Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Abundance Buzz: Christmas in Korea

About two more weeks and Christmas will come to Korea. In the span of time I have lived here I have found Korea to become more festive when it comes to Christmas. More decorations line streets and stores sell fake Christmas trees and such. It seems this non-Korean holiday is taking hold here. So let's see how other's have experienced it in Korea.

1. F5 Waeg: My biggest gripe is the issue with Christmas trees here. You can't get them real like back home. But would you want to? Korean people live in quite small spaces. However why not just get a small one? He did just that in this post.

2. Whatawaygook: If you are accustomed to spending holiday season with family then living far from home is a tough one. It's not just homesickness but also being a part of the holiday magic with family. However you do what you can to survive and make life in Korea like back home. In this post we see someone do that and reminiscence on Christmas' past.

3. Alien's Day Out: One really good way to get in the holiday spirit is to start cooking. Making cookies or familiar holiday dishes bring out the season at home. Here we get to see her lovely vegan holiday dishes that look scrumptious.

4. Ever Evolving Primate: A fun post about a general Christmas experience here when you are out and about.

I hope your holiday's are filled with cheer and warmth. Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Abundance Go's: Jjimjilbang

Well fall is nearly over and winter will be on its way. That means much more colder temperatures, coats and hats. During this season many Korean folks like to head to the jjimjilbang or sauna, where they can relax in a heated atmosphere. For this post I will show tales of Kbloggers fun times at such establishments around Korea.

1. A Search for Happiness: One of the numbers of places on her list of where to sleep in Korea. Jjimjilbangs are not just for letting loose stress, they often are a place for people to sleep on the cheap. If you don't sleeping on the floor in a room with many strangers, it's the place for you.

2. Whatawaygook: Perhaps a body scrub sounds good? One of the services available at these saunas and sometimes is definitely a new experience. Check out the post for more information.

3. The View From Over Here: A good post about her experience at the Itaewon Land jjimjilbang in Itaewon. Here she experienced the many "room" such as an ice and hot room. Fun times!

4. Blood, rice and noodles: One of the notorious places to go is the Dragon Hill Spa which has all the parts of a jjimjilbang, accompanied with notoriety. Check out this full post to get a great idea of it all.

Stay warm and keep having fun!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Abundance Go's: Fall around us

Guess what? Summer is over and long gone. The cool air is here and the leaves have changed colors. It's time to strap on those hiking boots and hit the trails for some fresh air and beautiful scenery. Let's have a look at some places people have been to enjoy the Fall weather, and just any other stuff you can do this season.

1. Karori to Korea: These guys recently came back to Korea so I am glad to see I can use their posts. Here is one about flowers in the Fall. Who would have thought you can see flowers too?

2. A Search for Happiness: What foods would be considered a specialty in the Fall time, here in Korea? Maybe chestnuts or persimmons? How about grasshoppers!

3. The Harrington Times: Even though it is a ideal to head to the mountains to see the Fall foliage, it also means thousands of other people had the same idea. In this post they found a spot less crowded, where they were able to enjoy the scenery.

4. Daughter of Korea: And finally a lovely post bursting with color about the ripe persimmon trees you can find around Korea, this time of year.

Even if you don't have time to get to the mountains to see the lovely sites, you can still admire the changes in your neighborhood and the clear blue skies that Fall has to offer.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Abundance Yum!: Sushi in Korea

Although we all love Korean food sometimes we crave something else. Perhaps having something close to Korean but different is a good idea. So how about sushi? For me I prefer the sushi I can have in California like an avocado salmon roll. Out here they do sushi a little bit differently, and I have yet to find a place that satisfies my taste for rolled up rice and seafood. However, other folks have enjoyed this cuisine out here, so let's take a look.

1. Elwood: Sushi and sashimi are basics here and in this post you can get a simple introduction to how it is done in Korea.

2. Lee's Korea Blog: If you do find yourself in a Japanese restaurant in Korea you will notice that it isn't some hole-in-the-wall, but usually are somewhat fancy. Here the family tries out some sushi and other fish dishes at this place near Seoul National University.

3. A Search for Happiness: In my experience with eating fusionized Japanese food it has been at company meals with schools. In this case this blogger experienced just that. How about this seaweed sushi-cone?

4. Ever Evolving Primate: Maybe kimbop is sushi and maybe it is just kimbop! Whatever your opinion on it is this is Korea's version and it's cheap and easily accesible.

5. Seoul Eats: Now I think making sushi would be quite easy, considering the ingredients are really simple. So why not take a class on how to make it? Here is what happened at the O'ngo Food kitchen.

I hope that got you hungry for something slightly different than straight Korean food, and maybe you will go out and support your local Japanese sushi place. Otherwise have a good day!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Abundance Works: Lesson Ideas 1

As the Chuseok holiday pulls in to its final hours, teachers should be thinking about heading back to the classroom. The rest of the Fall semester is upon us and for me that means a chunk of time dedicated to training my students for the drama festival. Otherwise it would be back to the chalkboard. I think what is great about this job, in most positions here, is the freedom to teach whatever you want. If you just put on some videos and crank out a coloring sheet, that's fun the first few weeks. But then you might want to do some actual teaching. Today I'm going to present some bloggers who have shared their lessons for us in case you need a refreshing idea for the classroom.

1. My Life! Teaching in a Korean University: Here we hear the results of students doing individual projects and whether they meet certain goals. She expresses the differences of doing this project individually or in groups.

2. The Seoul Patch: Imagine doing a lesson on movies. Well here for you are a list of several lessons one can do related to movies and many examples of how to get those kids working. At the end of it all students get to create their own DVD cover, something they seemed to enjoy.

3. A Geek in Korea: I think for making most of our lesson plans successful there has to be good organization going on behind the scenes. In this post we hear about his organization for getting through the week and shows you that productivity is possible.

4. Coco in Korea: A pretty typical assignment we give to students to talk about their favorite things, but more often the best part is seeing the results. Here she got some amusing answers.

I hope everyone had a great and relaxing break from the classroom and now has some cool new ideas for when coming back. :)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Culture Cookies: Chuseok

In less than 30 days the Korean lunar holiday of Chuseok will be upon us. For me that means my birthday but also a five day weekend! Korean people will likely be heading to their family grave site or doing something with close relatives. It's a time when Seoul empties out and the highways of Korea become clogged. Today I'll present some bloggers who have had their own experience of Chuseok or just something to say.

1. London to Seoul: A nice post about her experience of having Chuseok traditions at work. Students wore their lovely hanboks and it made for great pictures.

2.The Harrington Times: For foreigners one of the best things about Chuseok is getting a Fall mini-vacation. People take the opportunity to stretch their legs and travel. These guys did just that and went on a mini-vacation.

3. On Becoming a Good (Feminist) Korean Wife: If you really want to know what the experience is like of visiting family and doing the rituals, then read this post to catch up.

4. Buhay sa Korea: Chuseok is a major gift giving holiday and the stores will be abundant with large gift sets. This is great for if you want to stock up on lots of cans of spam. However, if you plan on visiting Korean relatives or in-laws it is a good idea to think about how much you would spend.

Chuseok also signals the start of Fall and the Winter to come. I hope everyone has a lovely Chuseok this year!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Culture Cookies: Fan Death and other Korean Myths

As the typhoon blows itself over Seoul I thought I would update here. Today's post will be a "culture cookie" one where I explore some culture from Korea. This one is going to be about Korean myths that we hear about through our time here. Whether it is the infamous Fan Death or other such things they can make life out here more interesting.

1. Kiss My Kimchi: A fun and whimsical post about many Korean Myths and whether they are real or not. I didn't know about the whistling at night one....oh boy!

2. F5 Waeg: Sometimes we create myths amongst our expat selves, here in Korea. Here is one about how those with an F5 visa earn more money than those on an E3.

3. The Marmot's Hole: I discovered he posted about a video someone made on the subject of Fan Death. A bit funny and silly as well!

4. Whatawaygook: General myths people might have about Korea discussed and debunked. For example, I guess some people think you can't get foreign food in Korea or you can't buy fluoride toothpaste. 

5. GwangjuNews: Who would have thought that eating apples at night are considered bad. Well here is a Korean myth discussed with science in mind. 

"It’s believed in Korea that eating an apple at night is actually unhealthy, causing indigestion and making it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. The origins of this idea are unknown, but the belief seems to be well known in Korea. There are many Koreans who say they’ve heard about this from an elder at some point in their life. A few of them believe it and refrain from eating sahgwah (Hangeul: 사과) at night."

Well I think it is safe to say you can learn a few new things from all those posts. What kind of myths come from my home country that people would find absurd? 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Abundance Yum!: Local Specialities

In this adventure we look into Kbloggers talking about local food. If you have done some traveling around this peninsula you likely have had some "local speciality". Maybe it was a local makkoli or just a different version of a jiggae. Let's see what other folks have found in their time in Korea.

1. Lee' Korea Blog: In some place called Beomnaegol there is a cave bar, an artificial tunnel you can go to and enjoy some local drinks. A very local experience, indeed. Also included was some only-in-Busan kind of food. Check it out.

2. A Search for Happiness: Although Bulgolgi can be found anywhere, what if the cows that you eat were fed local grass? hmm

3. Zen Kimchi: Here you can get the ultimate line up of local food along with a side-by-side comparison. Suwon Galbi vs. Jeonju Bibimbop is up for thrashing around.

4. Seoul Eats: He gets out of Seoul and gives a local tour of Sokcho and what they have to offer, plenty of pajeon here!

Even though our summer vacations should be rolling to a stop, I hope wherever you travelled you enjoyed the local food and community.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Abundance Pop: "Gangnam Style" or Any City Style

Perhaps this trend of singing a tribute song to a certain section of Seoul is nothing new. Like when "Itaewon Freedom" came out or that song about Apgujeong. But PSY's "Gangnam Style" is definitely this summer's big hit, and is one that invites others to parody. Summer 2012 will be one to remember for hot sunny days, and also hit songs like this one. Let's see what other parodies have cropped up.

1. PSY's Gangnam Style: First a look at the original with all it's fun locations and dance moves.

2. Hongdae Style: If you are going to make a song about famous spots in Seoul, using Hongdae is an obvious choice. During any of these videos it is fun to spot places you have been and familiar scenes.

3. Daegu Style: Having never really spent time in Daegu I can't really say much about this parody. However, it's amazing how far things can spread.

4. MyChonny's English Parody: Now I found this through clicking around youtube and it's funny but also a bit vulgar. So a bit of warning ~

It's fun to see Korean people poke fun at their own culture and I hope to see more creative responses pop up over time. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Abundance Buzz: Olympics

The Olympics are happening these days so I thought why not find posts of people who have experienced Olympic mania in Korea.

1. Seoulistic: A list of Korean athletes to watch for the upcoming games.

2. Roboseyo: A historical post about some facts and figures that occurred during the '88 Olympics in Seoul.
3. Kiss My Kimchi: You can relive the torch moment for the 2008 Olympics, when it passed through Seoul at that time. Recall those Chinese protestors?

4. The View From Over Here: Looking into the future, Korea will host the Olympics in 2018 at Pyeongchang...still a ways to go but maybe you can get Olympic fever going.

If you have been in Korea during Olympic time or FIFA time then you know Korean folks will be wearing their team gear and it will be the talk of the town. I suggest following along with the winner and losers so you have something to say during tea-time at work. ;)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Abundance Found: 11

Let's take a look at what we can find this fine summer afternoon....

1. Six in Seoul: I'm enjoying reading Kbloggers who live different lives than me here in Korea. For example this is an army family, and I think their immersion into Korea is different from mine. Anyways, many things are shared in common like this post about just zany stuff in Korea that has no real explanation. The title, "Now Quite Right" is perfect!

2. The Compost Cook: I think she just recently left Korea but she has some good posts you can go through. Also I believe she was a student here. Anyways this post is a nice composite one of making kimchi jiggae and visiting some sites. A very fun and visual one to look through.

3. London to Seoul: A funny yet quaint post here about how he had some fish but no chips. A fun pun intended.

4. Dear Korea: Sometimes you need to just laugh off all the cultural insanities you experience here, and what better way with comics? This great artist has been serving up some fun ones lately. This recent one is a reflection on that oh-so-fun MBC video.

As you can see a trip around the Kblogosphere can take you to many places, and treat you to some fun times. I hope it opened up some new blogs for you to visit, in the meantime.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Abundance Go's: Swimming

It's getting hot out there and that means summer fun is on its way. If your like me then a hot day makes you want to jump into a cool pool of water. However, living in Seoul your options are kind of slim for this. You could use the pool at the Hamilton Hotel or perhaps swim with the kiddos at one of the Han River pools. But for me I would rather take a dive in the ocean or a river. Today I'm going to show you blog posts that feature trips for swimming. I hope it gets you to dust off that swim suit and find a place to go swimming this summer.

1. Kimchi and Cornbread: A good general post about where around Korea you can go swimming, which includes a handy map. Check it out to consider where to go this summer.

2. A Geek in Korea: More of a post about how they got their little one prepared for swimming, but gives you an idea.

3. A Search for Happiness: Here we see a place where people could go swimming in a river stream. I think river swimming in Korea involves getting use to chillier water. In the post you get to hear people coped with that. Otherwise just a beautiful place to relax.

4. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat: When I think of swimming I don't imagine myself diving around the water with sharks. Usually one tries to avoid that situation. But apparently you can go swimming with sharks in Busan. The price of such adventure includes the training and equipment. Plus it just looks like a good time to be had.

5. Korea Connection: For most of us the known place to go swimming in Korea is down in Busan. Here is a nice post about swimming at Gwangalli beach. It is supposedly less crowded than Haundae beach and also there are nice cafes nearby to rest at. Definitely, an easy place to get to and enjoy this summer.

6. The Compost Cook: Another look at the fun to be had in Busan, but this time from a more experiential view. I think you can tell she had a really good time.

As you can see it's not too hard to find yourself at a swimming hole here in Korea. I hope your summer is a soaked one, but not by the rain. ;)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Abundance Works: Volunteering

If you worry about the image of foreigners in Korea, one way to make sure there is a positive scene is to volunteer your time. Certainly there must be some organizations in Korea where you can work at a soup kitchen or help out animals in need. I've often heard stories from friends who volunteer and give their time back to the Korean community. Here for you are some resources found, and some blog posts about what it's like.

1. Korea4Expats: Just a good list of sites to go volunteer at including, helping with craft projects to cleaning up pollution. Take a look.

2. Ms. Lee to Be: An amazing and thorough post on what it is like to volunteer for an animal shelter. It can't help but warm your heart and give you an idea of where to take your time.

3. Seeking Seoul: A post about volunteering for the group PLUR where the person helped out at a soup kitchen. Volunteering, it seems, also comes with some protocol...
I was told to say a phrase, in Korean, that basically means “enjoy your meal, sir.”  It was in the formal and respectful form of speech.  I was also instructed to use both hands when giving the food – a respectful mannerism here in Korea.  Next, I was told to speak quietly when entering the areas these guys call home.  We were told to be watchful, if they needed medical attention let the guide know and they would call an ambulance.  Don’t photograph them or their homes.  Be respectful. 
4. Bathhouse Ballads: Sometimes volunteering your time doesn't mean you have to go out and do something in public. Perhaps volunteering your creative skills is also a way to give the foreigner community a voice. Here we see a group in Daegu that puts together a small 'zine called Daegu Pockets.  Otherwise making any creative contributions, I feel is a way of giving back to Korean society in a positive manner.

5. Seoul Stitch N Bitch: Another good list of links to volunteer at, including some to help out women in need.

6. Ulsan Online: Here you can see how to help North Korean defectors adjust to South Korean life. Certainly that would be very interesting!

As you can see the possibilities are definitely out there, and you don't really have to live in Seoul. I would suggest giving up some time to go out and give back, and give a positive image to your local area or wherever. Have you volunteered before? What did you do?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Abundance Buzz: That MBC Video

June has just started and it seems the buzz for this month is that now infamous MBC "documentary" video, about relationships with foreigners (especially Korean women with foreign men). For a refresher here is the video with the English subtitles:

It's clear when watching this video that the production wasn't very sound, and the quick interviews with so called witnesses, is fuzzy at best. The truth is this video is racist towards foreigners, and at the same time shames Korean women for dating or seeking foreign men. In essence, this video is no more than the same propaganda seen before in years past. It is in line with the Anti-English Spectrum way of thinking and all together does not shed a positive attitude towards foreigners in Korea. 

What I think is the positive outcome of this event is the outcry from the foreigner community via Facebook and other venues. In my four years of living in Korea I have seen these sorts of things mostly get discussed on forums, but rarely become an organized public outcry like it is happening now. Yes in the past people have flooded network's websites with comments and managed to bring certain articles down. 

Whatever your opinion might be on this video, I think it is important to recognize that the foreign community does need a voice. Facebook and Twitter are just the start, and we should consider making a formidable group or coalition to be ready for any future events like this.

Today I am going to share with you links and blogs that are taking up this issue and offering their opinion or advice. I hope some of what you see today gives you an idea of the impact this video has on expats living in Korea, and also shows the need to have an organized response. 

1. Facebook Group "Action Against MBC and their, racist, biased "reporting": Already up to 6,000 members and counting, this group sprung up just last week and is already swinging into action. Of course some of the people in the group disagree with each other, but I feel it is important to see that there is one central location where people can discuss this issue. What is most engraving is when long-time expats post their family pictures and say something like, "According to MBC, my immoral and dubious plot has succeeded. For the record - 7 1/2 yrs together, great son and gets better every minute."

2. Roboseyo: I knew a post from him was coming, and you can go check it out. I think what is good to keep in mind is that Rob's perspective and background gives him a good voice to stand on. He reminds us that things aren't as bad as they use to be and also suggests ways to make an appropriate response to this video, which will have an impact on the Korean community. It's a thoughtful post which can help you get a good perspective on this hot topic.

I think the most powerful response to a video like this would be another video. A video that reminds MBC of the impact of spreading hateful messages. A video of long-term expats who speak Korean. Or who have families: multicultural families with kids who are Korean citizens, who attend Korean schools, who speak Korean, who have Korean grandmothers and grandfathers who adore them.
3. Gusts of Popular Feeling: A quick post but can give you and idea of how this relates to events in the past.

4. Scroozle's Sanctuary: I have never seen this blog before, but they offer up their own thoughts and gave us a translated version of the video.

This type of BS is exceedingly hurtful. It creates an air of distrust between foreigners and Koreans. It attempts to shame Korean women into staying away from foreign men. It damages Korea’s international image.
5. Groove Magazine: Some responses are more on the creative scale. Martyn Thompson seems to have been the first to suggest it but Groove Magazine is picking up the idea too. That is to make a collage of pictures expats and Koreans who have relationships together. Family portraits...etc. This is part of the response from married couples that they feel they have been targeted as "evil." Certainly a very good idea and I hope the outcome is seen by all. 

6. Busan HAPS: Another magazine picking up the news, but they contacted MBC and were told that the video was outsourced. Still people believe that MBC is solely responsible. 

7. MBC Feedback Board: And if you want to get a direct response to MBC for posting this video you can go do it at this link. 

Most importantly I think people should keep in mind that this video does not directly represent the way all Korean people think. And if you were to talk to your Korean friends or colleagues you would find them just as shocked as you are. 

In the meantime, I hope you have a response to this video and the issues at hand and are taking some time to write a response somewhere or consider some type of action. Otherwise, this is definitely going to be a hot topic for some time. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Abundance Found: Ten

Let's roll the dice again and see what we can find around the Kblogosphere. Today's specialities will range from a surprise post about someone who didn't enjoy the recent elections, to finding ice-cream on their salad and some place to go cool off in the summer. Enjoy!

1. London to Seoul: There are drink vending machines all throughout Korea. Often times it is the same old variety of tea drinks, sports drinks and fruity ones. Then there are choices you just don't know what they are. Here we discover the "pine" drink and what it tastes like in a fun review.

2. Kids Fun in Seoul: A great new blog, I have discovered that is really helpful if you have kids and live in Seoul. However, I don't have kids, but I find most of their posts helpful, anyways. Here is one about pool locations near the Han river. I would imagine this a fun place to take the kiddos on a hot summer day.

3. Long Time Gone: If you have lived in Korea around election season, than you know what a loud ruckus it can be. Campaigners are not shy shouting out their name down the street. Take a look at the post to get a better idea.

4. The Chosun Bimbo: A veteran of life in Korea, who has stumbled upon the strangest food concoctions. It seems to never end as time goes by, and here finding ice-cream in their salad was still a surprise.

Who knows what we will find next time, but this certainly shows you the variety life that can be had in Korea.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Abundance Aid: Taxi Tips

It really isn't that difficult, but taking a taxi in Seoul or around other parts in Korea can be some what of a challenge the first few times. Even though there is a sticker on the side of the window that says "translation", you know it is quicker to speak it yourself. After you have figured it out taking a taxi around becomes a great option. However, there are times you are left with interesting experiences. Here for you are some stories people have had and also some links to sites that could be of use to others.

1. The View From Over Here: The most fun that I have had in a taxi is the conversations, in English, with the drivers. Usually it is a hacked up conversation that recycles itself on the same themes. Check out her post to get a clearer idea.
2. F5 Waeg: A veteran of life in Korea and certainly one with many stories. Here we hear the tail of his time trying to get to a mart to get beer, during the snowy times of winter. This time the ride included a rant, which can happen. Go see the post for the fun story.

3. Xweing Away in Korea: Who would have guessed that you can utilize a taxi as a way of taking tours around Jeju Island? Well she did just that and you can read about what the day would be like.

4. Jan is Cooking: Just one I found through Google, but definitely gives some great resources on the options one has with transportation in Korea, especially if you need to lug around a lot with you.

5. Seoulistic: Unfortunately, some taxi drivers are not as honest as others. So a guide should be out there to help the traveler not get ripped off while getting around Korea. This post gives you some tips such as, fake you know Korean and look at a map first before you go.

6. CnnGo: Just in case you still don't have a complete guide to riding the taxis in Seoul, here is another one. Who would have guessed there were so many types of taxis here!

I for one find taking a taxi a great convenience here, even when the prices rise. Do you have any fun or not-so-fun taxi stories?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Abundance Go's: Boryeong Mud Festival

Located South of Seoul and on the Daecheon beach in Boryeong city, is a thing called the Boryeong Mud Festival. Yes in my four years living in Korea, I have never been to it. But if you talk to most veteran expats you will hear them tell you how you must go to this event at least once. That is why I will showcase to you glimpses into what previous festivals were like, and if possible get you enticed to go to this years upcoming event in July.

1. Annie Around the World: I like how she sums it up in one sentence, "But a bunch of mud + the beach + summer + cheap alcohol + no open container laws = one out-of-hand party" It is originally promoted as a place to get a dollop of healing mud put on you, but the reality is that the place is a party zone. But that's great, isn't it?

2. Lee's Korea Blog: Can you believe that it has been about 15 years since the first festival. So it has likely evolved and expanded over the years, right? Here is a post from a festival goer that happened in 2008. As you read you start to notice that the festival added more attractions like a "mud prison." I can't imagine all the stuff that is going to be there at the next festival. At least they got away with some unique mud soap...

3. Elyse Marie: For the most part the festival is the place to be to capture exciting imagery. A lot has been said over the years about Korean media heading down there to get photos of foreigners behaving bad. But generally people covered in mud is definitely photogenic. I didn't know it but I guess you can paint yourself in different color muds.  (Photo from her blog..)

4. Long Time Gone: Maybe you want to know if Boryeong is a destination to go to when no such event is happening. Well take a look here and find out for yourself.

If you still don't get the point of the festival than go back and look at these posts. It is all good ...not clean...fun!