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The 4 Best Korean Beauty Products For Under $20

5 hours 38 min ago

If you’re planning on visiting Korea, you’re in luck — not only is Korea full of amazing cities, magnificent sightseeing, and delicious Korean food, it’s also home to some of the best makeup and beauty products that money can buy. In Korea, using makeup and making sure that you have the best makeup is a huge part of popular culture for both men and women (that’s right — it’s super normal for men to wear makeup in Korea!).

While Korean beauty products are considered the best of the best, they’re not particularly expensive. Most beauty products that you’ll find in stores can be purchased for less than $20, which means you can stock up before you return home. And there’s plenty of options for buying Korean makeup if you’re in Korea!

Thanks to the internet, you can also buy Korean beauty products from the comfort of your own couch without leaving your apartment. If you choose to go this route, however, you should be aware that there is a seemingly infinite number of Korean beauty products on the internet, and some of them are better than others.

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Let us help direct you to the best of the best — use this article as a guide to the best Korean beauty products on the market and your face will thank you later. Read on, and happy shopping!

VDL Lumilayer Primer 3D Volume Face 30ml, $15

If you wear foundation, then you know how necessary primer is. Primer acts as a buffer between your skin and your foundation, and it gives your foundation an even surface to sit on top of. Without it, blemishes are visible and your skin texture can look uneven.

That being said, there are of course good primers and bad primers — bad primers will leave you oily or will cause your foundation to flake off, while good primers will have leave your makeup looking perfect all day. This VDL Lumilayer Primer is one of the best out there, and will ensure your foundation looks flawless even after a sweaty day.

Most comparable primers made in the United States like the Smashbox Photo Finish Primer retail for over $30, but this VDL primer is only $15. Order it today and you won’t look back!

Check out VDL Lumilayer Primer on Amazon!

Dermal Korea Collagen Essence Full Face Facial Mask Sheet, 16 Combo Pack, $7.90

Yes, you read that correctly. If you’re familiar with sheet masks, you know that they’re all the rage and that they can cost a pretty penny. If you were to walk into Sephora and purchase an individually packaged sheet mask, it would run you $5-6 easy. Keeping that in mind, it’s an internet miracle that the Dermal Korea Collagen Essence sheet masks are fifty cents a mask!

The low price of these masks is not enough to get them on a list of best Korean beauty products on its own, however. Not only is the price of these masks super approachable, but they’re rated 4.5 stars out of 5 with over 2,000 reviewers weighing in. Clearly, this company is doing something right!

If you’re a lover of self-pampering after a long day or a long week, order this 16 pack of sheet masks and you’ll be all set for a while. You may even have to consider increasing your frequency of use with prices this low — why not?!

Check out Dermal Korea Collagen Essence on Amazon!

TONYMOLY Panda’s Dream So Cool Eye Stick, $12.00

Have you ever put chilled cucumber over your eyes to reduce swelling redness? This cure for puffy eyes seems to be as old as time itself, and it can do wonders for helping you look less stressed and tired if you have a couple of minutes to lay down.

What if you don’t have time to lay down, or if you don’t have a cucumber on hand? Sometimes, you need the ability to fix your face on the go, and there are surprisingly few inexpensive beauty products out there that can help soothe puffy eyes.

This amazing eye stick by TONYMOLY will do exactly that for you. All you need to do is uncap, swipe under your eyes or on your eyelids, and you’ll instantly have a refreshing cooling sensation wash over your eye area. Not only is it one of the best Korean beauty products out there, but it’s also shaped like a panda — what could possibly be better than that?

Pick up one of these eye sticks if you want to carry something on you for puffy eye relief or if you’d just like to have a beauty product in your bag that will make you say “awww” every time you look at it. It’s currently Amazon’s #1 New Release, and will become available at the above link on August 30!

Check out TONYMOLY Panda’s Dream So Cool Eye Stick on Amazon!

MIZON Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule – Anti Wrinkle, $9.44

If you haven’t used this anti-aging and anti-scarring serum by MIZON, don’t knock it before you try it just based on its description. Yes, this serum contains snail mucin as one of the main active ingredients. Yes, that may sound terrifying. But, truth be told, you can’t tell that there is anything that sets this serum apart from other serums while you’re using it — the consistency and smell are the same as most over-the-counter anti-aging serums.

You don’t notice a difference from other serums at first during the application, but you will almost immediately after you commit to using it consistently. MIZON has done an amazing job creating a lightweight, easy-application product that can help significantly reduce the appearance of even the most stubborn lines, wrinkles, and acne scars.

While it’s primarily advertised as an anti-aging serum, you should consider taking a leap of faith and trying this serum out if you have any facial scars that you’re uncomfortable with. Using this consistently will help fade their appearance in no time!

Check out MIZON Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule on Amazon!

Please note: some of the descriptions that Amazon uses for these products are hard to read because they’re roughly translated from Korean. Check out our 90 Minute Challenge and familiarize yourself with Hangul so you’re one step closer to reading the descriptions of beauty products in Korean instead of the rough translations!


What are some of your favorite Korean cosmetics and other products? Let us know in the comments below!


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The post The 4 Best Korean Beauty Products For Under $20 appeared first on 90 Day Korean.

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Study Tips to Learn English Faster: Become Fluent Quickly and Easily

8 hours 32 min ago
Study Tips to Learn English Faster

What would it mean to your career or studies to be able to speak and write more easily and fluently in English? How about understanding more of what you read and hear? The 200+ tips and habits in Study Tips to Learn English Faster: Become Fluent Quickly and Easily are designed to help you improve your English quickly and easily, and help you become fluent.

About the Authors

Jackie Bolen and Jennifer Booker Smith have nearly thirty years experience teaching English to students in South Korea and from around the world. In this book, they have organized the advice they have given students to help them reach their English goals from improving a test score, to getting a job, to giving business presentations in English, and much more!

Learning English doesn’t have to be terrible and boring. It doesn’t have to tedious and frustrating. It really is possible to have fun while become fluent with these more than 200 study tips. Check out the book, pick a few tips that will work for you, and then get started with improving your English.

Get Study Tips to Learn English Faster Today Study Tips to Learn English Faster: Become Fluent Quickly and Easily Price Disclaimer

Pick up Study Tips to Learn English Faster: Become Fluent Quickly and Easily today and get started. Improved English skills are in your near future! Get a better job! Be able to study abroad. Find an English speaking boyfriend or girlfriend! Watch English movies or TV shows without subtitles.

Are you ready for some English speaking, reading, listening, and writing awesome? Are you excited about improving your communication skills, or improving your TOEFL, IELTS, or TOEIC score?

Then head over to Amazon and pick up your copy today. It’s available in both digital and print formats. The (cheaper) digital one can be read on any device. You just have to download the free Kindle reading app. It’s easy to do and will only take you a minute.

Check out the book for yourself today:

The post Study Tips to Learn English Faster: Become Fluent Quickly and Easily appeared first on ESL Speaking.

Jackie Bolen: How to Get a University Job In Korea


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Study Tips to Learn English Faster: Become Fluent Quickly and Easily

9 hours 27 min ago

Study Tips to Help you Improve your English Skills There are many reasons why you might want to improve your English skills. Perhaps it’s to get the job of your dreams where being fluent in English is a necessity. Perhaps you want to travel abroad for a vacation, or to …

The post Study Tips to Learn English Faster: Become Fluent Quickly and Easily appeared first on My Life! Teaching in a Korean University.

Korea This Week: Stinko Gingkos, BIFF Liberation, & Solo CEO's

Mon, 2017-10-16 15:50
Korea This Week: Stinko Gingkos, BIFF Liberation, & Solo CEO's Stinko Gingkos

Along with the changing foliage and increased incidence of the exclamation “Chueo!” (“[I’m] cold!”) in Korean discourse, one of the telltale signs of fall around the peninsula is a pervasive smell that has often been likened to a melange of rancid butter, vomit, and gym socks.

The annual olfactory assault is the product of the rotting fruit of gingko trees, which are a common sight in cities around Korea, particularly Seoul, where gingkos comprise some 40% of the trees planted in the city. When the fleshy coat surrounding the seed begins to rot, it produces butyric acid, which is not coincidentally also present in rancid butter, vomit, and body odor (and by extension, gym socks).

Many local governments combat the smell by sending crews to pick up the nuts, and they encourage citizens to do the same, as the seeds, once they are removed from the coat, roasted, and paired with a cold lager, are actually quite delicious.

Slate recently ran an interesting piece on how so many cities ended up with so many lovely but gag-inducing trees, and it’s very much worth reading if you find yourself, as I do, cursing city planners every October.

Gingko berries after laying around for a few days. Be grateful you can’t smell this photograph. Film Festival Finding Its Old Groove

The Busan International Film Festival kicked off last Friday with it’s usual pomp, low cut dresses, and unofficial world records for camera flashes per second, as stars from the Korean and international movie firmament descended on Busan Cinema Center for the opening film, “Glass Garden”.

This year’s festival, the 22nd, marked a return to normal after three years of political struggle stemming from the 2014 decision by the festival organizers to screen the film “Diving Bell”, which leveled harsh criticism at President Park Guen-hye’s handling of the Sewol ferry disaster. The decision to screen the film, despite governmental efforts to block it, resulted in the blacklisting of many actors, filmmakers, and writers, the slashing of the BIFF budget, and other forms of official retribution.

The air of tension surrounding recent festivals seems to have largely lifted this year amid a much-changed political climate that has seen the impeachment of President Park and the jailing of several aides involved in the blacklisting of artists critical of her administration.

The Busan International Film Festival runs through October 21st. Check out the BIFF website for the program and other information.

The 20th BIFF opening night at Busan’s Cinema Center. Recent Festivals were marred by tension between BIFF organizers and the government. Everybody Wants to Rule the World

According to an OECD report on entrepreneurship cited by a recent Joongang Daily article, Korea has the 4th highest number of one-person businesses among the 38 countries surveyed. The article notes that the trend may be partly explained by Baby Boomers who open small shops as a form of retirement plan.

I also found myself wondering whether it was connected to the more general recent trend of Koreans eschewing the crowd and doing more things – including eating, drinking, and traveling – by themselves.

Interestingly, the article refers to anyone who runs their own business as a “CEO”, which thus would seem to refer to the head of any operation, from a multinational corporation down to a hot dog truck. This novel extension of the meaning of CEO also jibes with several years of anecdotal evidence gleaned from conversations with university students, a large number of whom have listed “CEO” as their desired occupation.

With all these CEO’s, I often wondered, who is left to man the shop? Apparently, the answer could very well be: they are.

Hyundai CEO Chung Mong-koo speaks to a group of Hyundai non-CEOs.

And how was your week?

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‘Manwon’ Food Budget a Day

Sun, 2017-10-15 01:39
‘Manwon’ Food Budget a Day

Recently a blogger from the Philippines shared her expenses in touring Korea, and her post drew flak for claiming that in her 5-days-and-4-nights of stay here, she spent only 12,000 pesos (around 235 dollars). She was able to purchase a 3,000-peso roundtrip ticket (around 59 dollars) from Jeju Air, paid 3,120 (around 61 dollars) for her 5D4N stay at a guesthouse and survived with a ‘manwon’ budget on food everyday (That’s barely 450 pesos or 9 dollars!).

The price of the ticket may come as a shock to many of us who know how expensive it can be to travel overseas, but this extremely tight budget is possible for travelers who wait patiently for promo tickets from airlines such as Cebu Pacific, Jeju Air and Philippine Airlines and are lucky to get that most coveted ticket. A couple of years ago, I was able to buy an inexpensive roundtrip ticket in Cebu Pacific, but the cheapest I got was about 6,000 pesos (117 dollars).

Guesthouses, on the other hand, can be low-priced if the room is shared by a group.

What stupefied readers the most was the blogger’s budget on food. I feel kinda sorry for all the bashing she got from those who have lived in Korea for years and know how much the food really costs here, but I’m not siding with her either. Personally, I think she should have given more details of her budget or at least tried to explain what the ‘manwon’ lunch and dinner included since she was encouraging Filipino travelers to visit Korea with minimal budget. On the contrary, I think bashing someone for sharing a memorable experience is a bit out of hand.

Now, is it really possible to survive a day with that ‘manwon’ food budget? As someone who has lived in Korea for years and has eaten almost every Korean food there is (except poshintang or dog soup), I’m telling you it is possible… but only if you don’t eat like a horse!

If you’re on a ‘manwon’ budget in Korea, what can you eat for lunch and dinner?

I’m going to name a few:

Street food ~ PRICE: from 500 to 3,000 won (23 to 137 pesos)

Everybody knows that street food is cheap anywhere in the world, but here in Korea, there are tons of mouth-watering and satiating street food to try. Some can be healthy, too. Two or three sticks of hot odeng or fish cake, for example, can squelch your hunger for more or less 3,000 won, like what my tourist friend did when he was starving from his walks around Seoul. There’s barbecue and sausage that you can buy for 2,000 – 2,500 won a stick. Pig-blood sausage may sound disgusting, but sunde is a must-try. An order will not cost you more than 3,000 won. Heck, there’s even tteokbokki you can enjoy for 500 won a cup!

Kimbop (rice rolls) and other bunsik food ~ PRICE: 1,500 – 5,500 won (68 – 250 pesos)

Inexpensive Korean food like kimbop, ramyon, tteokbokki, twigim, etc. can be bought in bunsik or bunsik jib (snack restaurants). Kimbop may be considered street food, but this is a common snack for Koreans when they go on a picnic or a meal for Koreans who are always on the go. The country is teeming with kimbop restaurants that sell various kinds of rice rolls: tuna, kimchi, cheese, bulgogi, even tonkatsu! Don’t waste your money on cheap kimbop from convenience stores though, because they’re nasty! If you go to a kimbop restaurant, you can have soup and side dish, usually yellow radish, for free. Some kimbop restaurants have kimbop and udon set for 5,000 to 5,500 won.

The two dishes I’m going to mention next can be found in the same restaurant.

Pyohejang guk (beef bone stew) ~ PRICE: 7,000 to 8,000 won (319 – 363 pesos)

This spicy version of nilagang baka, short ribs and vegetable stew in the Philippines, has everything you need in a meal: lots of meat, vegetables and steamed rice which is served separately. You will also get two or three side dishes which is a common thing in Korea when you order a meal.

sundae guk (blood sausage soup) ~ PRICE: 5,000 – 8,000 won (227 to 363 pesos)

In the Philippines, we have dinuguan (pork blood stew). In Korea, they have sundae guk (blood sausage soup). The first time my husband ordered sundae guk for me, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, but I ended up finishing the whole bowl! When you eat sundae kuk, you won’t even know you’re eating soup with blood sausage in it, unless someone tells you. The blood sausage is prepared so well that you won’t even smell anything out-of-the-ordinary and there’s no rancid aftertaste. Just like pyeohejang guk, sundae guk is served with steamed rice and side dishes. If you like exotic and spicy food, you will enjoy sundae guk.

Not-so-spicy sundae guk for 5,000 won

Spicy sundae guk for 7,000 won

Noodles are quite affordable, too, and they are delicious. Besides, ramyon and jjampong which are popular in the Philippines, you may want to try…

Jjajangmyeon (black noodles) ~ PRICE: 3,500 to 5,500 won (159 to 250 pesos)

This noodle is actually Chinese food, but since it is widely popular in Korea, you can find it anywhere. They even have a day called “Black noodles’ Day” for single men and women. Jjajangmyeon is tasty and filling. The sauce has got bits of pork and onion, and it’s topped with thinly-sliced cucumber. This one is served with yellow radish and some onions as side dishes.

Naengmyon (cold noodles) ~ PRICE: 5,000 to 7,000 won (227 to 319 pesos)

Another filling dish that is popular in Korea is naengmyeon. It’s basically thin, chewy noodles served with icy soup, sweet chilli pepper paste, a slice of egg and some radish or cucumber. There are two kinds of naengmyeon. If you’re not into spicy noodles, go for mul naengmyeon, the one that is served with icy broth. If you like it spicier, go for bibim naengmyeon, same ingredients but served with no broth.

This is how you sip your neangmyeon broth. ^^

(Cheap) Hansik buffet PRICE: 5,000 (227 pesos)

Yup, you heard me right, buffet for 5,000 won… but this isn’t the kind of buffet that has it all. The food served in these kinds of buffet are Korean food that you can find in a typical Korean home. I’ve been to two cheap hansik buffets, one in my area in Namyangju and the other in Guri. I didn’t fancy the food, but for the price of 5,000 won, what can one expect? The food, however, was enough to sate my hunger. These types of buffet are frequented by workers and students.

Convenience store doshirak or bento (lunchbox) PRICE: 4,000 to 6,000 won (182 to 272 pesos)

When my husband stayed at the hospital with me, he survived for three days on bento meals from the covenience store. I have also tried them. These bentos are not that bad. Most convenience stores in Korea have a microwave oven where you can heat up your bento.

These are just some of the food you can budget your manwon with here in Korea. There are plenty of meals you can actually have for 450 pesos (9 dollars) or less, but you’ll be missing out on all the delectable dishes Korea has to offer if you will tour this country on a very tight budget. My advise, as a former tourist in Korea, is to save enough money to enjoy Korean cuisine. You don’t have to spend much. A 20 to 25 dollar food budget a day will be enough. With that kind of budget, you’ll get to enjoy grilled meat, drinks, authentic traditional Korean food and more.

From Korea with Love



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코스 3-3 | Course 3-3 from 갈맷길 365: A Year of Movement

Sat, 2017-10-14 13:50
코스 3-3 | Course 3-3 from 갈맷길 365: A Year of Movement

If you like trekking on rocky coasts, this course is the one for you. It’s a lot of up and down, but incredible views are around every turn and the natural beauty of Busan is abundant. I started at Yongdusan Park 용두산 공원 in the middle of Course 3-2 and did my best to follow all the cultural highlights in the Nampo area 남포동. It wasn’t marked almost at all and I did a half-hearted rectangle around Ggangtong Market 깡통시장 and Jagalchi Seafood Market 자갈치 before crossing the Yeongdo Bridge 영도대교 and entering the small town vibe on the island of horses. Although this is part of Busan, it has a unique history of being used strategically by the Silla kingdom 신라 and later the Japanese for cattle grazing and horse ranching.

It officially starts under the Namhang Bridge 남항대교, but don’t be confused by the stamp stand being a ways away at the start of the Jeolyeong Coastal Path 절영해안산책로. From Yeongdo Bridge to Namhang Bridge, the path is mostly city port streets and then city parks. The coastal path is a well-maintained walker’s paradise and generally quite busy with families and elderly couples. There is very little in the way of restaurants, cafes, and shops so pack a sandwich and enough water. I had to go off-course and up the steep stairs to forage for a mart. I ended up finding one open and ate some packaged ‘maple’ bread like it was a piece of heaven. Don’t make the same mistake!

At the end of the Jeolyeong Coastal Path, you have no choice but to hike a set of rainbow stairs and then wonder where to go. Galmaetgil, what galmaetgil? should be the subtitle of this course. I mostly threw out the map and just followed the coastline until the endpoint at Taejongdae 태종대. I’d been here before with a few groups of friends and knew the way well enough. It’s also my favorite kind of path – rocky coastline. It reminds me of my childhood in Maine looking for tiny creatures in tide pools and eating lobster rolls at Two Lights State Park.

It was unbelievably sunny and hot for an October day and I was pretty much done with trekking by the time I got to Taejongdae, but the path says to go around the park for about 45 minutes so I did. I faithfully got my final stamp at the Taejongdae Lighthouse and felt a moment of pride. There were a lot of families there for the Chuseok holiday and a man even asked me where I got my Galmaetgil Stampbook. I love when Koreans ask me for some information or directions in Korean as if that were the most natural thing. I look like I belong here and that I can give them the information they need. Like most everyone else, I just want to fit in.

Course 3-3, plus the Nampo bit that I had to complete, turned out to be about 17 kilometers and just over 4 hours. I found parts of it grueling in the hot sun and wish I had worn long sleeves to get more sun protection. Despite my ajumma hat and 2 sunscreen applications, I ended up quite like a Maine lobster.

Galmaetgil 365
A year of movement


Do You Need HANJA to Speak Korean? + Interview with Koreans

Sat, 2017-10-14 01:31

HANJA (한자) are Chinese characters that are occasionally used today in the Korean language. Originally, over 60% of the Korean language comes from Chinese characters. You can find them in places such as signs and newspapers. But these days, the overwhelming majority of written Korean contains no Chinese characters, although the words themselves still originated from them. Chinese to Korean is like Latin to English, so knowing the meaning of root words can definitely be helpful when understanding new words and phrases.

So does that mean that Hanja is mostly useless for learning Korean? I'll give my personal opinions on the topic, as well as the opinions of some Koreans I asked.


The post Do You Need HANJA to Speak Korean? + Interview with Koreans appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.




Video of Author Panel w/ Michael Breen, Jeffrey Miller, & John Bocskay

Fri, 2017-10-13 09:13
Video of Author Panel w/ Michael Breen, Jeffrey Miller, & John Bocskay

A discussion of contemporary Korea with authors Michael Breen ("The New Koreans"), Jeffery Miller ("Bureau 39"), and John Bocskay ("Culture Shock! Korea"), moderated by Steve Feldman, and followed by audience Q&A and book signing. 

Accidental Island

Thu, 2017-10-12 11:34

I had gotten on the wrong boat.

I purchased a ticket to Binjindo—the most famous of the islands of Korea’s Hangryeo Marine National Park–but instead boarded a kind of a multi-island sea bus transporting the venerable inhabitants to the villages dotting a handful of the other islands, where they scratched out a living from farming, the odd bit of tourism, or whatever the sea managed to provide. And as it was the last boat of the day, there would be no getting to Bijindo.

Instead I took in a deep lungful of the clean, salty air and reminded myself that many of my best travels have been the result of mishaps, happy mistakes that forced me to veer off the path. Surely Bijindo wasn’t the only island worth visiting. The hand of the universe seemed to be nudging me in another direction. Who was I to push back?

I reminded myself that many of my best travels have been the result of mishaps, happy mistakes that forced me to veer off the path.

After several stops we arrived at our boat’s final island, Yongchondo, where I was told that I could find some accommodation. I strode off the pier and into the village of Hodu (“walnut”), a cluster of small structures huddled together on an isthmus between two main landmasses. The houses were squat and sturdy—uber-quaint hanok and more homely, modern abodes–clumped together and hunkered down against the relentless island elements. Narrow footpaths acted as the village’s streets, and aside from one van parked at the harbor side, there wasn’t a car in sight,. This probably had to do with the fact that, save a single shore road heading out of the village, there was really nowhere to drive.

Downtown Hodu

Soon I found Hodu’s one place of commerce, a house with a hand-drawn sign reading: “Convenience Store. Minbak.” I roused the owner–a woman who sported the tight perm ubiquitous to the Korean ajumma. Even in her late 50’s, she was surely one of the youngest residents of the village. Korean islands, it seemed, were a very geriatric affair.

The woman led me out the door and escorted me to my minbak (a kind of no-frills homestay). She peppered me with the usual questions as we walked (“Where are you from?” “Are you married?”), and I politely lobbed back my well-rehearsed answers. She was surprised to have a customer in late February. I got the impression that Hodu managed to escape the tourist footprint even at the height of the summer season. In fact, other than my accommodation, I only saw one other minbak in the whole village.

“Do foreigners ever come here?” I asked.

“No. Never,” she said, laughing. “You’re the first I’ve seen.”

Hodu’s other minbak

After unloading my bag into my minbak, I set off, winding my way through the narrow alleys of Hodu. The little homes were nearly all painted white, though the wind and saltwater air had done their best to strip away the coating, revealing scrapes and splotches of grey concrete underneath. The more prosperous places had tiled roofs of blood red or bright blue, while the simpler huts had to settle for corrugated metal.

As quaint is it may have appeared, Hodu was still a working village, with implements of marine labor piled and stacked up in any available space. This usually took the form of thick grey ropes, coiled like gnarled worms, or giant, clunky styrofoam floats. In between some of the houses were small plots of cultivated land, home to sprouting green even in late winter. These little fields were fenced in by low walls made up of stacked stones, lending the village a rugged, almost medieval look. For a moment I felt like I could be on the coast of Normandy, New England, or even Greece. It seems that old sea villages share some of the same characteristics world over. They’re often stony and tough, obstinate places standing in defiance of the punishing elements that surround them.

Like their Japanese neighbors, Koreans have a taste for seaweed of all kinds. February must be prime harvest time for miyeok, the darkish kelp served up in birthday soups across the peninsula, since all around the village the locals were gathering, washing, and drying the stuff on the ground or on racks. It was a miyeok explosion, with the skin of the sea plant hanging from rope lines everywhere, blowing in the ocean wind like ragged clumps of hair. As I made my way to the harbor, I spied an old man hanging up huge strands of the stuff. As I approached, he stopped his work and met my eyes.

I offered a shallow bow, as well as a formal greeting, but he just cocked his head and stared, taking me in with an inscrutable gaze. It would be a stretch to call these islanders friendly, but they weren’t exactly hostile, either. They just had no idea what to make of me.

I left the village behind me, strolling up the tiny coast road, whose surface was in disrepair, cracking and crumbling from erosion and disuse. On one side was a wall of rock topped with trees; on the other, the sea.

As I made my way up the road I came upon an abandoned school in a clearing below. The dirt lot in front of the empty building was littered with piles of rubbish, making for a thoroughly ugly scene. I was suddenly saddened by this school. It had been made useless by time, abandoned by the students themselves, who grew up and sensibly emigrated off the island in pursuit of a modern life. Now there were no young people left. The building had outlived its usefulness and now just sat as a neglected, hollowed-out museum of trash.

The young people left long ago. Who will be around after the old are gone? Is it possible that much of this country’s rural heart will just be abandoned, left for nature to reclaim?

I’ve traveled extensively in the Korean countryside, and it is shocking to consider just how aged the rural population really is. Children only appear as visitors, while the local residents are deep elderly–all hunched backs and lined faces. The young people left long ago. Who will be around after the old are gone? Is it possible that much of this country’s rural heart will just be abandoned, left for nature to reclaim?     

As I approached the island’s second village–a larger settlement lacking the cozy splendor of Hodu–I noticed another, even smaller road, leading up inland to my left. A sign reading “POW Camp” pointed up that way, so I turned off the main track and hiked up the rise, passing through fields of high grass home to a family of bleating black goats. At the top was a clearing with another sign, indicating the physical location of the camp. During the Korean War POW, camps were set up on many of these southern islands, as water makes for the best guarantee against escape. As I scanned the clearing around me, I could make out little remaining infrastructure of the camp itself, other than a half collapsed wall and a round depression in front of me that had served as the foundation of a building of sorts. These ruins looked much older than sixty years old and did little to impress, since there was so little of them to take in. Still, they got my imagination rolling. I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d been the first foreigner on this island since the last American soldier left in 1953.

I made my way back to my minbak in Hodu, but this time over the spine of the island. I followed the road, which was now a dirt track, up toward the main peak of the island, into Yongchodo’s deep pine woods. As I pressed on, I heard the sudden snapping of branches to my right, catching a glimpse of a deer bounding off into the underbrush. I had seen deer on a couple of other occasions on the peninsula, but still felt my heart stop.

Taking in larger wildlife is a rare thing in Korea; any time it happens the moment must be savored. That’s exactly what I did, and it paid off, for just five minutes later I scared up another, this one a buck, and pretty massive by Korean standards. He blazed down the side of the mountain in a frenzied crackle, crushing any brush in his path. By the end of my little ascent I had stumbled across two more – more deer in one hour than I had seen in more than a decade in the country. And the best part was, since climbing up from the second village, I hadn’t come across a single human being. I’m sure they would have just gawked at me anyway.

The road soon dissolved into a hiking path, which itself disappeared under the cover of the forest. The only thing marking the ascent was a series of orange tape pieces tied to the tree branches and shrubs, stubbornly visible in the dissolving light. I pressed on, sweating hard under my thick winter jacket and fleece, almost running up the mountain in a race with the sinking sun.

Soon I found myself at the top, where I gasped to catch my breath and took in a partial view through the trees. I bundled up against the piercing winds and looked out to sea, where I noticed a squall some miles out, a black cloud streaking into the churning waves. The storm obscured the sun, whose final rays arced through the fringes of the dark mass in incandescent blasts. Beyond that I could see Tongyeong, with its fat mountain and string of cable cars, and in the other direction, right there across across the water, the twin rises of Bijindo, which would just have to wait until next time.


Trump, Naturally, is Making this the Weirdest North Korea Crisis Ever

Thu, 2017-10-12 03:04
Trump, Naturally, is Making this the Weirdest North Korea Crisis Ever

This is a re-post of something I wrote for the Lowy Institute this month. In short, Trump is not only making this rolling semi-crisis more dangerous, but weirder too. US presidents don’t talk like vengeful Old Testament prophets, ratings-seeking reality TV stars, or children taunting their siblings, but I guess they do now. *sigh*

I spoke at the New Yorker Festival of Ideas last week on North Korea. I said then that if Trump would simply get off Twitter, there would be a noticeable step down in the tension our here. By extension, I mean he should stop ad-libbing scary, off-the-cuff remarks like the ‘calm before the storm.’ I did the best I could to explain these sorts of remarks here, but honestly, I wonder if he really even grasps the scale of his office. Today’s preposterous comment on the US nuclear stockpile suggests he doesn’t.

My full essay on how Trump is changing this NK crisis from the usual pattern is below the jump.



In the ten years I have lived in South Korea, I cannot remember a North Korea crisis like this. Usually these events stem from some obvious North Korean provocation, such as the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan in 2010 or the landmine attack of 2015. There then follows a set of steps all but ritualized at this point: a UN Security Council meeting followed by sanctions; a declaration of alliance solidarity so well-trodden I could draft it myself; a demoralizingly head-in-the-sand call from China for ‘calm’ on all sides; outlandish counter-rhetoric from the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) about aggression its ‘sacred’ sovereignty; and South Korean (and Japanese) media frustration on how to hit back. And not to forget that requisite Western media hysteria about imminent war. Then everyone sorta forgets about it for awhile until the North throws another tantrum.

A lot of this is playing out again this time too. But US President Donald Trump, as is his wont, is upsetting yet another ‘establishment,’ although not obviously for the better. Here are five lessons to date from the weirdest ever North Korean crisis:

1. When US Presidential Leadership is Poor, it becomes the Defining Variable of North Korean Crises.


No one would have thought to say this a year ago, because usually US presidents have been admirably responsible in dealing with North Korea given how dangerous it is. But Trump, with his own KCNA-style rhetoric, is adding a whole new variable, or rather, activating one we never really thought to consider before. There seem to be at least five explanations floating around on cable and social media for his behavior: 1. He actually means what he is saying. 2. He is trying to divert attention away from domestic challenges like the Mueller investigation of his Russia activities. 3. He is pushing back against John Kelly and his own staff, because he instinctively resents direction. 4. He is is trying to bait North Korean leader Kim Jong Un into a casus belli-worthy provocation. 5. He is just mentally overwhelmed by the office and saying whatever comes tumbling through his head. Whatever your choice, the recklessness of Trump’s nuclear threats is astonishing. It is no longer an exaggeration to say that the biggest variable in this crisis going forward is Trump’s own psychology.

2. The North Koreans will Match Trump Insult for Insult.

This should not actually come as a big surprise. If you follow North Korea, you know they are prone to over-the-top commentary. This is the reason the Korea analyst community has encouraged Trump not engage KCNA round-for-round in this war of words. Most knew it would turn into an undignified food fight, and so it has. Trump cannot win. The North will say anything it has too. It is not constrained by typical diplomatic niceties. It referred to US President Barack Obama as a monkey, and previous female South Korean President Park Geun-Hye as a prostitute. It is only a matter of time before KCNA creates a nickname for Trump, starts mocking his hair, or picks up on the common left-wing critique that Trump is mentally ill. This would all be childish and irrelevant, except that psychology, like Trump or Kim’s own anger, paranoia, anxiety, and so on, is increasingly driving this contest.

3. The Western Media Risks Complicity in a Panicked March to War.


Last month I argue for Lowy that the disjuncture between Western, especially American, media, and South Korean media on North Korea was inexplicably large, with the Westerners far more alarmed than South Koreans. This continues to be the case. Most recently, the North Korean earthquake that turned out to just be an earthquake got far too much speculative attention that it might be yet another nuclear test before it was disproved. I also continue to notice the large gap between Korea experts brought onto the networks and the networks’ own in-house panels of generalist journalists and commentators. The latter are almost always more alarmist and hawkish than the former, who almost uniformly seem to think this crisis need not tip into a conflict. I find Fox, especially “The Five” show, to be the most egregious on this.

Reaching to established contributors is cheap and convenient, but this is such a serious topic that TV producers should think twice about defaulting to Washington generalists. The run-up to the Iraq War similarly failed to tap the expert community deeply enough, and the crisis this involves nuclear weapons. There are a lot of very good Korea experts out there, and they do not get nearly the airtime they should compared to generalist journalists and pundits.

4. China is Still the Key


There is growing acceptance that the China track has failed, but it is still the most realistic way achieve some cap on the North’s programs which does not involve the huge risks of air-strikes, or the huge concessions required by talks. Probably the smartest thing Trump has done on North Korea to date is push China hard. Yes, it has not worked out well, but the alternatives are all so poor, I find all the criticism of this track curious. China’s economic leverage is established – critical oil exports, recipient of 92% of North Korean exports, banking access, and so on. That leverage is vastly preferable to the other two options – conflict or talks. Airstrikes have well-established risks and should only be an absolute last, preemptive resort if Northern missiles are actually fueling. Airstrikes could easily ignite a spiraling regional conflict. Talks are similarly a weak vehicle. The North Koreans will demand huge concessions now. They have nuclear weapons and have endured months of Trump’s taunts. They will ask for so much, that the South and the US will almost certainly demur. So if hawkish military alternatives are too risky, and dovish negotiations sure to flim-flammed by the North, what is left? Sanctions, missile defense, and other unilateral actions will buy us time, but they will not cease or cap the programs. Only China has the economic weight to really punish the North. China’s tolerance for NK shenanigans – up to and including a fusion weapons on an ICBM – is much higher than almost anyone expected. But I see little alternative but going back to them yet again.

5. South Korea is being Sidelined.


This may be inevitable given the character of the US president. Trump cannot help but make events about himself, but his shenanigans are nonetheless pushing South Korea out of the loop. When I discuss this crisis with my students, the questions mostly circle around Trump and his Twitter feed, not their own government. The Korean media even has a term for this – ‘Korea passing.’ This is obviously bad all around. It is South Korea who will bear the brunt of any North Korean retaliation, as well as the massive burden of unification, plus the catastrophic costs of any American nuclear strike against North Korea – because North Korea would almost certainly collapse in the wake of that, and South Korea would then inherit the blast zone(s). South Korean President Moon Jae In may be a dove, but Trump the hawk is dominating the debate. Secretly though, I imagine, a fair number of South Koreans do not really mind. Support for unification has declined over the years, and anxiety over its costs is high. North Korea’s weirdness and backwardness is deeply off-putting for a country that wants to join the modern world. Unfortunately, the South cannot escape the North’s shadow. When it falls apart, the world will look to South Korea to clean up the mess whether its wants that burden or not. If Trump obscures the South’s primary responsibility for the North by seemingly taking over the issue from them, he is only making things worse when the North Korea burden inevitably returns where it belongs.

Filed under: China, Korea (North), Korea (South), Trump, United States

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



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Korea Made Me Love My Body – I’ll still get Breast Implants!

Tue, 2017-10-10 22:43
I’m Considering Breast Implants

Even Though Korea Made Me Love My Body

Before coming to Korea, I read plenty of articles about how Native English Teachers felt they weren’t beautiful enough to live in Korea.  I work in Apgujeong (the ritzy part of Seoul) and see plenty of women with rhinoplasty or breast implants.  I see men and women who have taken full advantage of the plastic surgery capital of the world.  Ashley Perez, a Cuban/Filipino/Korean-American BuzzFeed celebrity wrote the first article I read on the topic.  Kayla McColl was another blogger from the early days who I found while looking for places to find protein powder in Korea.  She’s documented how her eating disorder began at home but intensified in Korea as she became a bikini fitness competitor.  I think she’s removed a few of the articles that had me concerned and has replaced them with stories of how she turned it all around.

Breast Implants and My Fitness Journey

At 5’8″ and about 215 lbs, I was one of those “she’s got a pretty face, but…” characters.  I was terrified that I’d get to Korea and be called a monster.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been called names by kids and adults alike, but those actually began when I was approaching a healthy weight.  I’m not a small woman by any stretch of the imagination.  I’ve worked very hard to learn about nutrition, develop fitness plans (including weight lifting and cardio…ugh, cardio…), and how to balance it all with a social life.  Weighing in around 160 lbs now, I’m strong and confident in my fitness accomplishments in Korea.  One thing (or a pair, in my case) is missing.

** Want to see the “before” pictures? Click any of the fitness links above ***

Top 5 Reasons Women Consider Breast Implants

Motiva (the brand of breast implants I’ll be getting) has included a list of the top 5 reasons women consider breast implants, and I have to say that they’re pretty spot on.  While only 3/5 reasons currently apply, the parameters surrounding my breast augmentation make this surgery a no-brainer for me.  I’ve worked hard to improve my body, but as those fitting room pictures will show you – I’m flat as a board.

My Doctor at TL Plastic Surgery (near Apgujeong Station exit 5) understands my reasons and my goals.  Dr. Yim Joonghyuk understands that I’m not a Dolly Parton wanna-be.  For me, this isn’t “go big or go home” breast implants.  The goal is to correct my shape and feel more feminine overall.  Furthermore, I don’t want back pain or anything else inhibiting my fitness goals.

I also can’t thank Mona and Dean at Seoul Cosmetic Surgery enough!  This dynamic duo truly understands the unique needs of a foreigner in this type of situation.  Dean has the contacts, language skills, and business clout, while Mona has the experience, business ethic, and femininity to understand my needs.  They both work together seamlessly to ensure the needs to the patient are met while consulting with the clinic.   I feel safe in their capable hands.

Breast Implants – To Look Better

Well…duh, right?  Growing up, I always thought that I would just…fill out later.  I was always a bit of a late bloomer.  My teeth came in late, my period too, and I didn’t lose my baby fat until I was well into university.  I thought my breasts were the same.  Turns out I have constricted breasts.  Also known as “tuberous breasts” (thanks, Doc), this congenital abnormality is thought to affect 1 to 5 per cent of breast augmentation patients.  If everyone’s look like mine (sad puppies) I can understand why!  I’ve never had any “false advertising” complaints, even though I’ve worn a padded bra my entire life.  I would imagine most men and women with this condition let it go under the impression they just have crappy tits.

Increase Positive Self-image Perception

“We all know we have to love ourselves the way we are, period. We are unique and perfect already, and that is something that women considering breast augmentation need to understand before even going to the procedure. So first, you have to love yourself, and realize that a breast augmentation can improve physically the beauty you already own. When we feel in our best we increase our self-esteem and of course, our perception of our image and gain high confidence in the way.”

I’m not sure I could have put this better myself.  I can run circles around Seoul and do squats til failure, but nothing is going to make “Wit” and “Candor” grow except weight gain or pregnancy.  I’m avoiding both.

Correct Uneven Breasts

Most women have asymetrical breasts, but mine are kind of on another level.  While both small, my right breast is significantly smaller than my left.  This makes buying everything from bras to bikinis to ballgowns a hassle.  Some places (rarely in Korea!) will let you buy a small top and medium (er…sometimes large) bottoms.  When you’re working with two entirely different cup sizes, you’re not just in hot water at the beach.

About Motiva Implants® Silicone Breast Implants
  • State-of-the-art shell design that results in a strong and durable breast implant.
  • Exceptional elasticity for ease of insertion and smaller incisions.
  • Ultra soft, form-stable filling gel for optimal shape retention and feel.
  • The most complex and advanced range of implant projections to meet the expectations of both the surgeon and patient.
  • Specialized choice of surface texturing, without the use of foreign materials that can damage the implant shell.

Motiva Implants® SilkSurface™ and VelvetSurface™ are unique surfaces obtained without the use of foreign materials like salt or sugar, with a controlled process designed for a better biocompatibility. Additionally, these nano-surfaces promote a more natural interaction between the implant and the surrounding tissue, allowing the implant to better adapt to the normal movement of the breast.

A New Kind of Confident

Korean beauty standards didn’t propel me to change who I am.  This country has enabled me through time and financial flexibility to achieve personal goals.  In Busan, I had the time to develop a fitness routine and the stamina to continue while navigating a much busier schedule in Seoul.  Going to jimjilbangs (Korean baths) and seeing how little Korean women care about letting it all hang out gives me the confidence to do the same.  Taking care of my skin properly and being open to botox has allowed me to look in the mirror and see the girl I’ve always been (rather than the old hag I saw in Osaka).

Plastic Surgery in Korea

I understand that for some Koreans there is a sad reality accompanying some plastic surgery procedures.  Competition in the job market is fierce, and some will go under the knife to get a leg up over similarly qualified candidates.  That’s not the case in my unique, and yes – privileged, position.  Motiva breast implants are designed for active, confident women.  They even have a section on their blog dedicated to post-op fitness.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: nobody has ever complained about the size of my breastsI’ve only personally felt less feminine because of them.  I may not be the woman I’ve always wanted to be (physically, emotionally, of career-wise), but I’m well on my way.

The post Korea Made Me Love My Body – I’ll still get Breast Implants! appeared first on That Girl Cartier.

The Toronto Socialite
       That Girl Cartier


Frequently asked Questions about Everything Korean PART 1

Tue, 2017-10-10 00:38
When I started this blog a couple of years ago, I vowed to myself that I will never ever abandon it no matter how busy I am… but I couldn’t keep that promise. Now that I’m back to blogging, I … Continue reading →

Korea This Week: October 2nd – 8th

Mon, 2017-10-09 15:57
Pop Still Eating Itself

A Korean lawmaker has recently charged Chinese content producers with plagiarizing Korean television programs. The Korea Times piece notes that the increasingly “brazen” plagiarism is occurring on the heels of the Korean government’s decision to install the THAAD missile defense system, which China opposes and which led to a series of boycotts that included Korean dramas and other pop culture content.

Korea watchers will feel their irony sensors tingling, as Korean pop culture producers and entertainers have often come under fire for improperly borrowing other people’s work, as was allegedly the case with three out of the seven new TV programs reviewed by just two days ago.

Various accusations of plagiarism against Korean artists, students, and academics are disappointingly easy to dig up. Korean rocker Jeon In-kwon was accused of ripping off a German song last April; 200 Korean professors were busted for copyright infringement in a major scandal in 2015, after passing off books by other authors as their own; and plagiarism was detected in 1,500 college admission essays in 2016, though the actual number is believed to be higher if one includes the practice of ghostwriting.

If the issue is not one of plagiarism per se but of the “brazen” way in which work is pilfered, Chinese content producers might do well to heed the example of K-Pop boy band Seventeen, whose Billboard-charted single “Don’t Wanna Cry” bore an uncomfortable similarity to “Something Like This” by The Chainsmokers and Coldplay. Rather than merely plead innocence, they last week pleaded innocence and added Chris Martin et. al. as co-copyright holders to stave off a potential lawsuit. Progress of a kind.

Full disclosure: this photo is being used without permission. The Kim Young-ran Law, One Year Later

In September of last year, The Improper Solicitation and Graft Act (commonly known as “The Kim Young-ran Act”, after the Supreme Court justice who proposed it), went into effect in Korea, aimed at reducing common and culturally-sanctioned forms of bribery like gifts and meals proffered to public servants, teachers, and journalists.

One year down the track, the law seems to be having an effect, according to recent polls cited by the Korea Herald. The one-year-old law, which places limits on the amount of money that can be spent on meals (30,000 won), gifts (50,000 won), and wedding/funeral cash gifts (100,000 won), has reportedly had an effect on restaurants, flower shops, and gift-set retailers, many of whom have scaled prices to comply with the law and/or have reported declines in sales.

Critics say that the spending limits are set too low, and place unreasonable restrictions on legitimate expressions of gratitude and goodwill. It has been frequently noted that the law has affected gift-giving culture, an important part of many holiday traditions, but which also often straddled – and crossed – the line into bribery.

On the plus side, some parents and teachers have reported feeling less stress as a result of the law, referring to the long-standing practice of showering teachers with gifts in order to secure extra attention for particular pupils, while many Korean companies have seen their entertainment expenses drop significantly, as the space for legally-compliant wining and dining has diminished.

Prior to the law taking effect, many restaurants, like this one in Seoul, highlighted items whose price fell under the 30,000 won limit. Goodbye, Super Chuseok (Who Could Hang a Name on You?)

Super Chuseok has come and gone, and the nation goes back to work tomorrow after an unprecedented 10-day break. Though the holiday was hoped to spur domestic spending, record numbers of Koreans opted to take the opportunity to vacation overseas.

For foreigners in Korea, Chuseok can likewise be a mixed bag. One recent Korea Herald piece spoke to the loneliness experienced by many foreign wives, as well as the stress of preparing for the holiday in a culture that still often expects women to shoulder the main burden of shopping, cleaning, and cooking for large numbers of people on major holidays.

In a recent Korea Times editorial, Emmanual Yi Pastreich laments that Chuseok is losing is central character, as it shifts from a contemplative holiday centered around gratitude for one’s forebears, into one more focused on consumption. His characterization of the new Chuseok actually reminded me of a certain American holiday that involves turkey, sofas, and football games:

          “Now the holiday has become a celebration of consumption: eating food, and then eating more food. The children watch television and adults gossip about forgettable topics in a desultory manner. Not a word is spoken about the past and little attention paid to the details of the food itself or even to each other. The spirit of reverence and of thankfulness has been lost.

In our household, Chuseok is neither the best of times, nor the worst of times, but this year it was certainly relaxing, if slightly marred by US President Donald Trump vaguely hinting at war with North Korea. Some things, alas, will never change.

And if anyone missed the (admittedly reaching) reference in the title of this segment, here it is, in all its mournful glory.

And how was your week?

코스 3-1, 3-2 | Course 3-1, 3-2

Mon, 2017-10-09 12:13


Course 3-1 and 3-2 are city courses. Think sidewalks and city stairs and steep, ridged concrete. Since Busan was mostly spared from the physical destruction of the Korean war, the way is windy and narrow and veers as people did more than 100 years ago. We came across a hill with a special name and a placard to explain that it was “Going to market Hill” 장고개 as in this was the hill that people climbed to go to Busanjin Market 부산진시장 back in the day. We also got to see the famous ’40 steps’ 40계단 where Korean war refugees searched for loved ones near Nampo Station 남포역. So far, this course has been the most historically interesting. A lot of the shops we passed were decades old with that particular font and most of the people in the neighborhoods were also along in years. It was a stark contrast from Course 2 which highlights the newer and richer area of Busan.

Course 3-1 starts at the end of Course 2, Oryukdo Skywalk 오륙도 스카이워크, and then ends around the Busanjin Market 부산진시장. It was well-marked with small signposts and the occasional ribbon until the UN Memorial Cemetery UN 기념공원. I got lost in the cemetery and just kept walking west until I got to the Busan Museum 부산박물관, which was not open at 8 am when I got there starving. Fortunately, this was where I met up with Sara, my Spanish friend from my time in Jeonju, and she offered me a banana. Combined with a convenience store sandwich, we pressed on in the rain using her phone map for the tricky spots where we couldn’t find the way. I wish it was better-marked and also more accurately!

On course 3-2, it’s so much up and down on the city stairs which are steep enough to reach out and touch with your hands. It would be a wild sled ride down in the winter and I bet the residents are very cautious on the four days of the year when it gets icy in Busan.

The issues with marking continued and I’ll probably contact the powers-that-be at some point to offer my ribbon-hanging services. For example, we were following the spray-painted seagulls on the pavement and we ended up down several flights of stairs before we couldn’t find anymore. The arrow was just wrong and we had to just go back up and use the phone map to figure it out. Also, the stamp stands 도보 인증대 are pretty hard to find in a few locations and I just gave up looking. Half of me wants to just enjoy the walk and observe all the little things that I’d miss on a bus or in a car and the other half wants to stick to the ‘route’ and ‘complete’ the trail.

Sara and I got to Nampo Station and called it a day even though we hadn’t gotten to the end of Course 3-2 at Namhang Bridge 남항대교. In terms of restaurants, cafes, and bookstores, Nampo is the best. The end of Course 3-2 is relatively in the middle of nowhere – not even a CU in sight.

Course 3-1 and 3-2 ended up being just over 23 kilometers and about 5 hours of walking. I would recommend it only to people interested in Busan history and people wanting to see the slower-paced city life that lives and breathes in these neighborhoods.

Seoul Food: Bali in Mangwon

Sun, 2017-10-08 18:07

Bali in Mangwon

It’s no secret that Bali is high on my list of places to sink my teeth into once my final contract in Korea is complete.  I had no idea I’d get my wish so quickly (and literally) this Chuseok vacation!  Bali in Mangwon is a “Surfer-made Balinese food & drink” stop a hop, skip, and a jump away from Mangwon Market in Mapo.  Years ago I read how getting stuck in Mapo meant you were far from the heart of Seoul.  Now that The Soul of Seoul has so kindly shown me around, Mapo may just have stolen my heart (and Seoul).

Hallie owns and operates The Soul of Seoul as a blog and runs tours of the city (contact:  Thankfully, as a friend and fellow dreamy cafe-lover, I got the best of what was open in Mangwon during the holiday!  According to Hallie, Bali in Mangwon constantly has a line right out the door.  When we passed by there were a couple of groups waiting for it to open, so we stuck around too and got the first table.

The interior of Bali in Mangwon has calm, beachy vibes.  It’s entirely different from the weathered feel of the side-street on which it’s located.  Mangwon is full of personality.  Tons of street art and colourful walls brighten up the area. Bali in Mangwon Menu

Having eaten my weight in Nasi Goreng on my summer vacation to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore,  I was eager to give it a go in Seoul.  Everything sounded right up my alley translating what I could understand from their primarily Hangeul menu.  The server spoke English pretty well and Hallie’s Korean is far superior to mine, so we went ahead and ordered based on recommendations.  We ordered the Nasi Goreng with Chicken, Padang Ayam Green Curry, and Bakwan Jagung.  I had never tried Balinese food, but the menu seemed to be a perfect combination of Malaysian and Thai flavours.  Certain menu items are only available for dinner, so visit during the evening seating if you want beef!

Nasi Goreng

How good does that fried egg look?  We cracked the yolk and went to town mixing it into the spicy fried rice loaded with fried garlic slices, hot peppers, green onions, chicken, and cilantro.  This was my favourite dish from lunch, although everything we ate was pretty fantastic.  Indonesian Nasi Goreng is totally different from Malaysian Nasi Goreng.  There were no fried anchovies (thank goodness!) and the dish came already prepared with the sauce mixed in.  It wasn’t a super saucy like in Malaysia.  I loved how all the spices danced together!

Padang Ayam Green Curry

Hallie and I agree that we could eat curry every day of the week and never grow bored.  This mild green curry was full of pineapple, eggplant, bay leaves, thick cut ginger, and chicken piled high with lettuce, cilantro, and fried garlic slivers.  The chip on top is a prawn cracker (thanks, Paul H).  I’ve been having a bad string of luck with seafood in Korea giving me irritated skin, so Hallie gave it a go.  She wasn’t sure whether it was a fish cake or pork skin, so the flavour was pretty mild.  Rice accompanies this entree, so no need to order a side.   If you’re not a fan of heat I’d go for this option!

Bakwan Jagung

Full disclosure, we only ordered this side because of the peanut sauce.  I assumed because it was served with peanut sauce that it would be a satay dish.  We were pleasantly surprised by the fried corn fritters.  They were gone in a heartbeat and (what a travesty) we didn’t even finish the incredible, creamy peanut sauce!  The only downside of this dish was that it took forever to arrive.  The food isn’t exactly prepared quickly at Bali in Mangwon – don’t arrive as ravenous as we did!

Contact/ Directions to Bali in Mangwon
  • Hours: Monday – Saturday 12 PM – 3 PM, 5 PM – 10 PM
  • Phone Number: 02-336-0527
  • Address: Mangwon-dong 394-86, Mapo-gu, Seoul 04017
  • Instagram: @Bali_in_Mangwon

Bali in Mangwon

Next time you’re looking for international eats do yourself a favour and get out of Itaewon and over to Mapo.  There is plenty of amazing Korean street food at Mangwon Market.  The surrounding area has tons of cafes, Makgeolli and Pajeon joints, KBBQ, and Dalkgalbi as you’ll see in the video below.  Beyond Korean food, there is Bali in Mangwon and a Laotian restaurant down the road I’ll have to go back and try soon.  Mangwon is such a lively area – get out and explore… with no fear of Bali Belly!

Do you have a favourite Mangwon eatery we can try next?  Let us know in the comments!

The post Seoul Food: Bali in Mangwon appeared first on The Toronto Seoulcialite.

Ang Traje de Boda sa Ukay-ukay PART 3

Sun, 2017-10-08 10:24
PART 3: Ang Hagulgol “Kanina kapa nakakulong sa kwarto mo. Hindi ka man lang bumaba para maghapunan.” Pinuntahan ako ni Mommy sa kwarto dala ang isang tray ng pagkain. “Heto ang gatas at paborito mong pandesal. Kumain ka kahit konti.” … Continue reading →

Anthracite Coffee Roasters in Hannam-dong

Sat, 2017-10-07 12:29

Anthracite Coffee Roasters was one of those places I walked past a million times and thought about dropping in, but never did. Then a travel magazine contacted me about it. Located on the Hannam-dong end of the Itaewon main drag, the place is hopping on weekend afternoon, but it turns out, like most things in Seoul, it’s very quiet on a Sunday morning. Especially a rainy Sunday morning.

anthracite coffee hannam, seoul

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anthracite coffee hannam, seoul

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They have a decent selection of desserts and coffee.  Their beans are freshly roasted, and they offer a variety of single-origin and blend options. Apparently one of their most popular blends is their butter fat trio, which features coffee from Guatemala, Brazil, Ethiopia, Indonesia and Colombia. The desserts are house-made at their other branch. The selection changes periodically, of course, but they’ve got different flavors of pound cake (orange, fig and chocolate, lemon), green tea tiramisu, banana cake, financiers, madeleines and canelés, which are suddenly popping up all over Seoul.

The prices were a little steep. But that’s not unique, is it? You can also buy their beans, if you’re the kind of person who enjoys a nice cup at home on occasion instead of guzzling it all day long like I do. I don’t usually go in for fancy beans for home use, other than when I have company, because otherwise my coffee bills every month would rival my rent.

anthracite coffee hannam, seoul

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The interior’s got that broke-down industrial Soviet vibe that’s on trend right now, but which I don’t mind, because it’s keeping people from tearing down old buildings here in Seoul. I’ve seen photos of their Jeju branch, which like everything else on that island I seem destined to never make it to, looks beautiful. They’ve got a branch in Hapjeong as well.

anthracite coffee hannam, seoul

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The cheesecake was nothing to write home about, but the financiers were really nice. I saw a review that said they were dry, but I think you can even see in the photos that they weren’t. The coffee was good, but I’m not a reliable judge in that arena, as probably evidenced by the fact that I always take my coffee with milk. Still, I know enough to separate the swill from the higher end stuff, even if I don’t mind the former, and it tasted like real coffee. We also ordered a ginger hot chocolate, which I actually preferred, maybe because it was unique, and I enjoy that combination of flavors a lot.

I wouldn’t make it a regular spot, only because I try not to pay more for my coffee dates than I do for my dinner, but it would be a nice place to drop in every now and then, especially when meeting up with someone.

Anthracite Coffee Roasters
서울시 용산구 이태원로 240
240 Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Monday-Sunday 10am-10pm



The post Anthracite Coffee Roasters in Hannam-dong appeared first on Follow the River North.

Follow the River North

Freelance writer and editor. American in Seoul. I write about Korean food. I blog about all food. Last year I wrote a monthly column about traveling to different places around the country to explore Korean ingredients and cuisine. This ignited my interest in local foods and cooking, which I blog about regularly now. I also blog restaurant and cafe recommendations, recipes and some background and history about Korean food.

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Eating Pig’s Feet in Korea – JOKBAL – 족발 처음 먹는 미국인

Sat, 2017-10-07 01:40

I'd always wanted to try pig's feet, but never wanted to pay for it. For a relatively expensive price (around $30) it seemed just out of my curiosity's reach. In addition, many Koreans dislike the smell of pig's feet, as well as the texture. So finding someone to even go together with was difficult. Then this time in Korea I found out my friend Claire (who I've filmed an interview with before) happens to really like pig's feet. This was my chance. I brought along my camera and we journeyed together to try it out (for my first time).

Pig's feet do smell bad, but only from the outside of the restaurant where the steam travels blocks away. From the inside, the smell isn't very strong. It smells like Chinese medicinal herbs, which isn't an off-putting smell, but is strong. However the pork itself has no such odd flavor. The smell comes from the herbs that are used when preparing the pork to help remove the pork's own strong smells, and it helps a lot.

Once you've tried a bite, the pork instead tasted almost like regular chicken, or just soft and juicy pork. But there's also a unique texture to some of the pieces. Part of what comes out will also be "collagen" which is kind of a hard jelly. Some people dislike that texture. I didn't mind it.

You can also order different kinds of pig's feet. For this video I tried regular and spicy, and ended up liking both equally as much. And you can choose between the front legs (highly recommended for their flavor) or the black legs.

So if you get a chance an excuse to eat pig's feet, give it a try. In fact, just give everything in Korea a try. That's the whole purpose of this video series, I think. Even things that sound like they'd taste disgusting can be delicious.


The post Eating Pig’s Feet in Korea – JOKBAL – 족발 처음 먹는 미국인 appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

Seoul Food: Cry Cheese Burger, In-N-Out Burger done Gangnam Style

Fri, 2017-10-06 23:53

Cry Cheese Burger – Korea’s Answer to In-N-Out Burger

Since moving to Korea back in February 2015, I’ve heard expats moan and groan about missing In-N-Out Burger.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the American mating call moan of “Animal Style Friiiiiies”.  If I had man won ($10) for each, I’d have enough to open my own franchise for fresh burgers and dirty, messy, loaded fries.  Thankfully, I don’t need to become a restaurateur to have a decent knock-off.   In true Gangnam Style, Cry Cheese Burger (크라이치즈버거) is a total rip off of In-N-Out Burger.  It’s cheap, cheerful, and, as advertised, delicious.

Fresh Promises from Cry Cheese Burger

Don’t cry ’cause it’s a knock-off, smile ’cause it’s available!  While In-N-Out Burger uses branding full of bold red, Cry Cheese Burger has opted for smiley face yellow.  We popped in around 4 PM on the Friday during the massive Chuseok week off and found it to be fairly busy even mid-afternoon.  There was so much seating that we had an entire row to ourselves to instagram tasty cheeseburgers and animal-style fries to our hearts’ content.  The walls were decorated with bright, informative (in Korean) posters declaring Cry Cheese Burger’s dedication to locally-sourced meat and produce.  As you can see by the baskets of potatoes (and the “raw fries” option), their French fries are made in house, daily, and almost to order.

Set A (KRW 7,300) : Cry Cheese Burger, Cheese Fries, Fountain Drink

If you want a taste of home that is under 10 bucks for a fatty Kathy meal?  Get thee to Cry Cheese Burger.  The short and wide flat-top grilled patty was squished between an uber-fresh tomato, crisp iceberg lettuce, American cheese, and American-style garlic mayo.  The bun was soft with a perfectly toasted inner layer which I’m certain had had a healthy dose of butter lobbed on.  I didn’t even mind the thick stack of onions!  I visited with Amanda (@seoulody) who completely melted into her chair getting that first taste of the caramelized onions, melty, ooey-gooey American cheese, and tons of Thousand Islands salad dressing piled on top of a small hill of soft, shoe-string fries.  According to that California native, the Animal-style fries were right on the money.  I wonder if they have a “not-so-secret menu” at Cry Cheese Burger, too!

Directions to Cry Cheese Burger

For a Truly Decadent Burger, Visit Cali Kitchen

I’ve been on a hunt for an exquisite, juicy, luxury burger in Seoul.  You’ll notice I don’t write about burger joints all that much simply because I don’t think the meat to bun to topping ratio has been quite figured out.  The meat quality isn’t all that fab most places, and the buns tend to either be quite dry or too sweet.  I recently tried the burger at Cali Kitchen (we sampled the pastrami burger and the double cheeseburger loaded with Chuck’s famous chili).  If you want a fantastic burger with primo toppings and a brilliant balance, stay up to date on their Facebook, visit their website, or get into their store in Kyungnidan.  It’s a truly memorable burger made with love, and Chuck’s meat (a labour of love in and of itself).

Think you’ve found Seoul’s best burger?  How about Seoul’s best burger value?  Let us know in the comments!

The post Seoul Food: Cry Cheese Burger, In-N-Out Burger done Gangnam Style appeared first on The Toronto Seoulcialite.

Alive, with Cherry Hand Pies

Thu, 2017-10-05 23:08

I should most definitely not be writing about cherry hand pies right now, for a few different reasons, but sometimes you just want to write the words that you want to write. I’ve worked really hard to get to a point in life where I get paid to write full time, but being paid to write full time means that you don’t have a lot of words left when it comes time to write the free ones.

cherry hand pies

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I know I’ve been a bad blogger, and that that doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise anymore. But this year has just been… something else. At the moment, I’m working as the writer/script coordinator of a radio show and translating two books, one fiction, one non. I’m still trying to build the skeleton of my own book, but that’s been pushed to the back burner for now. There’s some other stuff mixed in there, too, but it’s really not important. What is important is that I get summer cherries off my chest, because it’s now October, and I’ve basically missed apple season, and squash is rolling past now, at this point.

I am cooking, and baking, when I can grab a window. But everything is so cerebral these days that, when I get the time to make something, I don’t want to process it. I don’t want to measure and take notes or photos. I just want to be absorbed in my senses — smell, taste and feel. I want to set out to make banana bread, sprinkle in spices until the batter sings when I lick it off the spoon, add a frosting at the last minute by pouring in a little of this, a little of that, until it looks good, and dump a cap full of rum into the pot of caramel drizzle to watch it sizzle up the sides, without thinking, “I should write this down…”

cherry hand pies

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cherry hand pies

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But enough of that right? The important thing is, cherry hand pies. I have a thing with these. Not these ones, actually, but the Hostess kind. We didn’t have a lot when I was growing up, but there was a shop across the railroad tracks that sold a bunch of industrialized bakery items that were about to go off at a massive discount, and my mother would take us there about once every week or two. When we went, if we were lucky, we would get to choose one thing to have as a snack. My brother tended to go for something different every time, but I snatched up a Hostess cherry fruit pie without fail.

cherry hand pies

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If you can get those delicious little chalky bars of preservatives here in Korea, I don’t know where, and that’s probably a good thing, because I suspect they wouldn’t bring quite as much joy to my adult palate. I once tried Hamburger Helper in college for nostalgia’s sake, and it was a mistake. As was the one time in 15 years I decided to eat at Taco Bell. Some things are better left to the hazy romance of memory and childhood tastebuds.

But these were lovely, and did just enough to stroke the angry little ball of homesickness I’d been sheltering in my gut until it purred, rolled over and stretched out for a nap in the sun.

cherry hand pies

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PrintCherry Hand Pies


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 egg + 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
  • Filling
  • 2 1/2 cups cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Icing
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar


  1. Combine the flour, butter, salt and ice-cold water in a large bowl and mix with a fork or pastry cutter until the mixture just holds together when you squeeze it.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll it out into a rectangle. Fold the rectangle into thirds, like a letter. Roll it out again and fold it again. Repeat one more time.
  3. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours.
  4. Remove the dough from the fridge and repeat the rolling and folding three more times. Wrap it again and let it chill for at least 4 hours.
  5. Filling
  6. Combine the cherries, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat while stirring until the fruit is falling apart, about 6 minutes.
  7. Remove the filling from the stove and let it cool.
  8. Assembly
  9. Preheat the oven to 400F (205C).
  10. On a floured surface, roll out the dough and cut out 10 circles about 5 inches in diameter.
  11. Fill the center of the circles with the filling and fold them over in half, pressing the edges with a wet fork to close them. Use a sharp knife to cut a slit in the center of the pies on one side.
  12. Lay the pies out on a cookie sheet lined parchment paper. Whisk together the egg and water for the egg wash and lightly brush the pies with the egg wash.
  13. Bake the pies until they are golden-brown and puffy, about 20 minutes.
  14. Icing
  15. When the pies have completely cooled from the oven, whisk together the cream cheese, milk and powdered sugar. Drizzle the icing over the top of the pies, and let it set before serving.


The post Alive, with Cherry Hand Pies appeared first on Follow the River North.