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Would Unified Korea Keep the North’s Nuclear Weapons? Perhaps to Pursue a Neutralist Foreign Policy

Sun, 2019-05-26 00:10
Would Unified Korea Keep the North’s Nuclear Weapons?

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This is a local re-print of an essay I published at The National Interest a few weeks ago.

The basic idea is that a unified Korea, even one unified under Southern leadership, has much stronger incentives to keep the North’s nukes than most people seem to think.

Generally, everyone seems to think that a UROK (united Republic of Korea) will give up its weapons to the American or, maybe, the Chinese. Or maybe destroy them. But keeping them would be a great way to keep a UROK out of the looming great power contention in northeast Asia between the US, China, Japan, and Russia.

If you are tiny Korea – the shrimp among whales – you want to stay out of the way when these big boys fight. That will be tough given Korea’s geography right in the middle, but nukes would be a really great way nonetheless to insist.

Also, nukes are a great way to defend sovereignty generally against all interlopers, even if there is no regional hot war. Even after France became friends with Germany after WWII, it still built nukes to make sure Germany never invaded it again. A UROK would almost certainly think the same way about its neighbors given their history kicking Korea around and manipulating it.

I am not sure. A UROK still allied to the US would come under a lot of pressure to denuclearize. But the probability of retention is way higher than most people think.

The full essay is after the break.



One of the many hopes raised by the recent détente efforts of South Korean President Moon Jae In and US President Donald Trump is the political confederation if not eventual unification of the two Koreas.

While full-blown unification is a pro forma goal of both Korean polities, many lesser steps and stages have been considered over the years. Frequently a confederation of some kind is mooted. This covering institution would follow China’s ostensible approach to Hong Kong and Taiwan – one country, two systems. In a ‘Greater Koryo Confederation,’ the North and South would retain their own internal political system but try to approach international affairs jointly as well as share resources. Over time, integration would increase, eventually leading to unity as suspicions between the two sides faded away.

This is very much the thinking of the South Korean left, from which Moon has come. The South Korean right still holds to the ‘Germany model’ – North Korea collapses of its own dysfunctions and/or external pressure and is simply absorbed into a greater Republic of Korea (South).

But either model now faces a new wrinkle – the future disposition of North Korea’s nuclear weapons. It should be pretty clear at this point that North Korea will not give up many of its nuclear weapons or missiles. They may give up some, in exchange for large American counter-concessions, but complete, verifiable, irreversible disarmament (CVID) is a fantasy. North Korea is a nuclear weapons state whether we want to accept that or not.

Hence if unification, or some softer confederal solution occurs, what would happen to North Korea’s nuclear weapons? In the West at least, there seems to be a vague, albeit widespread, sense that a unified Korea would not need such weapons, and that they would be destroyed or surrendered – variously to China, America, or some other third party. I hear this all the time on the conference circuit here in South Korea.

This is likely if the South Korean right gets its way. The South Korean right likes the US alliance, worries about China (Chinese naval encroachments in the Yellow Sea are a major issue for the South Korean navy now), and wants better relations with Japan. In its favored scenario, North Korea implodes and is absorbed, much like East Germany, and the larger, but otherwise unchanged Republic of Korea (South), stays where it is geopolitically, just as the enlarged, post-unification Federal Republic of Germany (West) did.

For the left here though, regional geopolitics is a much more mixed bag. North Korea is not, in this perspective, an enemy or opponent, but a fellow Korean state which has lost its way. The answer to inter-Korean tension is therefore not war-threats, sanctions, and confrontation, but brotherly outreach and assistance. On Japan, the opposite is true; the South Korean left is unremittingly hostile for historical and nationalist reasons. That Japan is a liberal democracy and North Korea an orwellian monarchy are passing regime type concerns which do not cut to real, historical-cultural issues driving the South Korean left’s alignment choices.

The left here is also much more skeptical of the US-Korea alliance. The last two left-liberal presidents before Moon openly tangled with the US over North Korea in ways their conservative predecessors never had. Today the left here largely blames the sanctions regime – demanded by the Americans – for halting inter-Korean détente. Anti-Americanism on the South Korean left has been an occasionally political force. Finally, the Southern left is far more comfortable with China than the right. Where the South Korean right would align with the US, and somewhat with Japan, in the looming Sino-US competition in Asia, the left would not. It would likely seek a neutralist position.

Earlier this year, I argued that South Koreans care less about denuclearization than the US for these reasons: “Given that the South Korean left does not see North Korea as an enemy, but harbors deep animosity for Japan and American intervention in South Korea life, a nuclearized, unified Korea would be an ideal foundation from which to pursue a neutralist, non-aligned, post-unification foreign policy.”

An old Korean proverb has it that Korea is a ‘shrimp among whales.’ For a small state surrounded by larger ones – China, Japan, Russia, and the US – possibly stumbling their way into a major confrontation, holding onto nukes is actually not a bad idea. Like Switzerland – marooned for centuries in the middle of raging great power conflicts – a unified Korea might well choose a heavily armed neutralism. Such a non-aligned or finlandization strategy would help avoid a repeat of Korea’s late 19th century fate. Then, this small state in the middle of much larger competitive ones got was manipulated by them in a ‘great game.’ Korea was sucked into this regional competition even though it did not want to be. It eventually lost its sovereignty to imperial Japan and was next riven by the Cold War.

Nuclear weapons, coupled with today’s powerful, capable, Korean militaries, would permanently vouchsafe this unhappy possibility – much as France sought nuclear weapons in part to assure that Germany would never invade it again. Once Korean unification is achieved, why align with the various regional whales as they crash into each other, possibly sparking a major regional conflict? Korea’s geography would, as before, make it difficult to avoid getting sucked into a four-party conflict – China, the US, Russia, Japan – but nuclear weapons would make easier. The temptation to keep them – as tool to push back on Korea’s difficult political geography – will be high.

Robert E Kelly
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science & Diplomacy
Pusan National University



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Life in Korea for Foreigners

Thu, 2019-05-23 17:10

Think moving houses is hard? Try moving to a whole different country! Whichever country you live in, have lived in, or will live live in, they all have their own quirks, challenges, and wonderful parts, and South Korea is no exception. Before beginning your life in Korea, it’s great to be prepared for what’s to come – and not just with the school or workplace that you’re going for. Like everywhere else, life in Korea will have its ups and downs and life in Korea may be quite different as a foreigner than it would be for a local.


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Although talking about money is a rather shallow way to approach life in any country, it is important to be prepared and have adequate finances at all times. In the case of Korea, as most countries, the biggest cost of living for anyone is usually accommodation. As was already detailed in our post on getting an apartment in Korea, while the monthly rent may not be bigger than anything you’re already accustomed to in your home country, the key money deposit can be a killer. If you’re looking to rent an apartment all to yourself once you arrive in Korea, you may want to have an extra few thousand dollars in your bank ready to pay for that key deposit. Even more in some cases since some of the best places can be easily get into the 10s of thousands of dollars in deposit. However, if you come to Korea as a teacher specifically, this is usually not something you need to worry about – typically many schools will pay even your rent, or at least give you an allowance for it.


Overall transportation in Korea is not expensive, nor is it difficult to navigate once you get used to it. A one way commuting ticket costs around 1,250 won, with the fee getting higher depending on how far of a distance you’re traveling, though usually not exceeding 1,550 won within Seoul. The ticket also allows you to transfer from bus to subway, or the other way around, for free, as long as you do so within 30 minutes of exiting the previous public transportation.

Besides public transportation, you can also get around by taxi fairly easily. The cost of taxis in Seoul is well below the rates of other big cities in the world. It’s also your only option at night time when public transit stops running. And here is where it gets tricky. The starting fee is higher, and the meter will also run up quicker. In addition, the taxi drivers will be pickier about actually agreeing to drive to your destination – sometimes this is because they only operate within a specific area, other times they’re just being greedy. Know that although taxi drivers discriminating against foreigner customers is sometimes an issue in Korea, it is absolutely illegal in Korea to turn down servicing a taxi client, and you are encouraged to report the taxi driver who refused to drive you or otherwise extorted more money out from you than would have been fair for that distance.

Summing up

In general, whether South Korea is expensive for you or not depends on where you’re from originally. As far as food goes, because eating out is such a big part of socialization among Koreans, restaurant food is quite affordable. You can easily get delicious local dishes for just a few dollars! International food is more expensive, but the more affordable ones are often under 15 dollars, and anything beyond that is considered expensive and luxurious even among Koreans. Grocery shopping, however, can be quite pricey. So, as soon as you’ve arrived in Korea, you might want to browse around your neighborhood’s restaurants and supermarkets to map out good spots for your weekly eating.

Korea is also great for shopping, especially for cosmetics and skin care. Both are top notch in quality and affordability. For clothing, it again depends on your home country, and also the brands you choose. Korea has many affordable clothing shops on almost every street, and they’re even cheaper online, but the quality of the more affordable clothing isn’t always the greatest. They do also have many international brand stores, if you’re okay with paying more for quality.


If you live in Seoul or Busan, you’re especially lucky, as there are so many things to do outside alone or with friends, from clubbing to a picnic by the river, on top of which there’s always some place to go to at all hours. This is why Korea is especially ideal for young active adults to live.

What you should understand, and may already know, is that Korea is a high pressure society, with intense competition in all areas of life. That leads Koreans to working insanely long hours, being concerned over how the world around them perceives them, constantly learning new skills or improving upon already existing ones, as well as feeling pressured to find the perfect partner to marry. As a foreigner, you’ll be happy to hear that you will not have to share these expectations to the same degree as locals.

But that does come with one big tradeoff – in Korea, you will always be seen as a foreigner. No matter how good your Korean skill is, no matter how long you’ve lived there and where you work or went to school, no matter what your visa or marital status is. You will always be the foreigner to the locals, for both good and bad. And this is perhaps the biggest thing you’ll have to adjust to if you choose to become a longterm expat, particularly when choosing to become one in Korea.


Here are a few more things to take into consideration before your upcoming life journey in Korea.

  • Recycling is incredibly important in Korea, and you’ll get fined to hell and back if you make the mistake of trying to pass off recyclable items as general trash. Each apartment building will have its own area for recycling.
  • Internet Explorer is, unfortunately, the browser to use for almost all of your banking, school, and immigration purposes since websites are optimized for it. You’ll have varying degrees of success with other browsers.
  • In order to get service at a restaurant, there is either a button to press, or you’re expected to yell out for the wait staff. Also, tipping isn’t expected or required.
  • There is also no service charge in (Korean) restaurants and any sales tax is included in the menu items cost. The price on the menu and the price tag on the item is exactly the price you’ll pay.
  • It is mandatory for you to have health insurance if you are employed in Korea, registered as a student in one of their schools, or otherwise some kind of resident.

The post Life in Korea for Foreigners appeared first on 90 Day Korean®.

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Candidly Cartier: Conflict Resolution – Why Don’t We Try A Little Harder?

Thu, 2019-05-23 00:59
Conflict Resolution in Relationships

In healthy relationships there’s always a little conflict. Whether it’s the cat and mouse game when first pursuing/ being pursued or the “will they/ won’t they” I once fondly remembered as being “juicy”, conflict and conflict resolution make for healthy relationships. If there’s no conflict, typically one party is sacrificing who they are as a person to appease the other. If your partner doesn’t respect how you think or feel, I might question how strong the relationship really is. It can be so easy to give up and walk away. You can swipe right on your next love, bff, or even your job! Why aren’t we trying harder to resolve that conflict and level up inter-personally?

Fixing Failures

After my ex and I broke up we both started dating others in an effort to put a band-aid on our poor little hearts. My relationship didn’t work out because, let’s be candid, I always had one foot out the door and was waiting for the other shoe to drop with him. The ex, on the other hand, learned from our “failed” relationship and has bent over backwards for his much younger lady love. Why? Well, he said he couldn’t face the hopeless feeling of another failed relationship. Rather than giving up and getting on Tinder, he’s making an effort to manage and resolve conflict. I wish we had tried that hard, and I commend him for his efforts.

Repairing Through Conflict

If ex’s new(est) relationship has taught me anything, it’s that maybe I need to give a closer look to conflict resolution. If someone as stubborn and sarcastic as he can make it work, I think it’s time I take a look at ways to navigate conflict in my next relationship (you know – if I ever meet a dude I want to see a second time in this city).

Make Eye Contact

Give the person your full attention. If they’re bringing a complaint your way, give them your eye contact and listen actively. If you’re bringing a complaint to the table, don’t be sheepish. Ensure your body-language is open so that your partner feels you’re emotionally connected and open to what he or she is saying.

Be Direct

Don’t dance around the issue. Before coming to the table with an issue or set of problems, consider why you feel a certain way, and what you might say (and how you’ll say it) in an effort to come to a resolution. Be direct in saying what you’re feeling or how something is particularly effecting you. Wishy-washy statements using “maybe” or “I dunno” aren’t effective. Say what you feel and let the other person react. Working through issues as they come up can help you/ your partner’s self-esteem, and make big blow-ups a thing of the past.

Don’t Assert Blame

The person may not even realize that a particular action is bothering you. Passive aggressive comments will just upset the other person, bringing you much further away from intimacy and mutual respect. Statements like “my problem with you is ___” can be better positioned as “it’s a problem for me when ___”. Avoid saying “you did___” even if what the person did is entirely infuriating. You want resolution, not further conflict, right?

Avoid Making Sweeping Generalizations

Use specific instances and “I Feel” comments. Be genuine and pick your battles wisely. Don’t name-call, use sarcasm, or roll your eyes (I personally have serious work to do on this one – Tina Fey and I share epic eye-rolls).


We have two ears and one mouth – maybe we should be listening a little better! Hear your partner’s complaint(s) thoroughly without interrupting. Respond when they’re finished and try to use elements of what they’ve just told you without contempt. Don’t just wait to speak. Listen.

Find Positive Even in the Negative

When I have a tough day at work, I’ll typically start considering feelings about particular moments or actions. When I turn my thoughts to my daily tasks and long-standing projects on the whole, I think about how interesting my career is and how much I love what I do. Your relationships are the same. Certainly there are moments which will make you want to strangle the other person, but on the whole – do they bring you joy? Is this person a major contributor to your life? Focus on those elements and, if possible, bring them up. If you find ways to make (non-sarcastic) jokes in the midst of a negative conversation, you might be able to lighten the mood and find a break-through. Try to brainstorm a solution rather than letting the issue sit as a problem.

Conflict – Just Move On

Ultimately, conflict is a significant source of stress for most of us. It makes us uncomfortable. Often we don’t know what to say or there you’ve just tried too many times to make the other person comfortable. Are you constantly bending over backwards for someone who is just using you? Evaluate whether it’s worth the conflict resolution or if you should give up and move on. You might just find it’s a great relief to back off and move on. Take a break. Sometimes it’s worth coming back to and sometimes it’s better left alone.

Conflict is a sign of maturity when resolved through open and honest communication. Using Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, or any of the other hundreds of dating apps and sites out there to find the next best thing instead of putting a little effort into your current relationship is immature and irresponsible. You wouldn’t send a perfectly good car to a chop-shop due to a flat tire, right? Don’t throw away a solid relationship due to a disagreement or even a fundamental issue which could be resolved through communication and changed behaviour.

The post Candidly Cartier: Conflict Resolution – Why Don’t We Try A Little Harder? appeared first on That Girl Cartier.

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(Ep 58) Sam Hazelton

Tue, 2019-05-21 08:17

Sam Hazelton and I talk about grown men crying, walruses falling to their death, Keanu Reeves, and absurd sex acts. We talk about getting choked out, huffing gas and overdosing on motion sickness pills. I tell a story about getting punched out while blacked out drunk, and how Melissa Etheridge improved my childhood. We talk about Game of Thrones and Sam explains to me who has died and how in the last two seasons. So, spoiler alert.

If you enjoy the show, please recommend it to a friend, leave a review on iTunes or whatever app you listen to podcasts on – and remember I love ya.

 Nothing's Really Real Podcast:  Soundcloud    Stitcher

Re-pat Dating Diaries: “LOL – It’s Complicated”

Tue, 2019-05-21 01:09

Looking back on my teen through mid-twenties crushes, I thought the juiciest thing in the world was the time at the beginning of a relationship. The heart/ gut-wrenching “does he or doesn’t he like me” feeling was one I looked back on almost fondly. Potential romance was fleeting, but almost as lovely as the romance itself. The excitement, the uncertainty, the torture, and the relief were things I looked back on as feeling like my heart was on fire.

That feeling left me entirely for three years, and for that I’m now so thankful. While I was in Korea, I dated 3 men who, in the beginning, gave me no feelings of uncertainty. I developed feelings not just of confidence, but self-assurance and safety from my partner. It wasn’t precarious – in the beginning I never felt like I was about to fall or my world collapse.

Dating now that I’m back in Toronto is disappointing. I keep meeting these complete and total losers who genuinely make me feel like I should give up and get a cat (or a second job!) Then, it’s like the Universe recognizes my disappointment in humanity; my loneliness.

I’m certainly not the free-spirited, lithe, fun-loving woman I was from 28-31. I’ve gained weight, lost confidence, and have retreated to the lost little girl I was in my teens through mid twenties. A glimmer of hope in romance leaves a world of doubt. Still, the Universe has brought me a forest fire.

I want a partner – someone with whom I can adventure, but also in which I can confide. This man is irreverent, masculine, sexy, and arrogant. He hasn’t quite shown me many of the answers to his brooding mystery, yet. Over the past year I’ve questioned whether I would ever be “cool enough” for a relationship with him. Recently, he has made me feel safe in the most emotionally nourishing intimacy I’ve experienced since I packed the man I still consider to be the love of my life into a taxi to the airport.

You can have sex without intimacy, and I’ve had incredible intimacy without sex. Just having someone hold you and interlock your fingers in theirs is like the emotional Kama Sutra.

Will he or won’t he feel the same way?

The post Re-pat Dating Diaries: “LOL – It’s Complicated” appeared first on That Girl Cartier.

Two days, two ways to enjoy Thomas Family Winery (Madison, IN)

Mon, 2019-05-20 23:40

On May 15, our cross-country trip took us to Madison, Indiana, the place Jen called home until she was nine.

For a “coaster” like me, it’s country out here. Not necessarily as country as I remember Alfred, New York (which, last I remember, still celebrates the anniversary of the first and only traffic light in the village), home to my alma mater, the accents and some of the attitudes are definitely of a different timbre than what I accustomed myself to in New Jersey. Then again, I haven’t lived in New Jersey since 2013, so everything is requiring a bit of adjustment.

Like Alfred, which has a village (where Alfred University is) and the town (where nothing is), Madison can be split in two parts–the town and the “historic downtown”. Madison, founded in 1810, specifically downtown, is where the lovely riverfront is located, as are numerous antique shops (including a gargantuan antique mall housed in a former lumber yard), restaurants, some extremely attractive older homes, an excellent free museum full of local history…

a beautiful independently-owned bookstore

an up-and-coming craft beer brewery

…and Thomas Family Winery.

One of the goals we would like to see through on this trip is to experience every state’s (that we’re visiting) local tastes. That includes wine, which I must admit having been pretty ignorant about when it comes to what is out there. Besides New Jersey, I just sort of assumed most states that weren’t the usual suspects (California, Washington, Oregon, New York) might have a few boutique wineries, maybe a place that serves the sweetest of the sweet that would make Arbor Mist drinkers blush, but nothing that would make me long to go back.

Then, I visited several excellent Missouri wineries, including Augusta, Montelle and Stone Hill. So. If New Jersey has excellent wine despite some popular opinion, if Missouri, too, has excellent wine, why not other states? Why not every state? We’d like to find out.

Our very limited, very brief experience with Illinois wine means the jury is still out on that state. Ignoring politics (as one should), their wine was young. Some showed promise, the bottle we bought was a forgiving white, but their red could use some time and a bit more care.

Onto Indiana.

What would or should disqualify a wine from being considered “local”? For a long time, I was a snob to this. Everything had to come from the source. From growing to bottling, if it wasn’t in-house, it wasn’t local. Part of me still believes this. But, just because not every step is accomplished steps from the tasting room where I enjoyed the fruits of someone’s labor doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of my tastebuds or credit cards.

Grapes require land to be grown. Downtown Madison lacks this. So, what is one to do? Get your grapes from somewhere else. Thomas Family Winery does this, as does another local winery we visited that, while gaining rave reviews from a few others we’ve met, offered a majority of sticky sweet wines that were not in our wheelhouse.

But, as the girl who guided us through the complimentary tasting (something that has completely disappeared in New Jersey and seems to be fading from Missouri. Tastings start at $5 and only go up from there) at Thomas Family told us, once the grapes (and apples, which she noted were mostly from local sources, unlike the grapes, which mostly come from California) are on-site, everything else is in-house. Since many don’t seem to complain with craft beer breweries getting their raw materials from wherever, is it fair to not give wineries the same amount of slack?

It all comes down to, I think, how these two industries make people feel. A little thought experiment: when you think of wineries, what comes to mind first? Beautiful sun-drenched vistas and rolling hills of carefully curated grape vines, a late spring afternoon on a patio, soaking it all in while soaking up a beautiful bottle of burgundy. Now, what do you think of when you think of beer: a bar. It’s really not fair, is it?

With these biases still tickling my brain, I wholeheartedly recommend Thomas Family Winery, both for the experience and for the wine. Of course, the wine, or whatever product a place is selling, has to be good enough and should be the main selling point of any winery. I am happy to go to a beautiful winery with average wine. Once. But, Thomas Family Winery proved to be so enjoyable, Jen and I stopped in twice in as many days. On Friday, we enjoyed our aforementioned complementary tasting, which included not only the full-bodied Rio Red, a crisp and highly-drinkable sangria on draft and a pair of hard apple ciders brewed in a traditional style. We followed our fun and informative tasting with a couple full glasses and an expertly-crafted meat and cheese board, which we took to their covered patio.

On Saturday evening, we took advantage of the balmy weather and the patio as we enjoyed a couple more drinks and the fun rockabilly sounds of the Slick River Rockets with new friends.

In conclusion, I am happy to report my shift in perspective when it comes to a great wine experience, much like my shift in perspective when it comes to pizza in South Korea. It can’t all be incredible vistas of vines with grapes meant for wine. It can’t all be Slice of Life in Busan. It doesn’t have to be. Things are best enjoyed when you stop comparing them to something else. And now, I am eager to see what other perspectives I can shift on this trip.



JPDdoesROK is a former news editor/writer in New Jersey, USA, who served a one-year tour of duty in Dadaepo/Jangnim, Saha-gu, Busan from February 2013 to February 2014. He is now a teacher in Gimhae.

Buddha’s Birthday 2019

Sat, 2019-05-18 11:11
Buddha’s Birthday 2019

So I have been a little preachy in these last few posts, so I thought that I would get back to basics and just talk about one of the best times of the year here in South Korea and one that few travels really know about. I am talking about Buddha’s Birthday.

I was shocked that when I started posting my images, that there were a lot of people that were living in Korea that had limited knowledge about the event. With so many temples around Korea, I was a little put back by the messages that I received. I think many people just thought that the lanterns and elaborate decorations were limited to Jogyesa Temple in Seoul. Fortunately, they are not and many of the temples outside of Seoul have far better events and celebrations.

TongdosaAt the entrance to Tongdosa

This year is a particularly sad year for this temple as one man’s impatience and road rage lead to 1 death, another person in critical condition and 11 people injured. It is very sad new as this day is supposed to be that of celebration and happiness.

Walking up to Tongdosa

Tongdosa is always a place of quiet thought and long walks. Due to its size, tourists are generally spread out and never get too crowded with the exception of the main temple complex and in front of the museum.

In recent years, they have increased the number of lanterns along the path to the temple as well as added themed lanterns in the stream and path in front of the temple. This makes it slightly different from other temples as many focus more on the amount of personal lanterns as each of them contain a donation.

Testing out my lensball that I rarely useBeomosaThis section of Beomosa always draws my eye.

Beomosa is always a great place to spend the evening. This year my wife and I spent the evening wandering around the grounds. Sadly, it was a little too cool in the night for my wife and I was a little too focussed on my work to notice. However, once I paused long enough to notice the world around me, we went straight back to the car and warmed up.

You don’t often see what lanterns and these alway look so elegant to me.

Beomosa is a temple that I go to pretty much every year. It is calm as peaceful before the big day and you can really get a sense of calm when you are there.

Over the temple grounds at Beomosa

The temple is also slowly being surrounded by nice cafes, so if you do go, you will find a place to sit within walking distance from the temple. However, I tend to usually go down to Route Coffee, my old haunt from when I taught at the university just down the road from there.

One of my favourite walks at Beomosa BulguksaThe sunsets at Bulguksa temple in Gyeongju

This year I was pleasantly surprised with my time at Bulguksa. Upon entering the grounds and my hazy creative brain as well, I was great by none other than a group of some of Busan’s finest photographers.

As the festival starts

These guys are members of the Busan Lightstalkers group who happened to be returning from an epic camping trip and decided to stop in at the temple on their way home. They caught me mid-creative fog which was mildly hilarious as I am sure that there is now photographic evidence of their odd state that I go into.

Blue hour at Bulguksa is amazing

At any rate, the temple was amazing. Not the millions of lanterns that Samgwangsa has, but just a wonderful assortment of lanterns and decorations in a UNESCO recognized temple.

Under the lanterns

The evening ended with a lantern parade around the temple. By this time my batter had died in my camera and sadly I did not think to bring a backup. Typically, I have 2 fresh batteries in my bag and like an idiot I had left them either in the charger or next to it.

shot and edited entirely on an iPhone using Flixel’s Blendeo app

Thankfully, I had my phone and I snapped a few long exposures using Flixel’s Blendeo app. This made for a nice effect with the flow of the lanterns in the parade.

Haedong YeonggunsaThe standard Haedong Yeonggunsa shot

I have been wanting to go to Haedong Yeonggunsa for a while now. I really wanted to get a drone shot of the temple from the water. I felt that this would be the perfect time to do so. The lanterns add so much to the colour and contrast in the image.

Just before the lights went out

Sadly, this visit was cut short due to the fact that the temple closed up early as they do, before the big day. Haedong Yeonggunsa also has a particular advantage when it comes to actually closing as it is one of only a few temples that has bridge leading to a single door.

Haedong Yeonggunsa Buddha’s Birthday 2019

Most temples as you can see are quite open meaning that they usually have a larger main gate for vehicle traffic and whatnot but that usually doesn’t stop too many people from wandering in. Here, the bridge leads to a single entry point which was locked by the time I finished shooting outside.

Overlooking Haedong Yeonggunsa

The also gave a huge warning by turning off all the lights momentarily. The photographers around me were none too happy about that. For me, it just happens and you have to deal with it. After all, the event is for Buddha and his worshippers, not for photographers and tourists.

Temple pagoda with shrine to drivers

I hope that you enjoyed these images. This is really my favourite time of the year in Korea and one that I fondly remember from when I first got started into photography. If you have and questions about the locations or editing process either drop me a line here or send me an email.

Also if you are coming to Korea and would like me to show you some of these places, let me know. If you get in contact, I can make arrangements and take you around as I am slowly starting to do more photo tour here in Korea.

The post Buddha’s Birthday 2019 appeared first on The Sajin.


People are (still) people

Fri, 2019-05-17 02:40

“People are people so why should it be
you and I should get along so awfully?”
– Depeche Mode

To borrow a line from folks older than me, the world today is lacking in civility. This is especially evident when various sacred cows enter the conversation. Even now, I am thinking about how to carefully present myself as to not offend “all sides” enough to either stop reading or proceed to flame comment me to Mars. But, as a cynical left-leaning centrist from New Jersey, I must admit to a few of my own pre-conceived notions about how things are.

Dispelling a few of these notions, or at least learning to better separate someone’s politics from the person is another benefit of this road trip around the United States.

“But, John,” you might be saying to a computer screen, in which case, get outside. “How could you possibly defend this particular person or that particular policy when they approve of this particular terrible thing or that particular terrible idea?”

To answer this hypothetical question, guilty voice inside my head, I’m not defending anything. Unless you want to say I am defending the seemingly lost of art of not being mad at everything all the fucking time. Then, yes, I am defending that.

I am also defending my own right to augment my own ideas of how things are.

Just because I talked to the wine maker at the winery with what I consider a questionable wine name…

Yes, they have a wine called “2nd Amendment Right” with a gun on its label. That’s different.

…does not mean I have been converted. Nor does it mean I don’t think those ideas are any less questionable. What it did do is humanize people who beforehand were some nebulous terrible concept. The “other,” those ignorant, gun-loving hicks and other far less kind comments I have made. That’s not nice. It’s not civil. It’s also pretty hypocritical when I start throwing names out about people regarding ignorance and then proceed to learn nothing about them other than they want to ban this or that or voted for this or that asshole or “they like guns,” which likely would barely scratch the surface of their beliefs, one would hope. They’re still people, I don’t have to agree with them. I can even aggressively disagree with them. But, they’re still people. I have often forgotten that, and I am sure I’m not the only one on either side of many arguments.

In the case of the winery, a certain belief in a thing I am on the opposite end nearly derailed what ended up being a pleasant surprise (we were on I-64 heading to Indiana and just happened to see a sign for the winery and thought, “why not?”). We bought a bottle (not the one with a big gun on the label) and went on. The winemaker poured us some wine, we tried some wine, he was nice and we were nice. This is something that seems to have become endangered, which is unfortunate for a number of reasons you may or may not think about. But, for one, when both sides of an argument devolve into mad foaming at the mouth animals, there is even less possibility of either side meeting somewhere in the middle, if only for a glass of wine. Not to change policies or change minds, just for a drink. That sucks, because I like wine.

And if the conversation did head to politics, maybe we could all be a little less rabid and dismissive. Not of one’s particular beliefs, but of the idea that those ideas exist and why. This is another benefit of our road trip.

We also saw an old-fashioned country jam session at a Moose lodge that served simple but filling food. Do any of these folks have political leanings and beliefs that likely skew far in the opposite direction of this cynical left-leaning centrist from New Jersey? Quite possibly. But, they were nice. And, their music was great. And, there is a time and place to discuss one’s political beliefs and whether or not they align with mine. A Wednesday night Moose lodge jam session is not one of them.

So, why not enjoy some excellent music and some good vibes? It doesn’t change your beliefs. If it does, they must not have been very strong in the first place.

How To Say ‘Wait’ In Korean

Thu, 2019-05-16 19:53
How to Say ‘Wait’ in Korean – 80/20*


     Wait – 기다리다 (gidarida)


How to remember (association):

     Wait for my niece, this kid is a reader. (기다리다/gidarida)

*80/20 Pareto Principle – The 20% you should learn that will give you 80% of the results.


Today we will go over how to say ‘wait’ in Korean. Read on for meaning, explanation, and examples of this Korean vocabulary. ‘Wait’ no longer, let’s get right into learning!


Can't read Korean yet? Click here to learn for free in about 90 minutes!


‘Wait’ in Korean

The word for how to say wait in Korean is 기다리다 (gidarida). This is the basic form of the verb, and it will transform depending on the level of politeness and type of conjugation used. For example, when used with past tense, future tense, imperative, or in its noun form. Luckily, the use of the verb 기다리다 is just as simple as other regular verbs in the Korean language. Additionally, the only translation for the word ‘wait’ in Korean is 기다리다, so there is no need to get confused while learning several words with slightly different meanings.

Photo Credit: freepik

To remember how to say wait in Korean we’ll create an English association for it. This can be any word, phrase, or image that helps you recall the Korean word and its meaning.

So how can we remember 기다리다? We can break it down into two parts:

기다 – sounds like kid a

리다 – sounds like reader

So imagine that you’re at the bookstore and your friends want to leave but you have to wait for your niece.


Wait for my niece, this kid is a reader. (기다리다/gidarida)

What associations can you think up to remember 기다리다? Remember, the more unique or strange the story is, the easier it is to remember.

Related Vocabulary

대기하다 (daegihada) – be on standby

대기번호 (daegibeonho) – waiting number

A word of caution about Romanization

While it is possible for you to study the words in this article simply by reading their romanized versions, it will come in handy for you to be able to read Hangeul if you ever wish to come to Korea. Hangeul is the Korean alphabet, and not difficult to learn. In fact, you can learn it in just 90 minutes.

After you’ve familiarized yourself with Hangeul, life in Korea will suddenly seem so much easier and the country won’t appear so foreign for you. So, if you’re serious about learning Korean, why not learn Hangeul today?

Sample Sentences

Formal Examples:

1. 잠깐 기다려 주세요. → Please wait a moment.

    (jamkkan gidaryeo juseyo.)

Standard Examples:

1. 벌써 1시간동안 기다리고 있어요. → I have already been waiting for 1 hour.

    (beolsseo 1sigandongan gidarigo isseoyo.)

2. 저는 기회를 기다렸다가 마침내 그 남자한테 고백했어요. → I waited for an opportunity and finally confessed to that guy.

     (jeoneun gihoereul gidaryeotdaga machimnae geu namjahante gobaekaesseoyo.)

3. 밤이라서 버스를 한시간 넘어서 기다려야 했었어요. → I had to wait for the bus for more than an hour since it’s night time.

    (bamiraseo beoseureul hansigan neomeoseo gidaryeoya haesseosseoyo.)

4. 시험 결과가 나올때까지 한달동안 기다리게 되었어요. → I have to wait for a month to before the exam results are out.

    (siheom gyeolgwaga naolttaekkaji handaldongan gidarige doeeosseoyo.)

5. 어쩔 수 없이 사장님 나갈때까지 기다려 봐야 할 것 같아요. → Looks like we have no choice but to wait and see until the boss leaves.

    (eojjeol su eopsi sajangnim nagalttaekkaji gidaryeo bwaya hal geot gatayo.)

6. 왜 기다리지 않았어요? → Why didn’t you wait?

    (wae gidariji anasseoyo?)

Informal Examples:

1. 늦어서 미안해. 나를 오래 기다렸어? → I’m sorry for being late. Did you wait a long time for me?

    (neujeoseo mianhae. nareul orae gidaryeosseo?)

2. 날 기다려줘! → Please wait for me!

    (nal gidaryeojwo!)

3. 좀만 더 기다려. → Wait just a little bit longer.

    (jomman deo gidaryeo.)

4. 왜 나를 이렇게 기다리게 했지? → Why did you make me wait like this?

    (wae nareul ireoke gidarige haetji?)

Want more Korean phrases? Click here for a complete list!

The post How To Say ‘Wait’ In Korean appeared first on 90 Day Korean®.

Can you believe it's 2019?

Thu, 2019-05-16 18:18
2019 has been a challenging year so far.
We are now living in Singapore, we've both left our jobs and trying to figure out what to do/where to be next. I've finally taken a career break after many sleepless nights wondering what would be the best choice - I left my career when it was at it's peak; I was working as a recruiter for a multinational company and drawing a salary that was much higher than most my peers. I never regretted this decision, although there are days I feel anxious thinking about the money I could earned if I had continued. 
My husband left the Korean company he was working for after a difficult 2 years. We learned that Koreans will always be Koreans even if the KR firm is based in another country. He's taking a short break to prepare for his AICPA exams and I really hope he completes it this time.
I would never trade anything for this moment! It feels like the weekends everyday and we get to wake up, do chores & run errands together.
Here are some photos from our winter trip in Feb.
We stayed a night at the Ski Resort and had chicken + beer for dinner!

Never again! All these gear just for a couple of pictures.

I loved this glamping site! The owners were nice and provided great hospitality. This glamping trip could not have happened without my husband as they only speak Korean.

Sis & I got to be like little kids again.

This picture was taken in the morning after sunrise but it started snowing a little past midnight. We woke up at 5am for a toilet break and saw the most beautiful sight ever - in the extreme darkness and silence you could see and hear white flakes of snow tapping lightly on our tents.

We stayed in an apartment that was right at the Gwananri Beach. We could see the Gwanan Daegyo (광안대교) from our window.

We had breakfast in a nearby cafe by the bridge. I can't explain how/why but it just tastes different from the brunch we have in Singapore.
Maxi will always be the puppy we remember him to be. My husband would always make time to play with Maxi whenever we went back.


The Singaporean Girlfriend

Stuck on you: Stuffed at the Iron Fork food festival (St. Louis, MO)

Wed, 2019-05-15 06:30

Before we begin our actual road trip tomorrow, there is plenty to share from the past three weeks Jen and I have spent in her home state of Missouri. I will try to cover it all over the next several days if I can.

As an ignorant, elitist east coaster who has considered New Jersey wine some of the best ever produced (I’m not so ignorant as to not recognize such a claim might dismiss my opinions by many, but I am holding firm), I was so pleasantly surprised by the Missouri wine industry. With little knowledge of spirits, I was less surprised but still exceedingly pleased by the gin and whiskey we enjoyed and purchased at Pinckney Bend Distillery in New Haven. Having been in South Korea the past six years, I had a little knowledge of the craft beer boom in the U.S. but have yet to fully grasp its scope. So, I was not entirely surprised when Two Plumbers Brewery + Arcade in St. Charles tapped into my lifelong love of video games and my adultlong appreciation for suds.

One area I was not at all surprised to find was good was the region’s food culture. I mean, does any place really have “bad” food culture? Maybe. Then again, I have the tendency to find the good in any food, whether it be the most ubiquitous fast food offerings or the most artisanal, organic, farm-to-fork farkers out there.

Speaking of forks, we got a fantastic taste of the St. Louis area’s restaurant offerings and the quirky and inviting City Museum of St. Louis at the annual Riverfront Times “Iron Fork” competition last week.

Think Iron Chef, the cooking competition program that began in Japan in the 1990s and eventually made its way to the U.S. Chefs are given a food item for which they have a set amount of time to prepare various dishes that incorporate that item, with a panel then sampling those offerings and then judging whose reigned supreme. For the record, I preferred the original.

Also, for the record, Jen and I did not actually see this competition during the Iron Fork. There were too many people, too many food stalls to sample and far too much fun to be had in the museum, which was open after hours for the event only.

I feel bad for anyone who tried to suggest this place to their kids but didn’t explain it well enough. “The City Museum? Museum? No, thanks, mom, I want to play the iPad or whatever the kids are doing these days” I imagine them saying. For shame. City Museum is an awesome hands-on playground and something I totally did not expect.

Expect the unexpected. City Museum is a hundred-year-old warehouse in downtown St. Louis in which artists have repurposed the pieces of old cities to build miles of tunnels, slides, climbers, bridges, and castles.  There are secret passages and grand galleries. Playgrounds and ball pits. A circus and a train. A rooftop school bus and a Ferris wheel.

The food was copious. Sample portions (as many as you wanted to grab) of, and this is only from memory: tuna poke on crispy wonton chips, ceviche atop cucumber, vegan ceviche with marinated beets, pulled pork tacos, macaroni and cheese x3 (was there more? I lost count), pizza, smoked pulled turkey, fried raviolis (a St. Louis tradition, apparently), falafel fries with incredible tzatziki, and plenty of booze sample booths on top of the five drink tickets baked into our completely-worth-it $45 admission fee. Take that, overpriced New Zealand Wine Festival in Korea. Moving to Ananti Cove is not a good enough excuse to nearly doubling your admission fee in a few years.

Once we’d had our (over) fill (I realize how few food photos we took. Too busy enjoying it), we focused most of our mental energy into the museum itself, which featured various hands-on (and body-in) exhibits, giant slides, interactive fish tanks, and even a retro arcade.

Being after hours, a few things were unfortunately closed, including the roof. Will we come back during regular hours? Definitely. This time, I won’t feel like a stuck pig at the end of a fork heading toward my already overfilled mouth, however. I’m still full.


Sushi Roll – Shrimp Tempura (Fried Shrimp)

Tue, 2019-05-14 01:05

In this sushi making video, we show you how to make breaded fried shrimp tempura for use in sushi rolls. Tempura shrimp sushi is a bit more involved than the California Roll. This involves stretching the shrimp, breading and frying it. Then we show you how to roll the sushi and also, optionally, how to add a layer of avocado to the top (avocado sushi roll).

Please take a look at our shrimp tempura sushi roll video here. Below is a shopping list and more details.

Shopping List

You’ll need to get some equipment for making sushi if you don’t have it already. You can find most everything at your local Asian supermarket or online.

  • Bamboo sushi mat
  • Plastic wrap and/or wax paper
  • Cooking thermometer (for best results… temperature is important when frying)
  • Deep pot for frying
Ingredients Tempura ‘Breaded’ Shrimp
  • Medium-large shrimp (we use 21-25 count per pound)
  • Bread crumbs
  • Tempura flour
    • 3-parts flour
    • 1-part starch
    • 1/2-part salt
  • Cooking oil
Sushi Roll
  • Medium grain sushi rice
  • ‘Nori’ seaweed sheets – Also labeled as ‘kimbab’ seaweed (김밥 김)
  • Avocado – Buy it hard and leave it out a day – Avoid mushy, over-ripe avocados
Directions Tempura Shrimp

This is just a disclaimer that we aren’t making traditional ‘tempura’ shrimp. The traditional process is more complicated and creates a much thicker shrimp, which is great as a side-dish but not so good when rolling half-sheet sushi.

  1. Remove shell and de-vein. Stretch shrimp by making straight cuts at each segment on the underside and diagonal cuts (head-to-tail direction) between each segment on the top. Bend shrimp and pull lightly. You should feel a snapping at each segment.
  2. With dry tempura flour, coat each shrimp.
  3. Mix water and tempura flour until runny and coat shrimp again.
  4. Coat shrimp with bread crumbs.
  5. In deep pot, add oil and heat to 175ºC/350ºF.
  6. Add shrimp, 3~4 at a time. Watch temperature. Evaporation/bubbling will lower temperature.
  7. Check color. Remove when golden-brown.
Sushi Rolling