Seoul Seeking: Deok-su Palace Galbijim and Finding Ones Self

Programs for this blog post

Arts + Sciences

Authored By:

Hailey B.

Growing up half Korean half white, while living in Chinatown Chicago, my life has been surrounded by a variety of cultures, histories, and tastes. Since arriving in Seoul I have been reflecting upon my childhood and the different cultures I was exposed to and understanding the significance of certain things I did not know the importance of before. Food and architecture being some of the most important things to Korean culture. Both showing resilience and a sense of unity among a group of people who have had a difficult history. For instance, Seoul holds a large variety of royal palaces that each hold a rich and significant history to its people. Right smack in the middle of bustling neighborhoods and tall modern buildings, you can find beautiful ancient pieces of history hidden among the city. On every corner and side street, delicious authentic Korean food can be found. Each dish holding a history of its own ready to be discovered. 

CIEE offers an array of events and opportunities to its students to explore and learn about Seoul, South Korea. One activity that sparked my interest was the Moonlight Palace Tour at the famous Deoksu Palace. Led by our incredible tour guide Brian Kim, we embarked on a journey through the historic landmark. After sharing with Brian my half Korean heritage, but having a "white washed" childhood with him, he referred to me and my friends as the "Seoul (or Soul) Seekers". A very on point label for me, as I chose Seoul to discover my culture and fully immerse myself in a society I have been distant to for most of my life. 

A major part of Korean culture that was missing from my childhood was the food. I would eat Korean food, but it was only a small and insignificant part. Through CIEE, I attended their galbi-jjim making class, at Hansik Space, where a group was able to cook a traditional Korean dish and eat it after. Galbi-jjim is a dish that consists of braised beef ribs and an array of vegetables cooked to perfection. Being able to make the dish made me feel connected with Korean culture in a way I had not before, I was finally able to cook a dish that has an old history within Korean culture. The dish is an ancient one that was once only served to kings, and now can be enjoyed by all. Thanks to CIEE, students can learn how to cook traditional Korean food and keep the knowledge of the recipe for the rest of their lives. I look forward to all the cultural activities CIEE offers to their students and do as much Soul Seeking as I can during my stay in South Korea.