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Exploring Geography: Korea

Today’s Exploring Geography post comes from Gina, who began famiglia&seoul (now closed) as an online diary to her son as a way capture the memories that her and her family share during their 365 Days Outdoors. Gina feels it is important for parents to help nurture the soul of their child through nature, the arts, literature, meaningful play, and simply being a kid, while letting them explore and develop their unique talents along the way. 

Exploring Geography at Mama Smiles

South Korea will forever hold a special place in our hearts. In May of 2011, we packed up our suitcases and boarded a plane to Seoul for our long awaited trip to meet and welcome our 9 month old son to the family! Even though we were only in South Korea for a week, it is a country that we will continue to learn about together as a family so that our son can grow to love and respect the country in which he was born. There are so many ways that we incorporate simple lessons about South Korea in our daily lives at home.


One of my son’s favorites ways is by experimenting with Korean cuisine during our meals. This is especially important to us around the holidays. We love to add at least one cultural dish to our menu as a way of bringing a little bit of Korea to an American holiday. For Christmas we feasted on a yummy Saeng Cream Cake.



For our son’s 1st birthday we had one of my favorite noodle dishes added to the menu, Japchae. This dish, served at Korean parties and special occasions, is made of sweet potato noodles, various vegetables, and sesame seeds on top.


Just recently we experimented with a signature Korean dish that was served on the planes rides to and from Seoul, as well as in our hotel. Bibimbap, which is translated to mean “mixed meal”, includes seasoned vegetables and is topped with a fried egg and eaten with a bowl of warm rice. Yummy! The recipe we used can be found

here. (Note: We were missing a few ingredients, but we improvised and made it our own!)
Bibimbap 2


Another aspect of Korean culture that we love to share as a family are the holidays. Holidays have always been a cause for celebration in my family, so we were more than excited to begin the tradition of observing special occasions from Korea. At the start of this year we began by celebrating Korean New Year’s, or Seollal (1st Day of the 1st Lunar Month). This is a very family oriented holiday in which many Koreans visit relatives over a three day period. They also wear their traditional Korean outfit, called a hanbok, throughout this time. During our little family celebration, we presented our little guy with “New Year’s money” in a red “lucky” envelope and two books relating to the holiday as a keepsake.

New Year's

On May 5th, we also participated in the celebration of Children’s Day (Eorininal), which is a special holiday that focuses on…the children. Traditionally, the kids are able to choose where they want to spend the day. Most often it is at a park, zoo, or movie theater with the whole family sharing in the fun. This year we headed to the zoo and were lucky to come across a Korean Food Festival nearby where we enjoyed a lovely meal after the zoo!

Children's Day


At this young age, our son loves to look at pictures. We always take the opportunity to pull out the photo album of our time spent in Korea. As he gets older, we will take more opportunities to discuss and learn about the meaning behind the pictures, so he can get a deeper understanding of this beautiful country. Here are a few of the wonderful sights that we saw while visiting. The first two photos are from the Gyeongbokgung Palace, which is the largest palace of the Joseon Dynasty.

Palace 1

Geunjeongjeon Hall ~ the throne hall where the king granted audiences.

Palace 2
Hyangwonjeong Pavilion

Seoul Tower

The Seoul Tower by way of Namsan Cable Car.

It is our wish to be able to visit Seoul again soon. There is so much to see in this amazing country and areas outside of the city that contain much beauty and history. In just the few short days that we were there, we fell in love, in more ways than one!

Thank you, Gina, for sharing a piece of Korea with us! What an incredible country to have as a part of your family heritage!

MaryAnne at Mama Smiles
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MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

14 thoughts on “Exploring Geography: Korea”

  1. Thanks for those wonderful photos.. I just missed Korea. I’ve been there once, and wishing to come back and experience the season of Cherry Blossoms. Did you love the food? So good isn’t it, especially the noodles..

  2. Thanks again, for allowing me to share a bit of Korean geography with your readers, MaryAnne! :)

  3. I agree with Veronica – those sweet potato noodles look delicious and the architecture in your photos from Korea is really stunning. It’s lovely how you are incorporating Korea into your son’s life.

    1. Thank you so much! The sweet potato noodles are my favorite! :) Oh, and the buildings were breathtaking…I wish we could have explored a bit more!

  4. My best friend is Korean, and I love Korean food. Just looking at the pictures made me crave it. It’s great to learn more about the country.

  5. I love every type of oriental noodles I’ve tried, I however have never heard of sweet potatoe. Mmmm. I have to try those. They look so yummy.

  6. How wonderful to include Korean tradition into your home! We have lots of Korean friends that make yummy food. My favorite, by far, is bulgogi. Oh, my goodness! So good!

  7. Elisa | blissfulE

    I love all the thoughtful (and tasty!) ways you are incorporating your son’s cultural heritage into your lives! I use a Korean Chunei carrier every day for my one-year-old son, and it’s fun to hear more about the country it came from!

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