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Pop Music Brings a Lot More Readers than Social Science: Follow-up on ‘Kangnam Style’

Korea_Seokguram_Buddha

Now THAT is Korean art – the Seokguram Buddha; I’ve been to see it 3 times


5 Awesomely Awesome: “I Love Korea” Edition.

Even after living in Korea for a year and a half, I still have these wonderful moments where all I can say is “I Love Korea”.  I’ve been out exploring some of Korea’s islands the past few days which provided quite a few of these moments, so here are some of my favorites:

 

1. Defunct Carnival Rides:


Down near SangJu Beach in Namehae we found two old carnival rides sitting on a lot.  And for some unexplainable reason the famous ride “Supertagadisco” had some very famous faces.


What is it with Koreans and Plastic Surgery?

It is fairly common knowledge that South Korea is plastic surgery capital of the world http://abcnews.go.com/Health/niptuck-nations-countries-cosmetic-surgery/story?id=16205231.  Every person living in Korea currently will also know why they do it and it is most commonly down to achieving a more 'Western' look.  Nose jobs and double eye-lid surgery are very popular to achieve this as most Koreans have a fairly low nose ridge and have inconspicuous eye-lids.

Happy 추석!!

Happy 추석(Chuseok), or Happy Thanksgiving!

The next few days in Korea are a time to honor family, eat traditional foods such as 잡채 (japchae) and rice cakes, and if you’re my students- look traditionally adorable.

This also means a fantastic 5 day break!

With so much free time, my friend Sam and I are going to go wander around some of Korea’s islands.  We both wanted to go somewhere new so the plan is to go to Namhae and maybe Tongyeong, or somewhere else if all the buses are booked. I’m really excited to get out into the country a bit, and see some new parts of Korea I have yet to experience.


Today,

Today I played dress up!  What did you do?

From Busan with 추석 Love,
Jenna


Fall is Near

I am not one to frequent coffee shops, but this past weekend I found myself in a Starbucks.  While there I can happily report that our Corporate Overseers have since announced the impending Arrival of Fall to Korea.

Now there isn’t any of the infamous “Pumpkin Spice” aroma in the air, but there is a nice Salted Caramel flavor, that here in Korea is being called “Sweet and Salty”.

Now I don’t know if I just didn’t stalk Starbucks enough my first year here, or if Korea is finally catching on to the flavors of fall, but either way it’s quite tasty.
Now if only I could get some good apple cider.

From Busan with Autumnal Love,
Jenna


Olympic Soccer ♥ Korea VS Japan live at Seoul City Hall!

As we all know, this year was the 2012 Olympics in London!  During the last winter Olympics I happened to be in Korea and remembered how INTO the games the country got, you really feel the pride and unity all over the country when these sorts of things go on because Korea is quite small and hungry to win! One game Koreans get very excited for is soccer, and one thing Koreans get RABID excited about is playing against Japan… so when Korea and Japan Men’s Soccer made it to the finals to compete for the bronze medal I knew we had to go out and mingle with the crowds vs stay at home while Nara screamed at his TV all night lol.

The game was set for 8/11/2012!


‘Kangnam Style’s Irony is Missed b/c of the Publicity Wave

yeah, it’s pretty hysterical, especially when you get the underlying social critique

 


5 Awesomely Awesome Things: The Very Merry unBirthday Edition

Now before this gets confusing it’s not my Birthday, that was a few months ago.  Even though it wasn’t my Birthday, this past week it was 3 of my co-worker’s Birthdays in the span of only two days.  Needless to say I’ve had Birthdays on the brain, which is fine.

I love Birthdays.  So here are some things I find Awesomely Awesome about them.

 

1. Mail: 

I love Mail!  I love getting cards and letters and bits of awesomeness to brighten my day and adorn my walls.  Birthdays mean mail and especially far from home, they are that much more special.  Seriously, if you ever need to win me over, send me a card.  If you send me a package, I’ll love you forever.  Did I mention I like mail?


Life’s Short, Eat Dessert First.

My Grandma used to tell me this, and when I was in Osaka I totally listened.
My last night in Japan I was wondering around Osaka after checking into my hostel looking for a place to eat.  It was one of those times that there was so much selection that nothing in particular sounded good.
As I was walking down one random street, I found this little bakery tucked away.

Inside was this cool young dude who I found out is the owner and creator of all of the stores delicious treats.  I was hungry and it looked super good so I dove into vacation mode and had my dessert first.


Once Upon a Time…

…in the not so distant past, in the land of South Korea, Oreos were a mere figment of a foreigner’s imagination.  It was a dark time where Oreos had to be obtained in care packages from home, visits to other countries, or succumbing to eating Cameos- Oreo knockoffs.

 

Little did I know that upon my return to South Korea, Oreos would be plentiful sitting on store shelves as if they had been there with the rest of America’s food imperialism for years.   Even though you can’t find my personal favorites Golden Oreos (sad), or Double Stuffed (double sad), more than just plain Oreos are available.

Today I found these:


300: A Countdown

 

I’ve always been better with words, but today is a good occasion for some numbers.


Old-school toys and treasures at the 문방구


Some Nights…

Some nights in Korea it feels like you’ve been here for years and not much could phase you, let alone shock or surprise you.

Other nights, as you’re walking home with a friend from the Cat Cafe you take pictures with anthropomorphized alcohol!

Another thing I love is that in Korea, the person in the suit not only speaks great English, but also watches your bike for you while you try to win a little bottle of soju and instead win a packet of wet wipes.


Mostly Harmless

When I was tentatively asked to move from working part-time to full-time at Busan International Foreign School back in February – a job I finally began last week – I understood that as part of this my son could be educated at the school during the duration of my contract, which my wife and I had decided would be a good idea since we had become concerned at his interactions with other children when he met them. Because of this, we didn't search for a place in a Korean nursery for him, but a couple of days after I signed the contract we found out he was 10 days too young to qualify for a place. The moral of the story perhaps, is to always check the small print yourself.

9 Hours in Sci-Fi

I’m not really writing about my trip to Japan in sequential order, so I figured I would jump to one of the most asked about aspects of my trip (mostly by my mom and her co-workers)- the capsule hotel.

In Kyoto there’s this capsule hotel that I found called 9 Hours, and it looks just as futuristic and straight out of a sci-fi movie as it does on its website.  I’ve found that it’s actually cheaper to book through their website, and since I was staying in hostels the whole trip, this was the most expensive place I stayed in.  But it’s all about the experience, right?   It looked a lot fancier and sci-fi than a lot of the other capsule hotels I saw online, so I took the plunge.

Who wouldn’t want to sleep here?


The Japanese Need to Teach the World How to Cook…

… mushrooms and octopus.

I was really excited to try ‘real’ Japanese food on my trip, and I had heard great things about it from friends of mine who had been to Japan before.

It wasn’t all foreign to me since there’s quite a bit of Japanese food and influence in what Koreans eat, but it was so much better.  The ramen shops were absolutely delicious, the dumplings were fabulous, most everything I ate was amazing.

One thing Koreans have adopted is the Tonkatsu, or fried pork cutlet and I had the best one I’ve ever eaten while in Japan.  It also came with these fried potato cakes which were heavenly, super dangerous, and thankfully live far away from me.


Awesome Japan!

I have never been one for giving people advice, mostly because I hate receiving it myself unless I ask for it.  Advice is often given by self-interested people who want you to think and do what they want you to do and really don't want what is best for you.  If people wish to give me advice without me asking for it, I am always wary and on many occasions I suspect their motives.  All that being said, I strongly advise that (if you can afford to do so) you should visit Japan at least once in your life.

Buddha’s Birthday 석가탄신일 ~ Best Holiday in Korea!

Lotus lanterns outside the 관악구 government office.

One thing that I found disappointing about Korea when I first started coming was the city-wide lack of traditional holiday celebrations. Living in Japan I was able to participate in many celebrations, parades, festivals, and occasions to wear traditional clothing, but in Korea even though they always talk about it or promote it abroad…. those things are more behind closed doors or just Calendar holidays that do not bring about anything very exciting or “cultural” for outsiders~ with the exception of Buddha’s Birthday!


Japan: An Update

Hello JAPAN!  So I've been in Japan for about a day and it is great!  I have a free moment before I head over to the national museum.  I wen to Harajuku today and seriously, it's way cooler than even Gwen Stefani makes it seem.  Yes there giant Forever 21's and American Eagle shops, but the little small shops full of cute/weird/nerdy awesome things were amazing.  As of right now (and I haven't seen that much so it's not a grand assessment, but right now it is my favorite place in Tokyo.

I also got to see the base of Mt. Fuji from the train up to Tokyo, saw a huge firework festival with what felt like all of Tokyo.  Things are big and moving fast here, but I'm having a great time and meeting really nice people.  I'm really excited to write pages and pages full of stuff -with pictures-when I get back.


From Tokyo with Harajuku Love,

Korean Family 'Pension' Outing

As well as the more controversial article I wrote the other week, I also posted a piece to another website, which was an adaptation of my blog post on my Korean family.  I again received praise but also some quite fierce criticism.  Most of the criticism was based around the argument that I was not trying hard enough with my Korean family.  To summarise what was said I essentially needed to learn more Korean, stop being so selfish, not be so tight, and generally pull my finger out.

A Rather Enlightening Reaction to my First Article

As a test of my writing ability and see if what I have to say about certain issues interests anyone I decided to post a couple of articles recently on two different websites; thethreewisemonkeys.com and asiapundits.com both of which are based in Korea and maintained by Westerners living in Korea.  Both kindly agreed to run them, but the reaction to them was nothing I had ever bargained for.

What is Good About Korea?

Recently, I have posted some negative blogs about Korea, complaining on an array of subjects such as family, morals, Korean men, the treatment of animals, etc.  It is therefore possible that I am leaving some of my readers with the impression that it is all bad and I would rather be back in my own country and as quickly as possible.  This is not the case and I hope I am generally quite balanced with my judgments about Korea because the truth is when weighing up a life in England with a life in Korea the scales are quite evenly balanced.

Hello, Kitty

Around the corner from my apartment, lives the cutest place in the world.


It's also kind of hard to miss... and it may be everything you expect Asia to be.

Death Anniversaries in Korea - 기제

This month I had the pleasure (or the misfortune) of experiencing a traditional death anniversary with my wife's family here in Korea.  Basically what happens is this: every year on the death of a close family member the family comes together to remember them and make offerings to their spirit in the form of lots of food and drink.

Usually, the women do all the preparing of food, set it up, and clean everything up at the end while the men just sit around eating the food and drinking alcohol around one table.  On another table, food and drink is presented artistically around a picture of the dead family member, or if there is no picture a possession of theirs or a note.  Once everything is in place, relatives of the deceased then take turns in bowing three times at regular intervals to the table, alcohol is poured into a bowl and spoons are placed inside bowls of rice and other dishes so that the spirit can eat if they choose to.

Vacation Nightmare in Indonesia - Part 3

I headed to the north part of Bali with a view to escaping the noise, dirt, and hawkers to a black sand beach area with the promise of a possible dolphin watching trip.  The journey through the Bali started off by going through all the dirty and polluted areas but once we got into the forests in the central mountains the views started to become rather beautiful and I was treated to seeing a huge number of monkeys on the side of the road.  The monkeys were sitting on the road, playing around on the barriers and swinging through the trees, producing quite a unique experience.  The mountains were also a lot cooler making the journey far more pleasant than the first part of the trip.

Busan’s Trick Eye Museum


Books On Optical Illusion

The only thing which Koreans love more than taking pictures is having their picture taken. So I shouldn’t have been surprised to find in Busan an entire museum dedicated to the art of posing for funny photos. But still… I was surprised. The Trick Eye Museum, underneath the Heosimcheong Spa, is one of the most bizarre places we’ve been in a long time.


Yeon Jung Getting Married

 


A Korean Piggy to Inspire Me

 


MBC brings Multicultural Panic to Korea

 


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