Seollal (설날), or Korean New Year, is the first day of the Lunar Calendar and one of the two most important traditional Korean holidays (the other is Chuseok).
~590,000 Korean students took their College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT, 수능 Suneung) on Thursday (Nov 13) – a day where the students had to endure a gruelling nine-hour tests that would significantly influence their future career prospect.
It’s a day where stock market and offices were opened an hour late to ease the morning traffic; where flights had to be rescheduled during the listening test to avoid the slightest disturbance; and it’s a day where temples and churches were packed with parents praying for good performances from their kids.
The CSAT would determine which university/college the Korean students would be enrolled to, and the reputation of the universities will make a huge impact on their career path, which is true in most nations but far more definite for Koreans.
The larger-than-life exam culture is not entirely unique to Korea. Most of the East Asian countries are adopting similar ideology, presumably originated from the Chinese civil servants’ exams in ancient Chinese dynasty thousand of years ago. The Koreans however seem to be taking the idea to its extremity.
Many quarters have criticised that the high pressure of preparing for the CSAT attributes to the high suicide rates of Korean teenagers. Some others are also criticising that the system are undermining the students’ creativity and other talents.
Chuseok (추석 – Full Moon Harvest) is a Korean festival celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month in lunar calendar (Sept 14 in 2008).
Chuseok is one of the two biggest holidays in Korea (the other is Seollal). It is considered the Korean equivalent of Thanksgiving and a time to honour ancestors with newly harvested grains and fruits.
As for Korean entertainment fans, it’s the season to see their favourite Korean celebs in traditional Hanbok wishing everyone a happy Chuseok. Sharing a few pics of some female pop groups; image via Newsen [Kr].
A group of Korean animal rights activists held a demonstration at a large dog meat market in Seongnam (near Seoul) last weekend to protest dog eating.
Image by Chosun [Kr]. Koreans have been eating dog meat for thousand of years. One of the dishes is Bosintang (lit. invigorating soup), a traditional soup with dog meat as primary ingredient which is popular during summer.
It’s estimated that over a million of dogs are slaughtered every year in Korea to meet market demand. The practise has caused some uproar internationally, and some younger Korean generations are beginning to ditch this tradition.
Personally I find this hypocritical. Although I’m not a vegetarian I always support people who promote the cause, different opinions but they have valid reasons. But I can’t agree on those who are against eating dogs when they have no problem chowing cows, pigs and chickens… domestication whatever.