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Korean Phrases Ep. 48: 오리무중

Sat, 2017-02-25 02:46

This week we have a new "Korean Phrases" video, and we're going to be learning another useful idiom from 한자 (Chinese characters used in Korean).

We'll be learning about the idiom 오리무중.

Check out the video below!

The post Korean Phrases Ep. 48: 오리무중 appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.




The 7 Worst Guys An Expat Can Date

Sat, 2017-02-25 00:23
The 7 Worst Guys An Expat Can Date  

Photographer: Dave Meier

We have a tendency to get a little bit lonely living abroad.  Expat dating can be tough!  It’s not always easy to meet someone who speaks English, and if you haven’t been somewhere long then your foreign language skills might not be strong enough for the dating world.  Men we’ve met while living abroad and trying to feign off loneliness haven’t all been bad.  The stereotypes represented are just that, stereotypes and generalizations, so please take this all with a grain of salt and a bit of a laugh.  Before you go locking up your love and throwing away the key, see if you notice any similarities herein.  This is all about the very worst of the worst: The 7 Worst Guys an Expat can Date.

Photographer: Ben White

The Local

This guy just wants to date someone foreign he can show off to his friends.  It’ll be a fleeting romance.  You’ll wonder what exactly you both were thinking.  In Korea, they call this phenomenon “Riding the White Horse”.  I’ll leave you and your imagination to that one.  This isn’t always the case, of course, but as a caucasian woman with blue eyes and blonde hair I’ve found more often than not this type of local’s intentions are pretty transparent, and they’re simply not for me.

Photographer: Taylor L. Spurgeon

The Green (CARD) Monster

This fellow might come from a country with a less than ideal passport situation.  Alternatively, he might have visions of moving to a different country for fame and fortune.  The Green Monster just wants you for your connection to your home and native land, land of hope and glory, or the home of the brave (most likely the latter, in my experience).

Photographer: Amanda Jordan

The Military Man

The Military Man tends to want to settle down.  Being deployed over and over again means he’s a lone wolf.  More often than not he’s “exclusively dating” a few lovely ladies.  They really do want to have their white picket fence and 2.5 kids, but the struggle is real when living in what amount to dorm rooms.  If you find a diamond in the rough, he will be the most loyal, caring gentleman in the world.  The standard review of the Military Man is that he’s a dirty dawg.

Photographer: Frank McKenna

The Eternal Expat

Flitting from city to city and country to country “sampling the local fare”, this guy has found a good life.  Probably considered to be generically attractive from a North American perspective, he’s got a charming personality.  Somewhere down the line he was likely a varsity athlete or fraternity brother.  He’s got natural game and women everywhere swoon.  He’s never settling down in one place, and for him you’ll never been enough.

Photographer: Ben White

The Lifer

Like the Eternal Expat, The Lifer doesn’t want to return home for fear he’ll just never have it as good.  He’s a 6 at home, but a 10 abroad.  Out every night of the week, he’s got a local girlfriend, but still crushes Tinder, Bumble, and OkCupid on the regular.  With expat dates across the city during the week, he’s got a locally-sourced meal every Sunday night.

Photographer: Ben White


The LBH or “loser back home” is a nightmare for both expats and travelers alike.  This guy has no social skills, but collects friends like Pokemon cards (note: he’s got a fat stack of those back home, too).  He’s likely well-educated (at least a Bachelor’s degree) and assumes that because he’s foreign (read between the lines here, ladies) he’s got something over the rest of the males in the country.  He’s not picking up the cheque anytime soon (which is fine, but let’s at least go Dutch) because he’s got massive student loans in arrears.  He probably has an acoustic guitar at home and has learned to play all of 3 chords.  Avoid this one like the plague…his friends are way cooler than he.


The Travel Romance

This one shouldn’t be avoided altogether, but you must know upon entry that your risk of heartbreak is about 90%.  Meeting in vacation mode gives you the opportunity to live without the stress of work and other responsibilities at home.  You both are at your best around one another.  You’re swept up in the bliss of being in a new place with new adventures at every turn.  Give in to the Travel Romance, just don’t give away your heart completely.  It will fly away to the other side of the planet to taunt you with ransom letters every time your time-zones allow you to connect.

Have you had an expat or travel romance which has stood the test of time?  Make sure to leave a comment below!  If you’re in Korea, check out this list of stellar date spots in Seoul.  From the budding romance to a tale as old as time, The Toronto Seoulcialite has got you covered.

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The Toronto Socialite
       That Girl Cartier


Korea’s Spring Festivals 2017 in March

Fri, 2017-02-24 19:40

March is the month that marks the beginning of spring in Korea. As the warm sunlight thaws the land of morning calm after the freezing winter, early spring flowers finally start to bloom. Mountains and fields are filled with vivid spring colors and it is time to go on a day trip. Let’s take a look at where to go for your spring day out in Korea.

1. Gwangyang Maehwa (Apricot Flowers or Plum Blossoms)

Gwangyang Maehwa Village is famous for its beautiful apricot trees. Every March, this small village is covered with white Maehwa (apricot flowers or plum blossoms). As Maehwa is known as the first spring flower to bloom, a nice day out at Gangyang Maehwa Village will quench your thirst for long-awaited spring flowers.

Strolling beneath Maehwa trees, tasting local Gwangyang food and taking a tour to the nearby Ssanggyesa Temple will make a perfect spring excursion.

For more information, click here.

Location: Jeollanam-do (southwest province)

2. Gurye Sansuyu (Cornelian Cherry)

As the weather starts to get warmer, the sansuyu (cornelian cherry) trees welcome the new spring season by decorating Gurye with its bright yellow flowers.

The Gurye Sansuyu Festival is an annual festival held in the base of Jirisan Mountain, located in the Jeollanam-do Province, where you can see the beautiful bright yellow sansuyu flowers in full bloom.

You can also visit nearby Hwaeomsa TempleIt is one of the 10 most famous temples in Korea and a must-visit temple for those who want to relax their minds in the quiet temple and learn about the historic national cultural heritages.

For more information click here.

Location: Jeollanam-do (southwest province)

3. Uljin Snow Crab

Uljin is a county down south where snow crabs are most caught in Korea. You can taste the delicious snow crab caught straight from the ocean and enjoy a fun day at Uljin Snow Crab Festival.  The first week of March is the best time to savor snow crabs.

For more information, click here.

Location: Gyeongsangbuk-do (southeast province)

Photo Credits
Republic of Korea Gwangyang Maehwa Festival in Spring
barama1 구례 산수유
purunuri 울진 대게(Sculpture of Uljin Snow Crab) via photopin (license)
a service for travelers to easily share and discover the latest hip & hot travel spots from all over the world. 
We are currently focusing on Korea as our destination and plan to expand to other countries gradually. 

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Seoul Dating: This Is What You Came For…isn’t it?

Wed, 2017-02-22 17:12
Seoul Dating: This Is What You Came For

Dear Wonderful Readers and Internet Trolls,

It has come to my attention that I’ve become known around Seoul as “the girl who goes on dates and then writes about them”.  Cool.  Let’s go ahead and clarify that, shall we?  ThatGirlCartier has been around since 2009 (on Twitter).  If you want the roots of the name itself, go check out one of my first posts on this site.  On instagram?  You can creep me back to 2012 there.  You’ll see pictures of food, fashion, fitness, culture, travels, a variety of weights and hairstyles, and oh yes – a couple of ex boyfriends.  That’s life, ladies and gentlemen.  Expat dating is tough!  Seoul dating is a minefield.  Just like Juicy Couture sweats and UGG boots, some things don’t last. If Juicy is any indication, some things might just return (you know who you are and yes, you’re welcome back – just say the word).

xoxo Gossip Girl

The idea that I’m some sort of “Land of Morning Chaos – xoxo Gossip Girl of Seoul Dating” is ludicrous.  That said, if any of the show’s designers want to dress me I would not put up a fight.  Also, wasn’t Gossip Girl a dude in the end? Writing bits and bobs about my silly Seoul dating life seems to be a bigger deal to men than it is to women.  Men seem to either really appreciate my writing from an outside perspective, or take what’s written too personally.  To those who understand this to be entertainment and defend me and my right to write, thank you!  To those guys who “would never go on a date with a dating blogger”, well this one’s for you.

Express Permission

If an expat dating experience ends up on That Girl Cartier it’s because express permission has been granted to share whatever has occurred on the date.  Tinder often initiates Seoul dating.  I’ve mostly got stories in the vault which aren’t all that interesting.  A lot of people ask to be featured on The Toronto Seoulcialite.  One guy even snatched my phone for a couple’s selfie just in case he “made the article” I was thinking about writing on Olympic Park.  This is not new.  Expats constantly ASK to be featured on the site. The marketing men, military men, locals, teachers, or anyone else from the list want to be here.  It is astoundingly easy to get material, because people love having our experiences shared anonymously online.  Sometimes they’re exaggerated.  Most of the time they’re not.

Hey Friends,

I recently shared a tidbit on my personal Facebook page from a comically bad first date.  My personal profile is just that: personal.  Venting and sharing anecdotes on my personal page should not be grounds for an attack.  I feel that everyone’s entitled to share personal opinions on Facebook.  November 8th and 9th, January 20th, and the past month have been great indicators of just how many personal opinions people share on Facebook.  I’m a writer.  Your antics won’t get published to my site without permission.  Please continue to be ridiculous and make me push my own boundaries, too.

Remember friends, readers, and trolls, this right here?  This is what you came for.   I wouldn’t have 3 times more views on this silly little website than its informative sister site if it wasn’t.

The post Seoul Dating: This Is What You Came For…isn’t it? appeared first on That Girl Cartier.

Cancelling TPP, Protectionism Not Necessary for a Restrained Foreign Policy

Wed, 2017-02-22 13:09

This is a local re-post of an essay I wrote for The National Interest a few weeks ago. Basically I argue that a restrained political and military foreign policy does not imply an isolationist or protectionist economic foreign policy.

This strikes me as an important distinction. There is a lot talk that Trump’s election implies a less interventionist foreign policy, that the white working class doesn’t want to fight neocon wars anymore. I am sympathetic to that. But a greater caution in military choices does not have an economic correlate of withdrawing from free trade, or picking foolish fights with allies. Restraint is neither economic protectionism, nor bashing allies Trump-style. Those tow together are more like isolationism.

As I say on this site regularly, the concern of foreign policy ‘restrainers’ is not to abandon American allies, but to get them to take their own defense more seriously. But I see no reason to extend that to trade. Greater protectionism will simply drive up prices for the white working class at Walmart, while re-shoring a few jobs at most. Recall that it is technology that wiped out smokestack jobs in the Midwest, not China. Worse, protectionism has a powerful long-term negative impact on security. States which seal themselves off start to fall behind technologically. That impacts military tech too, as one can see in the communist states during the Cold War. It is critical for American military pre-eminence that it remain a free-trade economy that regularly absorbs the most recent technologies, no matter how much dislocation they bring, no matter where they come from.

The full essay follows the jump:


President Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric raised hopes that might pursue a less interventionist US foreign policy. Trump was the only truth-teller on the Iraq War in the Republican primary. He mainstreamed the issue of low allied contributions to the American defense network, which hitherto was mostly a debate among foreign policy wonks. He talked of avoiding foolish wars. He intuitively grasped the disconnect between the insouciant belligerence of neoconservative and Washington-based US foreign policy elites, and the working class voters who filled out the ranks and fought those wars. More broadly, he demonstrated that even within the ‘national security party,’ there is a constituency seeking a less arrogant, high-handed, and meddlesome foreign policy.

The verdict is still out on whether Trump means this. His cabinet and staff picks include superhawks like national security advisor Michael Flynn and chief strategist Steve Bannon. But his belligerence toward allies – cancelling the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the haranguing tone, the dismissal of international organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union, and so on – is not a requirement of a more cautious foreign policy. Restraint need not mean isolationism, and alienating the US from much of the world – barring Russia, of course – is the likely outcome of Trumpism if the president and Steve Bannon do not slow down.

It is important to make these distinctions, because the long-standing retort to restraint is that it is retrenchment, abandonment of US leadership, withdrawing from the world, and so on. This was captured most famously in the relentless repetition of the Republican talking point that Barack Obama was ‘leading from behind.’ But much of that is false. Nothing in a restrained foreign policy says the US states should antagonize friends or practice protectionism or mercantilism. Mature diplomacy and liberal, trade-friendly economics do not require a parallel commitment to US global dominance.

Restrain seeks: greater care in choosing when and where to use US force; greater concern for the violence and destabilization the use of force unleashes; greater awareness of the spiraling financial costs of conflict; anxiety over possible American ‘imperial overstretch’; humility regarding the horrific human toll when the US unleashes its powerful military on others. None of that requires breaking US alliances. As I have argued before in these pages, the point of restraint instead is to incentivize US allies to spend more, build better, more interoperable forces, and strategize and plan more.

But for reasons only he and Bannon know, Trump has cast many US alliance relationships into doubt. Secretary of Defense James Mattis had to run to Japan and South Korea last week, and will go to Europe next week, just to quell the anxieties. In just two weeks in office, Trump has managed to inflame US relationships with its closest partners, including Britain, Mexico, and Australia. If countries so culturally close to the US as these are targets of Trump’s wrath, how will he deal with alliance friction and disagreements with more culturally distant states like Japan or South Korea?

Similarly, his cancellation of the TPP adds nothing to a more disciplined foreign policy. Free trade is entirely commensurate with a US pull-back from overstretch. Restraint is not autarky, mercantilism, protection, the denial of visas to legitimate foreign business operators, and so on. Restraint is not isolationism, which increasingly appears to be Trump’s impulse. Indeed, any serious strategist will see the obvious military threat of autarkic economic strategies. Militarily powerful states must be able to capture any and all technological gains generated by economic development, even by foreigners, lest they qualitatively fall behind. Communist states constantly suffered from this problem. Committed to closed, internal-only development, they quickly fell behind open economies in developing and deploying new technologies. While the lost consumer pleasures, such as like washing machines or televisions, could be ignored, the military applications of breakthrough technologies such as computers could not. Communist militaries were constantly forced to rely on quantity, because their quality was always a decade or two behind their opponents’. When Bannon speaks of restoring America’s “shipyards and ironworks,” he is invoking a long gone coal-and-steel US economy impossible to revive without a genuine autarkic turn.

The internationalist retort of course is to blend this all together: US participation in the global economy necessitates US global leadership and a consequent willingness to regularly use force. But the relationship is not as tight as neoconservatives would have you believe. The central pillars of the world economy outside North America are Europe and East Asia. The US can maintain a middling commitment in these places without sprawling elsewhere, most obviously the Middle East. US dependence on Persian Gulf carbon is diminishing rapidly due to fracking and renewables, and carbon needs to be significantly more expensive globally anyway due to its alarming global warming externalities. In short, US participation in the global economy need not mean hegemony outside a few core areas, and certainly not the Middle East given the high cost of US dominance there and the declining value of its one serious export.

For US allies, this is weird time. The next American elections, for the legislature, occur in 2018. Traditionally the president’s party loses; a large anti-Trump wave could stop much of this. Conversely, a moderate legislative defeat, followed by Trump’s re-election in 2020, would lock-in these grand strategic shifts. The wisest course for allies now is likely to ignore Trump’s outbursts whenever possible, smile gamely, make a few face-saving concessions, such as Shinzo Abe’s American jobs-program, and hold tight for 2018. If the orange storm does not subside by then, it may to time to consider more autonomous national strategies.

Filed under: Foreign Policy, Restraint, The National Interest, Trump, United States

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


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Best Korean Chain Restaurants in Korea

Tue, 2017-02-21 23:20

The number of restaurants in Korea is pretty overwhelming. There are so many restaurants that in some districts, it is possible to eat at a different restaurant every day for a year. There are some restaurants that you will see in multiple locations around the city, these are Korean chain restaurants. Knowing about the best chain restaurants in Korea can be useful when you are visiting a new area and want to eat a particular type of food. Keep reading to learn about some of the top chain restaurants in Korea, and the types of food that they serve. Once you find one that you like, remember its name and you will find it easier to choose where to eat when you are hungry.

Saemaeul Sikdang (새마을 식당)

Baek Jong-won is Korea’s answer to Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsey. The most well-known Korean celebrity chef also owns several chains of restaurants, coffee shops, and pubs. The most successful and long-lasting of these is Saemaeul Sikdang. The restaurant sells standard Korean barbecue options like galbi, but also has a few signature dishes of its own, such as its seven-minute jjigae (stew), or its spicy yeoltan bulgogi (열탄불고기). If you are struggling to find somewhere to eat, then you can often find this restaurant in any nightlife district for an easy meal.


Bonjuk (본죽)

When winter sets in and you need some warm comfort food, Bonjuk is the place to go. This rice porridge, ‘juk in Korean, restaurant sells warm filling food that is perfect for a cold winter day. There are plenty of different options here, from samgyetang (chicken and ginseng) porridge, to pumpkin porridge, and even octopus and beef porridge (I’m not kidding!) The portions are so large and filling that you will struggle to finish your dish. This restaurant can be found in almost every neighborhood in Korea, not just the main restaurant areas. It also does take-out if you want to order some ‘juk’ and take it home.


Yugane (유가네)

Korean restaurants are often specialized towards one particular dish, and Yugane is no exception. The restaurant chain sells Dalkgalbi (닭갈비), a spicy chicken stir-fry that is cooked in front of you while you wait. Dalkgalbi is the signature dish of Chuncheon, Gangwon province, and people will travel there just to experience the Dalkgalbi Street in that city. If you want to save yourself a trip, just visit Yugane instead. As well as the regular dalkgalbi, yugane offers several other options like octopus and chicken dalkgalbi or cheese dalkgalbi. The pre-barbequed dalkgalbi option is also excellent. If you find the dish a bit too spicy, take some of the sauce out before it gets stirred into the meal.


Oppadalk (오빠닭)

One of Korea’s many chain chicken restaurants; Oppadalk’s name means ‘big brother chicken’. The restaurant’s full name, Obeune bbajin dalk (오븐에빠진닭) means ‘the chicken that fell out of the oven’, and there are many other chicken restaurants that have copied Oppadalk’s naming style. Unlike many Korean chicken restaurants, Oppadalk specializes in baked chicken (hence the ‘oven’ part of its name), rather than fried chicken. The restaurant also lets you choose half-and-half chicken menus, so you can have a mix of fried and baked chicken, or chicken with spring onion mixed with roast chicken for example. Among Korea’s many chicken restaurants, Oppadalk stands out due to its quality, so it is worth looking out for when you are feeling like having some chicken or chimaek (치맥 – chicken and beer).


Jaws Ttokbokki (죠스 떡볶이) and Mimine (미미네)

Ttokbokki (떡볶이), the spicy red cylinder-shaped ricecakes that you see being sold in food stalls on the street in Korea, is often seen as a snack rather than a full meal. However, anyone who has eaten them before will tell you that they are very filling and could easily pass for a meal if they had to. There are lots of ttokbokki stalls, but sometimes you want to sit down indoors to eat it. Two of the most well-known ttokpokki chains are Jaws and Mimine. Jaws has been around for a long time and can be found almost everywhere in Korea. Mimine has fewer stores, but rather uniquely, uses smaller ricecakes than usual. This can be useful if you find it difficult to fit a whole ricecake in your mouth. When ordering ricecakes, Koreans often order sundae (순대), intestines filled with blood-soaked rice, which is kind of similar to English black pudding. As this doesn’t suit many foreigners’ palates, it is worth noting that Mimine serves tempura shrimp instead.

Hongma Banjeom (홍마반점) / Hong Kong Banjeom (홍콩 반점)

Hong Kong Banjeom is the most well-known chain for Chinese food in Korea, although rather confusingly it underwent a semi-rebrand so half of its restaurants are called Hongma (Hong Kong and Macau) Banjeom instead. It might seem odd that this is on a list of best Korean chain restaurants in Korea, but Korean Chinese food is very different from Chinese food in the West, let alone Chinese food in China. Common dishes in Korean Chinese restaurants include black-bean noodles, spicy seafood soup, and sweet-and-sour pork. Hongma Banjeom has a selection of other Chinese dishes that you can order too, such as kung-pao chicken, which are hard to find in other Korean Chinese restaurants.


Andong Jjimdalk (안동찜닭)

Andong Jjimdalk sells a hearty chicken stew that is great for a group meal. The stew is originally from the Andong region, hence the name, but the restaurants can be found around most Korean cities. The chicken is slowly cooked in a broth with potatoes and glass noodles. It usually comes in its spicy variety, but you can order the milder soy sauce version instead.

These are just a small selection of the various restaurant chains in Korea. There are many other chains in Korea, often specializing in other foods like pizza or sushi. Have you tried eating in any of these restaurant chains? Do you agree that they are the best Korean chain restaurants in Korea? Let us know in the comments below.



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We got married

Tue, 2017-02-21 17:22
12 November 2016, Hotel Fort Canning



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MMPK February 25th Meeting Registration Open!!

Tue, 2017-02-21 13:10

With New Years and Seollal all safely under our belt for another year, it’s time to get back on schedule with our monthly MMPK Meetings!  We have been searching far and wide to find a suitable location for this month, and we stumbled on a very swish looking gem.

When it comes to Korean alcohol, most locations are fairly casual and cozy, even rustic in feeling.  Well, the place we are headed this Saturday couldn’t be more different! We are headed to an upscale cocktail bar with a carefully curated menu of some of the best Korean alcohol money can buy.  Makgeolli, takju, cheongju and soju, this bar in Gangnam offers some top quality sool with some tasty looking bites.

If you would like to join us for this meeting, send an email to to sign up 

Makgeolli Mamas & Papas
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Migrant’s rights are Workers rights are Human rights

Tue, 2017-02-21 07:44

IN little over two weeks, the wealthiest and most heavily armed nuclear state on Earth will have an narcissistic orange billionaire misogynist with highly suspicious hair become its 45th president.

During Donald Trump’s policy-light and hatred-heavy presidential-election campaign, he branded Mexicans criminals and rapists; boasted that he would “do a lot more than waterboarding”; called for “a complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”; claimed he was “totally against abortion” and even threatened the freedom of the press when he said: “We’re gonna open up those libel laws, folks.” (The US currently has much more permissive libel laws than Britain.

The Tories plan to scrap the Human Rights Act — an act so vile, so morbidly dictatorial, so criminally insane that the likes of Kim Jong Un, Robert Mugabe, Benjamin Netanyahu and Voldemort must be green with envy

Frankly, whether he meant everything he said or if it was all just “truthful hyperbole” — a term he coined in his 1987 memoir as “an innocent form of exaggeration and a very effective form of promotion” — it doesn’t matter. The man’s right-wing populist rhetoric won him the most powerful job in the world. And if a politician’s words mean anything anymore, then many hundreds of thousands of US citizens will be expecting him to build the “Great Wall of Mexico” and stop those pesky Muslim refugees from seeking sanctuary in “the land of the free.”

It’s hard to believe how anyone could put their faith in a man with such contempt for human rights. The eminent philosopher and political activist Noam Chomsky believes the people who voted for Trump did so because they were “inspired primarily by the belief that he represented change, while [Hillary] Clinton was perceived as the candidate who would perpetuate their distress.”

In hindsight, of course, it was rather foolish for the Democratic Party to choose Clinton — the very embodiment of the US Establishment — over Bernie Sanders at a time when the mood across the West is so fervently anti-establishment.

Image skanked from here

Podemos in Spain, Syriza in Greece, the Pirate Party in Iceland, the Five Star Movement in Italy, the National Front in France, the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, the Freedom Party in Austria, Jobbik in Hungary, the Danish People’s Party, the Alternative for Germany, Sweden Democrats and, of course, Britain’s Ukip and the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn are all manifestations of the Western public’s disposition for anti-Establishment political parties, be they left-wing, right-wing or Establishment figures in disguise.

Neoliberalism — the privatisation of everything and the economic system forced upon us since the late 1970s — is in decline and whether working or unemployed people know it by its name or not, they are all too keenly aware that someone somewhere has them over a barrel, economically speaking.

An enormous problem here is that the right and their corporate-media mouthpieces put forward a very simplistic, if mentally inconsistent, answer to society’s problems: blame immigrants, the unemployed, the disabled, the left, Islam and the poor. The right-wing populists deliberately misconstrue the problems caused by capitalism and the growing power of international corporations on the Other, who simultaneously take all the jobs and welfare from the “natives.”

As Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said at the Party of European Socialists conference in Prague in early December: “Often the populist right do identify the right problems but their solutions are the toxic dead ends of the past, seeking to divert it with rhetoric designed to divide and blame.”

Image skanked from here

Feeling the populists’ fire under their designer shoes, the Tories have aimed many of their harshest policies at migrants.

They’ve made driving a car a criminal offence for irregular migrants; locked immigrants up indefinitely in privatised detention centres for the heinous crime of crossing imaginary lines; forced Brits and their non-EU spouses to live across continents due to the money they currently earn; dragged their feet after promising to home unaccompanied-child refugees in Calais; deported migrants back to countries the Home Office advises Britons not to travel to and so much more.

The Tories speak of a country that works for “everyone” while at the same time making a mockery of the human rights to freedom of movement, to family life, to an education, to seek asylum from persecution and the freedom from arbitrary arrest, detention or exile. And yet the populous right and much of the media claim these efforts are not enough.

The way a government treats migrants and refugees, as Tony Benn once said, “is very instructive because it shows you how they would treat the rest of us if they thought they could get away with it.” And you only have to look at the way the Tories have slashed the welfare state, fostered inequality, deprived disabled people of the care they need, corrupted the education system, attacked trade unions and maimed the NHS to see he was right. Clearly, their definition of “everyone” is very narrow indeed.

It is either under the pressure of the populist right or due to sheer despotism that the Tories plan to scrap the Human Rights Act (HRA)— an act so vile, so morbidly dictatorial, so criminally insane that the likes of Kim Jong Un, Robert Mugabe, Benjamin Netanyahu and Voldemort must be green with envy. They plan to replace the HRA with a British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. Its almost as if only British citizens are worthy of human rights.

In the wake of the Trumpinator, the West’s right-wing populists and their media allies are first going to up their efforts to convince working people that immigrants don’t deserve human rights and second that “we” don’t need them anyway.

They’ll protest that the Human Right Act is a “get out of jail free” card for rapists, paedophiles, criminals, immigrants and terrorists (ie Muslims). The Daily Mail’s attacks on human rights lawyers and foreign aid is a current example of this.

Yes, the HRA probably has protected a few horrible people but so what? If they were convicted, then they more than likely went to jail where they paid their debt to society and perhaps even reformed their ways — if only the government invested in rehabilitation rather than ineffectual punishment.

It is a monumental fallacy to say that the HRA is bad because it sometimes protects bad people. The HRA protects conservatives, liberals, anarchists, communists, fascists, refugees, religious extremists, athiests, criminals, victims, witnesses, whistleblowers, spies, soldiers, workers, employers, the young, old, rich, poor, LGBT, straight, men, women and everyone in between because they are human.

It should not be up to a political party to decide which freedoms apply and to whom, especially one which won the last election by a narrow margin and one whose leadership nobody actually voted for.

The Tories’ austerity policies have already amounted to “grave and systematic violations” of the rights of people with disabilities, according to a UN inquiry. Imagine the power they would wield if they were the ones who set the terms. Life would be so much easier for the ruling class if everyone below them had no claim to human rights — like the good old days of the industrial revolution or before that the slave trade and serfdom.

In a 1945 article on the freedom of speech, which also applies to human rights in general, George Orwell wrote: “The relative freedom which we enjoy depends on public opinion. The law is no protection. Governments make laws, but whether they are carried out, and how the police behave, depends on the general temper in the country.

“If large numbers of people are interested in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech, even if the law forbids it; if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them.”

We must not let the Tories, the populist right and the corporations with their “free trade” deals diminish the rights of migrants or inconvenient minorities. For their rights are workers’ rights, are human rights.

A note from the editor-in-chimp: This article originally appeared in the Morning Star, where I work as the deputy features editor.

The post Migrant’s rights are Workers rights are Human rights appeared first on Monkeyboy Goes.

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Battle For Seoul’s Noryangjin Fish Market

Mon, 2017-02-20 00:50

While Seoul’s Noryangjin fish market is one of the top fish markets in the entire world, the stories making the news in South Korea & abroad have lately focused on the ongoing battle between the company that owns the market & fish sellers who have been operating businesses there for decades. Writer Dave Hazzan chronicled the struggle going on between the two sides for online publisher Zester Daily, & last summer, Korea FM reporter Chance Dorland spoke with him to learn more about what Hazzan describes as a battle that will “determine the fate of one of the city’s most iconic food markets.”

This episode is brought to you by Podcast Assist & its $30 per hour flat rate podcasting voice overs, editing, mastering, transcriptions & even hosting (select a topic, they’ll create & host the podcast). Visit for more information. 

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Interview answers, both in written & audio form, have been edited for length & clarity.

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The post Battle For Seoul’s Noryangjin Fish Market appeared first on Korea FM.

Elephant Nature Park Chiang Mai was a Thailand Disappointment

Sun, 2017-02-19 21:56

As a forward, I’d like to say that going to Thailand and visiting Elephant Nature Park Chiang Mai was something I was really excited to do!  Having read other blogs about the experience I guess I had a preconceived notion that I’d  be helping in the same way as one would volunteering to clean up a park or on a farm.  Being that I was only there for a day, I figured I wouldn’t have that much interaction with the animals.  I didn’t feel comfortable getting too close to the animals as we weren’t directed as to how to approach them (we were told not to touch the trunks – that’s about it).  I’m sure they weren’t altogether thrilled with the number of people coming through, but by the time I went they were used to it.  The tours seem to have changed to include more activities since I went.  I didn’t think I’d be stuck in the covered area for much of the day sitting and waiting to do anything, so I’m glad they seem to have recognized that.  I understand that the main priority of allowing tourists is because the facility needs the tourist dollars to continue their work.  I would have been more helpful and happy just donating to the organization and spending one of my few days in Chiang Mai with H in one of the many parks.

Back in March I finished my first teaching contract in Korea and got an extra month’s pay.  I had always dreamed of traveling to Thailand, and a couple of days after moving to Seoul I booked my Seoul – Bangkok round trip flight.  On my second day in Seoul I broke up with my boyfriend, came home, cracked a bottle of merlot, and got on Skyscanner.  My serene summer vacation became 5 flights in 10 days.  I went from Seoul to Bangkok to Phuket to Chiang Mai, back to Bangkok and then back to Seoul.  Is it any wonder I felt burnt-out?  The first activity I booked was Elephant Nature Park Chiang Mai.

I’ve had a few friends check out Elephant Nature Park Chiang Mai.  They all came out of it with full, happy hearts (and all the instagram-worthy shots over which an animal-lover could gush).  I had wanted to stay overnight at Elephant Nature Park Chiang Mai, but seeing as I had so many places to visit in such a short amount of time, I opted for the Single Day Visit.  This is actually longer than their “short park visit” which is just for half a day, I believe.  Both the short park visit and single day visit are THB 2,500 (about $95 CDN).  We departed at 7:40 AM and returned at 5:30 PM.  Feeding the elephants, elephant bathing, and lunch were included as well as pick up and drop-off from my hotel (ibis Styles Chiang Mai).

Elephant Nature Park Chiang Mai
  • Location

Chiang Mai is in the north of Thailand.  In August it was quite hot as it is year-round.  We got a lovely breeze and there were plenty of opportunities to find shade.  Sadly, I found there were almost too many!  Ibis Style Chiang Mai was the last pick up and first drop off point for our tour.  We took a tour van to the park which was just over an hour away from the city (the site says 60 km).  On the way we were shown a video about the importance of ethical treatment of elephants (and other animals).  We were shown the ways that elephants are beaten into submission for zoos and circuses.  Want to ride an elephant?  Please DON’T!  Their backs can’t handle the pressure and stress of the human body (or the harness/ saddle).  The mahouts for these sorts of tourist attractions often maintain their dominance over the animal by using a sharp nail or hook.

Elephant Nature Park Chiang Mai serves as a sanctuary for elephants who have been mistreated by humans or who have been injured or abandoned.  The whole design of the park is to educate tourists and preserve the environment while offering homes for these beautiful creatures.

  • Tour

I was picked up in the morning in a van packed with other tourists.  We headed to the park where we dumped our things at a long table and waited for our guide.  Don’t bring valuables – we didn’t have lockers.  The tour started out with us feeding the elephants pieces of watermelon.  There was a barrier between the elephants area and the building for tourists.  We were also required to remain behind a red line with about 5 feet between the barrier and the line.  We were permitted to cross that line only when it was our turn to feed the animal.

Next, we went on a walk to look at a family of females with a baby male elephant.  They weren’t aware the mother was pregnant when they accepted her to the park, and when the male is old enough he will have to be in a large cement-fenced-off area as the males can become quite aggressive.  How sad that even in a sanctuary they have to leave the 3 male elephants in solitary confinement.  We watched them for a while then wandered over to two different elephants we were allowed to approach and pet.  Briefly.  These were short, scheduled photo opps.  I felt bad taking my turn because, as elephants do, each was just happy grazing away.  I felt like they didn’t really want to be disturbed by me.

After that we had lunch.  The massive spread was entirely vegetarian and pretty delicious!   Once lunch (over an hour) was over we had some free time.

They offer massages upstairs, but H and I had discussed getting a couples massage in Chiang Mai so I just kind of sat around and chilled with a couple of the many stray dogs they had running around.  They have a sanctuary for dogs as well, but only let the calm ones into the park area.

In the afternoon we set off on what was supposed to be a “long walk”.  I was so excited!  Finally I would be getting my Thailand workout after a sad Muay Thai class in Phuket.  Nope!  This long walk ended up just being to the river so we could watch the elephants play in the water together.  We had 3 or 4 groups watching, so it was mostly people watching the animals frolic through their camera-phone lens.  Some idiots tourists tried to get into the water with them and one Italian almost got trampled.  I think that was the most exciting part of the day.

After watching them bathe and cool off, we were taken to an area where we had 2 minutes to bathe the elephants.  Wahoo!  A whole 120 seconds of water fun.  Remind me why I had worn a bathing suit?  I think this trip may have been the beginning of my faked insta happiness.

Elephant Nature Park Chiang Mai Review

The issue I took with the experience probably stems from the fact that I went alone.  I was in think gorgeous, lush, green, mountainous place in a country I had desired to visit my whole life.  There were couples and a family in my group and I felt like an outcast.  I was able to really observe the routine of the various tours that were operating, and it really seemed old hat.  Our mahout actually worked for the Chiang Mai government and dedicated his vacation days to the park.  He had plenty of interesting stories, but I felt like because there were so many visitors we were constantly standing around far away from the elephants and were rushed through any opportunities for interactions.  I don’t actually feel like I learned anything being at the park.  This was disappointing for various reasons.

The primary reason is because this was the activity for which I was most excited on my trip.  The second, is that H and his gaggle of irritating and obnoxious young, perma-hungover Brits went to a different park and had a blast.  I believe the place they visited was Elephant Jungle Sanctuary (based on the uniforms).  They had the experience of trekking through the the lush, green mountain land with the elephants.  They got to spend a lot more time up close and personal with the pachyderms.  Instead of just getting a 2-minute photo-opp bathing the elephants with a bucket, they were fully submerged playing in the water with ’em.  When I planned on visiting the Elephant Nature Park Chiang Mai, I fully expected to be hiking, bathing, and feeding the elephants.  I told my parents I’d be shoveling elephant poop for most of the day.  I was cool with it!  I was paying to volunteer my time there.  I was prepared for a workout!  Unfortunately I felt like I really was just standing around most of the day.

I chose Elephant Nature Park Chiang Mai based on their ethical treatment of elephants and the rave reviews of other travel bloggers.  What I got was really just a day of standing around watching elephants from afar.  I had to put my glasses on to see them.  I normally reserve my glasses-wearing time for the ball-park if we have seats in the back row of the bleachers.  You could tell the elephants had really gotten used to the tourists being there.  To them, we were just another hand placing watermelon pieces within trunk-reach.

There was an elephant with a pierced ear and flower ring at Elephant Nature Park Chiang Mai.  I think meeting her will haunt me for quite some time.  I don’t think she had found her place with the other elephants on site.  She veered away from her mahout while my group was leaving the “bathing” part of the afternoon.  She walked straight up to me like she wanted to talk. I think this elephant knew that I was alone and was kind of over it.  I don’t think she was quite jaded enough to think of me as just another food source.  Her mahout yelled at me to get out of her way, but when I moved to the side to let her through she just stopped and hung out beside me.  Later on she came by and just stood by me.  I wasn’t anywhere near the food – just waiting for our group to congregate and head back to the van.  They say “an elephant never forgets”.  I think these gentle giants know more than they let on.


Elephant Nature Park Chiang Mai Office

1 Ratmakka Road, Phra Sing,

Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Office Hours: 07:00-17:00 Mon-Sun. (GMT+7)

Tel: +66 (0) 53 272855, +66 (0) 53 818932

GPS 18.7849572, 98.9927558

The post Elephant Nature Park Chiang Mai was a Thailand Disappointment appeared first on The Toronto Seoulcialite.

Daesansa Temple – 대산사 (Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

Sun, 2017-02-19 17:11

The beautiful artwork dedicated to Yongwang at Daesansa Temple in Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Located in south-western Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do, on the northern ridgeline of Mt. Cheonwangsan, sits Daesansa Temple. The temple is scenically located past the Daesan-ji lake and up a zigzagging mountain road that looks down on the valley below.

As you first enter the grassy temple courtyard, you’ll notice the monks’ dorms and the visitors’ centre bookending the main hall at Daesansa Temple: the Wontong-jeon Hall. Out in front of the Wontong-jeon Hall is a one tier pagoda that’s seen better days. Lining the tiers and base of the pagoda are figurines that have been left behind by devotees. Painted around the exterior walls to this newly constructed main hall are beautiful, large Palsang-do murals depicting the eight stages from the Buddha’s life. Up near the eaves of the roof are smaller Shimu-do, Ox-herding murals, that are just as intricate and masterful as the Palsang-do set.

Stepping inside the Wontong-jeon Hall, you’ll notice a unique set of main altar statues. The largest one in the middle is dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). And the golden capped statue to the left is Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife), while the one to the right is a statue dedicated to Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). Rounding out the artwork inside the Wontong-jeon Hall is an older mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal to the left of the main altar.

To the right rear of the main hall are a set of three shaman shrine halls. The first to the far left is the Sanshin-gak. The all-natural wooden exterior houses a mural dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). Sanshin is joined in the painting by a dour looking tiger. To the right of the Sanshin-gak is the Chilseong/Dokseong-gak. Inside this shaman shrine hall, which has an all-natural wooden exterior, as well, are a pair of shaman murals. The first to the left is an older mural dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars), and to the right hangs a beautifully vibrant mural dedicated to Dokseong (The Lonely Saint).

The final shaman shrine housed at Daesansa Temple is dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King). The Yongwang-dang lies down a set of stone stairs. The white screened shrine houses one of the most amazing paintings dedicated to Yongwang that I’ve ever seen in Korea. This masterful painting is a new addition to the temple, and the former red wooden tablet that used to be housed inside the Yongwang-dang now rests out in front of it.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Cheongdo Intercity Bus Terminal, take Bus #1 and get off at the bus stop named “Nokmyeong 2 ri” after seven stops (or 17 minutes). And from this stop, then take the town bus named “Punggak Sunhwan” (풍락 순환 버스). And after six stops, or 19 minutes, get off at the “Oksan 2 ri” bus stop. From this stop, you’ll need to walk for about 30 minutes, or 2.1 km, to get to the temple. Follow the signs as you make the climb towards Daesansa Temple.

OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. The main highlights to this temple are the amazing shaman artwork at Daesansa Temple. While there, have an especially close look at all four major pieces of artwork. Also of note are the statues resting on the main altar inside the Wontong-jeon Hall and the one tier pagoda out in front of the main hall.

The view from Daesansa Temple.

The Wontong-jeon main hall at Daesansa Temple.

The one tier pagoda out in front of the Wontong-jeon Hall.

One of the beautiful Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals that adorns the exterior walls of the Wontong-jeon Hall.

As well as this intricate Palsang-do mural.

Inside the Wontong-jeon Hall during morning prayer.

The view towards the shaman shrine halls behind the main hall at Daesansa Temple.

The Sanshin-gak at Daesansa Temple.

The dour looking tiger and Sanshin together.

The Chilseong/Dokseong-gak at the temple.

The older mural dedicated to Chilseong.

And the vibrant Dokseong mural housed inside the Chilseong/Dokseong-gak.

The Yongwang shrine.

The amazing Yongwang mural housed inside the Yongwang-dang.

And one final look up at the Wontong-jeon main hall at Daesansa Temple.

Korean Test Practice with Billy [Ep. 1] – Intermediate Korean (Dictation)

Sat, 2017-02-18 02:22

Are you preparing for the TOPIK test, a government Korean test, or a Korean test at school? Then let me help you prepare with a brand new series focused on Korean test questions and explanations.

This episode will cover an example of a dictation question. More episodes to come soon!

The post Korean Test Practice with Billy [Ep. 1] – Intermediate Korean (Dictation) appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

Gyeongju Hanok Stay

Thu, 2017-02-16 09:55

Known as Korea's historical capital and often referred to as the 'museum without walls', Gyeongju is frequented by locals and international tourist alike. A more immersive way to experience traditional korean culture and lifestyle while visiting Gyeongju is with a hanok stay.


Gyeongju Hanok 'Hwangnamguan'

A hanok is a traditional korean house constructed with natural materials. These houses are characterised by mud walls, hanji paper doors, and wooden roofs pieced together with clever joining and no nails. These houses are considered to have health benefits due to their ability to 'breathe'. Ondol (heated flooring) makes the houses comfortable in Winter and the open design allows for ample ventilation in Summer. Visitors should be aware that traditionally hanoks don't feature elevated beds but rather sleeping mats on the floor.  

Most hanok houses have been updated slightly for the comfort and convenience of guests and include a tv, western bathroom and electrical outlets. Each hanok will differ in age, price, and activities offered. Some houses offer experiences like pottery making, tea preparation, traditional games, or trying on Korea's national garb 'hanbok'.

Sodamjeong Hanok

Sodamjeong caters for both Korean and English-speaking guests and is a very economical option for a Gyeongju hanok stay. A single ondol room (9m squared) will set you back around 70,000원. The rooms and ground are Sodamjeong are quiet small but staff are welcoming and personable even leaving a personalized welcome note for guests. Visitors have unlimited access to the hanok kitchen and complimentary breakfast items like eggs, bread, jam, and juice. The location at Sodamjeong is one of its strongest attributes, a short walk from Gyeongju bus terminal and nearby attractions.  

Hwangnamguan Hanok 


Gyeongju Hanok 'Hwangnamguan'

In a prime location walking distance to Gyochon Hanok Village and Cheomseongdae, Hwangnamguan Hanok Village is a premium hanok experience. Guests can reserve single ondol rooms (16m) or a family suite (40m) with additional living spaces. For added comfort to foreign guests some rooms also feature western style beds. The grounds include traditional games, hanbok, and craft workshops. The adjoining hanok style cafe offers clear views of the kings tombs, a nice place to rest after day a day of walking around Gyeongju's many historical sites. 

The view of a King's tomb from Cattle & Bee cafe

While a Hanok stay is a great way to experience Gyeongju Korea has many other cities famous for their traditional Hanok villaages. Hanok stays are offered all over the country in Seoul, Gongju, Jeonju, and Andong.  

Other Gyeongju hanok stays...Yettle Hanok Stay Floral Space Hanok GuesthouseSoi Hanok StayHanok RaonA list of hanoks by destination can be found here.


Online Teaching: How to Convert Trial Students into Customers

Wed, 2017-02-15 04:46
Online Teaching: An Interesting Option

I’ve always thought that online teaching was an intriguing option. In particular, for those people who wanted to live a digital nomad kind of life. Traveling the world while working online is pretty appealing! It was one of the options I considered quite seriously, before ultimately deciding to return to my home country of Canada after 10 years teaching in Korea.

The other group of people I think online teaching could work for are those who are tired of teaching English abroad. They may want to return to their home countries but aren’t sure about the work situation. You’ll also need to check out Life After ESL: Foreign Teachers Returning Home. Getting a few students going with the the online teaching before going home, and then continuing it once there could be a nice way to have some initial money coming in. At the very least, it could be an excellent way to avoid living in the parent’s basement! Use your skills gained from teaching abroad and make it into a job back home.

If there are people out there who are teaching English online, I’d love to hear from you! Perhaps we could set up an interview or a guest post. Please share your knowledge with us!

What follows is a guest post from Kris Jagasia, who I met through Linkedin. He’s very knowledgeable about online teaching and I think you’ll appreciate the wisdom he’s sharing with us about converting trial students into customers who are paying for lessons from you. Thanks Kris!

How to Convert ‘Trial’ Students into Customers

My name is Kris Jagasia and I work on product development for an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher tool called Off2Class. In this role I have the opportunity to meet all sorts of ESL teachers. From solo ‘teacherpreneurs’ to curriculum managers and everything in between! Lately I’ve been coaching a lot of online ‘teacherpreneurs’ on how to build their independent businesses. Today I’d like to relay some thoughts specific to ‘conversion’. That is, once you have someone who’s interested in trying you out as a tutor, how do you close the sale? How do you convert students for online teaching?

How do I find students?

Almost every online teacher I’ve met with seems to have one question at the top of their minds: ‘how do I find students?’ On the other hand, I’ve never had an online teacher bring up conversion. ‘How do I convince students that I am the best choice as a language coach’ has never come up! To me, conversion is just as important as finding leads.

Conversion is half of growth

Recently, Off2Class released a free ESL Placement Test. It can easily be found on the Off2Class website. The original goal of the placement test was to provide teachers with a way to set a level diagnostic for students. However, I’ve noticed an interesting strategy emerge. Many teachers like to send the placement test to prospective students before their first ‘trial’ session together.

After their students complete the test, our tool produces a Gap Analysis (which outlines their ESL weaknesses) and an Individual Learning Plan (which outlines the lessons required to address those weaknesses). In their consultations, teachers will walk their students through the personalized plan they’ve crafted to address their students’ unique language weaknesses.

This level of personal attention is an extremely powerful method of building trust between you and your prospective students. Trust will be formed because you’ll be showcasing a tailored approach to your students’ needs (rather than generically trying to sell yourself based on your experience and qualifications).

Many of our teachers have reported a huge boost in their conversion rates by using this placement test approach on marketplaces such as italki and Verbling. So much so, that we even hosted a webinar on the subject for the italki teacher community. The best part of this strategy for busy online ESL teachers is that you can use it at scale (i.e. easily-repeat it). You can send the placement test to prospective students with a couple of clicks. Your student’s Gap Analysis and Individual Learning Plan will be waiting for you when you’re ready for the trial lesson. Just share your screen and impress your student!

About Kris Jagasia

Kris Jagasia is a co-founder at Off2Class. He is primarily responsible for product design and testing and in this role he gets to work with hundreds of independent online ESL teachers. You can reach him by leaving a comment here or by using this contact form.

Jackie Bolen: How to Get a University Job In Korea


My Life! Teaching in a Korean University:

University Jobs Korea:



Fun Movie Theaters in Seoul

Tue, 2017-02-14 21:43

People all over the world love to visit the movie theater every so often to see the newest blockbuster or the drama their favorite actor is starring in. Who doesn’t love the thrill that comes from watching a movie on a screen much bigger than the TV at home, and with loud sound effects? The people in Korea are no different. In fact, Koreans love going to movies for dates, family outings, and fun with friends, so much that they’ve taken the experience of watching a movie on the big screen to a whole other level! Below are some fun movie theaters in Seoul that you are not going to want to miss out on when in Korea!


#1. 4-D Theaters

A few select cinemas of the chain called CGV have 4-D movie theaters in which watching the latest blockbuster becomes an even more entertaining experience than you could have ever imagined. Just like for a 3-D movie you’ll be given glasses for the best viewing of the movie; however, the difference between 3-D and 4-D is that in 4-D the movie watcher becomes even more engaged in the movie as the seats will move and shake, with wind, water, and other effects teasing the watchers during the most exciting parts of the movie. This might not be the most preferred way for everyone to watch a movie, but it’s something everyone should try at least once!


#2. Starium

What makes this seemingly normal looking movie theater located in CGV Yeongdeungpo so spectacular that it should be on this list? Because the screen in Starium is the biggest movie screen in the world! There’s a chance you’ll walk out of the movie completely dazed from staring at a screen that huge for two hours, but I bet you’d still have a happy and content feeling running around your tummy.


#3. Sweetbox

So you are out on a date with someone you cherish and you might want to cuddle up during the movie without disrupting others? Then Sweetbox is the way to go! The last row of some movie theaters offers these two-seaters where you can comfortably snuggle up to your partner during the scariest or saddest scenes of the movies, without cupholders or angry glances from other movie viewers there to bother you. The price of the tickets isn’t much higher than for regular seats, either.


#4. Gold Class

Looking for an option even more exclusive than Sweetbox? For a heftier sum of money, you can find yourself in a Gold Class theater where all the seats are like couches or beds for two people. They are ridiculously comfortable, too! And hold on, the fun doesn’t stop there! You can also order beer, coffee, or wine to go with your movie watching experience, which is perfect for celebrating a special event with your best friend or loved one.


#5. Beats by Dr. Dre Theater

Good news to those who are single is that while a lot of these fun movie theaters in Seoul seem to cater mainly to couples, there are fun options for those without a partner as well! One such option is this movie theater, Beats by Dr. Dre, located in CGV Cheongdam Cine City. You just buy a ticket for a showing in this theater, walk in and sit into your seat, put on the highly admired set of headphones, and enjoy the movie without having to hear that loud pair of people talking behind you the entire movie or that person next to you loudly munching on their popcorn. It will be almost like you’re the only one in the movies!


#6. Cine de Chef

Leveling up even further from the Gold Class movie theater is Cine de Chef. They actually have two seating sections – one with comfortable sofas for two people to share and one with luxurious chairs for those who might prefer that regardless of if they are enjoying the movie alone or not. That’s so great! But that’s not the only way Cine de Chef is trying to one up Gold Class; at Cine de Chef you actually get to indulge in some magnificent Western-style dishes! Sure, sometimes it’s fun to grab a box of popcorn with a soda and a chilli cheese hot dog on the side, but sometimes you want to go all fancy and there’s no better way for that than by visiting Cine de Chef.


#7 Tempur Cinema

Now, there are actually two ways to get the Cine de Chef experience. One was already mentioned above, and the other one we will present now. At Tempur Cinema you also have the chance to get your tummy full of yummy with the extravagant dishes offered by Cine de Chef, but what makes Tempur Cinema in itself unique is that it’s the first reclining bed cinema in the world. That’s right, you don’t actually even have to sit up straight while watching a movie at this theater, you can comfortably lie down instead!


#8 The Private Cinema

This is the most exclusive and perhaps the fanciest option for a fun movie outing on the list. A whole movie theater, just for the use of you and whoever you decided to invite to join you! Not only do you get a completely private experience for watching a movie on the big screen, but you’ll also get to have your own private lounge for fun before the movie starts. Not only that, they also offer a catering service! I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a better way to celebrate one’s birthday!


Here is a list of the most fun movie theaters in Seoul that you could possibly find. Of course, with how special and luxurious they are, the price tags on the tickets is also much higher. However, don’t let that stop you, the experience is definitely worth every penny. Happy movie watching!

Does Secretary of Defense Mattis Speak for President Trump, and Co-President Bannon?

Tue, 2017-02-14 10:59

This is a local re-post of an essay I wrote for the Lowy Institute earlier this month on US Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ trip to Japan and South Korea. It was your fairly typical meet-the-allies thing, but under Trump nothing is what it seems. In brief my argument is, why would US allies listen to SecDef when the president is this erratic and impressionable? What really matters, especially if Michael Flynn is on the way out, is what Steve Bannon, Trump’s very own Dr. Strangelove, thinks. Creepy. I still can’t believe this guy is POTUS.

The full essay follows the jump:


This is a weird time for US allies in Asia. This week’s visit by the new American Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, to northeast Asia should be a routine alliance maintenance trip. A new presidency brings new people and new ideas. Officials need to make the rounds and get up to speed. But under President Donald Trump, it is not clear if Mattis actually speaks for this White House, and what a White House it is.

The new president’s behavior toward allies is nothing less than catastrophic astonishing. In the 70 years of American not-always-but-reasonably liberal hegemony, one is hard pressed to think of a major US official, much less the president himself, attacking allies so publicly. In less than two weeks, Trump has gone after Mexico, Britain, Germany, and Australia. (Because everyone knows Australia has been fleecing the United States for decades and had it coming! At least we can steal your oil.) No one really knows what this means yet. Alarmists are already saying this is the end of the liberal world order. This is probably an exaggeration, but Trump’s purposeful, theatrical ambiguity encourages such speculation.

Trump’s taste for melodrama and conflict also undercuts US envoys such as Mattis. What kind of reassurance can Mattis offer if Trump will tweet out something later that challenges his statements? Indeed, Trump has already done this to Mattis on this trip. Simultaneous with Mattis’ voyage, Trump was declaring Japan a currency manipulator. Trump has attacked Japan over economics for decades, and considering that South Korea basically lifted its growth model from Japan, one can easily foresee the same sorts of criticisms. (Here is the quarterly US Treasury Department report on currency manipulation, and yes, it does specifically call out Japan and South Korea, and China and Germany.) In fact, so unnerved is Tokyo that despite Mattis’ traditional reassurance guarantees, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is cooking up a plan for Japanese investment in the US to buy-off assuage Trump when they next meet. What matters now is not the boilerplate alliance rhetoric we have heard for decades, but Trump’s personality with all its reality TV-fed affectation for drama, conflict, suspense, and so on.

Beyond Trump’s own psychology is the problem of his (likely purposively) chaotic White House. Trump’s staff and cabinet are all over the place on policy commitments – ranging from traditionalist like Mattis, to Islamophobic superhawks like National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, to clash-of-civilization white nationalists like Stephen Bannon. A positive interpretation would call this a ‘team of rivals.’ Far more likely is that it represents Trump’s own penchant for intra-organizational conflict over which he sits as the final arbiter dispensing favor. This policy ‘process’ too will undercut Trump subordinates. Empire-building and turf wars will encourage competing factions to release conflicting statements. Allies will be confused as to who speaks for what. The extraordinary profusion of leaks already from this White House suggests that this internecine conflict is even now underway.

The emerging winner appears to be Bannon, which will likely unnerve US allies. Although he lacks foreign policy experience, he has nonetheless clawed his way onto the National Security Council. He was also the force behind the recent partial Muslim immigration ban. Bannon has indicated that he see Islam and the West in a Huntingtonian clash, and that a Sino-US war is probable. If Bannon is indeed this influential, then US allies may well see a need to cultivate a relationship with him, as detestable as that might be, if only to prevent being ‘chain-ganged’ into a conflict Bannon wishes to pursue. In Asia, Trump has already gone out of his way to provoke China over Taiwan. This is a well-established red-line for China, and the People’s Liberation Army has already hinted at a military response. This would obviously put Japan, South Korea, and Australia in a very awkward.

George W. Bush’s government gives us some precedent of what to expect, namely, chaos. He too was a conservative Republican with little aptitude to read and grow, with weak cognitive skills, prone to snap judgments from his ‘gut,’ and surrounded by clashing empire-builders, most notably Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The outcome of this ‘doughnut’ model of leadership – thick staff circling a thin center – was predictably disordered. Bush was widely seen as a naif conned into major actions he did not understand, most notably the Iraq War. His low evaluation of competence lead him to appoint friends and cronies who ultimately tarred his administration with blunders such as the botched follow-up of the Iraq invasion or the federal response to Hurricane Katrina. When he left office, his approval ratings were dismal.

This is almost certainly an analogue for the Trump administration, only worse. Like Bush, Trump is not a reader. But it is worse, as Trump has said he does not read books at all and wants reports to him to be as short as possible. Like Bush, this leaves Trump susceptible to the last voice he hears on various topics and easily lead into others’ projects. Under Bush, Cheney was the manipulator until Bush realized just how badly the vice president was damaging his reputation and cut him out in his second term. Under Trump, Bannon appears to be emerging as the internal Svengali-Dr. Strangelove. Like Bush, only worse, Trump is nepotistic, leaning on family and friends rather than merit to staff his upper tiers. In Bush’s case, this lead straight to Iraq, Katrina, the Great Recession, and a reputation for incompetence. Trump, in just his first week, already suffered nepotism costs in the badly bungled rollback of the Muslim travel ban. Like Bush, Trump makes decisions from his gut with an eye to macho posturing. Trump has already witnessed the cost of that style in the botched commando raid in Yemen.

Most noticeable in the comparison is that every problem Bush had is aggravated under Trump. Bush, for all his faults, came from a political tradition that respected America’s institutions, and in time, Bush learned to stop making rash decisions and start listening to experts instead of ideologues, most noticeably in his genuine second term efforts to get a deal with North Korea. Trump, by contrast, is completely unmoored from the American establishment. He won by destroying two American dynasties – the Bushes and the Clintons – and tearing down both political parties. His brash, ‘winging it’ style has, somehow, remarkably, worked so far. He presumably sees no reason to listen to the experts and traditionalists he vanquished.

So why listen to Mattis too much then? He represents exactly that establishment world Trump just bested on the back of a remarkable populist upsurge allegiant to him no matter what he did. Bannon did far more for Trump than Mattis, and his populist/nationalist instincts fit the mood of the West. Perhaps the Democrats will win in an anti-Trump wave in 2018; the opposition party normally does well in US mid-term elections anyway. But if not, American allies should consider politely ignoring traditionalists like Mattis and start following the frightening musings of Trump and his inner handlers.

Filed under: Alliances, Asia, Domestic Politics, Lowy Institute, Policy Process, Trump

Weekend Warriors: Daedun Cloud Bridge and Chateau Mani Winery

Mon, 2017-02-13 17:04

On a Friday night in February, I hopped on a bus from the WinK Taphouse and headed down to the middle of Korea.  WinK has definitely stepped up their food menu game.  I really enjoyed the spicy mac and cheese, which had a real kick to it and plenty of bacon.  The ooey-gooey cheese is what I crave most Friday nights!  You might remember WinK from my tour to Jindo for the Sea-Parting Festival.

We arrived in Daejeon around 1 AM.  The group slept at a jimjilbang (bath house and sauna) overnight.  We were up, at ’em, and on the road by 7:20 AM.  After about an hour of driving we made it to Daedun Mountain which has stunning snow-capped mountains, beautiful views, and plenty of tasty Korean food and Makgeolli.  The Daedun Cloud Bridge is a must-see when visiting Korea.  We then went on to visit Chateau Mani.  Young Dong is an area well-known for its grape growing and wine-making.  Some say it’s like the Napa Valley of Korea.

Daedun Mountain and Daedun Cloud Bridge

There are two ways to reach the cloud bridge and vertical stairway.  The tough way is to take the hiking trail which is pretty steep and can take experienced hikers about an hour to an hour and a half.  The easy way (which we took) was the cable car.  I had been hoping to hike, but once we started the trek I thought it would be safer to take the cable car.  The walk from the bus to the cable car was already pretty steep, and with the cold, ice, and about 28 other group members I thought it best to save the hike for another time.  The cable car itself takes you almost right up to the top where there are stairs to the Daedun Cloud Bridge and two lookout points.  After another set of slippery stairs you get to the cloud bridge!

Daedun Cloud Bridge Cable Car Pricing:

Round Trip = 9,000 won (8,500 won if in a group of 30 + people)
One Way = 6,000 won (5,500 won if 30 or more)

Once you cross Daedun cloud bridge you’ll have to go down to make your way back up to the vertical bridge.  From the top of that bridge to the peak is about 30 minutes.  I actually had to slide on my bum to get down from a particularly steep and slippery section, so I avoided that area too this round.  The people who went up to the peak said that it was too foggy to see very much anyway even though it was a clear day.

You can’t skip a chance to have makgeolli (rice wine) and pajeon (savoury panake) when hiking (or taking a cable car to a mountain).  This area is known for it’s chestnut makgeolli.  The flavour is fairly subtle, and after a couple of servings you’ll definitely get a case of the giggles!  At the base of the mountain you’ll find a plethora of restaurants and food stands.  Knowing we’d have lunch at the winery, we chose to just have one order of jeon and then share some tasty hotteok, too.  Hotteok is fried dough filled with brown sugar and, depending on the region, different kinds of nuts or seeds.  This variety had sesame seeds!

Chateau Mani Korean Winery

Apparently this is the same winery to which the wine train will take you!  They make 4 different kinds of wine there and store a plethora of other bottles for people conservatory-style.  The wines are made from grapes grown in the region.  They had a dry white and a dry red which I still found to be quite sweet.  The white wine had an interesting smoky taste that I probably wouldn’t order again.  The dry red was pretty typical cheap-tasting red.  We had a grand time eating, drinking, and chatting away with our new pals.  

Lunch was bbq duck with plenty of side dishes.  Extra wine carafes were KRW 7,000 each.  At that price, everyone was having a toasty time.  Later, we were able to check out Chateau Mani’s tasting room.  There, we sampled some more wines (free of charge) before heading back to Seoul.

Winery Tour and Foot Bath

I actually didn’t do the foot bath this time around because I had already done it in Muju.   We opted to stick around the tasting room.  We  joked around with other members of the tour and our lovely ahjumma hostess who was taking care of our sampling.  The people who did do the foot bath loved it.  They came in and out of the gift shop and tasting area to grab glasses to bring back while soaking.

Like it?  Pin it!  Also make sure to check out the list of all upcoming trips at WinK Travels Facebook and follow The Toronto Seoulcialite for more Korea trip rundowns!

The post Weekend Warriors: Daedun Cloud Bridge and Chateau Mani Winery appeared first on The Toronto Seoulcialite.

Korean Wave Spreading To Rural African Villages

Mon, 2017-02-13 15:30
Korean Wave Spreading To Rural African Villages

As the Korean Wave continues to become popular in many parts of Asia, Korean dramas & music have also begun to make inroads in other parts of the world, including villages in rural Africa. Last spring, Korea FM reporter Chance Dorland spoke with Xiaochen Su, an American working in Tanzania for an agricultural micro finance institution to support local farmers, who had recently written an article describing how his new home was becoming inundated with Korean dramas & K-pop music. Korea FM also spoke with Husna Ramadhani, a Tanzanian woman who became interested in Korean dramas & music while attending university, & thinks the Korean Wave will become even more popular as time goes on. Find more information via ’s post at

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Cheongdo Wine Tunnel

Mon, 2017-02-13 00:17
Cheongdo Wine Tunnel

Cheongdo, in Gyeongsanbukdo is well known for its bull fighting, dalmaji burning and annual tug of war. It is a renowned garden city popular for its fresh farm produce such as peaches and persimmons. It is for the latter that most visitors venture from all over the peninsula to sample some of Cheongdo’s famous persimmons… in wine form at the Cheongdo wine tunnel.  

Cheongdo Wine Tunnel (청도 와인터널)

Cheongdo's excess of fresh persimmons (producing 25million tons annually) led to the development of gam ('gam/감' is Korean for 'persimmon') wine. The tunnel was established in 1904 before it was repurposed to the wine tunnel in 2006. Cheongdo wine tunnel features light installations and exhibitions from locally based artists and schools. While the tunnel is especially beautiful in autumn when local orchards are brimming with bright orange fruit, it can be enjoyed all year round as inside it remains between 13 and 15 degrees throughout the year. 

Visitors can sample a dry or sweet glass of gam wine for just 3,000-4,00원 (add a cheese plate for 5,000원). Differing from western style wine, gam wine has a tart taste but isn't entirely unpleasant if consumed slowly with a plate of cheese and chocolate. The makers of the wine boast that it offers health benefits in preventing disease. Persimmons are considered somewhat of a hangover cure in Korea the wine apparently won't inflict any kind of hangover. 

In addition to gam wine, there are a range of persimmon products to try including chocolate, vinegar, makgoelli, sweets, dried/half dried fruits, and bread. 


Getting there:

Take a train or bus to Dong Daegu. Switch to another train travelling through Cheongdo station (en route to Busan or Pohang). Trains depart every 20~30 min from 6am till 11pm and take 20 mins.   

Buses from Cheongdo station depart for the tunnel 10 times a day: 07:00, 07:50, 09:40, 11:20, 13:20, 14:50, 16:00, 18:00, 19:20, 20:20 (take a bus bound for Songgeum-ri 송금리).

Entry fee: 2,000원 per person- free for the first 200m.

Opening hours: Weekdays & National Holidays 09:30-20:00

For more information on Cheongdo and its attractions visit here.