Chuseok 2015

This weekend marks the Korean holiday of Chuseok, a traditional harvest festival. As most of you probably already know, the date of the holiday follows the lunar calendar so the holiday falls on a different date on the Gregorian calendar. This year the Chuseok holiday is Sept. 27.

My husband is traveling for work on Chuseok, so our family celebrated a week early with a homemade Korean meal. Likely the little guy and I will play yut nori and eat Korean again on the actual date of Chuseok.

If you’re wondering what to cook for the holiday, here are a couple of ideas from Korean Bapsang. The Galbijjim recipe can even be prepared in the slow cooker for added convenience. According to Hyosun, the owner of Korean Bapsang, both of these dishes are traditional ones to prepare for Chuseok. My family can personally recommend both. Yum!

In Korea, Chuseok is about spending time with family and honoring ancestors. I highlighted ways to incorporate honoring ancestors in my 2011 Chuseok post. But I thought I’d add another suggestioKoreanChildren'sFavoriteStoriesn for families celebrating Chuseok.

Tuttle Publishing offers several books covering Korean culture or language. Their book, Korean Children’s Favorite Stories by Kim So-Un, is an English-language book filled with folk tales that have been told by Korean families for generations. Some of the stories are unique to Korea, while the plot line of some will be familiar. The illustrations by Jeong Kyoung-Sim are wonderfully done in a Korean style that resembles paintings done on ancient Korean screens.

This book would be a wonderful addition to a family’s library and a fun way to share Korean culture with your children.

만우절 (April Fools Day)

Not sure how I’ve missed this over the last nine years, but somehow I didn’t know until this year that April Fools Day is big in Korea. It was big on our house this year for the first time–9-year-olds are all about jokes! So maybe it was fitting that I learned of Korean student pranks this year.

In Korea, the holiday is called 만우절 (pronounced “ma-noo-jawl), which is translated “very foolish holiday). From what I’ve read, on this day you have to suspect of everything said or done to you. Whole classes in school get together to pull pranks on the teachers.

You can check out some of the most used 만우절 ideas here:




Book Review: Korean Folk Songs

KoreanFolkSongsI knew it had been awhile since I’d blogged, but I was amazed to see that my last entry was exactly a year ago today. As much as I love doing this blog, life has certainly gotten in the way of blogging.

But today I’m happy to bring you a review of a wonderful book that would make a great resource for Korean adoptive families, or anyone who wants their child to learn the Korean language.

The book is “Korean Folk Songs: Stars in the Sky and Dreams in Our Hearts” by Robert Sang-ung Choi. The book features 14 Korean folk songs and includes everything you need to learn the songs, including a CD with the songs presented in two versions, one that is sung and another that has no words so you can sing along.

For each song, the book contains a short description of the song and its history. Then the music is included with words in hangul, romanized Korean, and English. And since many Korean songs have hand and/or body movements to go with them, a description of the actions that should accompany the song is listed as well.

Some of the songs, like Santokki (Mountain Rabbit) and Gom Semari (Three Bears Song) were familiar to our family. But there are several others that are new to us. As a baby my son would have loved the Jjak Jjak Ggung (Clap, Clap, Clap) song, since that was one of the games he was playing in Korean when he came home. Korea’s most popular folk song–Arirang–is included as well.

All of the songs are steeped in the Korean culture and are likely songs our children adopted from Korea heard during the months or years spent in their birth country. The illustrations by Samee Back are beautiful and represent the folksy, cultural aspect of the book well.

I would highly recommend the book for any family that is learning the Korean language (learning by song is sometimes the easiest way to learn), and especially for adoptive families with Korean-born kiddos. My 9-year-old enjoyed listening to the CD and looking at the illustrations.

Here is a link to the Amazon listing for the book.

(Note: Tuttle Publishing provided me with a review copy of the book.)

Seolnal 2014

One of the biggest Korean holidays is coming up on Jan. 31. Seolnal is the Korean lunar new year. It is one of a handful of Korean holidays that are celebrated according to the lunar calendar, meaning that the actual date fluctuates from year to you on our calendar.

Our kids doing saebae last year.

Our kids doing saebae last year.

This is a great holiday to celebrate with your family and friends. Traditionally Koreans make a big feast and honor their ancestors. Children honor their older relatives with a formal bow (saebae) for which they receive money (saebae ton). And families often play games like yut nori. You can find the game on Ebay:

Learn how to say Happy New Year in Korean: 새해 복 많이 받으세요. It literally means, I wish you good blessings in the new year. Here is a video that will help you with pronunciation.

Jan. 31 marks the beginning of the year of the horse. Do you know your Korean zodiac sign? If not, check out this site.

It has a calculator that you enter your birthday into and it will tell you your sign. At the top of the page, there is also a category marked “Elements.” To get your full Korean zodiac sign you have to know your elementy (metal, water, wood, fire, earth).

If you’ve read Linda Sue Park’s book Archer’s Quest, you know how important it is to know your element.

The traditional food for Seolnal is tteokguk, which is rice cake soup. Here’s a great recipe for it:

I know it’s early but to all of you I say: 새해 복 많이 받으세요! I hope you each have a wonderful Seolnal.

Korean American History Resources: Middle and High School

While we’re still a few centuries away form American history in our chronological study of history, I thought I would start to compile some resources that cover Korean American history as I come across them. Here are some excellent resources to get you started with the history of Koreans in America. Most of these are for middle schoolers and high schoolers.

I read this book several years ago, and while it is out of print, I plan to include it in our curriculum. From the Land of Morning Calm: The Koreans in America was written by Ronald Takaki and published in 1994. It is recommended for ages 11 and up.

This book, A Different Mirror for Young People: A History of Multicultural America, is recommended for ages 10 and up. It’s an adaption of a book written by Ronald Takaki. While not strictly about Korean Americans, it tells the stories of many people groups who have come to America.

The book, Koreans in America: History, Identity, and Community (Revised First Edition), edited by Grace J. Yoo, is a recent release. Yoo is a professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University. It looks at Korean American communities over the past 100 years. I haven’t

This series, Arirang: An Interactive Classroom on the Korean American Experience, was put together by PBS. The web site is interactive and just incredible. You can also purchase the DVDs, and use lesson plans set up to go with the series. The lesson plans are aimed for grades 9-12.

Here is the web site address:

I imagine I’ll use the timeline and parts of the web site when we get to the 1800s and up in third and fourth grades. I’ll hold off on the actual lesson plans until high school.

This one is an online curriculum. It gives the history of Koreans in American, plus talks about important Koreans in US history and details some Korean Americans found in present day media.




Three Kingdoms Living History

As we’ve continued our chronological study of history, we’ve been studying the Three Kingdoms period of Korea’s history. And as I was doing research I was thrilled to find that there are two places in Korea that celebrate these kingdoms.

Just two more places to add to my must-see lists for when we visit next time. I love visiting places that bring history to life!

Here are links for more information about the two I’ve found so far.

Silla Millennium Park

Baekje Cultural Land

Children’s Day–May 5

Sunday, May 5, is Children’s Day in Korea. It is a day that children are celebrated and indulged, a day for doing fun things as a family and eating the childrens’ favorite foods.

The Korea Blog, an English-language blog run by (which is the official web page of the Republic of Korea), recently shared a post entitled “Korea’s Children’s Day and Bang Jeong-hwan.” The post explains the history of the holiday and tells about the man who started it.

So check it out before heading out for your Children’s Day adventure.