Wednesday, January 18, 2012


So, it's been ages since I've updated this thing, mostly because I worked like crazy through October and November. Then, I had vacation home in America for a month, and didn't exactly have time then to blog either. And's January, and I don't really have an excuse anymore. SO

I've decided to switch over to Tumblr, because it is more fun/easier to post on/supports video and photo better than Blogger. The link to my new blog:

Hope you will continue to follow me and my Korean (mis)adventures^^!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I finally broke down

...and tried on traditional Korean 한복 (hanbok), the Korean equivalent of a kimono, at a recently SMOE teacher's training workshop. I have since avoided doing this because I think
a) hanboks are generally really ugly
b) you usually have to pay to do this
c) after putting on the hanbok, ten thousand pictures will be taken of you by friends/random Korean passerby. Yuck.
a) my friend Shelby dressed up in man clothes like she was my husband
b) it was free
c) this hanbok was pretty, and I got to wear this awesome hat that Korean kisaeng (geishas) usually get to wear. Witness:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Korean Culinary Carousal: I Would Like Some Sticks WIth My Chicken, Please

The other day I had this dish--누룽지백숙 (noo loong ji bek sook) with some co-workers at official school lunch.

Though it looks like a big pile of vomit, it was actually extremely delicious--chicken slow cooked until the meat was falling off the bone, mixed in with deliciously goopy, risotto-like rice seasoned with big pieces of ginseng, jujube fruits, and big pieces of mysterious sticks with big thorns on them. I asked my co-teacher where the sticks were from and she said "a tree". I have seen these sticks for sale before in the market near my house...I imagine they have some sort of medicinal value.

I find that Korean food often looks like a big mess of revolting things, but is really quite delicious. As a Westerner accustomed to neat salmon filets/symmetrically sliced vegetables/soups without big pieces of wood in them, if I close my eyes and just eat it, Korean food generally tastes way way way better than it looks.
For instance, this looks like rancid cheese, but it's actually deliciously spicy 비지--tofu with pepper paste mixed in.

What about 된장 찌개 (dwenjeongjjigae)--the Korean equivalent of miso but much much much more smelly, almost like feet? It's delicious, but not exactly pretty.

Finally, there's the holy grail of nasty looking things that taste delicious--추어탕.
It is made with loach fish, which are ground to a paste and mixed with peppers. Gag. But, it doesn't taste fishy at all thanks to copious amounts of black pepper. Still, definitely not the most appetizing thing to look at, even if you aren't aware of what it is actually made out of....

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

9th HiSeoul 10K

The weekend before last, I ran my first ever 10K. Though I've always been a very active person (I go crazy if I don't work out at least three times a week), I had never run a race before and figured a 10K would be a good place to start.

The race started at 7 am, which is a normal weekday time/definitely not a normal weekend time >< I got on the subway at 6:30 or so and sat next to people who reeked of alcohol, clearly on their way home after a night of imbibing ;)

City Hall Square was RAMMED with people. The marathoners/half marathoners/Serious People were easy to pick out--clad in nylon and slathering their fat-free bodies wth Icy Hot, they were incredibly intimidating. Thankfully, they were mixed in with a fair amount of Clueless Folk--people wearing denim shorts and Converse, which made me feel a bit better about myself.

Before the race started, four sexy ladies got up on stage in front of the crowd to lead everyone in some group stretching to blaring K-Pop music. Nothing is more entertaining than watching middle-aged Korean people bop around at 7:30 in the morning, and thankfully, I was able to snap some pictures on my iPod:

I tried to start at the back of the pack to give myself the opportunity to destroy the hopes/dreams/aspirations of everyone I passed MUAHAHAHA a bit of a self-esteem boost. The first 5K flew by...the course was really beautiful, starting in the heart of Seoul's downtown business district and looping along the Han River. It was really awesome to run in downtown Seoul along roads that are normally packed bumper-to-bumper with cars:

I think I went out too fast for the first part of the race because towards the end DAMN did things get hard. Maybe it was because the last part of the race had several hills. Still, I never stopped running, and finished the race with a time of 57 minutes WOOOOOO! A little less than ten minutes a mile :)

The race ended in Seoul Forest--a park near my house, which was very convenient. I got a bag full of swag at the end which included:
  1. a can of spicy flavored chicken
  2. chopsticks with which to eat said chicken
  3. a big honey-bun looking processed bread thing
  4. a finisher's medal
  5. orange juice
  6. raisins 
  7. mysterious nutritional chews
It was really fun and I hope I can keep motivated to run more races/maybe a half marathon/someday, a full marathon ;)  

Friday, October 14, 2011

K-Pop That I Actually Enjoy Listening To

Most of the music videos that I post on this blog I don't I like K-Pop, but I find most of it to be completely manufactured in the same way that American pop music is--fun to dance to and catchy, yes, but not particularly substantial or thought provoking. And, having seen more than a few K-Pop concerts at this point, I can safely say that the performers generally look as manufactured as they sound. Korean pop stars are typically owned by HUGE entertainment companies that begin rigorously altering the physical appearance of their talent via massive amounts of plastic surgery "training" most of their performers while they are still in their teens, emphasizing dancing and looks over vocal/musical ability. So. Consequently, most of the music produced in Korean is pretty disposable.


Recently, there has been a glut of music on the airwaves here that I actually like.

These two guys graduated from Yonsei University and are smart. The lyrics of this song are really simple--The chorus meaning "I like Americanos"--but if you look up the English translation, you will see that there are some clever turns of phrases going on, some of which are pretty naughty for Korean music^^ This song is really popular amongst my kids, even though it is totally stripped down and really the antithesis of other K-Pop songs...

I've posted a few videos from Leessang before. I really like their videos...I think they are very creative. I love his raspy voice! But maybe the most interesting thing about this song is that the lyrics are RACY. Really racy for Korea!

These guys are sort of K-Popy in that all of my high school girls are obsessed with them. But. The difference is, these guys actually preform with instruments and write all of their music. They are super cute and talented. NOT FAIR.

[무한도전 서해안 가요제]3.GG-바람났어 from C.K on Vimeo
Finally, we come to the last video, which is decidedly the most K-Popy, as it features G-Dragon of Big Bang and Park Bom from 2ne1--both ridiculously huge, popular groups. And it is definitely a party song without much substance...but I still think it sounds really different than anything else I've heard on the radio here. And. I really respect G-Dragon (who writes all of his own music/styles all of the members of Big Band) and Park Bom (who is actually a really good performer live + my girls all look up to her 'cause she's not super stick thin like most women in K-Pop).


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Things I Talked About With My North Korean Student/Soulmate

  • David Beckham and his hot bod
  • The movie "Once"
  • The Korean movie "Poetry" (시)
  • Colors--I mean, a serious discussion about colors. She busted out a color palette--she's a fashion design student--and we talked about pastels.
  • Jason Mraz and how infuriatingly popular "I'm Yours" is in Korea 
  • Language--she speaks Chinese, since she lived in China for 10 years 
  • Big Bang and G-Dragon's kick ass style

  • Where the best/cheapest shopping is in Seoul (she said Hongdae, I said the underground shopping mall at Jamsil
  • North Korean nangmyeon (냉면)--icy noodles--and how tasty they are  
  • That book "The Secret," and how everyday now she is "" because of that book
  • How she loves to eat meat. She showed me a picture of her decimated piggy bank, which she apparently destroyed to buy a steak dinner :)   
  • How we both kind of have the hots for Obama
  • The famine in Somalia. She showed me her CyWorld page (the Korean equivalent of Facebook)--which was loaded with pictures of starving Africans from UNICEF's page. It occurred to me--probably way later than it should have--that she was probably starving at some point not too long ago...
  • Incheon's (the suburb of Seoul where she lives) Chinatown and how delicious the food is there
  • Incheon's beaches and how they are kind of dirty and gross

  • She showed me pictures of her and her family on her smart phone. Hundreds of pictures of grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts and uncles her mom and dad. Pictures of her in China and more recent pictures of her with university friends in South  Korea . There were pictures of her as a teenager where she definitely looked a solid thirty pounds thinner--I can only imagine they were taken right after she arrived in Korea from China. She said, "Then, very thin. Now, big. Diet," which made me die a little on the inside/want to scream.
    There were really old, scanned pictures of her when she was a kid, most of which were of her with a smiling, gap-toothed, chubby little Korean boy. I read the caption of one--보고싶어요--"I miss you". She told me "From China, I go to South Korea. My brother, North Korea. Die Apart."

    I couldn't think of anything else to talk about for a full ten seconds. I just tried not to cry while taking a huge swig of tea. She said..."very sad," and I nodded. She was the one to change the subject, and we talked about:
    • "Dewey"--the book about the cat in the library
    • How Harry Potter used to be really cute but now he is really meh...
    • How Leonardo diCaprio used to be very hot but now he is really meh...
    • Babies and Korean babies vs. American babies. I said Korean babies were cuter but she said that Korean babies have "too big heads"
    • Our "types"--she like athletes. "Superman," she said. I told her I typically like artists/musicians^^
    • "Home Alone" and how she never knew that Christmas existed until she came to South Korea when she was 15 
    • How I wanted to marry Macully Culkin when I was six
    • How she can't really eat Western style food--no cheese, or milk, or bread. She didn't know what spaghetti was...
    • Our Dads and how they both love fishing
    • How we hate mosquitoes 
    • Our Moms and how they both love sewing
    • How our friends are all typically a lot shorter than us. We are about the same height  ;)
    • How it can really suck to live alone sometimes
    • How we are always losing buttons off of jackets
    After two hours (we were only meant to talk for one), it was time for her to go home, and me too. On the subway home, I just sat, with no music or smartphone or Kakao Talk to distract me, and I thought about justice...and righteousness...and pain...and what people do to deserve the things that happen to them...and what they don't. And how unbelievable unfair life can be. And how despite everything...people continue to live...   

    Sunday, October 9, 2011


    I hope everyone saw Google's homepage today. GUESS WHAT IT SAYS IN KOREAN