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Seoul Food: Oh! Poutine – Itaewon

Wed, 2017-04-19 12:41

Oh Poutine: Canadian Comfort Food in Seoul, South Korea As a Canadian, I have a bias on how cheese curds have to be made.  They have to be slightly melty, definitely chunky, and above all: they have to squeak!  Thankfully, I share this bias with Ellie of Oh Poutine in Itaewon, Seoul.  She spends 6-7 hours making each batch of housemade cheese curds.  The process involves boiling milk and constantly flipping for the cheddaring process.  The thought of flipping milk into cheese all day isn’t exactly my cup of tea, but at Oh Poutine Ellie finds it relaxing.  How lucky are we? Canadian Connection Oh Poutine proprietor, Ellie (short for Elisabeth), lived in Vancouver, Canada for 15 years.  She studied textile design at Capilano College, then went to Emily Carr University to complete her Fine Arts degree.  5 years ago, Ellie returned to Korea to work for a textile company, but something was missing in Seoul.  Oh Poutine was born! Oh Poutine began its journey back in December of 2015.  The opportunity arose for a pop-up shop in in Hyewa area, and Oh Poutine had it’s first home there from December of 2015 through March 2016.  On October 10th, 2016, Oh Poutine made its way to Itaewon. With all the expats in the area, I assumed the new location would be flush with Canadians flocking to get homemade cheese curds, gravy, and fries.  We went on a Wednesday night and saw another party dining in and a few people grab take out.  This hidden gem is the ultimate spot for a dine-in experience or a sneaky take-away! The Cheese Oh Poutine offers 3 different options for cheese: Cheese Curds, Mozzarella, and Curdrella (a combination – yes, please!).  While the cheese curd poutine is the most popular, it seems for Koreans cheese has to be melty, not chunky (more for me, thank you!).  They tend to prefer the mozzarella version, while foreigners dive into the squeaky cheese curds; a labour of love! The Fries

The French fries are slightly crispy on the outside and perfectly soft mashed potatoes on the inside.  Just how I like ’em!  It actually surprised me when Ellie told us that the fries were frozen.  It seems almost all the spots in Itaewon (and Korea – correct me if I’m wrong) serve frozen fries as potatoes are tough to come by out here.  I’ve actually heard about a recent potato chip hoarding scandal in Japan as the crops just aren’t growing normally.

The Gravy This is the first time I’ve had proper brown gravy since leaving Canada for Korea.  Oh Poutine has a brown gravy which is deep, rich, thick, and seasoned well.  Not for the vegetarians, it contains both beef stock and chicken stock. Oh Canada –  the Oh! Poutine Classic It’s no wonder the classic, traditional poutine of fries topped with cheese curds and brown gravy is the most popular.  With two other “Canadian”-themed restaurants in Seoul (which we shall not call out by name), you’d think someone would have been able to create a perfect, no frills Canadian delicacy.  Alas, the McCain fries with pepper gravy at one, and the kimchi poutine at the other fall flat, especially when compared with the perfect, simple, classic poutine at Oh Poutine.  If you’ve never tried this dish, don’t ruin the experience by heading elsewhere.  Go the tried and true route and hit up Oh! Poutine. Mexican Poutine The Mexican poutine had tasty fries, bright salsa, an ooey-dooey queso, sour cream, and chives.  If I had my choice, I would have topped the fries with pico de gallo for a kick of tomato, onion, and cilantro (I always want more cilantro).  My dining companion also suggested fresh avocado on top (not guacamole) and I eagerly agreed.  I’m hoping we’ll see an updated, fresher version of this creative take on poutine in Seoul.  It’s unlikely, however, as this option tends to be quite popular with Korean guests. Loaded Baked Potato Poutine While I loved the classic poutine at Oh Poutine, my favourite variety was loaded with real, crispy bacon!  This was like a classic baked potato topped with the classic brown gravy, sour cream, and tons of fresh, tangy chives, too.  We were served this version with mozzarella.  Next time I would definitely get this variation with either cheese curds or the combination curdrella. The Menu Getting to Oh! Poutine Itaewon Directions

Take Exit 4 of Itaewon Subway Station.  Walk down the street (Bogwang-ro, across from Taco Bell) and take your first right turn (onto Bogwang-ro 59-gil).  You’ll pass one CU, Wolfhound, and a bunch of other restaurants and bars.  When you get to the second CU convenience store, turn left.  You’ll see the restaurant (Oh Poutine: 18-1 Itaewon-ro-20-gil, Yongsan-gu, 04391 Seoul, South Korea) on your right within a couple of blocks!

Contact Oh! Poutine 18-1 Itaewon-ro-20-gil, Yongsan-gu
Seoul, South Korea 04391
02-749-2334 Oh! Poutine Facebook The Toronto Seoulcialite Facebook Oh! Poutine Instagram The Toronto Seoulcialite Instagram

Thank you so much Ellie at Oh! Poutine for inviting me to sample your delicious poutine.  It’s so nice to be known as the “Canadian Food Blogger in Seoul”!  We will most certainly be back soon.

Like it? Pin it!  Pin this image to your board to keep tabs on Oh! Poutine’s Menu, Directions, and flavours!

The post Seoul Food: Oh! Poutine – Itaewon appeared first on The Toronto Seoulcialite.

Does Having Better Gear Make You a Better Photographer?

Tue, 2017-04-18 09:17

At some point in our journey through photography we find ourselves lusting after the latest and greatest gear. We suddenly want to go “full frame” or “mirrorless” without fully understanding the camera that we currently own. We fall for celebrity photographer ads talking about the latest camera or gear that will somehow take pictures so good that we will become famous over night. The sad truth is that this is all BS and too many of us fall for it.

Sure, we all like to say that “the best camera is the one that’s with you” giving off vibes that you are a humble photographer that can use anything to take a photo. However, when it comes to the camera “that’s with you” we sometimes get a little carried away. This leads us down the path to GAS or Gear Acquisition Syndrome. This is where we purchase gear in a hope that it will make us or our photography magically better. The truth of the matter is that it will not but somehow we think that it will.

Learn Not Lust

Recently, I posted an article from the creativelive blog about this topic as I know that it would strike a chord with my photographer friends. Just like any hobby or passion,  photography has it’s trappings of shiny things that are expensive. We want better lenses and newer cameras and then we have to upgrade our computers and buy more storage. Yet, somehow we forget to upgrade our skill set and our understanding of the actual art of photography.

The internet has made this a lot worse too. Allowing for one-click purchases and speedy delivery. It is intoxicating. I remember when I first upgraded to a Canon mk iii and bought a bunch of gear as well. I was buying new gear for the first time in a number of years and it was an awesome feeling. However, it did not make me any better than when I had my used 7D or my old 30D. My carbon fibre tripod didn’t get my photos on the cover of National Geographic at all.

What did make my photography improve was actually doing side projects that pushed my skills in different directions. Working on food photography that required different lighting and having to find out how to do it. Applying all that knowledge that was taking up space on my hard drive was how I was able to improve my photography.

Learn to Walk Before Using a Crutch

I see it all the time, people using their gear as a crutch to give them an excuse as to why their photography is plateauing. Many of us think “if only I had XX camera, then I could get that shot” However, we need to step back and reexamine what it is we why to achieve. There are times when your clients what an ultra high res image and you need those extra megapixels but how often is that? There are also times where you need a fisheye to get to everything into the frame, but can you rent one instead?

The biggest is question here is why? Once you have successfully answered that question, then proceed with your plan. When we get stuck in GAS we often have no idea what it is that we are going to shoot. There is no solid plan but just a need. Understanding what your camera is capable of is the one thing that can get you out of GAS. The other is understanding your personal style. Do you really need that macro lens if you primarily shoot landscapes?

Also don’t let the lack of gear hold you back either. Again, knowing what your gear is capable of often makes you realize that you don’t need to upgrade. Not to mention sometimes just using your phone is enough. What I mean is that if you are just walking around town shooting street scenes and your coffee, you don’t need that Leica camera. I see too many comments like “this is just an iPhone shot, I am not a pro” and I chuckle because the iPhone now has more megapixels than my first 2 digital cameras. I many cases, the phone on your camera will do just fine. Again, it is understanding what that camera can do and what it can’t that can make all the difference. Also all the images in this post were from a day out with just my phone because I wanted to test out this idea.

Fill Your Head Not Your Bag

As an educator I must implore you to study the craft. Perhaps even buy my courses…lol. The point being that we live in an age where there is free to moderately priced courses out there to learn almost every part of the photography spectrum. Yet, many people will drop massive amounts of money on a fancy camera and a telephoto lens before they drop $5 on a course or ebook that will show them how to use the camera that they already have. Photography education is one of the most bloated markets in the world. Almost every photographer (including myself) has courses to teach you something. Youtube is full of them. If you are like me you buy them and struggle to or never use them. Yet, when we buy a new lens or camera it is with us 24/7.

The reason being is that people would rather show off their camera than spend hours studying composition and theory. You don’t get a trophy or anything shiny for finishing David DuChemin’s Photographically Speaking book. It is a strange thing to me. People hum and hah about picking up my $5 lightroom course but will drop $800 on a lens that they probably don’t need. It’s because in many cases it boils down to that awesome feeling you get when you buy something expensive that is also followed up by the selfie you take with it and the comments from other photographers like “is that the new sigmanon TK421 art blaster-master F/0.5 10-10000 mm? That’s so awesome!!”

Interestingly enough it is the plethora of courses available from the top photographers around the world that will teach you to be the best.  It takes time to go beyond just click a button to studying and putting the knowledge to use. That time investment that is so hard for people. Even if they buy the courses, they take up space on your hard drive because we haven’t yet reached that matrix-like level where you can download everything and know it in seconds.


The Bottomline

What I am basically trying to say is that you need to learn how to use your camera first. This goes beyond the basics to learning how to properly conceptualize a great image. From there you need to learn how to take the concepts from your mind and make them a reality using your camera. A new camera or lens with now teach you that. A new camera will not get you to the “next level” unless you are pushing that level already and are truly limited by your camera. So the golden rule here is to upgrade when you hit that level where you need to upgrade to grow.

I know what you are thinking “Jason, can’t I grow into a camera?” I am going to say no because by the time that you have grown into that camera you will have probably moved on to another camera. What you should focus on is the process of creating great images with what you have available first. Master the art of using your equipment to create your vision then when you are at a level where you’ve done all that you can do with your camera or have moved into an area of photography where your current camera can’t keep up, then upgrade.

**the seemingly unrelated images here were taken on my iPhone. It was part of an experiment on the weekend where I decided to focus on just taking images as I walked around the city. This goes back to that idea of the best camera is the one that’s with you. Also it was partly to see if I was capable of taking usable photos without the crutch of my DSLR**

The post Does Having Better Gear Make You a Better Photographer? appeared first on The Sajin.


How to Say ‘House’ in Korean

Tue, 2017-04-18 09:00

Outside of work, your house is probably where you spend most of your time. Knowing how to say house in Korean is very useful as you will probably need to use this word on a daily basis in Korea.

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‘House’ in Korean

The word for ‘house’ in Korean is 집 (jip). In English, there is a difference between ‘house’ and ‘home’, but such a distinction isn’t made in Korean, so if you want to say ‘I’m going home’, you can use the word ‘집’.

If you want to say ‘my house’, then instead of using 제 (je) or 내 (nae) for my, you can use 우리 (uri). Usually, 우리 means ‘our’, but it can mean ‘my’ when referring to your home.

Some words in Korean have a special ‘honorific’ form. This means that if you are referring to someone who is higher than you (like a boss or a grandparent), you should use the ‘honorific’ form of the word. ‘House’ is one of these special ‘honorific’ words. The honorific term for ‘house’ is 댁 (daek).

If you want to talk about your grandfather’s house, or if you are talking to a really old person and want to talk about their house, you should say ‘댁’.

Never use 댁 to refer to your own house.


A word of caution about Romanization

Although you could learn the words in this article by reading the Romanized versions of them, in everyday Korean life you will need to know how to read them in Hangeul. Hangeul is the Korean alphabet, and is very easy to learn. In fact, you learn it in just 90 minutes.

Once you know Hangeul, you will start to be able to recognize the different types of shops and stores on the street, and Korea will seem more like your home than it did before. If you are serious about learning Korean, then start off by learning Hangeul. In fact, why not learn Hangeul today?



Types of houses

Most Koreans don’t live in a detached, American-style house. Instead they often live in apartment blocks, especially in Korea’s main cities. Here are some special words for the houses that people live in:

아파트  (apateu): An apartment / a large block of apartments.

빌라  (billa): A large detached house, between three and seven floors high, that contains multiple apartments.

주택 (jutaek): A detached house / bungalow

오피스텔 (opiseutel): A large building that has a mix of residential apartments and offices.

고시원 (goshiwon): A small room that students can live in while studying.

기숙사 (gisuksa): A dormitory / hall of residence


Sample Sentences Formal:

김 선생님 댁 맞습니까?

Gim Seonsaengnim daek majseumnikka?

Is this Mr. Kim’s house



집 근처에 극장이 있어요?

Jip geuncheoe geukjangi isseoyo?

Is there a cinema near your house?



파티는 우리 집에서 열릴 거야

Patineun uri jipeseo yeollil geoya

The party will be at my house.


Now that you know how to say ‘house’ in Korean, you can invite your friends over and practice speaking Korean even more. Impress them with everything you know about Korea!

*Want more Korean phrases? Go to our Korean Phrases Page for a complete list!


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

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


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THAAD is Not about Missile Defense anymore

Sun, 2017-04-16 22:23
THAAD is Not about Missile Defense anymore

This is a local re-post of a piece I wrote at The National Interest a few weeks ago. The graphic here comes straight from the Lockheed Martin webpage on THAAD. There’s so much contradictory information floating around about THAAD, maybe it’s best just go to the website and look for yourself. No, I’m not shilling for LM; I have no relationship. I just thought it would be convenient. And yes, I support the THAAD deployment here.

Anyway, this essay is actually about the politics, specifically that China WAY overplayed its hand against the THAAD deployment in South Korea. Now THAAD isn’t about THAAD anymore. The Chinese have ballooned it into such a huge issue, that it’s now about SK sovereignty and freedom to make national security choices without a Chinese veto. If you want to read why I am wrong, here’s my friend Dave Kang to tell you that I am getting carried away.

I still stand by my prediction though: neither Ahn nor Moon will withdraw THAAD even if they’d want to otherwise, because now it would look like knuckling under to China. Maybe the Justice Party candidate would withdraw it, but she is polling at 3%.

The full essay follows the jump:



The South Korean decision to install the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system has prompted a major Chinese reaction. The Chinese government has used a wide range of economic pressure against South Korea to reverse its decision. It has severely restricted tourist travel to the country, cancelled cultural events, pursued fatuous regulatory action against the company (Lotte) which sold the land to the South Korean government on which THAAD will be stationed, and, in a move worthy of the ‘freedom fries’ of yore, staged a public bulldozing of bottles of the Korean national alcohol soju.


Campy, yet Serious

This effort is simultaneously ridiculous and clever, campy and serious. On the one hand, it is preposterously obvious that these ‘protests’ are staged. Once again, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has demonstrated how woefully out of touch it is with modern democratic opinion. The same apparatchiks who mistake ‘praise’ of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in The Onion as the real thing are those who think that a video of a bulldozer driving over soju bottles might somehow appear authentic. If China’s increasing bullying of South Korea over THAAD were not so serious, these hijinks would be comedy material. Indeed my students here in South Korea laugh over this in discussion even as they worry about it.

On the other hand, this a wise way to pressure South Korea if the CCP is absolutely dead-set against a THAAD emplacement in South Korea, which it appears to be. South Korea is a mid-size economy with a few very large exporters selling to a few very large markets. This makes it highly sensitive to the politics of its biggest export markets, of which China is one. Japan too has been targeted in this way by China, but it is more diversified economically than South Korea and so had more flexibility to ride out Chinese displeasure. China has also used these tactics in southeast Asia.

The CCP also retains plausible deniability by routing this pressure obliquely through nongovernmental actors. There has been little overt, ‘track 1’ pressure, likely because Beijing is hoping South Korea will back down without an open breach. But the mercantilist-dictatorial state can ‘encourage’ patriotic action in an economy where something like 80% of firms have some amount of state ownership.

Countries with an open media can surely see through this charade of independent action. But in China itself, this can be marketed as the outrage of the Chinese people, rising up against encirclement by the Americans and their lackeys. And in global public opinion, there is surely enough hostility to the US in places like Russia or the Middle East that this will sound somewhat plausible, or at least be marketed that way by anti-American elites.

Now South Korea Cannot Give In


In South Korea, the recent impeachment of conservative president Park Geun-Hye has opened the door for the left to take power in the upcoming special election on May 9. The left has broadly opposed THAAD. In the wake of Park’s final approval of it last year, several opposition parliamentarians jetted off to China to express their discontent (or ‘appease’ as the conservative press howled). The likely winner on May 9, Moon Jae-In, has expressed skepticism over THAAD before. The other left-wing candidates – there are no serious right-wing candidates given just how badly the Park scandal has discredited the right – have been even more hostile.

Yet I am very doubtful that Moon or any of the candidates, barring the least likely winner on the far left, will remove THAAD. There is indeed still a debate over THAAD’s technical merits. While I believe the case for THAAD is solid, and South Korean opinion generally supports it now given the sheer velocity of North Korean missile testing, there remain coherent arguments in opposition. For example, that it is merely symbolic, because North Korea could use other weapons to devastate South Korea, or that it might simply encourage North Korea to build even more missiles to overwhelm THAAD.

But such technical issues are increasingly irrelevant. The time to debate that was a year or two ago. Back then, the US and South Korea had made extensive track 1, track 1.5, and track 2 outreaches to China on THAAD, to explain its capabilities and consider China’s concerns. All were rebuffed. Instead China has dug in its heels, rather deeply, on this. It has been signaling to South Korea for more year not to deploy, threatening all sorts of retaliation. This has increasingly turned THAAD from a technical-functional issue of missile defense to an expression of South Korean national security sovereignty: does South Korea have the right to make national security decisions without China’s approval? The South Korea media, even on the center and left, are increasingly framing the tussle this way.

Hence the curious, but deserved, outcome for Beijing. Just as a South Korean government which agrees with China on THAAD is likely coming to power, Chinese bullying has painted it into such a tight corner that a leftist president will likely retain THAAD. For at this point, THAAD is not about THAAD anymore; it is about whether China has a veto over South Korean foreign policy. No South Korean president can assent to that.

Filed under: China, Defense, Elections, Korea (North), Korea (South), Missiles/Missile Defense

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



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China warns “No Winner” In North Korean Conflict, Vice President Pence Coming To Seoul, ROK Exports To China Increase [Korean News Update]

Sat, 2017-04-15 00:13

China warns there will be “no winner” in an armed North Korean conflict that could start “at any moment”, Vice President Mike Pence will arrive in Seoul on Sunday, & despite an economic boycott over THAAD, South Korean exports to China have risen. All that & more on the latest Korean News Update podcast episode from Korea FM.

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The post China warns “No Winner” In North Korean Conflict, Vice President Pence Coming To Seoul, ROK Exports To China Increase [Korean News Update] appeared first on Korea FM.

An Ultimate Guide to Seoraksan National Park

Fri, 2017-04-14 17:27
About Seoraksan National Park Blessed with spectacular scenery of dramatic peaks, deep valleys, jagged ridges, Seoraksan National Park, also referred to as Mount Seorak, offers stunning landscapes all year round and gorgeous trails, making it an ideal destination for hikers and nature lovers.Located in the Gangwon Province in South Korea, you can reach Seoraksan National … Continue reading An Ultimate Guide to Seoraksan National Park

Korean Test Practice with Billy [Ep. 3] – Intermediate Korean (Listening Practice)

Fri, 2017-04-14 12:52

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

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

The post Korean Test Practice with Billy [Ep. 3] – Intermediate Korean (Listening Practice) appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.