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Skyscrapers and the old city wall at Naksan Park. Photo: Chantelle Yeung.

The Korean language contains expressions and concepts which are difficult to translate into English. One example is the noun, “수고” (sugo), which, on its own, one could mean “trouble” or “effort”. However, it is rarely, if ever, used by itself, and often makes its appearance in phrases that translate to “continue working hard” and “keep up the effort”. Often used to acknowledge someone’s work and/or show support for their endeavours, you often hear these phrases in the workplace, such as a boss walking by an employee hard at work, or more simply, as a way to say goodbye.

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Last time pushing open these doors! Photo: Chantelle Yeung.

…when you’re trying to finish filing stories and get your first international by-lines! Pretty sure that’s not how the saying goes. But it was indeed with bittersweet feelings that my last week at The Korea Herald ended – sadness that the preceding four weeks had flown by so quickly, and pride as I finally saw the fruits of my labour as my articles were published.

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This week, I found the time to climb Seoul’s Namsan tower, which boasts a 360-degree view over the cityscape. I arrived in the late afternoon with Chantelle, the other Australia-Korea Foundation fellow, and we marvelled as the night time glare of skyscrapers and neon signs gradually overtook the natural light. The highways glowed like luminous veins, spreading the bustle throughout throughout the entire city, and gave the overall vibe that the city was indeed living.

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Out the window at Seoul’s Namsan Tower. Photo by: Chantelle Yeung.

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This is apparently what the "countryside" looks like in Korea - Daejeon. Photo: Chantelle Yeung

“I think beer brings people together.”

I don’t drink much, so at first I thought this was a bit hyperbolic. But as I looked around the table, here we all were: a Korean aerospace engineering professor, a Frenchman who came to the country 13 years ago and never left, a young Brazilian chemist and myself, an Australian student, together about an hour out from Seoul on the KTX high-speed train. So maybe the guy was right.

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This week, I was lucky enough to go on radio station TBS eFM’s ‘The QUBE’, an English-language quiz show where four contestants compete once a week.

Originally on the production and writing team for the show, I was surprised and thrilled when they asked me to come in on Tuesday night and compete for the top prize — 300000 Won, or approximately 350 AUD (that’s a lot of bibimbap). All my years of watching Jeopardy re-runs, and fast-forwarding through the ads on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire had prepared me for this moment.

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The QUBE contestants and hosts. Photo by: Kyungmi Choi

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I swear this is for work. Photo: Chantelle Yeung

My hands have been disinfected and I’ve been seated in a pastel-coloured playpen with a blanket to cover my legs. I soon find out why when a curious meerkat, rapidly followed by another, scrambles over my lap, claws scrabbling very uncomfortably for purchase on the surface that is one very ticklish person. This is probably the weirdest journalistic research I have ever done.

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This week's activities gave me a greater insight into South Korea’s colourful history.

I visited three of the city’s palaces, checked out the Bukchon Hanok village, got to wander through the vibrant cityscapes of Gangnam and Itaewon and chilled out at some cool cafés and restaurants.

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Walking through the streets of Gangnam. Photo by: Alison Xiao

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About the Blog

Parallax records the experiences of final year students of the B.A. (Media & Communications) degree who have won competitive overseas internships to work in Asian, Indian and Latin American media organisations.
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