Idioms Gallery
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Language Gallery by Sharon Hahn Darlin

Feb 12, 2010

食品商店 grocery store

食品 (grocery) 商店 (store) 
食 (food) 品 (item) 商 (trade) 店 (store)

by Sharon Hahn Darlin

North Korea is undoubtedly an intriguing place. Well, I don't expect to see North Korea anytime soon, but nearby regions, such as China's Yanbian, are equally intriguing, with cultural clues to North Korea, quite possibly.

One fine day. One happy little cloud. One outrageously vivid and colorful sign. The same photographer took this picture as well. Either he went around specifically looking for girls wearing food on their person, or Yanbian has plenty of advertising signs with girl + food combo. The girl on this sign is actually hugging fruit, whereas the other girl has meat-and-poultry-attracting magnetic powers.

燕 (swallow, the bird) 燕
(swallow) 食品 (grocery) 商店 (store)
연연 ("Yon Yon") 식품 (grocery) 상점 (store)

“One swallow does not make a spring, nor does one fine day” - Aristotle

Two swallows here. This appears to be one extraordinarily fine day. Spring can't be too far away. Here's to flocks of swallows, many fine days, and girls with magnetic powers.

photo by 심학철

Feb 4, 2010

招牌 signboard


招 (beckon) 牌 (placard)

by Sharon Hahn Darlin

This photo caught my eye while I was searching for Chinese signboards. A scene so saturated with interesting cultural cues, I still can't stop staring at it.  

The strange allure of this small dilapidated structure captured in a sun-filled setting... Corrugated metal sheets, wood, glass, cement, plastic, bricks. Mostly broken, torn, patched. Is this someone's shack? A restaurant? A lovely Korean girl in hanbok (turns out she is a well-known South Korean actress, but a long way away from here in Yanbian) beckons (?) you from a large colorful signboard. She seems to be carrying... or rather, cuts of meat and poultry seem to be stuck to her bosom. The sign reads "Master Liu's Deli" in Chinese (
"刘傅熟食店") and "Master Liu's Inn" in -North- Korean (류사부숙식점). Yes, deli, meaning it's an establishment serving cooked meals. Oh really. 숙식점 in Korean is ambiguous, but can suggest room and board. Oh REALLY. Hmm. Okay. So... which is it anyway? Telephone - TELEPHONE!- (电话) 13944331422, Yanbian, China (near Vladivostok and North Korean border.) Shall we call to find out? 

(Liu) 傅 (master) 熟食店 (deli) 류 (Liu) 사부 (master) 숙식(熟食店/宿食, deli/inn)

p.s. Do I see 麻 (hemp) written on the window with an unintentional check mark? Fascinating indeed.

photo by