Skyscrapers, Celadon and Kimchi: A Korean Notebook

I’ve been looking for this book eversince Dan Gray of TBS told me about it almost eight months ago. He first asked me if I knew the writer Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo. I answered no since I’m not well-versed in Filipino literature. Where I attended college (a third-rate school in a third world country), people didn’t have time to read since their daytime is devoted to their work and their evenings to school – and books other than the ones used in school were a luxury. And of course, Filipino authored books were quite hard to find since we didn’t have a National Bookstore in Angeles City back then. Excuses, excuses! LOL
Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo, according to Wikipedia, is the current VP for Public Affairs at the University of the Philippines. She is also the author of several books including the travelogue “Skycrapers, Celadon and Kimchi: A Korean Notebook” which is about the three and a half-years she spent in Seoul in the early 80s when Chun Du Hwan (also Jeon Du Hwan) was still the president.
On my very first radio interview, the host Sara Kim (who’s so much prettier the last time I saw her, which was three weeks ago) read about a page and a half of the book highlighting Hidalgo’s “Adventures in the Academe”.
On page 24, Hidalgo wrote that she “taught part-time at Hankuk University of Foreign Languages and Seoul National University, and full time at Sogang, the Jesuit university in Seoul.” When I told my husband about it, he was immediately impressed as SNU is considered the premier school in South Korea. And I was amazed that a Filipina taught English there!
When I arrived home after the interview, I immediately searched online looking for the book. I spotted one at Interpark and ordered right away, only be told two days later that the book is out of stock. I searched some more but only in vain. I guess Dan Gray has the last copy!
Now that the Korean wave has struck the shores of the Philippines, I only wish that the publishers would print new copies of the book again. I had only read three pages and I would always go back to where she wrote:

“The amount of preparation required by this was matched by the difficulty of adjusting to students whose level of oral comprehension of the English language was quite low, and whose educational background was still markedly Confucian, which favors learning by rote. But my difficulties could not have been more serious than the culture shock endured by most of my students, who had been told for years that questioning a teacher was not a mark of curiosity or initiative, but of impertinence and rudeness, and who had very little experience of classroom discussions.”

when she mentioned about the numerous subjects she had to teach – from Composition to Modern British and American Fiction. I had kept the pages that Dan Gray gave me, but I should’ve asked him to copy the whole book for me. Nyahahah!
Anyone who has this book? Please contact me. Maybe we could work out a deal 🙂


  1. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to find one in campus.. But I’ll go look for it, most definitely, for you.^^ We have a store in UP Diliman where the books published by the University Press is found. They still carry the rare ones, sometimes. Try ko ate. Then I’ll send it over to you, if ever.^^

  2. Got the book te.^^ hehe.XD
    @owbee: Yep, may copies pa po ata nyan even sa National Bookstore.XD

    1. @owbee and ate betchay
      Sale pati sa SM mamaya kaya makikipagsikisan talaga ako ngayon. hehe.XD Hahanapin ko sa SM north – National Bookstore yung UP Diksyonaryong Pilipino.. Kung wala, try ko sa UP Press. Sa college namin, may mga book sales minsan at for sale sa kanila yung bagong copies ng UP Diksyonaryong Pilipino (hardbound), kaya hindi po malabong makakuha pa.^^ Hindi ko nga lang alam ang price.. baka libo na po.

  3. Hello! been a reader/fan of your blog for months now. I love everything korean, have learned hangeul(a bit), have so many korean friends and I’m planning to visit Korea. Btw, I have the book, I have a friend in UP Press and he gave it to me for free. I had it sent here in Abu Dhabi. Can I read it first before sending it to you\9if u still wnat it), I’ve been curious about it since I read
    your post.

    1. Hi Keniegirl14! Thank you so much for the offer. I received the copy sent by Nicole yesterday. I read it on the subway and I finished it today. It’s not quite long but pretty interesting. A lot of the things she’d experienced more than 25 years ago are still true until today. I mostly agree with her views on Korean women. It’s an pretty interesting read and I liked the overall tone of the book.

  4. Hi. Am very pleased you liked my book. Hope you find the time and inclination the others though they might not be about Korea. 🙂

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