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Korea This Week (May 21-27)

Sat, 2017-05-27 21:22
Korea This Week (May 21-27) A distillation of select news from the peninsula

Tourism promotion has always been tricky business in Korea. In this writer’s humble opinion, one of the main stumbling blocks has been a problem of perspective, specifically, a tendency of Korean tourism promoters to consistently overrate the appeal of traditional Korean culture to international tourists.

People travel for a variety of reasons – experience, entertainment, relaxation, enrichment – but rather than consider what kinds of things tourists would like to see, do, or experience, tourism officials more often seem to promote Korea the way they would like people to experience it. As a result, their offerings and suggested itineraries often end up sounding less like an exciting holiday package and more like a high school class trip.

With the exception of Chinese and Japanese tourists ( who can pop over for weekend if they want), people from most anywhere else have to travel a long distance to get here, and the reason for doing so has to be something a bit more compelling than making kimchi, watching a mask dance, taking a pottery class, or visiting a museum dedicated to the history of the song Arirang (I’m not making that up). In short, Korea is a cool place to

All together now!

visit, but you wouldn’t always know that from reading the official tourism literature.

In other news, last Sunday, the band BTS won Billboard’s Best Social Artist prize, and in doing so became the first K-Pop group to win a Billboard award. I’m not a K-Pop fan (mainly because I’m a 46-year old male), but you have to give credit where it is due: winning at an American awards ceremony despite having no songs in English and only one band member who is fluent in the language is a remarkable achievement.

Some were quick to point out that we shouldn’t read too much into it however, because it was a fan-voted prize. Anyone who recalls 2011, when the K-pop singer Rain won Time Magazine‘s poll for “The World’s Most Influential Person” (beating out Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and a comically incredulous Stephen Colbert), knows very well that you never – ever – challenge a Korean entertainer to an online poll. You will lose. Badly.

BTS also sold out a 5-show arena tour in the US earlier this year, which has fired dreams of bigger success in the North American music market, something that has so far eluded Hallyu stars (who, to be fair, have mainly focused their energies elsewhere). If the current South Korean / Chinese spat over the THAAD missile system deployment drags on, cracking into the US and other markets could become a bigger priority for K-Pop acts. Stay tuned…


Sweet Pickles & CornSPAC ON FACEBOOK


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Learn Korean Ep. 93: Korean Honorifics (Part 1 of 2)

Sat, 2017-05-27 08:25

So Keykat told me she wants to learn how to make YouTube videos. I guess she wants to start her own channel or something. I guess I'll help her. I mean, what's the worst she could do? It's not like she could even get popular.

This episode will cover honorific speech. I'll give you an introduction to the concept, and explain how to use it. We'll talk about honorific verbs and honorific nouns, and more.

Remember that there are free extended PDFs available for every "Learn Korean" episode (at the bottom of this post), and each contains additional information or examples not covered in the video.

Check out the episode here!

Click here to download a free PDF of this lesson!

The post Learn Korean Ep. 93: Korean Honorifics (Part 1 of 2) appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.




Back From The Dormant

Thu, 2017-05-25 02:54

After a couple of years languishing in the Great Blog Graveyard, Sweet Pickles and Corn is up and running once more. Before we get started, I’d like to take a few moments to address our faithful and long-suffering readers’ most burning questions.

What happened to the old Sweet Pickles and Corn?

The short answer is ‘inertia’. As Isaac Newton pointed out, a body in motion tends to stay in motion, and a body on a sofa tends to stay on the sofa. Despite the all the initial enthusiasm and good intentions, this seems to be the fate of most blogs: they sputter, run out of gas, and lie abandoned by the big electronic roadside in the sky.

The more charitable explanation is that we were busy. Three of us wrote books last year,

Anonymous SP&C blogger at work.

another was waist-deep in an MFA program, three SP&C alumni moved overseas, and another moved across the peninsula. The truth lies somewhere between these two explanations.

Why are we starting it again?

We find ourselves now in a much-diminished K-blogosphere, in which many long-standing and much-beloved blogs have passed on. Does Korea need a resurrected Sweet Pickles and Corn? Readers can decide that, but we aim to try to fill the gap.

What is this new Sweet Pickles and Corn?

Those of you who were readers of the old SP&C may remember it as a bit of a grab bag by a bunch of people living in Korea, and writing mostly about Korea, if sometimes by default. The new Sweet Pickles and Corn is going for a similar tone but a more narrowed focus: it is a “Korea blog” by design, and as such, will take Korea as its focus. Culture, events, news, commentary, humor, reviews and other Korea-related brain droppings are all fair game.

What’s up with that name?

The name Sweet Pickles and Corn was initially chosen as a nod to the pizza side dish and topping that often appear in Korea, and was meant to suggest the quirks and minor absurdities of life here that our blog would take as its focus. I suppose the name will still function that way, but there’s another sense in which I’ve come to like the pickles and corn symbol: as a common example of a cultural borrowing with a Korean twist.

Not everyone is a fan of corn on pizza (I don’t have strong feelings about it one way or the other), but whether you like it or not, it’s a small but common example of the many opportunities to view the familiar through a different lens. I often find that the interesting things about Korea are not always the uniquely Korean creations, but the unique way that Korea re-purposes and re-invents cultural imports and ultimately makes them their own. Sometimes it’s a hit, and sometimes it’s a miss, but it’s seldom boring, and this, in a nutshell, is our lofty aim here: to hit, to miss, and to not be boring. Or something like that.

What do I do now?

Sit back, pull up a small tub of your favorite fermented vegetable, and enjoy!

IELTS Speaking: Top 5 Tips you Need to Know

Thu, 2017-05-25 01:20
How to Improve your IELTS Speaking Test Score

As the IELTS exam has become increasingly important internationally, there’s more and more information available on the Internet about the exam. It’s important to consider this information critically, and to consider the source of the information. Many people have their own opinions about how to perform well; some of these opinions come from direct experience, while some, unfortunately, amount to educated guesses that might not be informed.

Top 5 Tips for IELTS Speaking Tests

There are five things you should know specifically about the IELTS Speaking exam. Some may seem obvious; some might apply to other exams. Of course, you should arrive on time, well before your scheduled speaking test time, and pay close attention to your appearance. Being on time for all of the tests is vital, but your appearance isn’t as important in the other exams. In the speaking test, you’ll be sitting one on one with the examiner. Your appearance isn’t an exam criteria and shouldn’t matter, but examiners are human and may occasionally be swayed subconsciously by your appearance. Being well groomed makes you look confident and serious, and this can only help you.

The five things that apply directly to the IELTS speaking exam are:

Tip #1: Relax and Slow Down

First, if you feel nervous and start to rush as you talk, stop, relax and slow down. You should talk at a natural, comfortable pace, which is one of the exam criteria; if you talk too fast, you’re more likely to make mistakes. It’ll be more difficult for the examiner to follow what you’re saying and grade you accurately. The most important aspect of the exam is how well you communicate your ideas; talking at a natural pace is central to this point. For more information on relaxing during the speaking test, refer to my book Surviving IELTS Speaking on (the paperback version). You can also find a Kindle version in the Kindle section of

Tip #2: Can you Repeat that Please?

Second, if you don’t understand a question or didn’t hear it clearly, ask the examiner to repeat the question. You can say “I’m sorry, could you repeat that, please?” The examiner will repeat what they said; if you still don’t understand, they will (or should) rephrase the question or statement. Some IELTS teachers and websites say you should ask for an explanation, but examiners won’t explain. The reason is that they aren’t allowed to explain; the officials who create the test materials presume that you should be able to understand what is being said. In fact, this is one of the criteria you’re being tested for.

You know that the exam is being recorded; the recordings are monitored afterwards. An examiner who is caught breaking the rules, such as explaining something to a candidate, can be fired permanently. This will generally never happen on an IELTS speaking test!

RelatedTOEIC Speaking Mini-Tests

Tip #3: Stay on Topic

Third, stay on topic at all times during your IELTS speaking test. I’ve read some complaints on Internet blogs that staying on topic shouldn’t matter; candidates complain that their speaking ability is being tested, not the topic. I’m sorry to say that this isn’t true. Candidates aren’t being tested just for their speaking ability, they’re being tested for their ability to communicate. This means that they have to be able to relay information that is relevant to the topic. If you asked someone “how are you today?” and they answered “I’m pleased to meet you, too”, you’d be quite confused. The answer is completely irrelevant to the question; there has to be a logical connection between the question and answer.

Tip #4: Don’t Correct Mistakes

Fourth, if you make a mistake, keep talking; don’t try to correct the mistake. This point is controversial and other examiners might disagree. Some will suggest that you should correct the mistake. There is no right or wrong answer here; what matters is how your actions are perceived. Let’s look at a potential situation: you’re talking about your grandfather and without realizing it, you refer to him as “she”. This is a common, very normal mistake people make when learning English. Stopping to correct yourself and say “he” would be smart, as you’ve shown that you’re aware of the mistake and what the correct word is. You’ve demonstrated that you have the correct knowledge, even if you occasionally slip.

What about Complicated Mistakes?

But what if you make a more complicated mistake on your IELTS speaking test? In another potential situation, you’re talking and use the incorrect word: you say something like “I was told from the man…” instead of “I was told by the man…”. If you stop and correct it and move on, continuing to speak smoothly, no harm has been done.

If, however, you stop to correct the mistake and then struggle to continue, this will harm your score. In a mistake like this, the listener (examiner) knows what you meant to say and the word you should have used, so it doesn’t interfere with the listener’s comprehension. It’s a small mistake and won’t affect your score unless you start to repeat the mistake with different words. If you begin to struggle, if you are starting and stopping, saying sentence fragments and repeating yourself, this will affect your score for coherence. It makes it more difficult for the listener to understand you. There is no right or wrong answer, but I would strongly suggest not correcting the mistake and moving on.


ESL Speaking Rubric for Teachers

Tip #5: Avoid Memorized Answers

Fifth, avoid memorized responses like the plague. Seriously. Especially in Part 3. I read one website while I was researching and writing this article that suggested examiners are predictable in their questions. It said it’s ok to have some fallback phrases. This is one of those rare moments when I become a little angry, because this is bad advice.

Part 1

It’s true in Part 1 of the IELTS speaking exam that examiners have to choose between a selection of pre-written questions and aren’t allowed to alter them in any way; the questions must be asked exactly as they are written. If you use a memorized sentence, it might not be noticeable at first; but you should try to expand each answer. You don’t want to reply each time with single sentence answer, because it’ll look like you don’t have much to say. You don’t want to talk at length in Part 1. Two to three sentences per question is perfect, but one sentence every time will hurt your score.

Part 2

In Part 2 of the IELTS speaking test, you’ll do all the talking and the examiner won’t talk at all. If you think you can memorize two minute speeches on every topic you might be asked, go for it. However, I’d be surprised if someone could do this. And if the answer you give and expand on is off-topic, your entire Part 2 answer won’t be acknowledged. That’s right, you’d lose everything you said in Part 2, as if you hadn’t said anything. You can see where I’m going with this, yes?

Part 3

And in Part 3 of the IELTS speaking test, the examiner will ask a question related to the Part 2 topic, and then create more questions spontaneously. There’s absolutely no way to know what questions the examiner will ask, and memorized answers would almost certainly be unrelated to the questions being asked. The examiner in this part is testing your ability to communicate naturally at higher levels of English, on topics that are much more complicated. They’ll raise and lower the complexity of the questions as they determine what you’re able and unable to do. Your answers must match the grammar of the questions for verb tense, sentence structure and so on. Trust me, it is almost impossible to do this with memorized phrases.

Related: ESL Speaking Evaluation Tips

About the Author: John Kenmuir

Bio: John Kenmuir is a former IELTS speaking examiner, having examined thousands of students through the Shanghai Branch of the British Council, and has also been an ESL/EFL teacher since 1995. He has taught in his native Canada, South Korea, China and Saudi Arabia, and is the author of the new book “Surviving IELTS Speaking: Improving the Experience”, available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions. He is a published writer, author & poet, currently residing in Merida, Mexico, where he continues to write and author new books.

Need more IELTS Speaking Tips? Surviving IELTS Speaking: Improving the Experience Price Disclaimer

If you enjoyed these tips and want even more of them, then you’ll need to check out the book, Surviving IELTS Speaking: Improving the Experience on Amazon.

It’s available in both Kindle and paper versions. The Kindle version is easy to read on any device-smartphone, tablet, Mac or PC by downloading the free Kindle app from Amazon. Check out the book today and get ready to improve your IELTS speaking exam score!


The post IELTS Speaking: Top 5 Tips you Need to Know appeared first on ESL Speaking.

Jackie Bolen: How to Get a University Job In Korea


My Life! Teaching in a Korean University:

University Jobs Korea:



Korea’s Healthily Bland Presidential Race

Wed, 2017-05-24 10:56
Korea’s Healthily Bland Presidential Race

This is a re-post of my pre-election prediction piece for the Lowy Institute a few weeks ago.

It’s dated now of course, so you should probably read something else. But, I think I broadly got things right: Korea is a stalemated society. Neither right, left, nor center has a majority. So even though Moon won, he won’t govern far too the left. He does not have the political space to do it. He will be a social democrat, not a socialist.

The left won, but its combined total, 47%, is the same as Moon’s 2012 total. So the left missed a huge chance to cross 50%. Choi-gate was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for the left to prove it could win a national majority, which it has never done, and it failed. This is practically a smoking gun that the left cannot win a majority here, that South Korea is a center-right society.

The right ducked a huge bullet by coming in second. Had Ahn beaten the Liberty Korea party, LK might have faded into a largish third party as the People’s Party assumed the role of the head of the opposition. For much of the race, polling suggested this. Hong got very lucky, given the SK right is now a national embarrassment. They stuck with Park way too long into Choi-gate, and then Hong, in wild desperation, started calling himself the ‘Donald Trump of Korea,’ whatever the hell that means. Ech. The SK right’s time in the wilderness is well-deserved.

The center flopped. Ahn has been saying for 7 years that he could be president, and when he finally got the chance, he imploded. His debate performances proved how soft his support was. When he flamed out on TV, his voters fled. The question now is whether Ahn has a future at all in SK politics after such a dismal showing after all the hype. The answer is probably no.

The full essay follows the break:



After months of turmoil and confusion, South Korea will finally have a proper president next week. The South Korean presidential election will occur on May 9, and the legal inauguration will happen next day. At last, a legitimate leader can begin tackling the many issues of “South Korea’s dangerous drift.”

The impeachment of former President Park Geun-Hye means South Korea now only has an ‘acting president.’ The ‘Choi-gate’ scandal which brought her down has rolled on since October, paralyzing the government for months and necessitating this special election. Hence the rushed next-day inauguration, even if there is some later public ceremony: South Korea needs a fully empowered president as soon as possible.

Thankfully, the presidential campaign has been reassuringly bland and normal. There has been no last-minute constitutional tinkering, nor efforts by Park dead-enders to sabotage this in the name of the ‘real president.’ Park’s own party has accepted her impeachment and is running a candidate. As I argued last month in The Interpreter, for all the ‘crisis’ talk about South Korea’s recent troubles, it has weathered Choi-gate about as well as any democracy could reasonably expect. This election has should produce a properly legitimated president, and things should revert to normal in short order.

With a week to go in the campaign, the specific challenges to each major partisan current – right, left, and center – are increasingly clear:

The Right

The Korean right has all but collapsed. The Park-era conservative party desperately re-named itself and then factionalized over Park’s legacy. The two conservative candidacies refuse to merge, and their combined polling is around 20%. This is a partisan wipe-out worse than the post-Watergate routs of the Republicans in the US in 1974 and 1976.

This is not surprisingly. Park has badly discredited Korea’s traditional conservatives. Conservative voters have flirted with the centrist candidate, Ahn Chul-Soo, to block a liberal victory. But he imploded after several poor debate performances. Conservative voters now seem to be drifting all over the place. Some back to the right; some cleaving to Ahn; others staying at home. The liberal candidate and likely victor, Moon Jae-In, has even made a play for these dissatisfied conservatives by publicly denouncing homosexuality (which in turn has helped push up the far-left’s numbers as leftist voters have bolted).

All in all, a disaster for the right, which has led to a desperation move: the primary right-wing candidate is now calling himself the ‘Donald Trump of Korea.’ This suggests, along with Marine LePen’s advance into the French presidential election’s second round, that Trump is a possible model for new political entrepreneurs in democracies. Is this the route by which the post-Park South Korean right will reconstruct itself? Traditionally the right’s planks have been anti-communism and business friendliness. In practice, this has often meant mccarthyism and corruption. It is hard to imagine that a trumpified right is an improvement.

The Left


Moon, the overwhelming favorite now, will be a minoritarian president with a final total around 40%. This will likely constrain him from governing too far to the left on North Korea and Japan, which is probably the greatest anxiety of foreign observers of the election. Moon has prevaricated on the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense debate. He has hinted that he may re-open the Kaesong Industrial Complex. He was also a major architect of the Sunshine Policy under South Korea’s last liberal president. And he has criticized the ‘comfort women’ deal between Park and Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, as well as an intelligence sharing deal with Japan.

Moon’s instincts may be to push all these issues hard, but he will meet a wall of resistance, which his liberal predecessors did not. In 1998, when the Sunshine Policy was untested, it was worth a try. Today, given North Korea’s continual recalcitrance and norm-breaking – nuclearization, missilization, criminality, blatant provocations such as the sinking of the Southern warship Cheonan in 2010 or the use of VX, a weapon of mass destruction, in an airport, and so on – Moon will have to explain why North Korea is not the frightening global menace many now see it as. Why is Kaesong, which came to be widely understood as subsidizing dictatorship, suddenly no longer that? Why, if North Korea is building missiles, should South Korea not have missile defense?

Regarding Japan, Moon will likely be tougher on ‘history’ issues than Park. But here too, he will face a lot of resistance if he tries to undo the progress of the last few years. The easiest thing to do politically is attack Park’s Japan deals as conservative perfidy but leave them in place. Otherwise, his presidency will be hijacked by a return, yet again, of the Japan-Korea dispute. That was so bad a few years ago that it required direct intervention by the US president to tamp down. Moon can throw the leftist-nationalist NGOs the concession of not moving the comfort women statues in front the Japanese Seoul embassy or Busan consulate. But he likely has many other plans – chaebol reform, intelligence reform, air quality improvement, social services, North Korea – he would rather pursue than re-open the permanently stalemated stand-off with Japan.

The Center

Ahn Chul-Soo will probably lose, and he was always an unlikely candidate. A quirky celebrity businessman seeking office along the lines of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s run for the Californian governorship, Ahn briefly closed the gap with Moon as conservative voters abandoned the conservative parties. But he did not deeply appeal to them, because he markets himself as a modernizing reformer. Once he stumbled in the debates, they left him, and the gap with Moon re-opened.

If Ahn goes down in defeat, the big follow-on question is whether his centrist People’s Party will survive. It has always been, more or less, a vehicle for Ahn to run for the presidency, with only scant evidence of institution-building toward a genuine or durable party.


South Korea now has a far-left, center-left, centrist, and two center-right parties. Yet its electoral law is (mostly) first-past-the-post. Duverger’s Law tells us that this strongly incentives bipartism, unlike the multipartism South Korea has now. After next Tuesday, the two conservative parties will likely re-merge, as is already happening, and the People’s Party, with its not-so-charismatic-after-all leader in defeat, will likely dissipate over time. This would return South to a 2.5 party system (big-tent right, big-tent left, & small far-left parties). This would be yet more blandness in Korean politics – multipartism is always more exciting and interesting – but after months of confusion, some political boringness would likely be a good thing.

Filed under: Domestic Politics, Elections, Korea (South), Lowy Institute

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



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Does anybody else remember a time, long long ago, when you...

Tue, 2017-05-23 14:29




Does anybody else remember a time, long long ago, when you could just enjoy things?

You could watch a movie and just appreciate it instead of over analyzing every single scene to make sure there’s nothing remotely offensive about it.

You could have a favorite character and just like them and appreciate how great they were written and portrayed, without being told you’re terrible because they’re a villain. Even though they’re FICTIONAL and most likely were deliberately written to be likable. (Even if they were written as an evil character, I still think you have a right to like them, but maybe that’s just me)

You could love and be a fan of the actors without having to go full on FBI agent, looking into their backgrounds to make sure they are 100% perfect and had never made a mistake ever.

You could post about said actor without some busybody little fandom cop, slithering into your inbox to tell you(all too happily) that your fave is “problematic” (god, I fucking hate that word), and you’re disgusting if you still like them.

I’m in my 30’s so I remember those good ole days and it’s kind of sad to know, that most of you will never truly know how great that was. That’s a time long since forgotten. Bummer.

Yes, I remember that.

You know what I also remember?

How one of my friends was always awkwardly quiet after the rest of his friends group laughed at a ‘no homo’ set up joke. How he never laughed along when someone used ‘gay’ to describe something. I remember telling people who didn’t laugh that “it’s a joke, what’s wrong with you?”

I also remember, almost a decade after, crying happily as he married the love of his life who happened to be a man.

I remember laughing at a racist joke in a movie with my cousins, and her one black friend, her best friend, up and leaving because of it. I remember nodding along as she said “ugh, she can never take a joke”.

I remember asking my cousin about her years later and learning they never spoke after that. Ten years of friendship lost that night.

I remember sitting in a room filled with guy friends, making sexist jokes and being told I was so cool for not being as uptight as “other girls”. I remember that slowly losing its shine, and wondering why I felt more and more uncomfortable hearing that.

And then I remember who I was back then, and how I am so glad I am no longer that person.

I remember the first time I apologized to my gay friends for the jokes I used to make. I remember the first time I didn’t try to defend how I “didn’t mean to be racist”. I remember the first time I asked a guy just what is wrong with “other girls”, and how I lost some friends that day who I realized were never really my friends.

You know what changed? I changed. Through listening and understanding and admitting my privileges and faults, I changed. Now even if I try, I can’t just enjoy something that jokes at the expense of others. I cant watch someone who is unapologetically problematic in media.

I can’t enjoy these things because I realize now that their very existence hurts. That the very existence of this type of media perpetuates behaviors and ideologies that can lead to people being abused, harassed, and murdered.

And you know what? That’s a good thing. Because the more people who refuse to ingest this type of media, the less audience it has, and the stronger the message becomes that these things - racism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia, etc. - are not things to be waved off. You’re not edgy or cool for ignoring them. You’re not “uptight” by being upset by them. These are real things with very real social impact.

The reality is, there was never a time when everyone could just enjoy things. To be able to say you had that time is to admit the privilege you had at not having to think about problematic behavior because it didn’t negatively affect your life.

I don’t remember a time where I could “just enjoy things”. What I remember is a time where I was able to enjoy something by throwing everyone who could be hurt by or suffer from it under the bus.

I remember those times in MY life. And I am so fucking grateful they are in the past.

YES. Thank you for spelling this out.

Perfect response to folks that tell me to “stop being so sensitive.”


Hi, I'm Stacy. I'm from Portland, Oregon, USA, and am currently living in Busan, South Korea. Check me out on: Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Lastfm, and Flickr.


Seoulcialite Staycations: Vantage Value Hotel Worldwide High End Suwon

Mon, 2017-05-22 12:35

I’m always amazed by how small Seoul can feel for such a massive city.  While Co-Pilot lives on a military base in Korea, his cousin and her boyfriend live live and teach in Suwon!  Suwon is technically part of the Seoul subway system.  Since they’re leaving to go back to the States soon, we wanted to head down to see them.  Staying at the Vantage Value Hotel Worldwide High End Suwon was an amazing surprise and a real treat!  While we were invited guests of the hotel, views and opinions are my own.  I didn’t expect much as the name”value” typically equates to “budget”, but we were very happily surprised.

We arrived at Vantage Value Hotel Worldwide High End Suwon just before check-in time at 2 PM.  Underground parking was right around the back and was very easy to get into.  Our license plate was scanned upon entry and exit determining the amount we owed ($0 as guests at the hotel).  Check-in was as easy as it could be with a quick ID check and signature before we headed up to our corner room on the 17th floor!

We had a corner room for the night and the view day to night was fantastic.  The Jr. Suite was quite a long room with plenty of space for both Co-P and I to get some work done.  I had a few deadlines coming up and he’s working on his MBA.  Being able to work comfortably (and independently) was a huge bonus.

Having so much storage space was really convenient as we did dress up a little for dinner.  The closets were well out of the way, and we even had a mini fridge with complimentary bottled water.  We had brought some snacks for our Sunday trip and wanted to do a lot of walking.  The fridge and the water were really handy when we wanted to get up and go!  The bathroom had a great soaker tub as well as 2 shower heads.  I love the feeling of the rain shower head, but when washing my hair I need the water pressure of a regular one.  Our suite had both!  We also had a fancy Japanese toilet.  Have you ever used any of the special features?  We were too scared!

The bed was supportive – normally I’d say firm, but comfortable.  I woke up with my back feeling better than ever.  While I would have liked the flatscreen to be in the corner so we could have enjoyed TV from the bed or the cozy chairs, I did enjoy waking up and watching National Geographic in English under the covers!

Co-Pilot has a big obsession with hotel breakfasts.  The buffet breakfast included at the Vantage Value Hotel Worldwide High End Suwon did not disappoint!  There were plenty of Korean options like rice, fried eggs, kimchi, side dishes, and mandu (dumplings).  There were also the continental breakfast menu items one would come to expect from a Western Hotel experience.  They had a great salad bar and tons of fruit.  Coffee was hot and tea was available.  They even had a cereal bar!  I always love a good made-to-order omelette, and they didn’t skimp out on any toppings!  While we didn’t overindulge, we were certainly full for the rest of the day.

We checked out the gym and the terrace on Saturday and loved the amenities.  The fitness center at Vantage Value Hotel Worldwide High End Suwon was a small, but mighty, gym.  They had well-maintained cardio equipment (treadmills, ellipticals, and bikes), free-weights, and even a lat pull-down.  Some cardio equipment even had TV’s with headphone jacks.  You could definitely earn your breakfast calories with a workout here!

We found that the location of Vantage Value Hotel Worldwide High End Suwon was really central.  The convenience of being about a $5 taxi ride from Suwon Station, the downtown area (“Soju Street”), the Arts Centre, World Cup Stadium, and UNESCO World Heritage site, Hwaseong Fortress, couldn’t be beat.  The hotel is close to Everland Amusement Park and the Korean Folk Village.  These are also easily accessible by subway and by bus.

On Sunday we visited Suwon’s famous Hwaseong Fortress. Vantage Value Hotel Worldwide High End Suwon guests can actually buy tickets to the fortress at the hotel,  eliminating the need to stand in line on site.

Hwaseong Fortress was constructed from 1794 to 1796 in the latter part of the Joseon Dynasty.  The grounds make for a nice picnic or afternoon stroll.  As with most Korean walled cities, there are 4 main gates Janganmun (north), Paldalmun (south), Changnyongmun (east), and Hwaseomun (west).  While we were there, there wasn’t much to do although cultural performances are said to take place around the grounds.  I think it would be a great place to go for a run or bike ride as the fortress wall stretches for nearly 6 km.  It was built out of bricks and has strategically placed holes through which guns, arrows, or spears could fit in case of an attack.  Archery is actually taught at Hwaseong Fortress.  There don’t seem to be many safety precautions, so make sure to keep an eye out for bows and arrows!

Have you stayed at any of the Hotels in the Vantage family or even the Vantage Value Hotel Worldwide High End Suwon?  What are you favourite things to see and do in Suwon?  

Let us know in the comments!


The post Seoulcialite Staycations: Vantage Value Hotel Worldwide High End Suwon appeared first on The Toronto Seoulcialite.

The Toronto Socialite
       That Girl Cartier


How to Type in Korean - Learn the Korean Keyboard

Sat, 2017-05-20 08:26

Did you know that you can type in Korean using any old regular keyboard? Oh... you did? Well, of course you knew that!

In this new video I show you how to set up a Korean keyboard, and more importantly how to type in Korean. I'll show you the order to enter the keys, how to find them on the keyboard, as well as a few more tricks I use when typing.

Check out the video here~!

The post How to Type in Korean - Learn the Korean Keyboard appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

White Koreans: The Drink ‘The Dude’ Would Have Drank If He Lived Here

Fri, 2017-05-19 17:21
White Koreans: The Drink ‘The Dude’ Would Have Drank If He Lived Here

You’re in Korea. You love White Russians. But, damn, 33,000 won for a small bottle of Absolut at GS25? Get the GTFO out of here, good shopkeeper.

Fortunately, there’s another liquor that might get you sicker quicker, but at least it’s cheaper.

Photo hijacked from Wikimedia Commons.

Your average green-tinted bottle of soju costs about 1,500 won, give or take a Korean penny, which comes out to about $1.50, give or take an American dime. With an alcohol content between 14 (for those weak-ass flavored sojus that were pretty popular about two years ago but seem to have died down) to the punchy 21 percent your finest haraboji were shotgunning when they were young whippersnappers (and probably still drink today). They’re alcoholic enough to get you where you want to go (if where you want to go is on the floor in front of some dirty public toilet) without being strong enough to feel like you’re breathing in fire after having a shot. In short, soju is a perfect enabler for alcoholism.

Except for the fact that it kind of tastes like shit. So, let’s take care of that by adding some coffee liqueur and milk!

Using regular milk instead of cream. #healthychoices

But, since I’m so fancy, I opted for the Andong Soju they had at my local mart. It’s not 1,500 won. But, at 8,000 won, it was still far cheaper than Absolut (even if the bottle is small, shut up). And look at that ABV. There also was a 21% version for 5,000 won. But, this is probably the closest thing you’re going to get to vodka without, you know, vodka.

I took a sip of the stuff before mixing it, which could have been a mistake (but, it wasn’t!). Soju might be lazily (by me) described as kind of a watered-down vodka, but it’s really not. And 40% ABV soju is even less like watered-down vodka than the adjosshi backwash we knock back when we’re trying to stretch our hagwon paychecks through to the end of the month. Was this experiment going to work? Could I call it a “fusion recipe” and get away with it?

Let’s make a drink!


INGREDIENTS and AMOUNTS per serving:

*Fill a glass with ice. I think an old fashioned glass would be the preferred choice, but I’m already too fancy. Use what you have on hand.

*1 shot soju (don’t get one of those nasty, artificially-flavored ones. Step up your game and open that wallet just a little wider and pick up something halfway decent like the above libation)

*1 shot coffee liqueur (I bought Kahlua, which seems really expensive here in Korea at about 16,000 won for a 375ml bottle at Home plus. I have no idea how much it costs in the U.S. Everyone knows it, everyone who likes coffee liqueur seems to enjoy it. It’s like getting crappy coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts or a great, hand-stimulated drip from some independent place. It all will taste the same when it’s mixed with sugar and milk)

*Finish with milk (didn’t The Dude powdered Coffeemate? That’s disgusting! To each their own. I think really fancy White Russian drinkers would use cream, but I only had milk when I thought of this half-assed recipe)

Posted only as an excuse to show off my Icelandic Phallological Museum shot glass.

So, how was it? How did it compare to the White Russians we made too many of last year when my girlfriend and I were taking advantage of our Costco membership by buying massive 1.75-liter bottles of Kirkland vodka?

Even Dunkin’ Donuts coffee doesn’t taste like Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (read: terrible) when it’s full of sugar and milk. And, this coffee-esque flavored drink was. Not terrible. And, it didn’t taste like soju. It tasted like coffee liqueur and milk. It pretty much tasted like what we were making last year with that Kirkland vodka. Hell, maybe even “The Dude” would approve.

Insert post-ironic Big Lebowski quote here. Something about rugs, abiding or telling Donny to shut up.

If that’s something that sounds tasty to you, I recommend you give this humble recipe a try. And, if you do decide to go cheap and get a green bottle, let me know how it turns out. I assume it, too, will taste like coffee liqueur and milk.


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.

Krabi, Thailand

Wed, 2017-05-17 11:30

May 6 - 11, 2017

I flew from Tawau to Kuala Lumpur ($36 on AirAsia), KL to Bangkok ($32.35 on AirAsia), and then took an overnight bus to Krabi for 600 Thai Baht. I really like Thailand and it really is a land of smiles if you don’t violate any of the cultural norms

No particular reason to visit Krabi, but Bangkok is overwhelming and any beach was welcomed (e.g. Phuket, Koh Phangan, Koh Samui, Koh Samet). You’ll take two buses to get to the Krabi bus terminal and then pay ฿100 a person to share a ride to Ao Nang Beach. We stayed at Zabava Guesthouse (฿900/night for a Superior Double Room), a block from the beach. 

Don’t eat directly near the beach – walk or take a taxi further out. Ao Nang Boat Noodle and Ton Ma Yom are must-haves for food. Reggae Roots Rock Bar is fun for a drink and Café 8.98 is excellent for coffee + baked goods.

We booked a Phi Phi Islands tour with Nang An Travel & Tour (฿800 a person, which included the National Park entry fee). We left our hotel at 8:30am, took a van to a restaurant by the beach, waited with a large group of tourists for 2 hours, got on another van, and then got on a speed boat. We saw Lohsamah Bay, Pileh Bay, Viking Cave, and Monkey Bay from the boat. We were able to spend some time on Maya Bay (famous from “The Beach”), eat lunch on Phi Phi Don Island and visit Bamboo Island, and then snorkel near Phi Phi Don. On the ride back to Ao Nang, we saw Poda Island, Chicken Island, and James Bond Island. We were dropped off near our hotel at 4:30pm.

One morning we decided to take a long-tail boat to the next beach over (Tonsai) for ฿100 a person. The boats are powered by a simple engine on the end of a long stick. I bet it was pretty comical to watch me wade in the ocean with my backpack to get in and off the boat.

I stayed at Tonsai Bay Resort ($25.49/night), which is right on Tonsai Beach. It’s a shame that the resort has likely wrecked some of the easygoing vibes and rainforest/beach landscape – but (selfishly) it’s really awesome having a clean place with good wifi right on the beach. Wifi is available 24 hours but there’s no electricity in the rooms from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM, from May 1, 2017 to October 31, 2017. 

The best place to eat nearby is Mama’s Chicken. Get the som tom (papaya salad), pineapple fried rice, and BBQ chicken! Then, walk down to Sunset Pirate Bar for a beer + jam on guitar or drums.

If you’re into rock climbing, I’ve been told this one of the best places in the world for it. Better to bring your own gear than rent ill-fitting over-worn climbing shoes here. Deep water soloing (DWS) seems quite popular.

You can travel from Tonsai to Railay three different ways: [1] long-tail boat (but you’ll have to wait for 7 others to fill the boat as it only leaves when it’s full), [2] during high tide walk a small, rocky trail, and [3] during low tide walk along the beach and get only a little wet. 

Taking the long-tail boat from Tonsai to Ao Nang involved waiting for an hour because no one else was showing up to fill the boat, and the boat driver asking for ฿200 a person (double the original price) to complete the transaction. Yeah, whatever, dude, just get me out of here! I felt so helpless being stranded there with no other way to get to mainland Thailand.

Instead of taking the overnight bus back to Bangkok, we flew ($56/person on AirAsia). Any tour agent will sell you a van ride to Krabi Airport for ฿150 a person. Easy peasy, relaxing trip.

My New York Times Op-Ed: A North Korea “Agenda for SK’s New Leader”

Wed, 2017-05-17 10:42
A North Korea “Agenda for SK’s New Leader”

This is a local re-post of an op-ed I wrote last week for The New York Times.

Basically it is four suggestions to President Moon on dealing with North Korea. They are (mildly) hawkish arguments of the sort I routinely make here, including all my favorite hobby horses – talks are a shell game, move the capital, spend more on defense, bang away at China to cut off North Korea, and start treating Japan like a liberal democratic ally instead of a potential imperialist. Naturally a dovish liberal like Moon will adopt all these. Hooray! I anticipate a Blue House call any day now…

Regular readers have seen all this before, but it’s still pretty cool to get into The New York Times though. I figure this will be the most read thing I ever write, so I rolled out arguments I know well rather than something really new. The full essay follows the jump.



South Koreans elected Moon Jae-in as their new president on Tuesday against a backdrop of heightened United States-North Korean tensions. Yet North Korea did not dominate the campaign. South Korean voters were focused on the economy, corruption and other domestic issues like air quality. Before the voting, only 23 percent of voters said that international security was the most important issue to them.

Mr. Moon, a center-left human rights lawyer who will take office as soon as this week following the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye in a corruption scandal, is a dove inclined to start negotiations with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. His candidacy was most likely bolstered by President Trump’s tough talk against the North Korean regime, which is widely seen here as dangerous bluster.

South Korean equanimity toward the North’s threats surprises Westerners, but the South Koreans have lived for decades with Pyongyang’s provocations and, more recently, the nuclear program. Young South Koreans increasingly consider the North Korean menace a fact of life. South Korea’s vulnerability to a devastating attack from the North — Seoul’s northernmost suburbs begin just 20 miles from the demilitarized zone — adds to the sense here that the South should do everything it can to avoid war.

An overture from the incoming Moon administration to start talks with Pyongyang should be made with caution. Engagement with North Korea has a mixed, if not poor, record, and new talks would be more effective if started from a position of strength. It is vital that Mr. Moon pursue policies to decrease his country’s vulnerability to attack, while dangling the possibility of talks. Beijing and Washington are key to any deal with North Korea, but Seoul can do a lot on its own.

South Korea spends only 2.6 percent of its gross domestic product on defense. To strengthen Seoul’s negotiating position, Mr. Moon could indicate he will spend more on military preparedness. Civil defense (preparation of the civilian population for North Korean urban strikes), improved pay for conscripts, more intelligence, homegrown missile defense and stronger cyberdefense would help make up for Seoul’s military vulnerabilities.

South Korea and Japan could work together much more to show a united front. Such coordination is undercut by persistent tension over the history of Japanese colonialism in Korea. South Korea’s historical concerns with Japan have legitimate roots, but there is too much exaggeration — such as routine suggestions in the media that Japan is remilitarizing with designs on Asia — and not enough recognition that modern Japan is a liberal democracy and a potential ally against the North.

Seoul and Tokyo should agree to avoid separate deals with the North and reject Pyongyang’s efforts to play them against each other. Mr. Moon and his left-wing base are hostile to a recently signed South Korea-Japan intelligence-sharing pact, but he should consider that South Korea benefits from it more than Japan. Military cooperation in adjoining air and sea spaces would be ideal.

To further improve South Korea’s position, Seoul and Washington need to persuade Beijing to reduce trade with North Korea. Pyongyang is dependent on China for resources and access to the world economy. Cutting off North Korea would slow the nuclear and missile programs, and a reduction in luxury imports would put pressure on the regime elite.

Beijing is already obligated to enforce the existing sanctions against Pyongyang but does so haphazardly because it fears a North Korean implosion. Mr. Moon should work with Beijing to reassure its anxieties over a post-North Korean order, including the possibility of United States forces on the Chinese border, which prompted Chinese intervention in the original Korean conflict in 1950.

Given Seoul’s vulnerability to attack, Mr. Moon should also do much more to encourage the decentralization of the country away from the Seoul area. Fifty percent of South Korea’s population lives in the Seoul-Gyeonggi-Incheon corridor — 26 million people in a space roughly the size of Connecticut, directly abutting the border. The South Korean presidential residence is only some 23 miles from the demilitarized zone. It is long overdue for the government to start halting Seoul’s uncontrolled growth.

Previous efforts to move the capital have failed. President Roh Moo-hyun tried unsuccessfully to move it 75 miles south to Sejong City — though some government ministries and administrative departments have relocated there since 2004, showing decentralization is possible. There are also tax and regulatory incentives in place for South Korea’s conglomerates, like Samsung and Hyundai, to relocate out of Seoul, but many remain centered in, or directly adjacent to, the city.

The South Korean government already intervenes heavily in the economy. Why not do so to encourage more dispersed settlement?

South Koreans have seen it all from the boy who cried wolf to the North and know what to expect from a third iteration of the Kim dynasty. What no one knows is what Mr. Trump will tweet next. South Koreans don’t know whether Mr. Trump realizes just how vulnerable their country is to attack. But despite their differences, Mr. Trump and Mr. Moon now have a chance to build on their countries’ decades-long alliance.

Filed under: Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, Korea (North), Korea (South), Media, Moon Jae-In, North Korea & the Left, Nuclear Weapons

Seoulcialites: Dr. Tony Garrett, Kiwi Chamber

Tue, 2017-05-16 14:15
What originally brought you to Korea and what do you do here? 

I arrived in Korea 10 years ago, after taking up an academic position at Korea University Business School.  I did not know much about Korea, but I did know the schools here have a great academic reputation, and KUBS is one of the leading ones.  I have lived in other parts of Asia before, Japan, Thailand and Singapore, so when I saw an opportunity to take up a contract position at KUBS – I thought why not!  After two years I applied for a tenure track position – and that has led me to my current position as Associate Professor of Marketing.

KUBS is a fantastic school within KU.  They are truly global, with a number of international faculty, a large number of international students, exchange and regular.  Around 65-70% of the program is taught in English.  I am regarded as regular tenure track faculty – which is means that I am, for all intents and purposes, integrated! 

What’s your favorite thing about living in Korea?

 This is not an easy question to answer.  There are many things.  Generally, I love the people.  The people make a place and I have made a great group of friends, both Korean and foreign.  I am also lucky to work with a great group of colleagues.

The thing that I love about Koreans particularly is they want to be the best!  I think, like many other foreigners I know, sometimes that the way they go about it is not the way we would do it, however I cannot but admire overall tenacity of some of the people I know.  This is especially the case among the people I am around every day – my students.  They have worked so hard when compared to many of their counterparts in other parts of the world.  They are energetic and enthusiastic.  This leads to a very dynamic community.

Of course I also love the food, the culture, and history!

What’s your favorite thing about Seoul?

My favorite thing about Seoul, is living in a large cosmopolitan city with many things to do – but with the convenience of a village.  I love the fact that I can easily go to a world class show, a music performance, a gallery etc., and have all the amenities of a world class city.  I also love that within meters of my apartment building there are small eateries supplying a whole range of delicious local and international foods.  I can just pop out to eat or get something without getting into a car.  If I don’t want to do that – ask for delivery!

Do you have a favorite memory of your time here?

My favorite memory shows the full measure of Korean people’s hospitality.   I remember not long after having arrived in Korea, I was eating alone near my University.  I decided to go to a local restaurant and order.  A group of locals were sitting nearby and got to chatting with me.  They asked me who I was with, and if I would like to join them.  Our communication was limited.  My Korean was non-existent and their English was marginal, but we managed to communicate.  The evening went from eating, to a bar, and then to a norae-bang.  It was the first of many great nights to follow – they remain my friends.  Although one could say that this not all that special, it was to me, as these people  friends did not need to go out of their way for a lonely middle-aged waygookin (foreigner).  They did, with no expectations for anything in return.  This is a great memory.

NZ Wine Festival 2016 c/o Korea Herald Tell us about The Kiwi Chamber and your role as chairman. 

The Kiwi Chamber, aka New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Korea was founded 2008 with the central mission to facilitate business opportunities for New Zealand and Korean companies and individuals by creating support networks that enable them to promote, protect and advance their respective commercial interests in each other’s countries.  Post the ratification of the FTA between NZ and Korea, our role has changed to really promoting the opportunities that NZ and Korea provide each country.

My role of Chair is work closely with the Board, Advisors and our Executive Director to facilitate the activities of the Chamber.  I can honestly say that I am very lucky to have a very capable and active Board.  This makes my life much easier.  My key responsibility is to make sure NZ and NZ business in Korea is kept top of mind in all avenues.

What does the chamber offer its members and how does it stand out in Korea?

The Chamber runs a range of events and activities each year. Events such as the annual wine festivals, breakfast forums (Inspire with Innovation Series), workshops and other networking opportunities (Huis) are organized to meet our objectives.  The Chamber also works with other organizations on community outreach activities such as Songjukwon Orphanage, a female orphanage (with the ANZ and with the kind assistance of the NZ Embassy and the Grand Hyatt).

Many of the objectives of our chamber match those of others.  We work closely with the Australian and other Commonwealth Chambers on a number of events and activities.  I like to think that the Kiwi Chamber channels the personality of New Zealand in its activities.  We are relaxed and not too hierarchical – we take things seriously, but try not to take ourselves too seriously. 

Tell us about The Kiwi Chamber New Zealand Wine Festival. Why is it special and what makes it different this year? 

We are holding the New Zealand Wine Festival events on Saturday, May 20 from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the beautiful Waterfall Garden of the Grand Hyatt Seoul and on Saturday, June 3 from 6:30pm to 10:30pm in the Grand Ballroom at the Park Hyatt Busan. This year’s festivals, the ninth in Seoul and the fifth in Busan will offer wine-lovers an array of premium red and white wines from around 25 vineyards.   More and more wines are being featured at this event, as the wine industry is one which has taken advantage of the benefits of the FTA.  NZ is now the 10 largest exporter of wine to Korea and we have seen 31% growth.  This means that the wine connoisseur can now more easily find NZ wine.  What great events to discover our wine!

This year’s theme is “Wine from the Other Side.” The theme encourages wine cognoscente to take a journey across the equator from the hustle and bustle of Korean big city life to the other side of the world where the air is clean, the water is pure and the wine is exceptional.

We want keep the traditional New Zealand style at both events.  The two hotels will offer a first-class New Zealand-themed culinary experience coupled with the finest service, including a superb outdoor BBQ-style buffet in Seoul and exquisite tapas buffet in Busan.

We will also feature lucky draws with many outstanding prizes, including one economy return ticket to New Zealand for each event from sponsor Singapore Airlines.

You can get more information about the events from!



The post Seoulcialites: Dr. Tony Garrett, Kiwi Chamber appeared first on The Toronto Seoulcialite.

April 27 - May 4, 2017I’ve been told that Sipadan (off the east...

Tue, 2017-05-16 11:30

April 27 - May 4, 2017

I’ve been told that Sipadan (off the east coast of Malaysian Borneo in Sabah) has some of the best scuba diving in the world, so I wanted to make a trip out there. Also, I had an Open Water certification, but wanted to move towards Advanced. You can’t stay on Sipadan Island but resorts will take you there and a friend recommended the diving resort, Scuba Junkie, so we went there. They have reasonable rates for diving.

It’s quite a trip to get out there. I flew from Lombok to Kuala Lumpur ($41.34 on AirAsia), spent the night in KL ($24.23 at Hotel Soleil), and then flew to Tawau ($36 on AirAsia). Then, there’s a long van + boat ride, but Scuba Junkie will take care of you from Tawau Airport to Mabul Beach Resort (15km way from Sipadan). I really don’t recommend staying in Semporna – but you will need to get cash there or before arriving as there are no banks or ATMs on Mabul Island.

Right when you arrive to Mabul Island, you can walk the long jetty that runs to the shore + resort. The local Bajau people live on one side of the jetty which can be a stark contrast the luxury you’ll have of the resort of catered meals and beautiful dives - but I highly recommend walking around the island and buying snacks in town! It’s great to see children playing. 

All rooms include three daily meals plus afternoon snack, tea, coffee, and water. Rooms are simply decorated but clean and spacious, located just a few meters from the beach where you can swim, snorkel, dive, or simply sun bathe. Sometimes I felt a bit lost about where I was going and what was happening, but I learned that it was best to go with the flow and smile through the confusion.

The staff were all friendly and the dives were incredible. If you book accommodation so late that Scuba Junkie doesn’t have tickets for Sipadan (because they only allow so many on the island a day), walk around to the other dive resorts and pay cash for one of their tickets. We found a few resorts (e.g. Billabong, Uncle Chang, Borneo Divers) that had extra tickets for a premium price (848 Malaysian Ringgit a person for three dives with equipment). It’s the best diving I’ve ever experienced and you gotta do it if you’ve gone all that way!

The 6 Best Online Courses for Learning Korean

Mon, 2017-05-15 23:40
The 6 Best Online Courses for Learning Korean

If you’re in the process of learning the Korean language, you’ve probably already considered all of the obvious ways that knowing Korean will enrich your life, like the fact that you’ll be able to watch Korean dramas without subtitles, or listen to your favorite k-pop songs and know the meaning! Plus if you choose to visit South Korea you won’t need a dictionary or phrase book to get around.

After learning Korean, they have no trouble finding their way

Learning Korean will ultimately open a door into another culture for you to experience — suddenly you’ll have access to a whole new world of movies, books, and conversations that you didn’t have access to before!

Although these reasons make learning Korean worth it, the learning process can sometimes feel frustrating if you run into an issue with understanding a word or phrase. Luckily, these days learning a language doesn’t have to be difficult — nowadays, with online courses at your fingertips language learning resources are extremely accessible to learners at all levels. And many aspects of Korean are very easy to learn from your home, like the Korean alphabet. With the click of a mouse and a couple of keystrokes, you have access to hundreds of websites and blogs whose express purpose is to make your learning journey a piece of cake!

Learning has never been so convenient and easy!

There’s no need to visit Seoul right off the bat to learn the language — help is everywhere. With the hundreds of resources on the internet, it can be difficult to determine which resources will be a good fit for you, especially because everyone’s learning style is different.

*Ready to learn Korean yet? Click here to learn about our 90 Day Korean learning program!

Read on for a list of our favorite Korean learning courses available, and be sure to let us know if we are forgetting any in the comments below!

** Please note: these courses are in no particular order! We love them all equally. **

Online Course #1: FluentU

Some of the most successful language learning resources focus on real life material rather than material recorded expressly for the purpose of teaching a language — by exposing learners to movies, songs, and TV show clips right off of the bat, learning stays interesting to the viewer (and gives them a chance to use their new language skills right away). FluentU uses this method, and it’s no wonder that they’re so popular!

FluentU is comprised of multiple mini language lessons that highlight present day media to teach the Korean language. This can help keep their audience from getting burnt out — as soon as you feel like tuning out and taking a break, an interesting Korean drama clip or movie trailer will pop up and make the lesson exciting.

FluentU is accessible to all levels of Korean learners — they have beginner lessons that will teach you the absolute basics and get you introduced to the language, and then as you progress they have a wide selection of intermediate and advanced lessons that will follow. FluentU also keeps track of your interests as you go along and will show you clips that match those interests, so it’s a truly personalized learning approach.

There’s a FluentU iPhone app, so your learning doesn’t have to stop when it’s time to put your computer away. Check out FluentU for a fun, accessible Korean learning method that everyone is talking about!

Online Course #2: Udemy

If you’re just getting started with learning Korean and you need a solid overview of the basics of the Korean language, Udemy has a course called “Learn Korean! Start speaking now!” that is a great foundation to the ins and outs of Korean.

The intro course spans five hours, but it’s approachable because it’s segmented into over sixty mini lectures that teach you a couple of words or grammatical rules at a time. This is perfect if you’re the type of learner that needs to take breaks throughout a study session — because the lectures are so short, you won’t need to pause anything and worry about picking up where you left off later. You can just take a break in between lectures and get started on a new topic when you’re feeling ready!

Check out Udemy if you’re not a big fan of learning Korean from books and prefer a video interface. The site itself is very easy to navigate, and the content of the mini lectures will build the foundation that you’ll use throughout your learning journey.

Online Course #3: Seoul National Education Center

If you’re learning Korean, today is your lucky day — Seoul National University, one of the best universities in South Korea, has its very own Korean learning course that you can begin today!

This online course is a great supplement to any language classes you happen to be taking. The courses are well structured and cover topics ranging from vocabulary to syntax to conversation, so there really is a little bit of everything and all of the basics will be thoroughly covered.

The course itself consists 20 free courses that will help you cultivate your basic understanding of the Korean language. One of the best parts of the course is the follow-up questions that pop up after each part of the course is completed — when you’re able to check your knowledge and understanding at the end of each segment, it’s less likely that you’ll forget material or progress to the next course until you are confident in what you’ve learned.

Check out Seoul National Education Center’s course if you’re interested in learning Korean from a prestigious university. You can even download the audio clips to review whenever you’re on the go, so there are truly no excuses for not keeping up with your studies!

Online Course #4: Loecsen

If you’re more interested in learning phrases and basic conversation than you are learning about Korean language structure, Loecsen is the online course for you! Loecsen is perfect for anyone who needs some familiarity with the Korean language for a quick trip but isn’t looking to commit the hours required to become fluent in the language.

Unlike some of the courses on this list, Loecsen only has 15 lessons (which may come as a relief!) that cover the basics required for Korean conversation. While you’re going through the 15 lessons, you’ll cover everything from ordering at a bar, what to do if you injure yourself and need to talk about medical information, and how to tell a taxi driver where to take you. All of the lessons are extremely pertinent to day to day conversations. To help you remember vocabulary words, Loecsen will ask you to match audio clips of words to their written form and a picture that represents the meaning. Pretty cool, huh?

If you’re planning a trip to Korea sometime in the near future and you need a crash course to help you navigate the country and enjoy your trip, consider checking out Loecsen to help make you comfortable with speaking basic conversational Korean. The site even has quizzes you can print out to make sure you don’t forget anything!

Online Course #5: Sogang Online

If you’re searching for an intensive course that will help you dive into the nitty gritty aspects of the Korean language, Sogang is the course for you! Whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been studying Korean for a while, Sogang will have lessons available for you in their vast database.

Sogang courses are challenging but extremely rewarding — the courses use media ranging from audio to fun animations to keep learning exciting for you. Keep in mind, because these courses are more intensive than many Korean learning courses out there, you should be prepared to give them your full attention. These definitely aren’t courses that work well playing in the background as you’re multi-tasking — because they pack so much information into such a brief time, it’s best to take notes!

Check out Sogang if you’re interested in eventually becoming fluent in Korean. These courses will help you achieve that goal quickly!

Online Course #6: 90DayKorean

90DayKorean is a course specifically designed to get you speaking, reading, and writing Korean as soon as possible with no previous experience required. We make sure that we figure out what your personal goals are as you get started with our program, and you have a personal coach that checks in with you and sees where you’re at in relation to those goals as you progress through the program.

At 90DayKorean, we’re big fans of the “learn at your own pace” philosophy — if a course is moving too slowly, you’ll get bored, and if it’s moving too quickly, you’ll feel overwhelmed. Both of these outcomes mean you’ll be less likely to stay committed to your learning method. We’ll send you weekly lessons, but you can move through them at a pace that’s right for you. If life gets too busy to commit hours a week to learning, it’s not a problem! You can wait until you’re less busy and then pick right up where you left off and keep moving through the material.

Obviously we love our course and have great things to say about it, but we are firm believers that you should do some research and decide what course best fits your needs before diving into the learning process. If you find a course that’s a good fit, you’re way more likely to see it through to the end and get the most out of it!

Have you started learning Korean online? What are some courses you really enjoyed? Share with us in the comments below!

Learn to read Korean and be having simple conversations, taking taxis and ordering in Korean within a week with our FREE Hangeul Hacks series:

Korean lessons   *  Korean Phrases    *    Korean Vocabulary *   Learn Korean   *    Learn Korean alphabet   *   Learn Korean fast   *  Motivation    *   Study Korean  


Please share, help Korean spread! 



Eastasy: Whoo Spa & O Hui Skincare

Mon, 2017-05-15 21:27

I was recently invited to Whoo Spa in ritzy Sinsa right across the street from Garosugil by a company called Eastasy.  They partner with brands and experiences across Asia and offer massive discounts.  After a whirlwind weekend in Taipei, I was definitely due for a massage.  The experience I had at Whoo Spa was very thorough, as is my breakdown!  Leave any questions in the comments and I’ll get back to you shortly…

Whoo Spa Atmosphere

Whoo Spa (formerly O Hui Spa) in Sinsa dominates the VVIP spa service space in Korea.  They are very popular because they use the most up to date technology to stay current for their clients.  They have a variety of K-Pop Stars and famous American and Korean actors (Kim Tae-Hee and Shin Min-A use O Hui) who visit due to the great service and tucked away location.  They also sell a vast array of high-quality, exceptional skincare products made from South Korean natural medicinal herbs, from luxurious brands such as OHUI, Whoo, and SU:M 37Clients get 25% off products the same day as their service.  Make sure to check out Eastasy for a wicked deal on packages!

The Whoo Spa Treatments

I opted for the Aroma Resfresh Care package (100 minutes).  This package includes a basic facial accompanied by an aromatherapy body massage.  The facial was anything but basic!  It started with a soft, peeling cleansing.  Then, was followed by an exfoliating, deep cleansing, bubbling facial.  I got a face slimming massage, too, which included a decolletage massage.


I was upgraded to the ICE care, which is good for brightening and moisturizing.  This is very similar to a Vitamin C procedure I’ve had previously.  They also offer hot care (for anti-aging), pore tightening, and aqua peeling (generally for patients with acne).  Once my ICE treatment was over, a facial ampoule and an essence was applied, then secured with a molding facial mask pack.  After that, there was revitalizing care before I went on my way.  My back and shoulders were massaged using products from the Gongjinhyang line.  It containes ingredients such as ginseng and cordyceps (a popular fungus used in ancient Chinese medicine).  Throughout the majority of the facial, they places electronic leg and foot boots on and I was treated to a full body experience for the entire two hours.

Personal Preferences

Usually I’m pretty tense when I go for a massage.  I work out quite a bit and lift heavy weights (and all kinds of children daily!).  When I was in Thailand I found that when I asked for medium pressure it just wasn’t enough to get the knots out.  On my questionnaire I still put medium, but the pressure was a lot stronger than I expected.  My masseuse was not shy at all, and whenever she neared my lower back or decolletage I could tell there was certainly no modesty in this treatment.  I would have preferred not to be on a plastic sheet, but I totally understand their hygenic needs.

Whoo Spa Seoul Massage

There were several areas of my body that could have used very strong pressure: my calves, ankles, and lower back.  I felt like she kind of skimmed those areas focusing primarily on the upper back, middle back, shoulders, and traps.  They needed a lot of attention, but I was much more sensitive in those areas.  I also got a hand massage.  I didn’t realise that I needed one, but it was heaven!

Whoo Spa Seoul Aromatherapy

The aromatherapy aspect of the treatment is not what I expected, and I was glad.  Usually the scents are fairly strong and irritate my allergies.  The earthy, yet still sweet smells were pretty mild.  I got whiffs of honey, lemon, and oaky notes.  If you’ve read my Vineworks Korea article you’ll notice my nose isn’t always spot on, but these pleasant frangrances were neither sickly sweet, nor heavy on the Chinese medicine.  I would likely use them at home, too.

My masseuse used plenty of warm towels (bordering on hot) at the beginning and end of the treatment.  I always want to roll around in warm laundry fresh out of the dryer (I miss dryers living in Korea!) so they felt amazing.  They were also the perfect way to get any additional oils off before changing and heading home.


Whoo Spa Seoul Facial

My facial was longer than I expected because of the facial massage and surprise upgrade (thank you!).  In terms of the steps, they were pretty similar to what I’ve experienced in the past.  My bubbling, cleansing facial was very effective, however it wasn’t as itchy as I normally find they can be.  I normally have to stay very still or risk 15 minutes of agony wanting to scratch my face.  This was fine.  The ICE facial was a lot colder than I expected.  They placed a cream on my face.  They then pressed a flat, cold, metal plate in circular motions across my whole face.  At some points I questioned the necessity of the low temperature.  They told me this particular one was good for moisture.  They recommended it to me as apparently my skin is quite dry and sensitive.

Whoo Spa Aftercare

After my 2 hour treatment whizzed by (I totally fell asleep throughout the molding facial), I was taken to a reception area where tea and a small pastry was waiting for me.  The Whoo Spa manager explained that it was very important to rehydrate the skin within a couple of days.  She presented me with 2 samples of Su:m37 ampoule, and a sheet mask from their “white awards” brightening series.

Directions to Whoo Spa (formerly O Hui Spa)

The Spa itself is tucked away across from Hak-dong Park.  It took me a little while to find, so allow yourself plenty of time if you’re not taking a taxi.  They’re open 10:00am-10:00pm, Monday to Sunday.

From Sinsa Station (Seoul Subway Line 3)

Take Exit 1.  Walk straight and turn right before you reach Yeongdong Tourist Hotel.
Continue walking and look for the spa on your left.

From Hak-dong Station (Seoul Subway Line 7) 

Take Exit 6 Walk straight and turn right on the second street.
Continue swalking straight and you’ll find the spa on your right-hand side.

Image c/o Super Seoul

Big thanks to Eastasy for inviting me to relax my body and revive my skin at Whoo Spa in Sinsa, Seoul, Korea.  This article is in partnership with Eastasy, but all opinions shared with regards to Whoo Spa are my own.  Explore Asia through Eastasy: click here for all kinds of deals on experiences and accomodations in Korea and beyond!

The post Eastasy: Whoo Spa & O Hui Skincare appeared first on That Girl Cartier.