Archive for the ‘Essay’Category

[Photo Essay] Who lives in the deserted house?

There is a deserted house on the way from Wol-jung sa to Joomunjin. This house was being destroyed when I passed by there. I was a little bit reluctant to go into the house because some construction workers might not allow me to get in there, but I did it to take a photo of the inside of the house. I could see a frame of the house without any furniture.

An owner must be impoverished looking through their old-fashioned TV, newspapers instead of wallpapers, and a dog’s bowl.

“Did you live in this house?” I asked some middle-aged woman who seemed to know about a story of this house.

“No, some old couple lived here but they all passed away.”

Originally, this house belonged to the middle-aged woman, but an old couple lived here without notice when she lived in another place. She kindly allowed them lived in her house. She did not remember when it was anyway when they passed away, and this house would be torn down in few days. 

A disappearing house that someone might have history, but this house will vanish in a trace. It is truly sad story.

* To read entire article in Korean :


08 2013

Our engagement diamond, roses, and potato


40 years ago, My wife and I planted roses as our engagement gift.

40 years ago, My wife and I planted roses as our engagement gift.


I cannot believe that 40 years have already passed since my wife and I were engaged. How time flies. As our engagement gift, we planted red and yellow rose bush on my wife’s flowerbed at the southern corner of the house.

The diamond we have was not as brilliant, but we were happy planning our shining future while planting the fragrant roses. For our 40th anniversary celebration today, we planted not roses but potatoes at the northern corner of the house. No one expected that we live in Imjin Riverside.

However, every moment of our life here is so important and precious. Though it’s not 0 degree, it is a little bit chilly to plant the seedlings, so we decided to sow 7 kinds of greens such as a corn, carrot, groundsel, scaber, kidney bean and peanut. My wife who was trimming the potato sprouts looked so lovely and I was reminded of the time we were engaged and affectionately planted the roses 40 years ago.

To be honest, it is shameful as a man who gave roses instead of a shining diamond as an engagement gift. This anniversary gift was also not jewelry but a potato seed. However, my wife and I believe that potato seeds are as productive as a diamond. Furthermore, fragrant roses and edible potatoes are even better than the diamond, which is not aromatic and edible. I appreciate my wife for thinking the way I do.

* For the original article in Korean: (by Ogyun Choi)


04 2013

About my dream


“What on earth are you studying for?” I hesitated to answer my mum’s question. Normally, I study general knowledge from newspapers, essay writing, and group discussions. However, I am afraid my mum does not understand about what I am doing for a study because she may think these are not practical study. So, I lightly answered, “Study is just study.”

My dream is being a journalist. I do not exactly remember when I started having this dream. Anyway, I learned from the news that there are varieties of people around us who have different experiences; it fascinated me, so I would like to be newscaster. My dream has been given shape since I quit my short-term work. I had to stick to my work at least 9 hours or more, so I realized I should work what I really want. Since I submitted my resignation at my first company in 2009, I had had no full-time job. I am thirty years old this year. I spend most of my time in the library every morning. In the afternoon, I also have a study group or I teach for middle and high school students as their personal tutor. I also join for some activities such as a reporter, interviewer, and programme-maker. I thought that those careers helped me to be a journalist but in reality I could not pass the final step of the press test even though I applied as many as nearly eight times for a year.

There are so many friends around me, who already worked for almost five years. Compared with me they look like they are doing a great job. Some friends who work as a businessman encouraged me saying that ‘you must be happy because you know exactly what you want to be’. Is it really a good thing? I sometimes think my dream is only a sticking point for having a job. I cannot avoid thinking I am old to have a challenge like having a dream whenever I fail for a final interview of the press. Nevertheless, I never give up my dream because I believe many drops make a shower, and I already collected lessons of experience somewhere along the line.

* For the original article in Korean:  (by Na-ri Shin)


03 2013

A Spanish exchange student who fights alone

Panorama of Málaga

Panorama of Málaga


“An exchange student? Good for you! By the way, why Spain and not US or Australia?” Whenever I told my friends that I was going to Spain for six months as an exchange student, 9 out of 10 always have the same reaction like of that above. I understand why people say so because Spain is not an English-speaking country, also I do not major Spanish, but biology. I am a 23-year-old normal student who would like to be a journalist. I just really wanted to travel around southern Europe, but I had no money and also did not want to get support from my parents for that.

One day, I found an exchange programme and applied for it. I was too nervous to remember about the interview day, anyway, I became a successful applicant as a student in Universidad de Málaga in Spain. Koreans are not familiar with Málaga, which is a port city located in the south of Spain. However, it is well known for its quite famous city for the soccer team, Málaga CF and the eminent artist Picasso’s hometown. When I arrived in Málaga, I felt like being in a historical site where people crowd between old buildings; Here is Centro Historico, and this fantastic scenery was indescribable.

Coincidently, I spent Lunar New Year in Spain, and it was my first time to observe a holiday abroad alone. Suddenly homesick sprang up to me and I found some news that there would be a Korean-traditional event to celebrate Lunar New Year’s Day in Muelle Uno. When I got there, I was so comfortable with the familiar atmosphere, yin-yang symbol, hanbok, sesame oil fragrance, and Gangnam Style music. This event was held not by a Korean, but a Spanish who is a representative of Cultura Asiática (Oriental Culture and Language Institute), which so impressed me. It was precious time that I met a number of international students and shared Korean culture with each other. I am so excited for my future life here in Spain.

* For the original article in Korean: (by Jeong-hyeon Kim)



03 2013

A boy’s diary

The author: The 16-year-old boy who lives in a remote mountain village.

It has been long since I have seen winter. We have a severe winter time at my home located on 500m altitude around the mountain. My mom seriously caught a cold for a few days by the end of autumn, it was just after the time that my mom helped a neighbour reaped pears. At first, she laid up with fatigue but finally her condition steadily worsens. “I should take some rest in the afternoon,” my mom said.

After she served my lunch, she came into her room and since then the lights in her room were out. She still slept even when I finished having dinner. I found my mom who moaned with her ailment. So, I made honey tea and gave her a massage until she fell asleep again. The following day, she was still in bed without having any foods saying that it is the best way to endure her pain by emptying the stomach as animals do so. In downtown, I bought some fresh fruits she loves and came back home. “I will have them later. I want to have some boiled rice served in Kimchi soup,” she said. Having some foods that sick people crave to eat is the best treatment. Right, my mom really likes that food. It must be good for her to have some hot boiled rice served in Kimchi soup to feel better. To make the soup, first I boiled water with anchovy and seaweed for 10mins and took them out, cut some Kimchi, put them into the pot and boiled it for 5mins. The next step, I put one scoop of rice and mixed them up and put some soy sauce slightly for seasoning. Done! Yummy soup! I am 16 years old; I cannot believe that I cooked for my mum. I grew up enough to cook the food that my mum would like to eat, which means that my mum also is getting old. When I entered her room with the boiled rice served in Kimchi soup, she sprang up in bed and had it at once. Deliciously she ate it; unconsciously, I also had some with her. Surprisingly, her energy was restored and even asked me to wash the dishes. “Yes, mum I will gladly wash them.”

* For the original article in Korean: (by Okhada Ryu)



03 2013

How to visit a patient?

Visiting a sick person is fairly usual. However it can be uncomfortable for both the patient and visitor because the patient is unlikely to want people to see them in their poor state and a visitor would also feel sorry for the patient seeing them in pain.

Be that as it may, not going to visit our friend who is sick goes against what’s right. For those who are suffering from a chronic illness or unstable healthy condition, heartwarming comfort can be very helpful in relieving pain and worry. Grief ages us but shared sorrow is half-sorrow.

There is some etiquette, which I’ve acquired from my experience of visiting my friend who became disabled after surgery for cancer.

1. Check the patient’s current situation before visiting: You should call the patient’s family or the patient to ask whether he or she is available to meet you. particularly, it would be better not to go right after his( or her) operation or hospitalization.

2. Visit between 2-3 pm and visiting hours should be short: If possible, avoid visiting before or after eating, and when doctors do their rounds in the morning and in the evening. You need to check the hospital’s visiting hours and should only meet with the patient for 30 minutes or less so that they don’t feel tired.

3. Do not go as a group: 1 to 3 people is an ideal number to visit the hospital to avoid causing a nuisance to family or other patients. Moreover, it’s better not to go with your children because they are easily exposed to infection and also might become burden some to the patient.

4. Prepare appropriate gifts: You have to consider his or her gift depending on their illness. For instance, it is inappropriate for those who suffer from diabetes or cardiac failure to buy fruit juice or cans with fruit sugar.

Tip. Heartfelt consolation is one of the best gifts, but you can also buy something that they like as a small gift, such as a book or CD, with a letter from your heart. You can also give a small amount of money to support his or her medical expenses.

5. Do not overdo praying: A patient or other patients near your friend might feel unpleasant if you pray for him or her too loudly. You need to keep in mind that every man has a different religion or belief.

All things taken into consideration, as you visit a sick person, it is best to make them feel comfortable. You need to treat them as you usually would and have some interesting conversations with them. Remember that your sincere comfort from your heart is the most important thing for them.

* For the original article in Korean: (by Ogyun Choi )


01 2013

[OhmyBlog] A letter for those who feel tired of our unremarkable lives

Whenever I come back to Korea, I meet two close friends while having a conversation with a cup of coffee and a nice meal. We are childhood friends and always stick together as a threesome.

However, one of them, who married a Japanese lady, passed away 2 months ago. Until last year, we had a meal talking about tiny bits of our life but now he suddenly disappeared.

It was truly unexpected that he died of myocardial infarction, I was so sorry for not being at his funeral because of the long distance barrier, I was too far from Korea at that time. After I got back home, I went to the cinerarium where my friend’s bones placed with my other, living, friend.

Before going there, I was extremely worried that I would break down and weep in front of his remains but I didn’t feel as much sadness as I thought, instead I just stared at his antemortem photo and the urn with his ashes. It hasn’t sunk in yet that my friend isn’t with me anymore.

Today I saw the news of the suicide of Sung-min Cho, a previous Korean baseball star. Someone goes through a terrible day that he or she can’t endure anymore, but my friend who died might really long for the day with bright sunshine and fresh air in winter.

Recently I felt really disgusted about my mundane life and at that time I just faced my friend’s death. Now I can feel the wonderful value of our life. As soon as we live we can express any other feelings such as I love you, thank you and sorry and so on. So I really appreciate my friends and my family being with me, and also a special thanks to my friend who died and made me realize our life’s worth.

Life is that somebody’s death gives a big enlightenment to the alive.

My dear friend, I promise that I will do my best for everything while I live.

* OhmyBlog: Citizen reporters can contribute their stories not only through in news form but also in essays on OhmyBlog. There they have published some books such as collections of essays and poems. A blog payment system has been introduced that Ohmynews readers contribute to voluntarily since 2010.

** For original blog in Korean:

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01 2013

[OhmyBlog] What is your most beautiful moment? I say ‘right now’

I once felt that a special life should be composed of extraordinary events, and I truly have expected lots of different events, or at least trial episodes. So thanks to my high expectations, I could have lots of fond memories in my life. However, there has been some change of my belief for a special life.

A housewife has so many specific accidents in her daily life. Today is like yesterday and yesterday is also like today, it seems like there is no difference from the other day. There are too many house chores to do, and I have naturally taken less time for myself even I have no time to organize my thoughts, admiring the beautiful sky and care for my rough skin. So my life is not special anymore and I feel dreary? Absolutely not.

I find my lovely son has a great smile for me and throws himself into my arms.   That really hits the spot. My son has reinvented himself with a wide variety of facial expressions and behaviors, which makes my life special. In spite of the mediocre daily life, I feel so magnificent, like playing a treasure-hunt game. My younger son was taking a nap peacefully in my leisure hours. I had a fresh cup of coffee and ate some garlic bread for my lunch. The idea comes into my head that this moment has been one of the most beautiful memories in my life, no special events and nothing special.

* The above essay is one of the essays which appeared on the Ohmynews main page through OhmyBlog.

* OhmyBlog: Citizen reporters can contribute their stories not only through in news form but also in essays on OhmyBlog. There they have published some books such as collections of essays and poems. A blog payment system has been introduced that Ohmynews readers contribute to voluntarily since 2010.

For original blog in Korean:


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11 2012

Facebook ‘Common Sense’

Last September, I was experiencing the first probable feelable shock of an earthquake in my life. I was riding towards my room on my bike that evening. On reaching the center of the Sankhamul Bridge of Kathmandu, my bike got stopped. Suddenly, the 8.9 scaled quake started swinging the bridge. After seeing the public scampering, my heartbeat also got faster because of fright. I was thinking, the bridge may break down. After escaping out, I was so eager to update my Facebook status about this most memorable incident. Through the hurdles in network connections, I accomplished the job of updating. Some friends liked and some of them commented on it.

Besides the comments, I admired something else. The wall of this social network was filled up with current updates about the recent quakes. Casualties, damages, intensity on different areas were all seen in the posts of the users. Facebook at that time stood as an open portal for citizen journalism. Merely 10 percent of my Facebook friends are journalists working for different media or freelancing, but I was seeing the posts from about 50 percent of my friends who have not done their first reporting. I was getting the updates from most of the districts in just seconds.

“No one has to be a professional Journalist to disseminate the Information or news.”

This statement has been proven because Facebook was the only news source for me that day. Most of the radios and TVs were playing music. Some were talking about politics and some were scrolling flash news. But naively I was searching for full details about the casualties in the areas of my concern, which may be my homeland or somewhere else. But none of the media were providing the full details. I thanked my friends for updating their statuses. I, too, was updating my experience and perceptions about the quake, through which my friends abroad could get informed. After that day, I am always thinking and searching for ways to use this social portal as a space for citizen journalism. If used decently, Facebook permits us to get a lot of news, information and updates through an individual citizen journalist. In my sense, every Facebook user is a journalist who may be narrowcasting, but is propagating the news. All of us, you and I.

You may be wondering what I mean by decency. I do have another experience to share. I have liked some interesting Facebook fan pages. Some of the pages I have liked contain more than seventy thousand likes. One day I got the sad news of the demise of Ram Man Trishit, the popular music artist from Nepal. Again Facebook was the medium to give me the news.

“May his soul RIP,” I wrote on the status of With a profound heart, I was just signing-off, my eyes scanning loosely over notifications. Some of the users liked the status were there was written, “Ram Man Trishit is no-more.” I didn’t feel, I should say something to them because it is just common sense that no one likes his demise.

After the demise of Dalit-Activist Subas Darnal, many were writing on his Facebook wall. Some of them were stating, “I am sad to listen the news of your death, I do not believe it,” and some were writing, “Is this news true?”

Where had the common sense of those users been? Do they not know that the dead cannot answer their questions and comment on their status posts? Again the question of common sense arises.

The same is happening nowadays. The vulgar posts on Facebook walls also lack common sense. If you want to read more about those unbelievable offensive stories by clicking on ‘Follow,’ you will definitely get the same problems as these. If you want to get rid of those stories posted on the walls of your friends by your name, just click on ‘Report as Spam.’ You can see this option to the right of the story post.

Finally, it’s my conviction that Facebook is an open slam-book protected with passwords. If used decently it is a space for sharing feelings but it is also a destructive technology if we forget the universal concern of common sense. Again I say, use Facebook as a diary, to share your experience as a storyteller and to share the news as Citizen- Journalist. Facebook has the largest coverage, which not only spreads your success but also your slip-ups. Mind your clicks on likes and keys on comments. That’s the rule of Facebook common sense.

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The definition of citizen journalism

I think, therefore I am.
I talk, therefore I am a citizen.
I write, therefore I am a journalist.

These hypotheses seem black and white to me. They are comfortable, and I like that. Citizen journalism is not this way, and I am learning to embrace its shades of gray. I have come to view my discomfort as a good thing.

Journalism is the who, what, where, when, how and why of being human. It means being able to ask questions and challenge our status quo in hopes of betterment. To quote Henry Luce, I became a journalist to come as close as possible to the heart of the world.

I have spent five years of my life in journalism school and have certificates that say so.  The AP Stylebook has been memorized; Tarbell, Murrow and Osgood idolized. I love journalism with my whole heart, and have lived in enough broom closets to prove it.

So please do not tell me that the woman next to me at the car wash can slap on the title “citizen journalist” and do exactly what I do.

Wait a minute.

Read the rest of this entry →

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06 2010