What is your number 18?

I was googling some Korean song lyrics yesterday when I first encountered “This song is my # 18”. Does it mean my 18th favorite song on my top 20 fave list? And what’s the big deal if it’s the 18th? It’s not like your number 3 or 2 or 1. I later learned that “My # 18” means the song that I can sing the best.

And this morning, as I was watching Episode 5 of Ohlala Couple, I encountered that expression again. Soo Nam (on Yeo Ok’s body) was blurting some classical song when his mother (Yeo Ok’s mother-in-law) asked him (thinking it was her daughter-in-law) to turn the radio off.

니 18번이 ‘밤 비 내린 영동교’잖니!

Isn’t your # 18 “Night Rain Falling on Yeong-dong Bridge”? How come you are suddenly on classical music?

But why 18? What’s with the number 18?

A Korean friend briefly told me the expressin originated from Japan and later on spread in Korea as well with a slight modification on the original meaning (and he didn’t elaborate further! :p).

I found THIS on Daum 지식. And according to the answers, it has something to do with Japanese culture. One explained it further saying it has something to do with Kabuki – a classical Japanese dance-drama. Though # 18 means one’s favorite song, usually it also has the meaning of the best and most interesting thing. And the latter meaning is the one that originated from Japan. Anyway, in Kabuki theaters there is usually an intermission in between scenes. The intermission is a popular one-act play that are separated into 18 parts distributed all throughout the kabuki performance. And usually the last part of these one-act plays, the 18th, is the best, most interesting and most popular. Therefore these meanings (best, most interesting) is attached to the number 18. And probably where the expression “What’s your number 18?”, which is frequently used in noraebangs, originated from.

I’m not sure about the accuracy of this information though. I don’t know much about Kabuki either. I just relied on the answer I found on Daum. I am not even sure whether my understanding is 100% correct or not. If you know more about this expression and why and how it started, leave a comment below. 🙂

Sadly I don’t think I have a # 18. I don’t sing very well. 😦

How about you guys? What’s your # 18?

The Sounds of Korea: What I want to Hear

♩♬♫♪ opp-opp-opp-opp-oppan gangnam style~ ♪♫♬♩

While the whole world is fervently listening to Oppan Gangnam Style, I would like to take a moment and remove my earphones (and attempt to get rid of my current earworms of Oppan Gangnam Style and Korean drama OSTs) to listen to the rich sounds in Korea – because, after all, there’s more (so much more!) to Korea beyond K-pop and Hallyu.

I like how strong sounds are connected to one’s emotion. Hearing a song or someone’s voice or a familiar tune, rhythm or beat can instantly trigger an emotion and reminisce a memory. Sounds can capture some unique moments that cannot be seen or touched. I love the power of sounds that’s why I love listening to my surroundings.

The sounds of Korea.
From sounds that represents great traditions to the sounds of everyday lives; from the sounds of nature to the faintest sounds of one’s heart. Korea, being a diverse nation where rich culture and traditions meet modernity; a dynamic country where there’s harmony between nature and technology- is indeed a world of sounds!

Thus, I want to hear the different sounds of Korea… and store them in my heart forever.

I want to hear the sounds of Korea’s rich culture and tradition. I want to hear Korean music – from pansori to trots on rest stops; from samulnori to Kpop blasting from the speakers around downtowns. I also want to hear performances be it in theaters or on the streets.

I want to hear the language. With the Korean language being strikingly different from my own mother tongue I had always been curious about it and take it as an opportunity to learn more about Korean culture. After all, language and culture are tied together. I would like to explore as well the different dialects or satori in the different provinces and not to mention, the rich collection of onomatopoeias! I would love to attempt conversation with the friendly people – the strong and ever-helpful ahjummas, the warmhearted ahjussis, and the lovely little kids.

I want to hear the sounds of fun. From the thrilled screams of Gyro Drop riders in Lotte World to the late-night singing in noraebangs.

I want to hear technology. From the talking machines like the elevators announcing that the door is opening; or the T-money reloading machines; or the ATM machines; or the bus, subways and train announcements; or the T-money card readers that either thank you or nag you to swipe your T-money card again; to the different ringtones of smart phones and the 칙칙폭폭 (chikchikpokpok) of the Mugunhwa or KTX.

I want to hear nature. From the seagulls in Ganghwado to the 구구 (gugu) of the pigeons in the parks. From the sounds of water flowing in Cheonggyecheon stream to the cicadas at night. I want to hear the waves hitting the shores in Sokcho and Haeundae beaches.

I want to hear the sounds of Korean food. From the 부글부글 (bugeul-bugeul) of a hot sundae soup from an eatery to the faint 지글지글 (jireul-jireul) sizzle of dakgalbi in Chuncheon. From the sound of cracking a chestnut open, to the slight drizzling of oil while grilling samgyupsal.

I want to hear the sounds of everyday live. The call of the vegetable truck owner. The sounds from the markets. The sounds of the crowd in the shopping districts. The laughter of kids in the parks. The rustle of leaves. The 멍멍 (mongmong) of a street dog. And the 추록추록 of falling rain.

Given a chance to be in Korea again, I would love to hear all of them and keep them all in the musicbox of my heart.

But for now, what I am really dreaming to hear the most is the cheerful music of the Seoul Metro… and… hopefully it will go like this:

♫ Tan-ta-ran-ta-tan… ta-ran-ta-tan-ta-tan… ta-ran-ta-ran-ta-ran… tarararantan… ta-ra-ran-tan ♫

이번 역은 한국, 한국 역입니다. 내리실 문은 오른쪽입니디.
(ibeon yeokeun hanguk, hangukimnida. nerishin muneun oreunjjokimnida)

This stop is Korea. The doors are on your right.


The post above is my official application to the Asian On Air Program brought to us by Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), together with Korean Air.

Photos on this post are from the personal file of the blogger. All photos are used with no intention of piracy or commercial intent.

Whew! I’ve finally submitted my entry. Have you sent yours?

More Info

< Asian on Air Program >
☞ Application Period: September 10 – 23, 2012
☞ Eligibility: Bloggers living in Asia
☞ Application Method: Buzz Korea Event Page
☞ Number of Winners: 20
☞ Winners Announcement: September 28, 2012 on Buzz Korea Homepage
☞ Homepage: (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
☞ 1330 tt call center: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)

What is expensive?

I woke up hearing Koreans talking. Suffering from bad withdrawal syndromes since the day I returned home from Korea (yesterday), I thought I was just dreaming. But apparently it’s true. A group of Koreans were sitting on the cold floor of NAIA terminal 3, a few meters away from me. There were too far for me to decipher what they were talking about though.

Three of the girls from the group started walking away. One of them looks like my Korean-American friend from the International Summer Session of CNU. Still half-asleep, I really thought it was her so I followed them (I realized now that it is just impossible that  it’s her since she never mentioned anything about visiting the Philippines before going back to Missouri). After all I also want to head to the same direction they were all heading to – the airport convenience store – to get another cup of hot coffee because I’m freezing to death. The airport’s air conditioner seems on full blast – on a rainy day like this! >.< It’s funny how just 2 days ago me and my friends almost “died” from the heat while trying to squeeze in some last-minute sight-seeing in Seoul before I leave (literally a few hours before my flight).

Anyway, as expected the girl is not my Korean-American friend.

I passed by them and I can’t help but smile after hearing them convert the prices to 천원 or some 백원 and all together squeal “싸다 싸다” while checking the prices of items. It brings me back to the day I first arrived in Korea a little more than 40 days ago (was it really more than 40 days ago already?). Like them I went to a G25 convenience store in the airport, converted the prices of the items to Philippine currency, but ended up putting things back on the shelves while muttering “너무 비싸요!”

Now they are back with the items they’ve hoarded from the convenience store and happily munching on some snacks. I wish I can see and hear their reactions when they get out of the airport and see the real prices of stuff here in the Philippines. The airport prices, just like on any other airports, are a bit more expensive than outside shops/markets.

I’ve been staying in NAIA airport for more than 24 hours now because of floods everywhere and I’m running out of money. I only prepared enough cash for a direct travel back home from the airport – not for camping out in the airport (plus I have to get hot coffee every hour else I’ll freeze to death). When my wallet’s gone empty (except for a few coins both in won and peso), I realized that I can still withdraw some money from my ATM. An amount that all Korean ATMs ignore can be withdrawn from any Philippine ATM machine. And it could still get me a couple of decent meals (or even 4~5 for-survival food). I was also wishing there’s some instant rice too in the convenience stores here because I have some canned chicken with me. Then I realized that fast food stores sells what we call “extra rice” which were half the price of the cheapest (on sale) instant rice in Korea.

If there’s one thing I like in the Philippines more than Korea, it’s the cost of living.  In Korea the money I brought with me suddenly lost it value. Now that I’m back in the Philippines the coins that I got used to ignore in Korea is enough to feed me and keep me warm for more than 24 hours now.

Nonetheless, I still miss you Korea. ㅠㅠ

How to say “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” in Korean

When you are given options and you are stuck and can’t decide what to eat, where to go, which road to take, which food on the menu to order, what to choose, what answer should you pick on a multiple choice exam, do you let fate decide and use “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.”?

I remember asking my Korean teacher, during one of our classes months ago, if there’s a similar rhyme in Korean and how to say it. But I can’t remember the exact words. I just know it starts with 어느 or 어떤 _____ and ends with a 딩동댕.  So, I googled and found some interesting variations. The content of the rhyme depends on the situation, but it always end in 알아 맞춰보세요. 딩동댕 (or 딩동댕딩동).

Photo from: 크리스천 라이프

어느 것을 고를까요? 알아 맞춰보세요. 딩동댕!

어떤 것을 할까요? 알아 맞춰보세요. 딩동댕!

어느 것이 맞을까요? 알아맞춰보세요. 딩동댕!

어느 쪽으로 갈까요? 알아 맞춰 보세요. 딩동댕!

어떻게 할까요? 알아 맞춰 보세요. 딩동댕!

어느 것이 좋을까요? 알아맞춰 보세요. 딩동댕!

어느 것을 먹을까요? 알아맞춰보세요. 딩동댕

I love being able to google/naver (naver should be used as a verb too!) questions in Korean now and find the answers I need.