Korean Food : Flower Decorated Rice cake, Hwajeon



Nearly 20 years ago

It was a day spring revived with newly born colors. The street along my school was filled with diverse colors, yellow, dark red, crimson, pink and green. Among them, the pink was the most noticeable color of all. That was from fully bloomed Azaleas.

My grandma said
You are lucky to have them.

I didn't understand what she meant.
I assumed that maybe because it was so much beautiful.

One day, 

 my grandma called us and asked us to pluck some azalea petals on the street. I felt reluctant to do what she said. How dare I pick off flowers! I defiantly asked her why. She said there was something she wanted to make with it and I would be surprised. Yes, I love surprises.

Picking up petals
I felt unconscientious for the end of a life, even it was a plant. (I think I was more emotional than now.) After a moment, I forgot that thought and fell into the amusement of collecting pretty petals. Finally we ended up gathering a small basket of azalea and came back home.

Entering home, I saw my grandma kneading dough, sitting on the living room floor. Around her there were a gas burner, a frying pan and other ingredients and utensils. We sat beside her, showing off what we’ve got by ourselves. She grinned and asked us to wash them throughly and bring them back.

Grandma let us grab a hand-sized dough and round it rolling with two hands. Then, she flattened the dough, and placed it on the preheated frying pan. Around 1 minute later, she flipped it over and reheated it. I recognized that she was making a rice pancake, frying it. It must be super-yum with warm, chewy texture.

Petals Attached

All of a sudden, She glanced at us with a mysterious smile and attached a petal into one side of well cooked rice pancake. We were astonished and stared curiously at what she was doing. She let it firmly fixed, looking at us, giggling.

My sister and I were so excited and shouted at her in unison, “What’s next? What? What?”. She moved a azalea decorated pancake to the dish, and drizzled a teaspoon of syrup on it.

It is called 'Hwajeon'

She said, “It’s done. It’s called Hwajeon(meaning ‘flower pancake’). Precisely, Jindalle Hwajeon(azalea flower pancake). I made this beautiful dish very often when I was young. Nowadays, it’s not easy to find wild azalea in the city. You are lucky to have them around our house.”

I am lucky to have them.

Finally, I understood what she meant, and I truly thought I was lucky to have them.  And I also thought I was very lucky to have my grandma to let me know this beautiful plate of flowers.


On that day, We made hundreds of hwajeon trying as many different designs of it as I could imagine. How about the taste?

It was as delicious as my grandma’s love.


What is Hwajoen?

Hwajeon is a small rice cake(tteok) adorned with edible flower petals including azalea and chrysanthemums.

Hwajeon was commonly eaten at a traditional custom called hwajeonnori meaning flower rice-cake play. Every March 3 in the lunar calendar, named ‘Samjinnal’, azaleas blooming, women and children went out to pluck azaleas or other edible flowers. They also carried all ingredients and a thick frying pan to make it outside.

20 years Later

I have grown up and I could make Hwajeon by myself without any help from my grandma. But sadly, there’s no azaleas around my house anymore, as the city has grown larger. I am not lucky anymore in terms of azalea.

But I am lucky to have this beautiful memory
with my wonderful grandma


* Samjinnal(March 3 of lunar calendar) is March 24 this year 2012.

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Korean Food : Winter Hobbang, a kind of Dumpling?



On a cold winter day, I ask mom to heat hobbang at home. Around 15 minutes later, mom gives me a white flour ball with steams on it. It looks so hot, but I pleasurably hold it with few fingers, of course to change fingers time to time avoiding possible skin burns. I hasten to bite side of it.

OMG. It’s damn hot and I got tongue burnt. I rapidly move my tongue, tossing that firing red bean paste in my mouth. Inside is hotter than outside. After being shocked by its temperature, I immediately divide it into two part in order to release the heat outside. Soon it becomes edible cooled, I again hurry on to put one piece into my mouth and enjoy.

Hobbang. Guess what it is?

It is a variation of dumpling with red bean inside instead of meat or vegetables. It looks similar to a dumpling on that reason. It originated from China, the country of dumplings. Then, it was introduced to Japan in 1341 by a Chinese, Jeong-in Im, who came along to Japan with his Japanese friend. He first made chinese dumplings.

But Japan prohibited eating meat at that moment, so he put red bean paste substitute for pork in the original recipe. Red bean dumpling hit the Japan, became very popular.

Later, in Korea, at its colonized period by Japan, Those dumplings were introduced and sold as a street food. It was called Jjinbbang meaning ‘steamed bread’ in Korean. A food company recognizing the product potential on it, they mass-produced red bean dumpling branding as Hobbang.

Where to buy Hobbang(Jjinbbang)

Just Eat it!

There used to be dumpling specialized stores in the past. Nowadays, We hardly see them on the sweet. I assumed it lost its competitive due to the season limit sales of it.

Don’t worry, although you cannot find the specialized store, you can have better access to hobbang anywhere easily. How? You can buy hobbang at the convenience stores. The season is quite limited from December to Febuary. But, thanks to the wide chain system of convenience companies, you can have them anytime 24 hours.


Just Heat it!


We can buy pre-cooked package of hobbang at any store including discount stores, supermarkets, and convenience store. Just go to the bread section, and look for it. They are usually sold 4 hobbangs in one packages priced around 3000-4000won.





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Korean food is [                 ]

When characterizing Korean Food, there will be various answers.


And Spicy.

Korean Food is Super-Spicy.

On the statement, I would partly agree.

1. Not All Food is spicy.

All Korean food is not spicy. There are so very many foods that are not. In fact, the history of a pepper in Korea is relatively short compared to the entire Korean history of 5,000. It’s true that it spreaded throughout Korea rapidly and influenced Korean cuisine at significant extent. But there still exist a number of wonderful dishes without it.

The reason why Korean food is branded with spiciness is ‘pepper spiciness is stimulative and more unforgettable.’ When foreigners taste tongue burning food once, they perceive Korean food is mostly hot.

2. But Some Food are very spicy.

Some Korean dishes are very spicy. Korean truly love spicy food indeed. They make spicy food spicier and spicier. Some of them are addicted to it. Craving for more stimuli that bump your head and sweat all body.


Domestic Pepper Consumption in Korea

The domestic pepper consumption is 200,000~250,000ton and 3.8kg per capita. IT is the highest figure among vegetables. Why Koreans are so crazy about spiciness?

People prefer spiciness when they get stressed socially or individually.

According to a research by a folklorist, a pepper is introduced around 18 century when Kimchi and Pepper paste(Gochujang) were generalized. Especially around 1950, due to stress caused by Korean war, poverty and famine, the craving for spiciness enhanced. Its spiciness let out endorphin and relieve stress level. Nowadays, spicy food are popular among twenties, and it supposedly driven from employment troubles.

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Korean Food :  McCol, My Favorite Korean Barley Soft drink.


My favorite soft drink, Ever.

It was in the middle of summer.
On the way home, I was hot and thirsty. My white shirt was soaked with sweat. Escaping from scorching hot, I rushed into a supermarket nearby school. I ,still panting, stared at the displayed soft-drinks in the huge fridge. A variety of drinks lay in front of me. I lingered there until a clerk saw me strange for spending so much time, glaring at drinks.

To tell the truth, I was not deciding. I was leisurely enjoying the moment of a decision as a coin-holding consumer. I felt excited to admire those well-arranged rows of various colored cans. And also liked staying beside the refrigerator for a bit of cool air oozing from it.

I already knew which one I was going to buy.
McCol, my favorite soft drink ever, was waiting for my grab.

Alternative for beer!!

McCol was somewhat my alternative for beer. I was so curious about beer allowed only to adults. Soju seemed too strong for young me, while beer(Makju) seemed weak enough even for young me. So I started being craving for beer. As I perceived I was forbidden to drink, I got more strongly desired for it.

One day, a rumor was circulated that McCol was made of mixture of beer and coke. It meant I caught a good chance to fulfill my curiosity of beer. No sooner I heard of it, did I buy a can of McCol. I had already drunk umpteen cans of it, but this time must have been different.

I opened the lid with my hands shaking in excitement. And I gingerly swallowed one morsel like thoroughly examining a experimental liquid. You know what? I certainly felt a hint of beer flavor in it.

Since then, whenever I had a chance to buy a soft drink, undoubtedly, McCol was my choice. Feeling as if I were an adult, I drank it, namely, I swallowed a brown sparkling potion of making oneself adult.

What is McCol?
(extracted from ilhwa.co website)

It is the first carbonated drink made of barley in Korea. It lately has attracted much attention because it contains a dietetic fiber. It is a representative barley soda produced via a sanitary facility system using high quality water from the Chojung mineral spring. Balanced with moderate amounts of soda, barley, vitamins and lemon flavor, it has a cool, refreshing and clean taste. Also, no antiseptic treatment is applied to this product.

Vitamins contained in this product are; vitamin C which strengthens the immune function and operates as an anti-oxidizer, vitamin B1, which is known as a nutritious source essential for carbohydrate metabolism, and vitamin B2, which is necessary for nutrition metabolism operating as various enzymes do in a living body


McCol Taste - Love or Hatred?

As you could guess, I seem crazy for it. My appreciation of it ends it up with full of compliments. But, interestingly, I looked for other blogers’ comments on Mccol, and they had a controversy with their opinions diverged into extreme. Love or Hate. Delicious or Disgusting.

Some people say it’s too fuzzy, sour, and with somewhat mysterious feature. They found it disgusting from unexpected flavor, different from coke. They never advise you this drink.

On the other hand, other people, mostly switched from Coke to McCol, fascinated by its unique taste. They say its taste can grow on you, meaning you will get used to it. McCol is very refreshing and contains healthy ingredients –barely extracts, vitamin B1, B2 and C. They admire it as the best drink possibly replacing cola in the future.

Every taste depends upon one’s growth background and circumstance. When travelling totally unknown area for the first time, people must have some trouble on food. Later, they get familiar to its taste and appreciate its true taste. Just like western people enjoy sushi with raw fish on, that they used to feel disgust on.

I assume that a coke drinkers’ tongues got habituated to coke taste,
and feel weird of McCol’s somewhat phony-like taste. But you will get used to it.

So, Why don’t you give a chance to McCol?


Altanative for beer? lollol

My cute defiant action in adolescence. It’s ridiculous making non-alcoholic drink with alcohol. But the young me truly believed that absurd idea. Mercifully, it was not only me who was hooked by silly lie. I can still find some venturous  bloggers experimenting to make McCol by mixing beer and coke! lollol


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What is travel to me?

Travel is detachment from routine. I live according to my optimized schedule and boundaries. Settling in my newly adjusted life, I made a new daily plan for efficient time consuming. I move within the circle that I have drawn, weaving things around me in order of priority.

I stand on the personalized stage in the castle that I made myself. At first, I seem to rule my town, looking at what’s happening inside. Soon, I feel accustomed and bored. Later, when even sick of these familiar days, I feel impulse to escape from the prison surrounding myself. And I attempt to separate myself from it. 

I sometimes break the thick wall of my sturdy castle. The more I stabilize, the more the wall thickens. The harder I work, the more crowded the castle become. I feel stuffed and choked by its gravity of daily hectic and intricate life. Pressed and suffocated, I can’t afford to gear myself or unlock the heavy latch of the gate. Impatiently, I grab a hammer and bang the wall forcefully again and again until I feel the fresh air out of the boundary. I just burst out destroying all my routine.

I should have opened the gate after arranging stuffs inside the castle. That’s a subsequent thought as soon as I succeeded in an abrupt prison break from the cell I built by myself. Contrary to my wish, I am going to break the wall again, because I am not a ideally organized person. Unwillingly, but willingly, I am going to hammer it again, breathlessly oppressed.

Travel is an antidote of life mannerism. It inspires me. New experience in strange circumstance during the journey recreates my mind and my castle. It renovates the old castle with novel design and architecture technique. It’s unavoidable to build any form of one, that can be changeable or unchangeable. I hope that I have enough bravery to attempt.   


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Korean Food : Korea Best Pizza Franchise, Mr. Pizza


Yesterday, I was on the way to meet my friends in the evening.

I was starving to death, since I unintentionally skipped breakfast and lunch. I felt a great carb-craving. I could eat even a plate if it lay in front of me. Nearly bearing my hunger, I arrived at the Mr.pizza, the meeting point. I got there at 7 sharp, because I didn’t want any delay for dinner. But regardless of my wish, my friends as usual were late. I told my friends that I would sit and order pizza before they coming. I took a seat and ordered a potato pizza, salad and drinks. About 2 minutes later, my friends arrived. Presently, a salad bowl arrived simultaneously.


A salad bowl. ‘Here we go with our empty bowl and stomach.’ I rushed to the salad bar, and dug up sweet potato salad and squash salad. Then white pasta and chilli pasta were put beside the lump of salad. On the top were corns decorating with yellow. The first mountainous bowl was perfectly satisfying. My friends began to eat and I devour.

mrpizzamrpizzaThe second round.

I jumped into the yogurt bar. I fill the tiny yogurt bowl with a teaspoon of cereals, resins, sunflower seeds, and peanuts. Then I topped with a scoop of yogurt on it.  Some people eat yogurt for their dessert, but for me it was a main dish. I also swallow cereal-mixed yogurt at once. Delightful.

mrpizzamrpizzaMain dish

The pizza was served. No sooner it came than my buddies scurried the salad bar to bring garlic dipping sauce and pickled cucumber. my friend distributed each piece onto our personal dishes. I cut a pizza into several fragments so that I could eat a bite-size one. While eating, we refilled the salad bowl twice more. And we finished the whole pizza within 15 minutes. I was so full that I could feel food stuck up to my throat.


More salad time. Although we finished up eating pizza, it didn’t mean the end of our meal. The finale is dessert at the salad bar. I stood up and stomped to the bar and brought the bowl with few leeches, kiwis, oranges and a few cubes of jelly on one hand and another yogurt bowl on the other.


We always eat like that when we are together.

After finishing all of them, I felt content with self-arranged 3 course meal. I wrote this without exaggeration. They summed up to a large size pizza, 4 salad bowls, 8 yogurt bowls, and uncountably refilled soft drink. We gulped like a horse as if we were food fighters.

I can tell that we always eat like that at any pizza restaurant when we are together. Honestly, I time to time feel ashamed for our appetite and sorry for owners of the restaurants. But we don’t eat like that when we are with other people, not with us. We with others eat less. And it offsets the amount that we have together, I think, I believe, and I hope.

Alright, I admit.
I am sorry, Mr. pizza.    

I will control my appetite next time.

Mr. Pizza

Mr. Pizza is a South Korean pizza chain established in 1990. It is based in Banpo-Dong, Seocho-Gu
, Seoul. After establishing a franchise in Ewha Women's University, Mr. Pizza opened a store in Beijing, China in 2000. It targeted young women customers and improved the salad bar with low calorie and low fat food and added yogurt bar. It also creat 'a woman's day' providing a huge discount to female customers. And it became the most popular pizza brand, outdoing pizza hut and domino pizza in Korea.

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Korea View : Busan Downtown Night View at Seomyeon


I went to Seomyeon  to hang out with my friend. We went to Seomyeon 1st street(서면 1번가), entered into one casual dining & pub called T-box. I post about this place later. Anyway, I had a great time there.



Seomyeon is the most crowded downtown in Busan. Busan citizen usually gather and make a appointment here. There are several downtowns in busan including Nampodong, Busan university, Kyungsung university, and more. But when we talk about the representative downtown, we do mention Seomyeon for our first place.

The gravitation power of Seomyeon is its locational advantage. It situated at the center of Busan. Wherever you are in Busan, even an edge of Busan, you can reach there within 1 hour.(I didn’t count the traffic at peak time.)

It’s huge, busy, and crowded. Thanks to its popularity, the commerce spontaneously developed. You can do almost everything here. Movies, restaurants, coffees, garaokes, pocket ball, billiards, shooting, dvd, pubs, bars, clubs, and whatever.

I take some snapshots at Seomyeon at center of 1st street.(서면 1번가)



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