Exploring Korea through Books for Kids, Celadon Pottery, Chosun Chests, and More!
This was my second pilgrimage to the Brimfield Antique Flea Market with Sharon Schindler Photography and Capability:Mom. Sharon is there to shoot and shop. She shot some amazing vintage photographs there last year and Capability:Mom has the Ball Jars photo on her kitchen wall. This year they both scored blue-y tinged vintage Ball Jars for a song, a purchase that was made sweeter when we found out that the rest of the vintage jars there were much more expensive!
Image by Sharon Schindler. Print available here.
As for me, I was looking for tallish knick-knacks for the living room and found a beautiful piece of pottery that reminded me of the pottery described in A Single Shard. I was guessing (and hoping) that my piece is Korean but I’m not really sure. It’s gorgeous Celadon celery green in color with a carved-out design that is glazed over.
A Single Shard is set during 12th century Korea, long considered the Golden Age of Korea. I thought I would continue down the path of my family history via Teach Me Tuesday and tell you about my husband’s ancestral history. My husband is Korean and related to the older brother who was passed over for his younger brother — unusual in Korean monarchies. This younger brother was Taejo Yi Seong-gye whose reign started the Yi Dynasty, also known as Joseon, Chosŏn, Choson, or Chosun which lasted approximately five centuries. “Joseon’s rule has left a substantial legacy on the modern face of Korea; much of modern Korean etiquette, cultural norms, societal attitudes towards current issues, and even the modern Korean language and its dialects stem from the traditional thought pattern that originated from this period.” from Wikipedia
Family legend has it that these relatives all had light golden brown eyes, very different from the dark brown eyes of most Asians. My husband and his siblings have these same colored eyes. His turn golden brown, almost hazel, when he is out all day in the sun. I don’t know if this is a genetic mutation á la hemophilia of the European monarchy or a result of mixing of blood through Russians who came to isolationist Korea during this time. My husband thinks he might have Russian blood but we’ll never know!
If you want to learn more about Korean history, here’s a good link.
Dear Juno is another gem that, while it focuses on a Korean American experience, it transcends Asian American children’s literature and speaks to anyone who has family in another country that speaks another language that our kids do not understand. I have a post on it here.
A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park [chapter book for ages 8-12]
Newbery award-winning book about a famous potter during the Golden Age of Korea. I have a Top 10 List of Korean American Children’s Books here.
Seesaw Girl by Linda Sue Park [chapter book for ages 8-12]
A glimpse into the lives of the nobility during the Golden Age of Korea and the restrictions placed on women.
Korean Celadon Pottery
These are examples of contemporary Korean Celadon pottery and are for sale. To examine more closely, just click on image of photo.
Chests of Korea’s Chosun Dynasty
These chests are highly collectible largely due to the fact that many were burned for firewood during the Korean War. There simply are not many of these left so if you are thinking of getting one, beware of fakes. Here’s more information on the chests from KoreanMosiac.net:
The chests presented here are the bandaji, jang, ham, and nong. (For information on the pronunciation of Korean, see the box “Romanization,” below.) The bandaji was used for storing clothing, documents and valuables inside, and bedding on top during the day (which explains why it is called a “blanket chest” in English). It has one door, which usually runs the entire width of the chest and opens down from the very top. The jang has from one to three levels (rarely a fourth) in one frame, with two outward-opening doors in the center of each level. The ham was a box for items of special significance. The nong was basically a box, usually stacked with another exactly the same and set on a base but occasionally placed separately.
Kalbi or Bulgogi Marinade for Beef, Chicken or Fish
This is my mother-in-law’s recipe and she’s a really great cook. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love Korean BBQ beef. My mother-in-law says that you can also use it for chicken or fish and that you can bbq the meat or braise it in the marinade. Versatile AND delicious!
For Kalbi. Kalbi is the short rib cut across the bone into strips. You can only find this cut at a Korean market but it’s worth hunting down. The secret is to 1) wash the meat carefully and then dry it because there are bone shards littered about on the meat and 2) sprinkle regular granulated sugar over each strip (the ways you’d salt a steak) on each side and leave to marinade for an hour or so. Add the meat with the juices to the rest of the marinade. Let it marinade for a few hours and then bbq on a grill. Yum!
For Bulgogi. Bulgogi is very thinly sliced beef and again, you have to buy it from a Korean Market. It’s great for a fast meal because you don’t have to marinade the meat for very long and it cooks up quickly. You can use Bulgogi for Bee Bim Bop or rolled up sushi style in Gim-Gahp or just eat with rice.
1/2 cup soy sauce (we use Kikoman’s and the brand of soy sauce does make a difference!)
2 tablespoons of finely minced garlic (use fresh and not from a jar please! Mash garlic with flat of a knife and then mince finely)
1/4 cup finely minced green onions (also called scallions). My mother-in-law julienne’s each green onion (after washing carefully to remove dirt) into about 4 long lengths, then minces this finely.
1-2 tablespoons sesame seed oil (the Asian variety. It should be nut brown and smell fragrant)
2 tablespoons sugar (white granulated is fine)
3 pounds of beef
1) Wash beef strips, trim fat and dry.
2) Sprinkle sugar on beef — an additional 6 tablespoons and mix thoroughly.
3) Combine rest of marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add the liquid from the beef in sugar.
4) Dip beef into marinade one at a time and lay in a pan.
5) Leave to marinade for an hour or more refrigerated.
6) Cook on a grill until done. Serve with rice.
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.