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Buddha’s Birthday at 반야사


The nearest Buddhist temple to our place is just across the road. In fact I pass it every time I go to work. It’s small and hidden up a small hill behind ample tree cover. In fact you’d miss it completely if it were for the multicoloured lanterns which line the street from early April, lanterns which are of course in anticipation of today, Buddha’s Birthday.

Seoul’s Filipino Market


Happy Market Monday, where the first Monday of each month we highlight a different market in Seoul!


One of my favorite trips I’ve taken in Asia would have to be the Philippines. Whenever I am struck with memories of the trip I can’t refrain from grinning ear to ear. The friendly people, out of this world beaches and amazing food are just some of the things I love about the place!


Letter from Korea, April 2014

Suwon, South Korea 28/4/2014 Dear Ireland I haven’t written in several months, I know. Perhaps Thailand got in the way of my regular correspondence, although there was little to stop me from writing a Letter from Thailand, other than the sunshine and other things I was writing. So here is my first letter of 2014, and […]

Slovakia Embassy prepares for KOTFA with Korea Brochure Launch

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 5.21.03 PM

In preparation for the Korea World Travel Fair, the Embassy of Slovakia hosted an event on Tuesday April 15 introducing Slovakia as an attractive tourism destination in Central Europe. They also launched a brochure showcasing the country entitled “Slovakia” in the Korean Language.

Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy: Awkward Questions in Korea

I’m not the most private of people, but I was raised on the idea that there are certain topics that are accepted as taboo in casual conversations: religion, how much money you make, weight, politics, etc. Unless speaking to a close friend, I’ve always avoided these topics out of a combination of politeness and a horrible fear of insulting someone. But everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked I moved to Korea.

I’ll give some examples of questions that no longer shock me.

Trick Eye Museum

Trick Eye Museum


My sister recently visited Seoul and I made sure she had the trip of a life time.  We had lots of great adventures, but on her last day  here we had a full itinerary including:

  • Drinking Tea with King Sejong
  • Swimming with Olympic Athletes
  • Climbing bamboo with pandas
  • Learninf to levitate
  • Hitting the jackpot
  • And much MUCHHHH more!

Impossible to do all in a day?  Well who can argue when we now have the Facebook pictures to prove it!

SIWA’s Art and Exhibitions chair, Mihe Shin

An interview with SIWA’s Art and Exhibitions chair, Mihe Shin
By Megan Fox
Mihe Shin is a fine arts photographer who was born and raised in Seoul.  Currently she holds the title of Arts and Exhibitions chair for SIWA.  I joined Mihe at her stunning studio located in Seoul’s designated art district Buamdong to learn mor

Korea in Chiang Mai


You spend enough time in Asia as an Irishman and you give up expecting to find Irish stuff. You know you’ll stumble across something here or there, but at the best of times all you can find is a can of Guinness and a Westlife song. Chiang Mai, despite its large expat population and even larger tourist numbers was no better than Korea, or anywhere else I’ve been. I had hoped for half a day or so, but any hopes I had were soon dashed by the obvious.

Why does it Happen? Some Korean Cultural Conclusions

It has come to my attention that foreigners in Korea (including me) often use cultural explanations for much of the behaviour that can be seen by Korean people and also sometimes draw conclusions from it.  Why is that?

There will be a significant number of people who will chalk it down to prejudice or a lack of understanding, and to be fair in some people, and with some issues, this may very well be the case.  However, the story is not a simple as that.  In my opinion, there are obvious traits about Korean culture that stand-out and that guide us to cultural conclusions, and these are very often the right ones.  Let's go through a few and I will highlight the simplified cultural explanation (SCE) and see if there is any truth to it:

Plastic Surgery

Bitter, Sweet, Seoul

Bitter, Sweet, Seoul

This week [Monday, February 11, 2014] was the premier of Bitter, Sweet, Seoul.

On Tolerance


It was one of the most physically taxing things I’ve done in a while – a mountain hike up one of Daegu’s beautiful peaks, Mt. Apsan. It was also something that I only could have done with the help, encouragement and understanding of my fellow hikers, most of whom barely knew any English.

Hiking in Hanboks to Samseonggung Shrine 삼성궁



We took advantage of the beautiful weather one Saturday to head down to Jeolla-do, the south-west area of Korea. The fog seeped back into the mountains, the air smelled like dirt and trees, we moved through highways and roads that would leave us southbound. We were pleasantly surprised to find a persimmon farm.

Hwaseong Again

A Little Korean Govt Arm-Twisting of my Blog, Re:‘Sea of Japan/East Sea’ Spat

sea of japan


Did anyone else get this email below? Who wouldn’t be persuaded by some PR firm hack with no idea about East Asia giving suggestions she doesn’t understand by robo-email? Yuck. Maybe I’m reading it the wrong way – maybe getting yelled at by the Korean government about nomenclature means someone actually reads my blog. Hah!


“Dear Robert,

PNU Club Tour

Damn… It’s been a long time – apologies and all the usual garbage excuses about being busy. Let’s get into it.

Is it December Already?

So now that Halloween is over we can all start getting our Christmas decorations down and checking the fairy lights are all working. While we’re at it, order a turkey, and for christ’s sake start knitting that jumper, there’s a 12 Pubs of Christmas on somewhere… Is it a bit early to be joking about […]

My Website is blocked in China – Hah! I’m flattered


I was just in China for a work thing, when I checked the Duck of Minerva (the IR blog where I also write) for something. Turns out the Duck is screened out by the Great Firewall. Even if you go to Google Search Hong Kong, it’s still blocked.

Say What?! Episode 8: Koreans Don’t Apologize?

This week’s episode of Say What?! Wednesday is related to the last episode about personal space. Last week we talked about personal bubbles, but what happens when that personal bubble is violated? In America, it feels like if people come within two arms length of you they apologize for possibly being in your way. That’s one thing I noticed when I visited America last time, and I was always looking around for someone else they could be apologizing to because it seemed overboard to be apologizing to me!

We’ve been living in Korea for over 3 years, and this is just one of the examples of how much Korea has changed us! Apologies are not given out often or casually here, especially when it comes to violating your personal bubble. Koreans’ personal bubbles are much smaller, simply because of the size of Korea and its population density.

The Daejeon International Wine and Food Festival

My friend Eric and I headed to Daejeon for the International Wine and Food Festival after waking up at the crack of dawn to grab a train at 7. I wasn’t exactly sure what it entailed, but wine-tasting and international … Continue reading

Re-visited Gyeongbokgung Palace in Pictures

I've visited the Gyeongbokgung Palace 3 times and this has been the only time I had the oportunity to take my time to explore it, I've posted about this before here and here, so this will only be a re-visit in Pictures!

Ulsan World Music Fest

Now I know this isn’t technically a Busan event… but it’s close enough and the amount of overseas talent onstage is alarming. There will be folk music from all corners of the world, reggae, disco, hip-hop, jazz. Sometimes, the absence of outside culture here gets to me and I yearn for something different to stretch my brain around. This festival seems designed to do just that.

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

This Weekend, PNU Rocks

Zero Festival gets down this weekend in PNU with all types of sonic goodness.

Korean and Guest English Teachers Working Together Webcast

ELT Live:  Korean and Guest English Teachers Working Together
September 5, 2013

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Korean Public School teachers and  Guest English Teachers discuss cultural issues, teaching tips, and basic survival skills for surviving and thriving in school. 

2013 Buddha’s Birthday~ Parade, Festival, & River lantern show

This year I went out to enjoy the festivities at the Yeon Deung Hwae Lotus Lantern Festival as usual for Buddha’s Birthday in Korea!  This holiday and festival is one of the cutest and most cultural events they seem to throw, so if you are visiting Korea in the Spring or new to Korea you should check it out!

2013 Busan Sunset Live Preview (Part 3)

<<>> A few days ago, the timetable was released to us common folk. It seems that they tried to intersperse the rock acts in amongst the non-rock acts instead of clumping them all together. So… no matter what time you go, there’ll be a smorgasbord of musics to sample and taste. […]

A Guide to Understanding Korean (School) Culture for Guest English Teachers

Editor’s Note from Jeff: This was written by a Korean elementary school teacher as an assignment for my Cross-Cultural Communication course. The task was to “prepare a guide for improving cross-cultural communication and interactions in your workplace”.  Since many Guest English Teachers will be starting school this week, I thought it was the right time to publish this. Hopefully, it will encourage a useful discussion about how Korean Teachers and Guest English Teachers can work together to create a positive learning/working environment.   Thanks very much to Jessi for agreeing to post this here.

2013 Busan Sunset Live Preview (Part 2)

The Koreans of Europe

No two cultures are the same but every one is similar, right? You could certainly say that about much of Europe, where thousands of years of breeding, trading, warring, traveling, and sharing across ever-shifting borders has caused a mixology of international characteristics of which one can be difficult to discern from the other.

In Asia, it is a little more difficult to separate the differences because the continent has suffered less fluctuation of its borders, and in terms of today’s map, colonialism for the most part decided on today’s borders. But still you can throw in the changes, regardless of actual influence, of international trade, development, colonialism, the sharing of ideas, television, and migration, and the wind at the weekend if you wish, and you will soon realise the stark similarities between peoples and cultures there.

The 6th annual Salsa Festival in Busan

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