안녕하세요!나의 진짜 이름은 케이시입니다.내 한국어 이름은 김경희입니다.

At my sixth form you’re supposed to pick at least one enrichment activity and on the taster day months before sixth form started, I was choosing what activity to choose. Although Christian group was very compelling, I decided to wander over to the Korean culture and language table and my friend simply said: ‘Hey what about Korean?’ and we went through a minute of ‘I will if you will’s before we decided to go to talk to the people there.
There were 2 students (my eonnidul) who know my sister and the teacher (who we call soonyeonim) and they were telling me about what it’s like, what they do and one of the students was going to Korea and Japan for the summer. I found it striking how passionate they were about the subject. The teacher said ‘it’s more than an enrichment subject, everyone is more like family here’ and that made the subject more intriguing. She also mentioned there’s no rush because all the girls are at different stages with their language skill / writing and it’s not hard to learn the alphabet as it isn’t symbols as people expect like with Chinese – there are 14 consonants and 10 vowels. My other two friends that were hearing all this looked as interested as I felt. I knew a bit about Koreans before because of Asian-American youtubers (like the marvellous Victor Kim) and heard of K-pop (I heard one song Jay Park – Abandoned but didn’t realise that counted as K-pop) but now I was thinking ‘wow I really want to learn this!’ 
My textbook

As if I wasn’t reeled in enough, they showed me the video to Big Bang - Bad Boy (what I thought was the first I’ve heard of K-pop) and I was in love. I spent that whole summer finding more Korean bands (like 2NE1, 2PM, 2AM Super Junior and fx), watching shows (such as strong heart, running man and we got married)movies (19 and Sunny) and forced my sister into this obsession (well I didn’t force her, she loves it as much as me…well maybe less).
When I got back to school I was so excited to start learning the language and culture more (I tried learning the letters in the summer but decided to concentrate on music more). On my first Korean lesson I came in and some of the older girls who knew my sister called out ‘Taylah’ as I walked in (because we look like twins). It was very fun and I learnt the alphabet quickly and now have basic speaking, listening, writing and reading skills I’d say. It really is like a family because everyone is close with each other as I think the enrichment started out as a group of friends doing it till it expanded. I am the maknae of the group (the youngest) so I’m supposed to be respectful to my sunbaes (seniors) but I’m trying to steal Kyuhyun’s ‘evil maknae’ image – I promise I will speak formally to my sunbaes!
Korean enrichment takes place Friday afternoons (but Korean is more of a daily thing for me now keke). Soonyeonim was right about it being like a family - everyone is so welcoming and close and I'm really happy I got to pick Korean. 

Check out the Homemade parody the class did. Youtube link

Korea Town
New Malden also known as ‘Korea Town’ houses around 8000 South Koreans and the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames has around 20,000 South Koreans living there making it one of  the most populous area of South Koreans outside of South Korea. New Malden is the shopping and cultural hotspot for the Korean community across South West London – it has cafés and restaurants, Karaoke bar, and mini-markets (aside from the amazing supermarket H-Mart where many will do their weekly shop). Some Churches even have Korean services.
Samsung (Korean Electronics Company) also once had their UK base in New Malden. This shows how important it is to the Korean community that they’re still connected with their culture and that even though they’re living in a different society, they can still have aspects of their culture surrounding them.
I have been to New Malden several times, especially to try the incredible food and to shop at H-Mart for foods I have been recommended to by, or heard about, or for ingredients to meals I want to attempt to make. 

Yummy coffee and hot chicken ramyeon

 Chilsung Cider (not really Cider - more refreshing lemonade)
My friend said it sounds like a slang name for a drug. Highly addictive...like a drung

A little story – the third time I went was with my older sister – we bought quite a lot of things and then the check-out lady asked if I wanted a store card; even though that was the most I’d probably spend in one go at H-Mart I said ‘yes’. However, to this day, I still don’t know how to use my store card –and am too nervous to ask how.
Well I can read everything in the paper (Korean Weekly) but can't fully understand every context
I enjoy shopping in the supermarket, but I really like going to eat, especially at ‘Haru’. For the price of the food the quality is extremely great. I’d happily pay more for the meal I receive. I’ve never left the restaurant without feeling content (and absolutely full) with what I just experienced. I haven’t been enough times to try a dish twice, even though I definitely would, as I’m still trying out new dishes. I must admit, I’m a bit nervous to try foods like squid and some other seafoods, however, with the type of friends that I have you will be force fed. The first time I went to Korea town one of the first things I was trying was kimbap (people would say similar to sushi but they have their differences) and my friend, with her chopsticks shoved it into my mouth (I was a bit scared of eating crab) and now I really love Kimbap. Enough with food - that should be the food section. The restaurant really is quality, the service, the time the food is made in, the restaurant ‘feng shui’. Additionally, the man that works there says I should call him ‘oppa’ (older brother in Korean) and always tells me when I forget. It’s also a good way to use the Korean I know like ‘kimchi bokkeumbap gwa nokcha juseyo’ ‘gomapseumnida…oppa’ ‘jalmokgetseumnida’. 
If South Korea happened to be even half of Korea town; I’d still desperately want to go to Korea.

 As part of this Korean craze, whenever I go to Korea town, I eat a meal at one of the restaurants. Usually at Haru, I would really recommend it there.

26.09.12 - The first time I tried the famous kimchi fried rice (김치볶음밥 Kimchi bokkeumbap): Kimchi is the Koreas national dish and is non-arguably the most known Korean food. It usually consists of napa cabbage, radish, garlic, red pepper, ginger and salt with chilli pepper. Kimchi can be used in meals such as Kimchi fried rice, Kimchi soup and kimchi stew and is often a strong taste for non-Koreans (and at times Korean children - Hoo)
Kimchi bokkeumbap, soup and nokcha (green tea)
The meal consists of the kimchi fried rice and often other ingredients accompanying it like diced vegetables, meat and after it is on a plate, shredded gim, scallions or sesame are added to boost the flavour. Also it is common for a fried egg to be served on top and whenever I eat these meals it is complemented with a soup. 

30.10.13 – The first time I tried Kimchi stew (김치찌개 Kimchi jjigae) – more of an acquired taste in my opinion.  Kimchi can be quite strong or spicy it just depends on the tastes you like as well. I think when I tasted it, I associated it with vinegar and couldn’t have the dish by itself – I had to keep eating it simultaneously with the rice. I found it satisfying but it was more the heat of the dish why I wouldn’t be in a rush to have it again; however, when I got home and for the next few days, I was craving Kimchi jjigae quite a lot. (Picture)
The main ingredients are kimchi, beef, pork or seafood, vegetables like scallions, onions and garlic and diced tofu into the stew (usually boiled water) and seasoned with bean paste or red pepper paste.
Not the best picture I could have taken of my Kimchi Jjigae. Sorry.

21.12.12 - The first time I tried Chicken Teriyaki (닭 데리야끼 Dalg deriyakki) was the day the world was ‘supposed’ to end. This time I was in Korea Town with my sister and I ordered Chicken Teriyaki because the first time I went, my friend gave me some of her Chicken Teriyaki so I knew I must come back to have that dish. Teriyaki is actually a Japanese dish and is made with various fishes and meats (e.g. Salmon teriyaki.) The meat / fish is broiled or grilled whilst being merged into soy sauce, mirin (Japanese rice wine) and sugar. The meat is brushed with the sauce many times whilst cooking. There are many techniques and ways to make teriyaki.
I think is more of a simpler taste that more people will like right away. When I ate it, it was served with rice and soup and I can freely say if the world was going to end that day, I would have been glad with Chicken Teriyaki as my last supper.
Chicken Teriyaki on the left

18.02.13 –The most recent time I’ve been to Korea Town I decided to eat – Bibimbap (비빔밥It means mixed rice) and is served with vegetables and chilli paste, egg (raw or fried) and sliced meat (usually beef) –the ingredients should be stirred together before eating and is served in stone bowl. It can be consumed hot or cold (I’d prefer to eat warm). It was really interesting to see, when it was being served, the bowl sizzling.
I decided to eat it this time, as my friend shouted at me saying I should try it, and I saw a few of my friends order it the previous times we went. I was also curious what it is as the sizzling stone bowl looked the most interesting part of it. It was very enjoyable and tasty – the flavour isn’t too much for someone who is trying it for the first time it’s just extremely delicious…and filling. However, I forgot to say I was allergic to mushrooms (I’m not I just have to tell everyone I am because I really detest mushrooms) before the restaurant oppa (haha) stirred the ingredients together for me so I spent a while trying to tell the mushrooms apart from the beef. I would definitely try it again and recommend it but next time, I will order without mushrooms.
Excuse my half eaten bibimbap. It just tasted that good

Starters – A few starters I have tried are:
Rice in Gim (김밥 kimbap or gimbap) often compared with Japanese sushi; gimbap is rice with other ingredients (like crab meat, cucumber, spinach, carrots) in gim (edible seaweed)
Spicy rice cake – (떡볶이 ddeokbokki or tteokbokki) rice cake with fish. Very yummy.
Fried vegetables – (튀김 twigim) Batter dipped vegetables. 
Rice cakes, deep fried vegetables, kimchi, potato, kimbap + on the table for starters

What I want to try – Korean barbeque – Looks interesting the way you are able to cook your own food in front of you, and I definitely want to try more Korean meat. Gogi juseyo!
I would highly recommend Korean cuisine especially if you like trying foods from other cultures. I find with me (as I’m usually scared to try new ‘unknown’ foods) it is better to just eat the food without any qualms and enjoy because you will (you know…unless you’re allergic to anything; then you must be sure of every ingredient).

North Korea
I will discuss North Korea in another section (places you don't hear about) but just a little brief here: North Korea is the other half to Korea (as there’s a South there must be a North...well not particularly like West Virginia and then the rest is just Virginia! ). South Korea is talked about more, especially for its tourism, Samsung electronics and the 'hallyu' ( Hangul: 한류 - Korean wave). 
A lot of the time I answer yahoo answer questions about people asking 'Why can't I go to North Korea...I want to live in North Korea...how do I get into North Korea?' and the answer is always the same from other people answering the same question as I am 'It's extremely communist higher that China and Cuba's levels...no you don't want to live there...You can't...'

Want to know more go to the 'places you don't hear much about' page.

Korean Wave - Hallyu (한류) is the rise of popularity of Korean Culture and Entertainment. This includes things like: 

K-Pop - You've been living under a rock if you haven't heard Psy's 'Gangnam Style' but I'm pretty sure you can hear the bass at the start and the 'eh sexy lady oppa Gangnam style' from under your rock. Some Korean artists with global success / popularity include: Big bang, 2NE1, SNSD, DBSK, Super Junior, Wonder Girls, 2PM, Psy, BoA, Se7en and Rain.
I was lucky enough to attend my favorite K-Pop bands' first concert in London
Big Bang in London 14.12.12

K-Dramas and variety shows - You might be wondering how do so many people watch these Dramas or variety shows without understanding Korean. People, people subtitles! There are many people who will sub a show into another language and release it onto the internet within a few days of the shows broadcast in Korea. The websites are easy to find and make life so much easier and the shows are funny, brilliant and highly addictive. I don't watch much dramas myself; there's too much and not enough time - I'm more of a variety show girl. I enjoy watching 'We got married', 'Running man', 'Strong heart' and 'Dad, where are you going'. If you want to roll around on the floor laughing and clapping like a seal I highly recommend these (subbed) shows. You can obviously watch them without subtitles, but unless you are fluent in Korean you won't understand hardly any jokes.

People are also learning Korean more. It isn't that hard to learn the basics depending on how determined you are. There are only 24 characters. I wonder if people are interested in the culture first or the entertainment. I see many people across the inter-world self teaching themselves Korean and there are various youtube channels to help you out. I think watching Korean shows also helps - it helps you get used to the language, the formality of how people speak and to whom etc. 

I've spoken briefly to some Korean people (apart from Soonyeonim) but recently I've been able to speak to 2 Korean students (through the power of the internet) that are my age and find out more about how our lives are quite different. We speak in English as they are quite fluent in English (definitely more fluent in English than I am in Korean) and they were a little shocked I learn Korean at college. Speaking to them made me realise various things about the different lifestyle - many countries in the world teach English however in England, there aren't that many languages to learn ,unless it's the language your family speak at home. The main languages taught are French and Spanish - you might find German and Italian in some places but those are the common ones you can find everywhere. Another thing was school hours; I knew Korean school hours were long for high school students (16 hours I think I read) but I didn't know what subjects are taught, the lesson timetable and how much free time the students have. Popular youtubers and married couple 'Eat your kimchi' said that their students would be at school so much that they'd make themselves as comfortable as possible like bringing cushions to school. There is also night school where students are still studying at school even at 10pm. It might as well be a boarding school. I commented my shock saying how my mother would be worried if I came home at 6 in the evening. 

Shoutout to Jiyeong and Shuming ^.^ My awesome Korean teachers & 언니들

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