Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bok Jori

Sancheong-gun in South Gyeongsang Province is better known for its straw ladles, which symbolize good fortune

During the Lunar New Year holidays, Koreans from across the nation make the long journey to their home towns. And they exchange greetings and well-wishing. "I hope your New Year will be filled with good fortune!" But where can this good fortune be found? And how can you capture this good fortune when you see it? For many Koreans, the "Bok Jori", translated as "ladle of good fortune," probably comes to mind first when asked these questions.

The practical function of Bok Jori is closer to a strainer than a ladle, but the concept is to capture good fortune, while sifting away bad fortune. Traditionally, Koreans used to hang Bok Jori in their rooms or in kitchens hoping to capture good fortune. Koreans used to hang Bok Jori on their walls on New Year's Eve or on New Year's Day and pray for good fortune and ward off bad fortune.

Origins of Bok Jori: “Hopes of Capturing Good Fortune”

It remains unclear just when Bok Jori started being associated with hoping for good fortune. But according to a text written by a famous scholar and artist in the late Joseon Dynasty and published in the 1920s, the custom of hanging Bok Jori on the walls of homes dates back centuries, if not longer.

In the early morning hours of the New Year, merchants selling Bok Jori used to roam around residential areas shouting to get people to notice them and buy the products. This is when households purchased enough of the straw utensils to last them throughout the year. Some merchants were known to toss the Bok Jori into the yards of unsuspecting homes, only to return later to claim payment. Nevertheless, residents were known to pay those merchants without complaining, while people rarely tried to haggle over prices. That's because they were aware of the meaning of the Bok Jori.

People would hang Bok Jori on pillars supporting their homes or above the entrance to kitchens. Also, some were even hung in corners of rooms or kitchens and used later on. Bok Jori were also decorated with colorful strings. And inside them, people would put coins or sweets. This was to ensure that good fortune would stick with them throughout the year, while warding off bad luck.

A Village That Makes Bok Jori

Dongdang Village began producing Bok Jori around 200 years ago. Some claim the village began making them at an even earlier period in time, but this has not been confirmed. Even the villagers there estimate the tradition dates back around 200 years. At one time, Dongdang Village was renowned throughout the country for producing the best Bok Jori, along with Hwasoon and Damyang in South Jeolla Province. The reason Bok Jori produced in Dongdang became famous is because of the high quality of wild bamboo found in the region.

The most important ingredient in making Bok Jori is wild bamboo. They are the smallest of the known species of bamboo found in Korea and are also known as "joritdae." After the fall harvest is over, villagers of Dongdang climb neighboring mountains and collect the wild bamboo. They follow a simple rule: they cut only one-year-old wild bamboo, which are best for making Bok Jori, and they never harvest more than a year's worth. In other words, they don't get greedy.

One wild bamboo trunk measuring 0.2 cm in diameter, is cut into four pieces. Then they are peeled and dried for between 12 to 24 hours and soaked in water for another seven to eight hours. This is how the wild bamboo becomes soft and tensile. Bok Jori is made starting around November until January of the following year.

Bok Jori is the main export of Dongdang Village during the post-harvest season. The villagers make tens of millions of won in profit during the winter months by selling Bok Jori. Around 10 years ago, when there was a lot of demand from Japan, the villagers used to ship out hundreds of boxes full of Bok Jori during winter. Not only the villagers, but their children who live in big cities, had to come and lend a helping hand.

But the "Bok Jori" village today has lost much of its former glory. Just around four to five years ago, half of the 40 or so households in the village made Bok Jori. But now, only five households are involved in the craft.

And they only make them when they receive an order. Around four or five other villages nearby made Bok Jori, but not any more. That's because Bok Jori produced in China and Vietnam are selling well.

But various social organizations in Korea are placing steady orders for Bok Jori produced in Dongdang Village, so its residents are continuing the craft, albeit at a much slower pace. But the day may be approaching when Dongdang Village stops producing Bok Jori. While they used to be essential household utensils, nowadays, their only purpose is to serve as a symbol of good fortune. On top of that, it's difficult to find people who want to learn the craft of making Bok Jori.

Will we soon see the day when there are no more Bok Jori? Like the symbolism of Bok Jori, it is the wish of all Koreans to succeed in capturing good fortune in the year of the rat.

Photo Source: Seo Soon-yong / The Kook-Je Daily News

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Baby of the Month Contest

Only a few more days left until we announce the winner! Its not too late to submit your entry! Just send in a picture of your baby, baby's name, and your consent to use the photo for the contest and email it to Remember you can re-enter as many times as you wish!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bona Museum

Here's a link to the Bona Museum in Korea that explains the history of the traditional Korean baby's accessories. The entire museum is dedicated to the women's and men's accessories throughout Korean history. It's pretty amazing how we still embrace a lot of the historical practices even today.

Click here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dol Fruit Designs

When I came across these pics, I couldn't believe how elaborate these designs were! Thought we'd give you some ideas for your own dol table! If you guys have pictures of your dol table that you'd like us to post, send us your pics at

Monday, January 26, 2009

Need Party Favor Ideas?

Here is a fun party favor to give to your guests if you're having an Asian theme party or even at a dol. They're cheap and I'm sure would be a big hit!

Little Seouls now has them for sale! For 10 pieces, it's only $4.99, for 50 pieces it's $19.99 and for 100 pieces, it's only $29.99! Look under Kitchenware.

Chopsticks not included.

Happy Lunar New Year!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Korean Pajama Story

Just the other day I put my 5 year old in a regular Carter's pajamas which he hasn't worn in a long time since he has so many Korean pjs. I just picked it up since all his other ones were in the laundry. As soon as he put them on, he goes, "Mom, I don't like these...they're itchy! I want to wear the other ones." So I said, "The Korean pajamas?" And he goes, "Yeah, Korean pajamas! I only want to wear them!" So he takes the other ones off and starts looking thru his laundry basket for the Korean pjs.

I couldn't believe it...even a 5 year old can tell the difference!

So if you're considering buying them, I highly suggest getting them now since we may no longer be carrying them in the future. Limited supply!Pretty Girl Pink Pajamas (Size 5-6 years old)Robot Pajamas for Boys 5-6 years old

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Teach Your Children Korean with these Books!

If you have ever been to Korean School as a child, you will remember using these books! And now they are finally available at Little Seouls! We highly recommend these series of books to teach your children Korean. It is very easy to use and user friendly. Adults can use them too. We personally used these books when we were learning to read Korean as children, so we are happy to offer them to you now at an affordable price at $16.99.

Just a side note, we learned how to read and write basic Korean in less than 2 weeks!

Besides these books, we also offer other Korean learning book series. Please check them out here.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Dog Hanboks

This is the first time I have seen this. Why am I not surprised? Dogs can now wear hanboks for the new year too! Hmmm....should Little Seouls start selling these?

Design and photo by Puppy Zzang.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lunar New Year Activities

Looking for ideas to celebrate the Year of the Ox? Its coming up this weekend! Koreans officially celebrate Lunar New Year on January 26, 2009, but the holiday starts January 25 and ends on the 27th with major businesses closed in observance.

If you live in Northern California, the Oakland Museum of CA will have an all day event on Sunday, January 25 from 12 to 5pm. Activities include Korean drum performance, music, and arts and crafts from other Asian countries like Japan and China as well.

If you live in Queens, NY, there will also be a Lunar New Year Parade and Festival in Flushing starting at 11am on January 31. The Korean Village Open Center (150-24 Northern Blvd at 150th Street) will also have Korean food, games, dancing, music and martial arts performances.

If you live in Vermont, the Asian Cultural Center of Vermont has organized a Lunar New Year Festival (Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese cultures represented) and Potluck at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center. It will be held on Saturday, January 24 from 1 to 4pm.

If you know of any others in other states, please email us at!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tim Park Photography

A friend of ours, Tim Park, has become THE photographer to use amongst all our friends in Southern California. I love his work! He's not only good but his prices are reasonable! Here are some of his work. Check out his site for more . Tell him Little Seouls recommended him!

Kimchi pasta?

A long time ago, there was a restaurant in Los Angeles that served Kimchi Pasta. I tried it and was addicted. It was so good. Here is my attempt of trying to duplicate it:


Feeds (2-3)
1/2 pint heavy cream
1/4 stick of salted butter
Salt to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper
Kimchee (must be really good kimchee and pretty ripe)
Green onions to garnish


First melt butter in pan and then add the heavy cream, whisking it. After a few minutes add the kimchee. Cook at medium heat for about 5 minutes and reduce to low heat. Once the pasta is cooked (I recommend spaghetti or linguini), mix together with the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Korean celebrity Kim Hee Sun

I would say that Kim Hee Sun is one of the prettiest Korean actresses in Korea. She is pregnant with her first child who I'm sure will be just as gorgeous as her. Here she is in the upcoming Instyle Korea magazine showing off her nursery. Seems pretty obvious she's having a girl, don't you think?

Update: She gave birth to a girl on 1/21 and named her Yeon-A.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Korean Children's Pillows

Unlike Americans, Koreans like stuffed animal pillows and buckwheat pillows for their children. If you go to Korea, you'll notice that these types of pillows are quite popular. We currently have a sale on these pillows! If you have been thinking of purchasing one, now's a great time!

*We are currently no longer have these pillows available at our store. If you are interested in special ordering them, please contact us at

Friday, January 16, 2009

Looking for a photographer in Virginia?

One of our customers, Ingrid Kaslik is a professional photographer and she recently purchased a hanbok for her little girl. Here's her beautiful daughter, Mikaela who is 1/4 Korean.

If you live in the VA area or nearby, you should check out her work!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lydia Madison Models One of Our Hanboks

Thank you to Lydia's mommy for sharing this beautiful picture of her that was taken on her first "Dol" birthday party.

We LOVE getting emails and photos like these! If you would like to share a photo of your child in any of our products, please email it to us! :)

Message we received from Lydia's family:

"Hello Little Seouls!
We wanted to thank you for your service and the beautiful hanbok we received for our daughter. She looked like a little Korean princess for her first birthday. We are so glad we found your website! Thanks again!"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Little Seouls now rents hanboks!

Since hanboks are usually only worn once, we decided to now rent them as well as sell them. The cost starts at $40 for 5 days. It includes shipping! There is a $50 refundable deposit.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Great idea for a dol party favor!

I came across this on a magazine and thought it would be a great idea for a party favor!

Available at

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Having a Dol? Try making these...

All Korean dols have these candy towers on the usually has some Korean words on it. I came across this photo and thought this looked pretty easy to make. You can make it more custom by inserting the baby's name, or decorate it with his/her favorite character...Just glue beans and candy (i.e., mentos, skittles, gumdrops...anything round with color).

Friday, January 9, 2009

Dol Photo Table

The big trend in dols are photo tables, a montage of pictures of the baby during his/her first year. Some are elaborate where they have pictures of the baby hanging on branches (see first pic), or picture cut-out stands like these:

They also have professional posters of the baby made like these:

And yes, almost all of them use a professional photographer. You go to any Korean photo studio, and it's either weddings or baby's first birthday pictures displayed throughout the store. It's a big deal. It's probably just as big as a wedding...crazy, I know.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Korean Lunar New Year

Although we just celebrated New Years on the 1st of January, Koreans are gearing up for the Lunar New Year Celebration which is on January 26, 2009.

The Korean Presbyterian Church of Omaha is holding a New Year's service on Sunday, January 25, 2009 at 10:30am. There will be activities like Korean games, Korean food and Korean cultural themes that day. From what I understand, anyone is welcomed to come.

If there are any activities or events that you are aware of, please email us and we will post it on here.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Little Seouls is in the press again!

A couple days ago I was interviewed by Helen Jung, a reporter of The Oregonian, an Oregon publication. She and a group of reporters have a blog called Omamas, Journalists Moms Working For You. The interview was about the dol (baby's first birthday). Check it out here!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Star Photo Shoot to Promote Korean Adoption

More photos of stars with babies available for adoption. The babies are all so cute!

I know most of these babies are or will be adopted overseas. I have magazine photos of most of these pics, so if this looks like you're child, email us and we can send it to you! :)

Photographer is Cho, Sae Hyun.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Baby of the Month Contest

Here are the prior contest winners! Prizes thus far have included Korean Pajamas, Play mat, Korean music CD and Podaegi.

We are now taking entries for Baby of the Month Contest for February. Next month's prize will be Baby Spat Leggings. You can re-enter as many times as you wish. Please email us a picture of your baby, baby's name, address, photo, and permission to post the photo on this blog. Our email is

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Dduk Gook for New Year's

It's a Korean tradition to eat Dduk Gook on New Year's Day. As I mentioned in a previous post, this is my son's all time favorite dish. What I forgot to mention is that my husband is a great chef and has infused a french method for making this dish and it comes out better than anything dduk gook I've ever tasted, including my mom's! Sorry mom! I will get the recipe online soon! So until then, enjoy the picture!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Starting a New Year's Tradition...

We have a cousin that lives in Washington with her family and her kids who are half Jewish got into the Korean spirit in borrowed hanboks by doing sebae to their parents and making mandoos with their Korean friends!

It's such a great idea getting your kids involved in making mandoo...and all Korean kids love mandoo! Great tradition to start with your kids!

Thanks Mary for letting me post these pics!