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My Favorite Things: Korean Gifts from Around the Net

With Christmas just around the corner, Seoul has quickly transformed into a winter wonderland. The twinkling lights that adorn the facades of the city's biggest shopping complexes, the familiar ring of the Salvation Army bell and even the never-ending loop of Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas" have me feeling more festive than usual this year.

Perhaps this is partly due to the fact that I'll be going home to America for a few weeks to celebrate the holidays with my family. I couldn't be more excited and have been loading up on goodies and gifts to bring home for family and friends.

Ideas and Tips on Gift-Giving in Korea

If you’re new to South Korea, you’ll notice the hundreds of specialty shops that dot the city streets that offer more goods and gifts you could ever hope to buy for yourself. A great way to take advantage of these amazing shops and indulge in their wares is to immerse yourself in the rich tradition of gift-giving.

Many Asian cultures value modesty and graciousness as staples of their culture, and South Korea is no different. This translates into the gift-giving culture as a wonderful way to express gratitude towards others who have shown their kindness. If you are new to the culture, here are a few tips to help your gift-giving in South Korea go smoothly.

There’s Nothing Like it

9:30 a.m. Saturday morning. Jangnim-dong, Saha-gu, Busan, South Korea

There’s nothing like that first cup of coffee. Home plus-purchased, Tesco-brand, Level 5, French Roast, brewed in a French Press with a cracked lip I inherited from the teacher I replaced almost 11 months ago. I worried I may be ingesting microscopic pieces of glass with every pour. I still do. 

Image
I
t’s still a damn fine cup of coffee, though.

There’s nothing like the first plate of 오므라이스 (omurice), served with some funky cabbage salad and the usual banchan 고봉민김밥인 (Gobongmin Gimbap-in) offers, even if all the hype for this guilty-pleasure meal didn’t live up to the end product.


Chuseok Gifts in Korea – Spam, Coffee, and More!

Chuseok, Korea’s Fall Harvest holiday, is a great time to be in Korea. We have a longer holiday (3-5 days) in between summer and winter vacation, the weather is finally cooling off and the leaves are starting to change. On top of that, some of my favorite fruits come into season (asian pears) and are often eaten in the teacher’s room, and lots of gifts are given!

Hagwon teachers are usually given more gifts during any holiday than public school teachers, just because at hagwons foreigners are the only teachers! Anyways, there are some pretty unique gifts given during Chuseok, and you’ll know it when you see the huge displays of canned meat, tuna, dried vegetables, bathroom toiletries, and assorted rice cake treats in all of the big stores.

This year Evan really hit the jackpot! Check out Evan’s Chuseok haul, and behold all of the SPAM! :D


Get Ready, Get Set…Chuseok

by Ben Haynes

What a wonderful time of year we’ve happened upon! The harvest season, celebrated in as many ways as there are people and religions on this blessed planet. Yes, it’s all about getting together and enjoying the company of family and and gorging on the fruits of a well worked field or cubicle. Maybe packing on a few kilos for the winter months for good measure.

To observe this time of bounty, Americans roast up the largest, antibiotic-filled, corn fed turkey we can find at the grocery and then stuff it with some….. stuffing.

Apples for Chuseok

Apples for Chuseok


“Free, for me?” Korea knows a thing or 2 or 10 about great service.

Living and teaching in Korea has allowed me to adopt a pretty decadent life-style. I’ve been pampered in traditional Korean bathhouses and spas, I’ve wined and dined most weekend evenings in Seoul, I’ve adopted a Korean sense of style and I can find an item that ‘I just have to have!’ in any store, and I’ve adventured throughout Korea and flown to Taiwan and Thailand all in the last year. My teaching salary has allowed me to try, see, taste and shop my way through Southeast Asia all while sending money home to the US each month to pay off student loans and other debt.

I will leave Korea in June, so I have decided to be a bit frugal and save more money in my last few months. It is comforting to know that while I am saving I can still enjoy myself in true Korean style. Korea is famous for exemplary ‘service’ and freebies. Money is great, but free things are even better.

free


Japan Swag

I know it's been a long time, but reading Murakami at the moment really reminds me of my trip to Japan, with all the talk of Shinjuku station. It reminded me that I didn't share with you some of the stuff I bought while I was out there.

I had this conversation with George when she returned from a long trip there, that Korea has completely desensitized us to the cuteness that is probably quite overwhelming in Harajuku.

Here are a few bits and bobs that I bought...
Nails
Japanese Nails

Valentines Day Gifts

Valentines Day Gifts

Gifts for your loved one don’t need to cost a fortune. These homemade gifts are affordable and thoughtful. They’re not cheap or naff like the ones you used to make at school and with some creativity and time you may create something brilliant. And besides, if they really love you, they would love your macaroni card too.

I prepared a gift and a sweet treat for my valentine, the difficult part is trying to keep them secret, so even though I’m publishing this online fingers crossed he won’t read this post for a least a week.


Letter from Korea, February 2013

Suwon
February 2013

Dear Ireland

Today, Thursday February 7 of the year 2013, has been a long and busy day, and it’s far from over. This morning myself, herself, and +1, rose at 6am as we always do, but instead of feeding and returning to sleep, we dressed in a panic, and bailed into the car in sub-zero temperatures. A trip to the airport was afoot. Why? Well, mammy and daddy were on their way to Korea!


Dear Korea #077 - A Lesson in Moderation

Dear Korea #077

Yay for a new comic! Also, yay for Pepero Day (even though it was technically yesterday)!

For those of you that don’t know what 빼빼로 (pepero) is, it’s basically a cookie stick dipped in chocolate. Many of you might be more famiiar with the Japanese version of the same snack, which is known as Pocky.


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