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Things You Should Never Ever Say or Do When Your Korean Parents-in-law Are Around


Filipina Wife vs. Korean Husband (Part 1)

2As a couple who lives in a marriage with two different cultures, my husband and I don’t usually see eye to eye on many things.

On Dating a Korean

I have always known that my husband isn’t a pro on dating. When we were boyfriend and girlfriend, we would either go out to see a movie or have dinner in the same restaurants or bars. Our first date was memorable, … Continue reading

The Fugitives

A window-shopper from the hospital (At least she's not carrying an IV pole. ^^)

A window-shopper from the hospital (At least she’s not carrying an IV pole. ^^)

Clad in their hospital gowns, they can be seen moseying through the busy streets on Market Day, dining in a crowded restaurant or drinking in a 호프 (hof or bar) with friends, sometimes dragging their IV stands as if they are carrying a Prada bag with pride.

It is easy to spot them at the public parking garage or on a bench outside the hospital, smoking and chinwaging with other smokers, not giving a damn about other patients who went out of their room to get some fresh air. I call them THE FUGITIVES. You see, patients normally stay IN THE HOSPITAL and are allowed to go out as long as they are on the premises of the hospital where they are being cared for, but these patients I call fugitives are always itching to leave the hospital grounds. They don’t just leave; they paint the town red, more like they are on a hospital-holiday spree.

My husband was one of these fugitives. When he was confined for more than a month, he would escape from the hospital and spend the entire day at home. At first, I thought that he just missed me, so he kept coming to the house, but he would either be playing computer games or curl up on the sofa and watch TV for hours. At times, he would play pool with his buddies… in his hospital gown! Oh, and yes, he did the most dreadful thing a fugitive can do when he was admitted to the hospital for a minor accident… leave the hospital late at night to drink in a bar! He even attended a wedding a few hours away from the hospital! Good thing he traded his stylish hospital gown for a suit that day.

Hospital gown, check! IV, check!

Hospital gown, check! IV, check!

Fugitives are everywhere in Korea, and people who see them don’t seem to mind. I understand, hospitals can be boring… but wandering around town with your IV or drinking alcohol outside when you are being treated and cared for? C’mon!  

I remember when my husband had a surgery in the Philippines, and he was confined for a week. He called the hospital a prison, the doctors the prison wardens. He couldn’t leave his room even when he could walk. He wasn’t allowed to smoke outside. The doctors kept reminding him to refrain from smoking and quit drinking, as his condition was alcohol-related. When he had another surgery in Korea, none of his doctors told him to cut down smoking and stop drinking. He said that Koreans don’t like being told what to do, even by doctors… unless it’s a matter of life and death. Could this be the reason why doctors in Korea are reluctant to tell their patients the do’s and dont’s? Could this be why the fugitives behave the way they do and get away with it? Well, there is no harm in enjoying a typical day outside even when you are sick, but should you really be wandering around town with that IV drip?

Could this “don’t-tell-me-what-to-do” mentality be the reason why a MERS-infectee from Korea flew out of the country on a business trip to China despite being advised by his doctor to wait and see if he was disease-free, thus causing panic among Chinese citizens?

Could this be the mentality that drove two Korean doctors under MERS quarantine to push through with their holiday trip to the Philippines without considering the possibility of spreading the virus if they were indeed infected?

Could this mentality be the reason why seeing an in-patient drinking in a bar or a hof like there is no tomorrow does not shock Koreans anymore, and not even one hospital staff would bother to remind patients who smoke at the entrance of a hospital that sharing their toxic smoke with visitors and other patients is illegal? Korea has imposed smoking bans in public places since 2013, including hospitals, but I guess the fugitives pictured below didn’t get a memo… or perhaps they just lack common sense and regard for others.




15 Korean Expressions That I’ve Learned

Having been married to a Korean for 4 years gives me the opportunity to develop my understanding about the Korean culture. Learning how to speak Korean fluently can be challenging and frustrating at the same time. I don’t know why I find it difficult to master the Korean language. When I decided to move to Korea with my husband and our 2-year-old son, I have accepted the fact that whether I like it or not, I have to learn the language in order for me to communicate well with other Koreans especially with my in-laws who couldn’t speak and understand English. When we arrived in South Korea on April 2, 2015, we stayed at my parents-in-law’s residence in Uiryeong County, Gyeongsangnamdo for 3 months. I’ve learned some Korean phrases/expressions just by listening to their daily conversation.

Here are the Top 15 Korean Daily Expressions that I’ve learned so far…

1.) Annyeonghaseyo!

Citron-flavored Soju, Anyone?

I just found out last week that we are going to have 회식 (hwesik) before summer break, and I am kind of nervous about it. Hwesik is when colleagues dine and drink together, more like an after-work party. I looove parties, but hwesik … Continue reading

What I Have Learned from Marrying a Korean

The other night, I was asking my husband if he remembers “our song”. He said he remembers it, but he doesn’t know the lyrics, so I sang it to him. When I was singing the chorus, he remembered some lines and sang some parts, though most of the time he was humming. We were singing “our song” in the car, sometimes chuckling when one of us was out of tune.

What Do You Know About Korea?

An Interview with Joey Rositano, Photographer of Jeju Shamanism

Joey Rositano is not your ordinary expat. Hailing from Nashville, the Tennessee native has called Jeju-do, an island off the southern coast of South Korea, home for the past nine years. 

Things You Can Do to Make Your In-laws Happy on Parents’ Day

Tomorrow is a special day for moms and dads in Korea, because May 8 is Parents’ Day (어버이날). It has been part of Korean tradition to give parents carnation on this occasion as symbol of respect and gratitude.

TREEt Others The Way You Want to Be TREEted

Not Just A TreeIt’s the classic golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. But in the East, it’s more like: treat elders and higher ranking officials the way you’d want to be treated if you were in their position, whatever it takes.

Whether it’s a matter of age or authority, hierarchy is of the utmost importance in Korea. At all times, younger or lower ranking people make concious efforts to show their superiors the proper amount of respect they deserve; from the way they introduce themselves to higher ranking people, to the way they acknowledge or address them, to the way they eat and drink with them–as well as…how they plant trees for them.

Work Hard, Play Hard, Sleep Hard

As an American expat in Korea, some things, like eating piles of meat from a grill, are pretty easy to get used to. Other things, like sitting on the eatingonfloorfloor for the hour it takes to eat it, are quite a bit harder. My American education prepared me for a lot of things, but spending scads of time on the floor was not one of them.

Six Things You Need for a Korean Picnic

Is the weather not glorious right now?!

In sunshine like this, I refuse to be inside for any longer than I absolutely have to. This includes for meals. In fact, one of my favorite things to do in this weather is picnic. And with all the great green spaces the city has to offer (like Naksan Park, the Han River and the Dream Forest), a picnic can be had just about anywhere.

Korea Through the Eyes of Foreigners (through the Eyes of Koreans)

My latest over at Sweet Pickles and Corn: Sometimes the things that foreigners like about Korea are the simplest (OK, except maybe for ddeok).

Korea Through the Eyes of Foreigners (through the Eyes of Koreans).

via Korea Through the Eyes of Foreigners (through the Eyes of Koreans).

Korea Through the Eyes of Foreigners (through the Eyes of Koreans)

It Takes A Village

Starting last week my school moved to its new, permanent location about 20 minutes outside the city. The campus is absolutely huge and beautifully tucked into the valley of some small mountains with a distant view of the ocean (pictures to come later)! However, it makes for a bit of a longer commute and especially for me, since I don’t have a car, a slightly more complicated journey to and from school.

Vlog Entry #12: Student Video Projects

In another post I explain a little bit more about how these awesome videos came into the world. So if you want to learn more, you can check that out. Othewise I’ll just get out of your way and let you enjoy yourself!

A comedic introduction to some of the sports students practice at my school.


Hakrim Dabang: Seoul's Original Cafe

Although there aren't any statistics to back this up, I assume that Seoul, South Korea has a bigger concentration of cafes than any other city in the world. Which is pretty impressive, considering that coffee was practically unknown until the late Joseon dynasty in the early 1900s. Even then, coffee shops, or dabang as they were referred to, were few and far between, with Seoul's coffee culture only developing into what it is today in the 2000s.

Everyday Life in Direct Translation

A little look at linguistic and cultural differences via three everyday situations in London vs Korea.

Some quick notes:

Korean syntax (the order in which words and phrases are put together, basically) is pretty much the opposite of most European languages. This is very tricksy, as is the rule that you have to specify the topic, object and subject of your sentence by putting a particle after them. Except sometimes you don’t say the subject at all, especially if it’s a person. Like ‘I’, for example, or ‘you’. Yeah.


This post started life months ago as the third in a series about clashing cultural norms. After more time in Korea and (hopefully) more understanding on my part, it turned into something a bit different…you can read where it all started here.

Here are some criticisms of the UK according to other Europeans:

1. Opaque communications: Our morbid fear of conflict makes our language indirect and gives us a reputation, amongst our continental counterparts, for being dishonest and sneaky. The rest of the English-speaking world, too, complains of the bafflingly high incidence of coded language in British English. For those new to this phenomenon, this handy chart should help:



Bit of a long absence, sorry!

Since I last wrote, quite a lot has happened, including but not limited to:

  • One trip to Tibet
  • One gruelling semester of teaching,
  • One gruelling period of Korean language study,
  • One engagement
  • One crash-course in Korean family politics  .

The final three points may be related.

Two weeks of desk-warming before I scurry off to be wed should provide lots of time to fill you in, but first, HELLO! It is lovely to see your lovely faces and I promise never to leave you for so long again.

Much love,

L xxx

A "Zen"-Course Lunch at Barugongyang Buddhist Temple Food Restaurant

Barugongyang offers up authentic Buddhist temple cuisine using only fresh, local ingredients. Read on for my personal review of the restaurant's peaceful atmosphere and thoughtful course meals.

It's only been fairly recently that we've learned how eating greener and cleaner rather than focusing on calorie and fat counts can positively affect the health of our bodies and minds. With trends like CSAs, detox diets and green smoothies becoming all the rage in the nutrition world, we're taking a step forward toward healthier lives.

However, the Buddhist monks of Korea have been slightly ahead of this trend. And by slightly I mean by hundreds of years.

Wait for Me Until I Become You

Recently I’ve been giving my students mini essay assignments each week on various topics to improve their persuasive and creative writing. Below is the work of one of my strongest students. I asked him to write a letter to his future self in the year 2020. Check it out! It’s pretty great!


Dear myself in the future,

Hello, myself. I’m yourself. Precisely, I’m yourself in the past. I heard you’re 23 years old. Though you are older than me, I will not treat you politely. I have many questions. Most of all, what is your college? Seoul University? Really? You did a good job. And, did you go the army? Where? Katusa? Oh, I think you’re very good at English.

10 Things South Korea Does Faster

One of the first Korean words I learned after my arrival to the peninsula was bbali (빨리). Meaning "fast," it's a term used frequently and, in my opinion, perfectly summarizes the entire country in two syllables. After all, the nation rose from the ashes of the Korean War in a mere six decades to become one of the world's greatest economies. In general, Koreans do a lot of things fast. Here's 10 of them, in no particular order.


I’m Ready for My Close-Up: An Interview with TLTalk

A few weeks back I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Janeth Ignacio for her up-and-coming blog, TLTalk! You can find the interview, which covers everything from culture shock to teaching ESL, here. Enjoy!

My First Korean Tarot Card Reading

"Oh God," I wince as the card I have just drawn from a well-worn deck is turned over to reveal an ominous image that instantly reminds me of the woman from The Ring. "That can't be good," I note as my eyes take in the oriental ink sketching that surely, in my mind, is indicative of looming death. The man across the table freezes and his eyes meet mine for the briefest of moments. His weathered skin and honest, understanding glance indicate that he's the real deal.

“Wish Ko Lang” Grants Wishes of Filipinos in Korea

Last Saturday, “Wish Ko Lang”, a popular television program in the Philippines that features inspiring stories of ordinary Filipinos and grants their wishes, played fairy godmother in South Korea. The show granted the wish of a dedicated Filipina teacher from Bulacan to come to … Continue reading

Vlog Entry #6: Lantern Festival – Jinju, South Korea

During the first weekend of October I went to the Lantern Festival in Jinju! To read more about the festival, view the related post here!

Vlog Entry #5: 2014 International Mask Festival – Andong, South Korea

This video takes you along with me as I travel to Andong, South Korea for the 2014 International Mask Festival! To read more about my experience, check the related post here!

2014 International Mask Festival – Andong, South Korea

Masks:  Pretty cool!

Food: Pretty good!

Performances: Okay.

Location: Okay.

Overall: Pretty…okay.

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