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문래창작촌 | Seoul Art Space | Mullae-dong, Mullae Line 2 Part 2

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문래창작촌 Seoul Art Space | Mullae-dong, Mullae Line 2

Part 2

문래창작촌 | Seoul Art Space | Mullae-dong, Mullae Line 2 A rainy...

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문래창작촌 | Seoul Art Space | Mullae-dong, Mullae Line 2

A rainy afternoon in Mullae-dong.  Come out of Mullae Exit 7, and walk south for a couple of hundred metres.  You’ll meet the entrance to the industrial area (there’s a couple of pieces of street art which you can’t miss)  Once inside, you’ll find a mixture of steel workshops (still very much operational), artist studios, and some boutique cafes.  Unlike some of the other artist villages around Korea, this place certainly feels more gritty.  I chose to visit on a rainy afternoon which meant having the place to myself.  I think the weather added a certainly gloominess and made the vibrancy of the art stand out even more.  Towards, the main road, the village becomes more ‘gentrified’ and there were some pretty flashy coffee shops complete with posing hipsters (Very akin to parts of Shoreditch in London).

If you’re interested in the industrial side of Seoul, the juxtaposition of old and new, or urban street art, this is probably about as good as it gets.

Pick a rainy day and don’t forget your umbrella!

Being in a long distance relationship (with a Korean)

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It is tough to be in a long distance relationship. I see friends who complain about being in a "long distance relationship" when their boyfriend/girlfriend goes on a school exchange. But being in a long distance relationship with someone from a different country or culture brings it to a whole new level.

I never thought I'd be in one someday. I don't think anyone ever dreams or hopes to be in a long distance relationship. After all, I am at the age where I want to go for fun dates, movies, dinners, shopping - just having a boyfriend who can be there for me. At 23, my relationship is filled with extreme emotions. The joy of each meeting and the tears of each separation.

Here is how we make our long distance relationship (LDR) work:

#1 - Never stop communicating
No matter how tired we get at the end of the day, we always make it a point to talk before we go to bed. Many couples don't realise how lucky they are to be able to simply make a phone call to their partners while LDR couples have to endure the (sometimes) horrible Skype connections or bad wifi connections. But when the connection is good, we get to see each other and just talk about what we have been doing in the day. We have one rule that we've both been keeping faithfully - never ever go to bed angry. We adopted this from Ephesians 4:26 "In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry". It forces us to talk about our conflicts and be open and honest to each other. It's been one and a half years now and I'm glad we've kept this promise till today.
#2 - Dare to show your emotions
This was a real problem for us in the beginning. He hid a lot of emotions - especially sadness, & anger - from me when we started dating. He said it was a Korean thing where guys should not cry or show that they are sad in front of their wives/girlfriends. Generally, I think all (Asian) guys think the same. It took awhile for me to convince him that he had to tell me how he was feeling because if he hid all his emotions, I would not be dating with his 'true self'. When couples dare to express themselves, your partner gets to learn more about you: what angers you, what upsets you & what makes you happy. This is especially important for LDR couples because we simply have no time for hiding emotions when all our communications are on screen.
(Kimchi boy crying secretly while I was packing my luggage the night before my flight back to Singapore)

#3 - Don't hide your relationship
This is going to be a tough one. Because many people are still skeptical about online dating, it will probably be difficult to convince your friends & family. Even so if you're at a younger age. I've mentioned before, when I initially wanted to go meet Kimchi boy, EVERYONE was against it. My mum even refused to talk to me for almost 2 months because of this. But I (foolishly?) insisted that I know he wasn't a bad person. Thank God I met a really nice guy who was nice, gentle and honest. I trusted him because we had been skyping for some time and I've seen him, seen his parents over skype, seen pictures of him & his friends, know where he studies (all thanks to Facebook!) It was just a gut feeling that this guy was an honest & sincere man. I do not encourage people to just go ahead and meet your potential online boyfriend/girlfriend but I'm just saying - it takes some judgement, trust and common sense. 
The main reason why you shouldn't hide your relationship (whether it is a long distance one or not) is because.. Why should you? You're not doing anything wrong, it's not something that has to be kept a secret unless you're a third party or something. I'm glad I'd involved my family from the start because it also helps them to know him so much better. Being in a long distance relationship is tough, don't make it tougher by keeping it a secret. 
(Kimchi boy with my mother at Singapore's Changi Airport. He was returning to South Korea.)
#4 - Don't become lazy!
This is what kimchi boy said, "Don't ever be lazy for our love". He refers to all aspects of the relationship. He has regularly sent EMS (air packages) from South Korea to Singapore for my family. Despite the expensive charges and the fact that he had to bring the heavy box from his home all the way to the nearest post office (30-45mins away), he never once complaint. There was once I lost a handphone cover that was only available in Korea and it was out of stock everywhere, even in their Korean site. He actually travelled to all their factories and warehouses just to find the only last piece that was available. 

Ok - it might be a Korean thing again because we all know (from Korean drama) how much Korean boyfriends sacrifice and do all sorts of things just to make his girlfriend happy. But seriously, couples should never be lazy to do things for each other. No matter how long they have been together. The moment you start getting lazy, that's the point your relationship starts going downhill because the love and commitment level goes down too. This is probably easy for LDR couples because your relationship now becomes so precious that you are willing to go to the depths of the sea for him/her.

(Recent EMS with home-grilled seaweed, korean beans, korean snacks...)

#5 - Trust is the luxury of letting go.
I've always had problems with trusting any ex-boyfriends, until I met kimchi boy. Sometimes, I think it requires you to give up some things to help the other party trust you. We don't drink, club & have very few friends of the opposite sex. Not because we have to, but because we know these are things that could potential spoil the trust in our relationship. I know people debate on whether it is right to read your partner's text messages and the issue of personal privacy but really, what is there to hide when you have not done anything wrong? I think that there is no right or wrong, it really depends on what each couple wants to agree on. 
I know my long distance relationship is an easy one because of him. He is much older/mature and had  passed "the playful stage". He is different from most Koreans - sometimes my Dad says he is almost not Korean - he doesn't drink or smoke AT ALL. He has no interests in clubbing, talking to girls or playing online games like most of his friends. His parents are traditional but not conservative - meaning they are not bothered that their son might one day marry a non-Korean. They actually love me like their own daughter. We do have communication problems sometimes but he can speak English well enough, compared to most Koreans.

I think the most important thing is to have a mindset that this relationship will work if you put your heart and soul into it. It will be a tough relationship, but the most rewarding one you will ever have.




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As I’m sure you’ve seen in the news, South Korea is devastated over the loss of life in the Sewol Ferry tragedy.  There are confusing, conflicting responses to this tragedy, really the first major national catastrophe since the country was created after the Korean War.  For a culture that so highly values trust and respect, the idea of departmental and government oversights causing a loss of life this immense is overwhelming.  Just today, the country’s prime minister 정홍원 (Jeong Hong Won) resigned amid a hail of controversy about government inefficiency.  Distraught parents have threatened to march on the Blue House (South Korea’s presidential residence) in protest and are vocally and emotionally castigating a government they feel has failed to save their children.  

I don’t know enough about the issue to point fingers.  If the ferry was like any bus, train, or subway I’ve ever ridden in this country, I’m sure it was overcrowded.  I’m sure captain and surviving crew made a host of mistakes in terms of organizing the ship’s evacuation and coordinating rescue efforts, not the least of which was leaving the ship without first ensuring their passengers’ safety.  However, I also know that weather conditions immediately following the accident were miserable and extremely windy here in Busan.  Additionally, the water here is frigid and seas can get pretty rough, which I’m sure impeded rescue efforts and created an enormous job for the divers.  I’m sure someone will be judged grievously at fault for the incident and the botched rescue that accompanied it.  I hope that over the next couple of years changes in safety and inspection policies will prevent another similar tragedy from happening.

However, more than pondering the physics of sinking ships and the politics of governmental corruption, I find myself flat-out mourning the loss of so many young lives.  As a teacher, I have attended my fair share of funerals for students who passed away too soon, but I cannot imagine what it must be like to be a part of the Ansan Danwon High School community right now.  Just think about attending a school that has lost nearly a third of its student population.  Think about being one of the few surviving members of Danwon’s sophomore class and having to face graduation next year–or even classes for that matter.  Consider being a teacher and gazing out over all those empty desks, or a principal supervising a too-empty hallway during class changes.  The impact has to be staggering.

Now compound this by adding in cultural ramifications.  South Korea is a country in population crisis, where many couples choose to have small families or no children at all.  Though not mandated like China’s one child policy, the high cost of child-rearing in Korea has led many couples to forego or delay marriage and childbirth.  Currently, the RoK government is attempting to deal with issues like how to populate a workforce in a country that isn’t producing enough children.  A myriad of changes in attitudes about marriage, women in the work force, and child-rearing have resulted in one of the lowest birth rates in the world and a country that, if this trend continues, may be looking at a population decrease in the next generation.  The issue is so severe that the government offers financial assistance to all pregnant mothers (even foreigners) in the hopes of encouraging people to start families.  Now imagine the tragic loss of hundred of children from a single community.

Furthermore, Korea has one of the world’s highest suicide rates, especially among teenagers.  A recent poll from the Korean Health Promotion Foundation found that more than half of Korean teens admitted to having suicidal thoughts, with more than a third describing themselves as “very depressed”.  Suicide is currently the leading cause of death for Koreans aged 15-24, surpassing even car accidents.  In a country where so many children are already at risk of self-destructive behavior, the issue of providing effective and accessible mental health resources for students is paramount in the wake of a tragedy like the Sewol disaster.

In the meantime, the country as a whole remains in deep mourning, with celebratory events cancelled or postponed out of respect for the victims and their families.  Television programming schedules have been altered, and even the normally raucous Korean baseball season is off to a somber start with cheering, dancing, and game time festivities halted out of respect.  Kpop stars, Korean actors, and citizens have posted yellow ribbons and “Pray for Korea” photos on their social media pages as a sign of solidarity for those directly affected by the tragedy.  As one of my colleagues indicated this week, no one is really sure when life as normal will resume here because nothing like this has ever happened before.  The loss of life, particularly young life, on such a large scale is tremendous.  How does one even begin to grieve a tragedy of this magnitude?





Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: Korea, Sewol, Teen Suicide, yellow ribbons

Giving Up on Colour…

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I feel like giving up on colour. It’s not that I don’t love colour, in fact I adore colour, it’s just that monochrome is just a sure fine way for things to be viewed. It’s an aesthetic of course. We can’t give up on colour, and I can’t imagine anyone who would decide to do […]


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Seoulmates has moved! 

Visit us at our new site:

Slovakia Embassy prepares for KOTFA with Korea Brochure Launch

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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.

The fair is quickly approaching and will be held from May 29-June 1. For those who have a constant case of the travel bug, this is a one-stop shop to check out where in the world is calling your name. Both domestic and overseas tourism will be showcased.Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 5.20.31 PM

The embassy showcased some of the most fascinating places to visit in Slovakia through a slide presentation. Locations included medieval castles and chateaus, caves, historical towns, healing spas, and a plethora of outdoor recreation. Slovakia has now been in the European Union for 10 years and is a significant trade partner with Korea. If you want a first hand glance at their brochure, as well as information about attractive travel destinations around the world, don’t miss Seoul’s 29th KOTFA.Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 5.19.54 PM

Located at the COEX exhibition center, Hall A will house over 100,000 travel industry professionals, buyers and travel consumers throughout the event. Beyond the individual informational booths there will also be cultural perormances, presentations and raffles

KOTFA vision is:

1)   To promote the exchange of travel information by sharing new ideas, products and services with travel professionals

2)   To promote domestic and international travel by introducing travel attractions and products3)   To introduce consumer travel trend and to help develop travel products suitable to the market

4)   To publicize the participating companies and the fair itself by inviting overseas travel writers and tour operators with the tourism related organizations in Korea.

 For more information about KOFTA visit their website:   

 Period: Thursday, May 29- Sunday, June 1

 Venue: 1 Fl, Hall A COEX

Adress: 58, Teheran-ro 87-gil, Gagnam-gu Seoul

 Transportation: Samseong Station (Subway Line 2) Exit 5 or 6. COEX is connected to the station.


Inside, I’m Still Growing Up

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We communicate not by age but by wave length.
Not everyone will see eye to eye. Some of us will be too short.

Those older may be bolder with words but just as concerned with perceptions
perceived as impressionable Tweens not ready to be seen.

Age is just a number may be cliche to say but I’ve had better conversations with childless rakes in their 60s
and elementary school students in South Korea than some fellow 35-year-olds. The calendar may say we have
a similar time, but we are far from a similar place.

And you may have to accept not everyone will see things this way. Feel sorry for them.


JPDdoesROK is a former news editor/writer in New Jersey, USA, who served a one-year tour of duty in Dadaepo/Jangnim, Saha-gu, Busan from February 2013 to February 2014. He is now a teacher in Gimhae.

Geumdangsa Temple – 금당사 (Jinan, Jeollabuk-do)

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 The Goryeo-era pagoda and golden roofed main hall at Geumdangsa Temple.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Geumdangsa Temple, which means “Golden Hall Temple,” in English, was first built in 814 A.D. It’s well known as a place where the Goryeon monk, Naong-hwasang, practiced his form of Buddhism. In fact, if you look closely up in the mountains, you can find Naongam Hermitage, which is a secluded grotto where Naong once meditated. More recently, in 1894, General Jeon Bongjun’s daughter sought refuge at the temple. Gen. Jeon Bongjun led the anti-foreigner campaign, mainly against the Japanese, for the brutal punishment meted out to Korean farmers during the Donghak Peasant Revolution. Geumdangsa Temple also acted as a base for Korean guerrilla troops in the Jinan area during Japanese Colonial rule from 1910-1945.

When you first arrive at the temple, which is about a kilometer west of Tapsa Temple, you’ll first be greeted by the gift shop/visitors’ centre to the right. Just a little further along and there are a pair of mythical Haetae that bookend a set of stairs that leads into the main temple courtyard.

To the far left is a golden statue of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha) behind a beautiful artificial pond. Just before you reach this pond, you’ll notice a large collection of stacked stones that travelers have left behind for good luck and a safe journey.

Just to the right of this golden statue and pond is an all-new, yet to be painted, hall dedicated to the historic Gwaebultang painting. In the centre of this large sized painting, which dates back to 1682, is a solemnly faced Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). This dominant figure in the painting is surrounded by twenty images of the Buddha in a multi-coloured fiery nimbus. In the past, the painting would be carted out and the monks would offer up prayers for rain during droughts. It is said to be one of the three most important historic murals in Korea alongside the ones at Tongdosa Temple and Muryangsa Temple. This painting is masterful in its execution.

Next to this hall, and to the right, is what looks to be the Yeongsan-jeon. The exterior walls to this hall are painted with the Palsang-do murals. As for the interior, and uniquely hanging on the main altar, are a triad of paintings. It’s unique because there are usually three statues and not just paintings. In the centre is a painting dedicated to Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by two elaborate paintings of Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power) and Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power).

Just up the embankment, and to the right, is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. Inside this hall are two newer paintings of Yongwang (The Dragon King) and Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). These vibrant paintings flank the older looking mural dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars). Strangely, between the main hall and this hall is a stone with an inscription on it with a large golden tiger crawling at the top of it.

The most unique hall at the temple is the golden roofed main hall. This newly built shrine hall has some rather crude Palsang-do murals surrounding the exterior walls. Inside the barren interior of the main hall sits a triad of statues on the main altar. The reason I say barren is that there is no large mural backing the triad of main altar statues. Sitting in the centre of the main altar is a statue of Seokgamoni-bul. He’s joined on either side by familiar company: Bohyun-bosal and Munsu-bosal. On the far right wall are a collection of wooden Nahan statues, as well as a guardian mural.

The final hall at the temple is the Myeongbu-jeon. Inside this all-natural exterior is a stately looking statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). He’s joined on either side by some extremely unique yellow based murals. The one to the left is a mural dedicated to the Dragon Ship of Wisdom, while the one to the right is dedicated to Jijang-bosal.

The final thing you can see out in front of the main hall is the smaller sized five-tier pagoda that dates back to the Goryeo Dynasty.

Admission to the temple, by way of Tapsa Temple, is 3,000 won. However, if you pay 3,000 won, you can see three temples: Tapsa Temple, Geumdangsa Temple, and Eunsusa Temple.

HOW TO GET THERE: First, you’ll need to get to Jinan Bus Terminal from wherever it is you live in Korea. From the bus terminal, you’ll need to take a bus bound for Maisan Provincial Park. These buses leave every 40 minutes and start at 7:30 in morning and run until 18:00. Once you’re dropped off at the entry to Maisan Provincial Park, you’ll need to walk up the path that leads to Tapsa Temple. A couple hundred metres up the path, and just beyond the restaurants and stores, you’ll see Geumdangsa Temple to your left. It only takes about 5 minutes from where the bus lets you off to get to this temple.

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OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. Surprisingly, for a smaller sized temple, there’s a fair bit to see at Geumdangsa Temple. The two main attractions are the large sized mural dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal, as well as the five-tier historic pagoda that dates back to the Goryeo Dynasty. Other highlights are the extremely unique murals inside the Myeongbu-jeon, the vibrant shaman murals inside the Samseong-gak, the tiger crawling stone monument, and the golden roofed main hall. It’s a nice little stop along the way, as you head up towards the much more famous Tapsa Temple.


The beautiful sites that greet you at Geumdangsa Temple.


The collection of stacked rocks left by travelers to the temple.


The large golden statue of Mireuk-bul, which backs a beautiful artificial pond.


The hall that houses the historic Gwaebultang painting.


A look at the beauty of the amazing painting.


An even better look at the face of Gwanseeum-bosal.


To the right of the former hall is the Yeongsan-jeon hall.


Just one of the Palsang-do murals that adorns the exterior walls to the Yeongsan-jeon hall.


A unique look between the two halls to the left of the main hall.


The murals, and not statues, that hang on the main altar inside the Yeongsan-jeon.


The rather plain, and stout, Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.


A close look at Sanshin inside the Samseong-gak.


And a look at the equally vibrant mural dedicated to Yongwang.


The golden tiger topped stone monument with the Samseong-gak in the background.


The golden roofed, and newly built, main hall at Geumdangsa Temple.


One of the amateurish looking Palsang-do murals that adorns the exterior walls to the main hall.


A look inside at the main altar. Uniquely, there’s yet to hang a mural behind this triad.


A collection of wooden Nahan to the right of the main altar.


To the right of the main altar, and in between the monks’ dorms, is the Myeongbu-jeon.


The main altar inside the Myeongbu-jeon with Jijang-bosal front and centre.


The beautiful and unique yellow mural dedicated to the Dragon Ship of Wisdom.


Off in the distance is the grotto where the monk Naong used to meditate.

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