Kpop Hologram Concert, Dumpling Soup, and Rice Cakes
My Korean friend Paul messaged me the other day: he had extra tickets for a Kpop hologram concert near Dongdaemun. I didn’t know what a hologram concert was, but my friend Laura and I were going to be in Dongdaemun to go shopping anyway, and the tickets were FREE. We made our way to the top floor of a Lotte department store, where there was a Klive Hologram Theater. There were a bunch of teenagers already waiting excitedly in line. Once inside, the theater was standing room only- I guess because the show was only an hour long and they expected people to be dancing to the music… we didn’t, BUT there was a gaggle of girls screaming and jumping up and down during the show! Each band (girl band 2NE1 and boy band Big Bang) recorded two songs, which were projected as holograms, so that it seemed like the bands were really there. Laura and I watched the show skeptically, occasionally asking questions like “Who’s that?” (because we weren’t familiar with either band) and discussing the girls’ plastic surgeries (apparently one of the girls WAS pretty but then had 20+ procedures done to her face so now it looks weird). I’m SURE the teenaged girls would have been embarrassed by us not knowing who the band members were (the infamous G-Dragon is BOTH a solo rapper AND part of Big Bang?!). After the show, we all agreed that it was an interesting concept and experience, BUT we wouldn’t have paid 15,000 won to get in. 🙂
After Zumba class on Valentine’s Day, our class went to a dumpling and noodle soup restaurant with our instructor. We knew the place must have been good because the lines went down the stairs and out the door! Once seated, we each ordered a bowl of steaming hot dumpling noodle soup, along with baskets of steamed dumplings. These dumplings, or gyoza (교자), unlike Korean mandu (만두), didn’t have noodle fillers in them. They were very delicious and tasted sort of like soup dumplings, without the soup! We walked around Myeongdong (an outdoor shopping area) afterwards to try to work off the carbs and avoid food comas. I want to go back with Alex some time!
And lastly, I recently learned that Korean parents like to throw elaborate birthday parties when their babies turn one year old. This tradition of celebrating a baby’s first birthday is called doljanchi (돌잔치). Parents invite family and close friends and all dress in traditional Korean clothes (hanbok). The baby is given a pile of objects from which to choose. Some people believe that the object a baby chooses determines his future. If the baby chooses money, he will be rich; if the baby chooses a long piece of string, it means he will live a long life; if he chooses a book, it means he will be smart, and so on. Afterwards, the guests eat sticky rice cakes, which symbolize prosperity and longevity. A baby’s first birthday is a BIG event in Korea, and many parents hire party planners and caterers for it. There are shops that sell only fancy rice cakes for first birthdays!