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Title : Bring Me to Korea!
Name : Afrizal Kurniawan
Nationality : Indonesia
Just three years ago, it's not a stretch to say that I knew pretty much nothing
about Korea except for a few Korean dramas. The Korean girl groups and boy
bands didn't impress me all that much. To be more exact, I looked down on
them, thinking, "young teenagers singing??" Do I feel this way now? Absolutely
If I were to ask my friends to write down two words that come to their mind
about me, with no hesitation, they would choose "Korea" and "K-Pop". Are they
coerced in any way to respond as much? Of course not~
I don't remember exactly when I began to love K-pop, but it seems the start of it
all was the Korean girl group Miss A my friend introduced to me in high school.
I quickly became addicted to their powerful singing and dance and completely
fell in love with Suzy, one of the four girls in the group. The thumping rhythm
of their hit number “Bad Girl Good Girl” was engraved in my head as I moved
closer and closer to the world of K-Pop. I worked meticulously not to miss out
on any information. Come to think of it now, my obsession was hilarious.
My passion for Korea grew all the more. I took part in a Miss A lip synch
contest, just for fun, and even went to a K-pop concert to see Miss A with my
own eyes. Witnessing my idols at a close distance was likely the most amazing
moment in my life!! This was also the very moment that Korea became the
ultimate country I just had to visit by all means!
A Thousand Roads Lead to Rome, One Million Ways to Korea
Amid the rising boom of the Korean Wave pop culture phenom, many contests
were hosted luring participants with the prize of a trip to Korea. I of course took
part in a number of these including the 2NE1 Lonely Cover Contest, Touch
Korea Video Contest, Be My Baby Cover Contest and the 2012 Bigbang Cover
Contest. Any luck in prizes? Haha…unfortunately not but I didn't give up. I still
had one chance: the Discover Korea essay contest! I was confident that before
long, I would find myself in the country of ginseng.
I far from know every little detail about Korea, but based on information I
gathered online and from travel books, I planned out a travel itinerary of my
-Along the Korean Drama Trail, Seoul Trip
I will first visit the Petite France neighborhood that was featured in the hit
Korean drama Secret Garden
. This was my favorite Korean drama of all time
and so I absolutely must visit the place where the drama was shot. Some may
question why I would visit the French town in Korea out of all places. Well,
why not? It's even better to get a glimpse of France in Korea, since Europe is so
My next stop on the drama trail is Nami Island, the backdrop of Winter Sonata
This show has practically introduced the country Korea in Indonesia and
therefore visiting the island makes perfect sense. Oh and I must not forget to
take a photo in front of the statue of actor Bae Yong-jun and actress Choi Ji-woo,
who played the endearing couple in the drama!
Being a Muslim, a visit to Itaewon in downtown Seoul is also a must for me. I
would like to drop by the mosque to observe how advanced Islam is in Korean
society and to talk with Korean Muslims. Next is shopping! I should first buy
souvenirs for my loved ones. I will peruse Korean products at Dongdaemun
Market, a venue recommended by many people. And just the thought of
possibly buying cool printed T-shirts of the girl groups Miss A or Girls'
Generation gets me excited. What's even better is that Dongdaemun Market is
open all night between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.!
- Experiencing the Real Korea
People like to take pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Merlion
statue in Singapore. What's the equivalent in Korea? It's of course the
Gyeongbok Palace! The palace is a renowned historical site but it's also offered
its grounds for the shooting of Korean historical dramas including Princess
. I will also visit the National Folk Museum of Korea to learn about
The presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae is also on the list of things to see and
then by all means a stop at the N Seoul Tower. This is where the love birds Gu
Jun-pyo and Geum Jan-di fastened their love lock in the drama Boys Over
. Standing 200 meters high, the tower offers a view of all Seoul.
Awesome, isn't it? The adorable dolls at the Teddy Bear Museum inside the
tower will definitely add to the enjoyment.
The next plan on my list is the Namsangol Hanok Village where I will explore a
cluster of traditional Korean houses. A time traveler will guide visitors to
Korea's past like in a movie. We can also try out slipping into the Korean
The Gwanghwamun Plaza, Cheonggye Stream and Seoul's beautiful night scene
viewed from the Han River can neither be left out in my tour of the capital city.
I will have Kodak moments at the Cheonggye Stream Plaza fountain, which
glitters in three different colors, and in front of King Sejong the Great statue at
Gwanghwamun Plaza. You can also take pictures wearing garments of ancient
Korean court officials. Trying on the clothes is free. The climax of things to do
in Seoul at night is taking in the amazing view of the Han River!
– Entertainment & Shopping Time!
In Hong Kong, you visit Disney Land. In Korea, it's Lotte World! I must try out
the fantastic rides at this theme park. The various rides, uniquely designed, have
been the backdrop to, again, many Korean dramas including Full House
Stairway to Heaven
. Taking photos here goes without saying! Another must-do
in Korea is watching the one of a kind percussion performances Jump
. Your jaws will drop and you will constantly crack up at the actors'
Lastly, I'll enjoy more shopping at the Namdaemun Market and the
Myeongdong shopping district. I'll buy pretty, affordable Korean souvenirs and
K-pop related items at Namdaemun and the latest, hippest goods in
Myeongdong. Who knows? If I bring home things I bought here, Indonesian
people may take me for the Korean heartthrob Lee Min-ho. Hahahaha.
- Final Must Dos
There are two particular places I really want to set aside time to visit even for a
brief while: the public bathhouse called "jjimjilbang" and the Korean karaoke
"noraebang,“ which literally means singing room. At the spa, I will do as the
locals do: lie down next to Koreans for a nap, eat broiled eggs and wear a towel
around my head folded in a style with two knots. These activities may seem
trivial, but I do want to try. The same goes with noraebang! I don't know the
Korean lyrics but how can you not sing a Korean pop song in the home of K-
pop? Last but not least, I'd very much like to sit in for the taping of a TV music
show at one of the broadcast firms. I've watched Korean singers on YouTube but
surely this can't compare to watching the real deal live.
Another must do is enjoying Korean food. There are many Korean restaurants in
Indonesia, but I need to experience the original home taste of dishes such as
kimchi, bibimbab (mixed rice with veggies), ramyeon (instant noodle), gimbab
(rice roll), ddeokbokki (seasoned rice cake slices), bulgogi (barbequed beef),
Hopefully, my detailed Korea travel plan could become a reality in the near
Attached to the essay, I also sent a video of ‘Bring Me to Korea,’ a song I
composed and wrote lyrics for. The song conveys my passionate desire of why I
love Korea, what about Korea I particularly like, and where in Korea I most
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