브랜드-선호도조사-b/?slug=대국민공모-2차-글 
2. Click on the contest  icon (should be the 3rd or 4th from top), until the title comes up: JEONG (情), K-FOOD, AND “HAVE YOU EATEN YET” – ME**DA ED**A JOSEPH (CANADA)
3. Click on the heart icon
4. Spread the words, share the love!
5. You’ll get hugs and/or high-5s times the number you vote!

If you have time, please kindly read it too ❤

Link to VOTE

Help me prove to myself *and to all people hesitating to do what they love* that:

Do what you love, and it will love you back

and for me to:

Never. Ever. Give up!


Love and biggest gratitude for you all,


This Friday Review: Let Me Focus on This One

Happy Friday!

No apologies, but, I will have no post for this week. Because of this:

Well. It’s not exactly a secret project I am working on today, but more like a very important one that I want to really do good at. I will let you know when the time has come.

But for now, wish me luck and see you all on Monday!