Hak June and Sung Eun

Along with memoirs of true friendships, this post also contains brief references to Prostitution and Illegal Trading. Read along only if you are not offended by any of the above topics. If you belong to the other category, please click http://www.cartoonnetwork.com for an appropriate website. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) Rating for this post: NC-17 (No one 17 and under admitted) / PG (Parental Guidance Suggested). Source: http://www.mpaa.org/FlmRat_Ratings.aspπŸ™‚

Am just kidding guys… I believe all the readers of my blog are adults.. Read on..

This post is the second in a series dedicated to some of the most beautiful people in my life and I don’t mean just the outsides alone. You can find the first one here. This one is about my Mentor became friend Kim Hak June (Korean: κΉ€ν•™μ€€) and his girlfriend Kim Sung Eun (Korean: 김성은).

Let me start with a funny and β€œweird” instance that I remember. Seoul is famous for prostitution, thanks to the US Army base here. And there is a US Army Base camped at Yongsan, where Hak June and Sung Eun lives. Once I visited Yongsan and told them that I want to see the red light street in Yongsan (since I never saw one before). Here in Seoul, I cant call it “Red Light Area”. It’s different and i believe it should be called “Pink Light Areas”. Such roads have arrays of rooms with one wall completely made of glass (facing the road), beautifully decorated. Each of these rooms is like a bedroom with a makeup table and a mirror. The sex-workers sit inside them wearing minimal to normal measure of clothing and acts out daily routines like doing a make up in front of the mirror, comb their hair etc. All these rooms have pink curtains in front and is is flanked with aΒ  dim “enticing”??!!?? pinkish glow. Any β€œcustomer” who goes there, watches them through the glass walls and β€œselects” his “friend” for the night. I was really intrigued when i had heard about such a different system and was really longing to see one of such streets. Naughty Naughty Me!!! πŸ™‚ Sung Eun was really bold and told β€œKiran if you wanna see.. Lets” and we walked through a smaller version of the above described road, since if we dare to go through the main streets, the sex-workers will come to us and then you know what… πŸ™‚

I first met him as a mentor when I came to SNU as a first semester student and our friendship has been growing ever since. It’s through him, of course, that I came to know of Sung Eun and we three became really good friends, in other words “clicked”. SNU, like many other universities had a tradition of assigning a Korean Mentor to every foreign student admitted here. It’s more important here in Korea due to a social handicap. That is, you cannot survive here (outside SNU), if you don’t know the basics of Korean language. As any newly admitted student, we had to do some bank work like opening an account and filling in all the details for internet banking, academic work like course registration, registering for dormitory, and the initial shopping for all the necessary things etc. could not have been done without his help. Thanks to him, the expected “few difficult months” in the beginning turned out to be not so difficult at all. Thanks bro. Thanks a lot.

Then through him, I met Sung Eun, another wonderful individual. We three became fast friends and months passed by; they are the people I meet the most excluding my lab mates at MWNL, whom I meet every weekday. Hak June even gifted me my first mobile phone in Korea. I still have that wonderful piece of technology with me and obviously it is an integral part of my daily life. Ever since we met, we have been visiting some places and we have also had opportunities to have dinner together. Since the couple stays at Yongsan, I have been there a lot of times and it has one of the biggest railway stations in Korea, as far as I know.

Did I tell you that Sung Eun plays good violin too? She is really good that she was invited to play as a part of a really famous concert at Yonsei University. SNU, Korea University and Yonsei University are called as SKY universities. The letters from the first letter of their names, and these three are the top universities in Korea (Though the other two are incomparable with SNU in the world ranking πŸ™‚ ..). She was like a really kid playing violin amongst really old and thereby experienced people. I was invited for the concert and Hak June and I went to Yonsei University on 10th November 2007 to see her in action. I had uploaded some photographs of the concert, starting from here, in my online photo gallery (press the right arrow when you reach that page to see more photos).

As a dedication to these wonderful people I had also made a video composing of the photographs of that event. You can view the video here, on YouTube.

We three have shared lots of wonderful time together visiting new hangout locations and tasting different cuisines. Sung Eun is really an adroit person in shopping. She knows how to get things and from where. She has taken me to some amazing locations for certain daily-use purchases (I can’t reveal the details here due to some legal issues, and I am NOT kidding, and NO, it’s none of what you are thinking with your β€œdirty” mind hehe πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ ). From the road, no one can guess that such a shop exists, and I guess you need to be a known customer for the shopkeepers to let you into those clandestine shops. From outside, they are just old not-used-anymore dusty door covered rooms, but inside they are full-fledged shops with selections beyond your imaginations.

I can never forget the time Hak June helped me with a medical emergency I had. Now, don’t worry my readers. Nothing fatal. hehe πŸ™‚ How can I leave you all so soon?? πŸ™‚ He was with me all the time during the hardships I had faced just like my brother. That’s one thing I respect in Koreans. Accepted that its difficult to get accepted into their circle, but once you are in, you are like a family. I mean a real family. Not like those who say β€œwe are like a family” but they mean β€œlike a family only in terms of disagreements, not in terms of mutual prosperity” (A good example would be I*** for those who know what I mean). Hak June was by my side all the time and he even paid for my medicines, though medical bills are pretty high here in Korea. When I requested to take back the money from me, he just smiled and said β€œKiran, This is the least I can do. You have paid a lot for the main treatments; Let me get the medicines for you”. So so so kind of him.

Hmm I can actually go on writing about these friends of mine you know, but the fact is, words cannot describe their character. I am proud to call them my best friends (or rather my bro and sis). Cheers to you guys and Cheers to our bond of friendship. Let us be friends for ever..

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[Video] Me.. Speaking Korean ??? :)

One of my friends, Mattias Peterson, had taped my first speech attempt in a contest… EVER… It was on 14th May 2008 and as a part of the 46th Anniversary of Language Education Center, Seoul National University. The language of my speech was Korean and the topic was Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

Check the video here

I know that most of you (residing outside Korea) seeing this video will not be able to make out what i am saying .. But still, this is the first speech contest i had participated in .. EVER.. For the ppl who understand Korean, there might be mistakes.. I am still a level 2 student .. not even half-way through .. πŸ™‚ Judge me with that heart.. πŸ™‚

Adios,

Kiran

The one on what’s going on lately!!

Long time no see.. πŸ™‚ Currently, my state is “lot to do with so less time” ..Β  Now dont get misguided thinking “oh this guy is so busy with acads” .. who said acads only?? I dont remember me saying so.. did i ?? πŸ˜‰ So you know.. Actually there are so many things to write individual posts..

What have i been upto lately.. Well ..

Since the last post on March 24th (phew it has been one month already), I continued the “tradition” of experiencing lots of things for the first time in my life.. Lemme brief them and others in no particular order..

  1. Started working as a part of a team in my lab.. Since i cannot reveal much details, I can say that it deals with the next generation mobile phones with intelligent inter working capability across various networks – WLAN, CDMA, GSM, Bluetooth .. Basically, one-device-multiple-connectivity.
  2. Experienced Spring in Korea.. Did i say Spring ?? Well, for us indians, since 4 weathers are absent in most parts of the country, i must say that the experience was wonderful. The government did the right thing in organizing many free festivals and concerts just for the spring. I had an opportunity to go for one of them and had fun.
  3. Seoul national university turned white again (first time since snow, but this time due to the beautiful white flowers interleaved with red, yellow and other colored flowers. I am sure that for someone seeing the uni from far up in the sky, it would look like a picturesque floral decoration (pookkalam – for keralites)
  4. Pics of 2 and 3 posted online .. Check them out here.. http://picasaweb.google.com/kirantnath/SpringAndCherryBlossoms
  5. A preview of what you are gonna see there is shown below
  6. Saw baseball for the first time in my life.. In a stadium that too.. It should be debated what attracted me the most.. The baseball game of the beautiful cheerleaders who perform in between.. In the continuous mode of my camera, I took literally 100 photographs in 40 seconds.. The aim was to capture the cute dance they were performing.. Will post it soon after processing into a flash file or something like that.
  7. Attended a party with the Korean Language class mates at Gangnam.. It involved dinner, norebang, and tasted fruit soju for the first time. It tastes really good like a cocktail. Any one in korea and not tried this, i recommend yo to try it. Any one elsewhere, wanting to try it, lemme know.. I will try to get it to India next time i come home. This summer most probably. πŸ™‚
  8. Met someone after a while which was caused due to our acads .. Little did we know.. Had many pleasant surprises in store for either of us.. more details later.. (this is a public blog right.. πŸ˜‰ )
  9. Started something that I have been wanting to do for a long time. More about this too, later.. πŸ™‚
  10. Attended a birthday party of a friend organized by International Student Association @ SNU. I came to know about a Korean Custom of “Birthday Drink” where the friends can put anything.. ANYTHING into a glass of beer and the “lucky” birthday guy/gal HAS to drink it bottoms up..
  11. Ate Kerala food after a loong time.. oh god.. I did eat a lot.. i mean A LOT… It was so delicious. The occasion was Vishu (A festival in Kerala). My immense gratitude to Suraj Ettan and Dhanya Chechi.
  12. Had a course project meeting with a professor i am taking a course under, this semester.
  13. Attended couple of lab dinner parties.
  14. Went for an Indian art exhibition. I was really surprised to find a Malayalam artist and a documentary about him in TV with sceneries from Kerala. I was so homesick.
  15. Dreamed of going to India and hugging my parents and my sister at the airport. Man.. I wish i could do that soon. Planning to go to IIIT to meet my good friends back there as well as some of their parents and husbands (many newly weds..)
  16. Korean Class.. going on busier than ever. End sem exams coming up. Yay!! I would be graduating from level 2.. Watch out Level 3, here i come πŸ™‚ .. (after a break.. probably in fall semester)

Now you know what kept me busy over the last one month..

Hope i can write a post about a few of the things in the list above..

Good day folks,

Kiran

Most Memorable Day!!

Last week I had injured my ankle after playing soccer and was pretty much on bed since then so that my leg would heal quickly. Thank god it was nothing more than a muscle sprain. As a result of sitting in the cozy 25s, oblivious to the dynamic weather outside, I really had lost touch with the “outside” world.

Until yesterday that is .. .

Yesterday while looking out from my window i found the weather foggy. Really really foggy. Thats in the afternoon I am talking about.. Fog at this time of the day was quite strange to what I had experienced here so far. Within a few moments, it started snowing….

White magical snowflakes filled with nature’s purity had started its seemingly abysmal journey from its cushion-y-soft parents floating placidly watching over us from the tall heights of the endless ocean that is the sky. It seemed to me that it was showering us mortals with something so pure and majestic, spreading a beautiful white blanket slowly… on everything thats below… on everything thats so trivial and short lived, compared to the nature itself..The nature was blessing us with something so limpid inspite of all what we do to hurt it… It really is very wonderful just to look at the wonderful snowfall which is remarkably quieter compared to its other half in equatorial climates, the rain. To top it all, it was the longest snowfall i ever saw. It started sometime in the “hot” afternoon with sun shining in the sky till the late hours of the dark night.. I just kept wondering, why there was snowfall at this time (may be its usual in seoul.. but it seemed unusual to me.. ).. not knowing why.. i drifted off to my dream world on my soft and puffy mattress…

The strangest part was that it was really long since there was a snowfall. If i remember correctly, the last snowfall was sometime in january and i thought that i had to wait for another year to see yet another snowfall. But until now…

The next day, that it today, i decided to resume going to my lab to get back to my academic work there. As a result of the long snowfall yesterday, everything around me was white. The color of purity.. I felt so invigorated and started me walk to the bus stop to catch the shuttle bus which takes me to Building 302, room 510-1, the multimedia and wireless networking laboratory, (my second home in Korea). At the bus stop and along the roads, quite unusual to say the least, i saw atleast 30-50 grandma’s and grandpa’s shops selling blossoms to the people around them and i saw so many parents with their children in the graduation suits.. Wait!! Thats when i remembered that today, the 26th of February 2008, was the graduation day for the SNU students.

Being the best institute in korea, let me quote couple of sentences from Wikipedia to emphasize the difficulty in getting in as a freshman here (I presume its much more difficult than IITs too.. correct me if i am wrong”.

Wikipedia says: “From 1981 to 1987, when an applicant could apply only to one university at a time, more than 80% of the top 0.5% scorers in the annual government-administered scholastic achievement test applied to SNU, many of them unsuccessfully. The fraction of SNU applicants among the top 0.1% scorers exceeded 95%. No comparable data are available for direct comparison between SNU and non-SNU applicants after 1988, due to an extensive change in South Korea’s college entrance system.”

I am sure that this fraction would have definitely become lesser and lesser year by year which resulted in SNU’s sudden incremental jumps in the Times Higher Education (http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/) ranking over the last few years. Just for the record, in 2007, SNU stands on par with University of Texas, Austin. University of California San Diego, University of Washington, University of Winconsin Madison etc are the names of a few of the top 10-15 US Universities (according to usnews – http://www.usnews.com) which SNU has surpassed in academic excellence. I even heard that the Engineering Department in SNU is ranked even better. Since i don’t have much data to background it, i would limit the description of this point to what it is now..

As important as it is with the high rank of the college, the “lucky few” who get to pursue their studies in SNU are sent here with high hopes and anticipations from their near and dear ones. Though i am not in a position to say how many actually rises to it, I am pretty sure that pretty much most of them get through the grueling times successfully and TODAY WAS THE DAY!!

Yeah … today was the day when they could boastfully say to the world.. “Here we come. . Here we come to surpass the challenges you have laid for us in our lives. Here we come to make a difference in this world.”. Today was the day they could repay their parents who went through all the troubles to send them here with their achievements to make them happy. Today was the day when there would be proud tears in the eyes of all the parents to tell that “My son/daughter graduated.. now he is a professional with a Bachelors/Masters/Doctor degree”. Today was the day when each of the parents would be longing to see.. To see their sons/daughters in the black coat with the square hat.. The day they could see their children all grown up.. The children who are what they are, the way their parents dreamt of seeing as, when they were sent to SNU. The children who are placed in good companies or who would be going to other countries to pursue their passion for knowledge, in any case, with a career well structured. Any parent’s dream…. !!!

I rememberd my graduation day back in IIIT. Surely this day is one of the MOST MEMORABLE DAYS OF A STUDENT’S LIFE.. The culmination of all the hard work he has put in over the last few years.. To graduate.. Hence the title of this post..

May be the snowfall was the way nature showered its blessings on the budding to-be-successful professionals. May be it was the way for nature to show its happiness, inspite of all what humans do to ruin it. Every parent present in the ceremony today would have had happy tears in their eyes when their children’s names were called for awarding the certificate. May be this unexpected snow was our infinitely tolerant nature’s tears of happiness. As a mother who gave birth to each one of us, as a father who protects us and as a sibling to each and every one of us to play with.. May be nature was also shedding its happy tears and what else would be a better way to show it, that through its pure-white-magical snow….

Snow…

Hello,

Couple of days ago, when i woke up in the morning, I was greeted with a wonderful view from my house. It had snowed last night at around 3-4 am and everything was so beautiful. As always, on my way to Korean Class in the morning, I took my camera and ran outside to capture the beauty of snow to the best way I could. I am sure that what i have posted is not comparable to the actuality. I mean.. I don’t think that a man made camera, how ever powerful it may be, can capture the beauty of nature’s creation in every extent. I went to the bus stop to catch the shuttle bus to Language Education Center and the following pics were taken during the wait for the bus.

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See more pics at My Online Gallery

Semester ended.. Three months long vacation now.. Cant go home though.. Got my lab work and Korean Class.. Our lab is going for the Membership Training this 19th. skiing. First time in my life .. πŸ™‚ Man!! Am I all excited?? πŸ™‚

You can surely expect a post after that. In the meantime, need to finish my term project by 18th ..

Annyonghi Kheyseyo,

Kiran

Hoping that I could put up more pics soon.

First Snow…. :)

Hey,

It started snowing heavily quite unexpectedly. I was in my lab doing my work and my next cubicle friend told me “Hey Kiran.. You know what ? It started snowing out there man!” .. Thats the thing with being in the lab πŸ™‚ .. You know .. In there you are always at a comfy 27 degree celcius quite oblivious to the climate outside.. Apparently he had got that message from him friend thru the messenger. Look at this situation.. Is strange how technology has blinded us.. We need to use internet to know that its snowing right outside your door.. πŸ™‚

Newyas .. all excited.. I stopped working and ran outside to see the first snow of my life.. πŸ™‚ It was beautiful.. I was like a mad man neither wearing gloves nor a thick coat among the other people in the street well equipped to fight the snow.. I felt like a kid and stretched my hands trying to catch the snow flakes and kept walking though I was getting slowly frozen from hands and legs.. πŸ™‚ The view of snowfall on the path of light from a powerful streetlight is beautiful .. It looks as if 1000s of white feathers falling from the sky illuminated by the light.. πŸ™‚

All the cars along the streets were having a white coating all over.. Before now, I had seen all such images in TV or Internet. The mood was beautiful .. Without making a sound, the nature was slowly covering us with a beautiful and soft white blanket .. πŸ™‚

I came to my room, took my camera out and took couple of pictures. They are not good due to the absence of any nearbylight source in the view from my balcony.. Nevertheless clicked some pics.. Here they are ..

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All the walking in the snow took a li’l toll on me when i came back to the warmth of my room .. As my room is floor heated, it gets really warm everywhere quick. My hands started behaving strange.. I felt as if a million needles were poking from inside.. I could actually feel the warmth of the blood flowing inside my veins.. I could see where it was traveling to.. I could feel it so nice.. πŸ™‚

I just wanted to remember my FIRST snowing experience with all its beauty as it is .. Hence this post.. I am quite sure that i was not able to describe the scene in its beauty nor able to capture it with my camera.. Probably in the near future, I could be able to take better pictures..

Adios,

Kiran

A Wonderful Trekking Experience; Norebang; “Dormitory” ..

Hello,

Today there was a trekking organized by the Department of Electrical Engineering for the International Students. The course was along Gwanak San (Mountain) from the engineering building down to the main gate.. πŸ™‚ Actually it was much more exciting than what i actually thought it would be. It is fall season now and a walk along the tree clad mountains amidst the diversity in the color of flora is simply exhilarating considering that the temperature was about 12 degree Celsius. On the trekking course, we discovered so many beautiful spots which we never imagined. To top it all there was a beautiful fountain amidst the mountains behind SNU which we never knew could have existed. And Trekking, is a non official national hobby of Korea (thanks to its mountainous geography), and is very popular that on every weekend lots and lots of people (atleast 70% of them being granpas and grandmas of over 60 years of age..).

Here are some snaps from the trekking.. You be the judge.. πŸ™‚

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You can visit the complete gallery by Clicking Here ….

Coming to the second part of the post.. After trekking, we went to a traditional Korean Restaurant, and had sumptuous Korean delicacies (not raw.. πŸ˜‰ .. properly cooked.. πŸ˜› .. ) .. Post dinner we went to Norebang, a Singing room. Its like this.. There is a U shaped sofa where all of us sat and we face 4 telivision screens and 2 awesome speaker sets. We have a complicated remote kind of thing with us and on the table in front of us, there is a catalogue and cool drinks. In the catalogue there are 1000s of songs (English, Korean, Chinese) and you can select any song you want with the remote by pressing the numbers (song number – 5 digit) on it. All the displays now shows the music videos with the lyrics as subtitles. The singer gets the mic, stands next to the screen and sings according the the karaoke played in the background and the corresponding music videos on the huge TV screens. The entire room is lit with Disco lights and laser displays. Amidst the vibrant array of colors, the singer sings the song and the audience (rest of us) relax on the puffy sofa and drink.. First time i am going to a Norebang and i must say that i am impressed with it.. Will go there soon.. It was a wonderful experience and you know what .. Today “yours truly” πŸ˜‰ bored the audience with 4 songs too πŸ˜€ .. I mean they were not one afte the other of course (did not want them to run out of the room..).. Leaving my singing story apart, it was nice hearing Chinese songs from the chinese fellow-students and korean songs from the korean students.. :)..

This is yet another time i realize that music has no languge barrier and has just one UNIVERSAL language.. πŸ™‚ Anyone can enjoy music irrespective of the language in which its sung.. πŸ™‚

Coming to the third part πŸ™‚ … Shifted into my dormitory in SNU.. Actually I cannot call it a dormitory as such because of the facilities it offer. 6 students have a 3 bedroom flat with two students in each room. There is centralized A/C cum heating(for the winters), television, washing machine, fridge etc.. πŸ™‚ a luxurious life haha πŸ˜€ …. The view form the balconies is spectacular.. One way you can see the Seoul Tower and the other way you can see the talllll skyscrappers of the center seoul.. Have taken some pics.. Check them out… The first five pics are the views from the balcony of my “dormitory”..

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Click here for the gallery of today’s activities πŸ™‚

Adios Amigo,
Kiran