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I know, eating dumplings for breakfast sounds weird, but in our defense A) we slept in pretty late and B) don't be such a square.
|Mandu god is watching you.|
|Working hard in that tiny space!|
The setup in this place is perfect. The line moves past the display of freshly made dumplings, so you have a chance to think about your order before you get to the front. As we watched, they were continuously bringing out fresh wares. Apparently this place is famous for the shrimp mandu, but since I can't eat shrimp, we made sure to get a full selection.
|Shrimp balls and kimchi mandu.|
If it had been up to me we would have ended up with one of everything, but fortunately Joon could handle the pressure and managed to buy a more reasonable amount.
|Sexy close-up shot.|
Pictured here, from left to right: 8-pack of kimchi mandu, 1 fried mandu with noodles inside, 2 spicy kimchi mandu, 2 shrimp mandu, and 1 tortilla wrapped fusion...thing. And dixie cup for scale. We practically had to fight a couple to keep our seats, but we were clearly there first and he was just being a big greedy jerk.
I cannot stress how huge, delicious, and hugely delicious these were. The spicy ones were the perfect amount of spicy, too; just enough to give it a kick without covering up the flavor. If I lived in Jeonju, I'd probably brave the line at least once a week to stuff my face with these pockets of heaven. I'd also become horribly fat, so it's probably better that I stay in Wonju.
Our final stop was Cafe Manil Manil, for the patbingsu that had eluded us the day before. The owner was really nice, and even remembered us! Patbingsu isn't exactly a winter food, but in the warm cafe with the sun shining through the many windows, it was easy to forget the chilly weather.
|Very natural, comfortable feeling.|
|Real flowers on the tables!|
|Too cute. Also explains all the old hippie music.|
I was thrilled even before our dessert and coffee arrived, because the music in Manil Manil was basically all the music I listened to with my parents when I was younger. I even heard some Eric Clapton, which I don't think I've heard before in Korea.
|Americano for an American.|
The red beans were just right, not too sweet, and the shaved ice was the kind that a bit milky and sweet, so the two complemented each other delightfully. I also had a nice hot coffee to warm me up, which rounded out the meal perfectly. I feel like this place must get crazy in the summer, but whatever the situation, you should definitely go here if you're in Jeonju.
With that, our adventure finally came to an end. Full and happy, we caught a bus to Seoul, then I caught a second bus back to Wonju, the catching of which is a long story unto itself that I may tell later. If anyone wants more specific directions to any of these places, leave a comment and I'll try to draw a map or get an address.
All countries have good and bad points, things which we can either complain about or praise. And while Korea has it’s faults, today I’m going to focus on the good things: 10 things which give Korea definite cool points.
To the misery of Oreo-lovers everywhere, this cereal has been discontinued in every country…apart from South Korea. I regularly see it featured on lists along the lines of ‘foods we miss which no longer exist’. Well, come to Korea and stock up…
Umbrella Plastic Protectors
Ever had the problem of your umbrella dripping everywhere while you carry it awkwardly around a shop? Not a problem in Korea- stick your umbrella into the stand, pull it out and it’s in a perfectly shaped umbrella-plastic-bag. Finally, an easy way to hold your umbrella, without leaving large puddles wherever you walk. This is an invention which England could do with copying…
Sure, you can get Bubble Tea in other countries. In fact, it’s a new and ‘trendy’ thing in the UK- for an extortionate price, that is.
In Korea, there are Bubble Tea cafes around every corner (not just a restricted number of exclusive cafes like in the UK), and most importantly, they’re cheap. Cheaper than a cup of coffee, in fact.
Ahead of the trends, lower on the prices. Go Korea.
Can we just talk about the variety/ cheapness of socks in Korea? I could literally buy a pair every day and not run out of designs. Plus there’s the choice: trainer socks, fluffy socks, socks with animal ears on. Socks have never been so exciting. (Ditto smartphone covers- endless designs and cheap. It’s tempting to buy a different cover for every day of the week).
Pizza Take-Out Tray
Papa John’s has just made pizza delivery more exciting- a three-layered pizza box, with one layer for pizza, another for sides & dip, and a final layer for a cookie pizza dessert. A 3-course meal in one takeout box = one pretty impressive invention.
And, it’s only available in Korea.
Clean, with working Wi-Fi, coffee and vending machines, and actual shops everywhere. In Korea, walking around subway stations is definitely more fun (and more likely to make you spend unnecessary money).
And let’s not forget the screens where you can find out information, or even better, play games and watch sports.
24 Hour Convenience Stores
The practicality of having a 24-hour store on pretty much every corner can’t be beaten. And they aren’t only good for buying emergency milk for breakfast. They have everything: food, drinks, medicines, alcohol, first-aid stuff, even emergency underwear.
On top of this, they have a hot-water stations and microwaves, so you can make hot food/drinks. Instant meals and coffee at 3 in the morning? No problem. That’s convenience on a whole new level…
If you get hungry when you shop, it’s no problem in Korea. You don’t have to buy an overpriced meal from a small cafe with minimal choice. No, there’s an entire food court with so many options it’s usually hard to decide what to buy.
What a way to make a trip to the supermarket more enjoyable!
The most fun you’ll ever have in a cafe. Again, Korea is ahead of the trend with these cafes- in London, a cat cafe has recently opened and is such a phenomenon that there’s long waiting list to be able to visit. Imagine the excitement if someone opened a dog cafe…
In Korea, you simply pop to your local cafe any day of the week. Another win for Korea.
It might be sweet, artificial coffee, but in my opinion, getting free coffee at the end of a meal is pretty great. Even better are the places where you can get an ice lolly at the end of your meal.
A definite way to ensure my return to a restaurant…
I think it’s fair to say that these are 10 things which Korea definitely does well. I would have mentioned 50 pence sushi, but I know I’ve raved about that before…
So, if you’re having a bad day full of negative feelings towards Korea, go out, buy yourself some nice socks and visit an animal cafe to cheer you up… That will definitely soften the blow of any negative feelings…
Filed under: Expat, Korea, Living
© KATHRYN GODFREY
When I finished reading this post, I was inspired to write a similar letter to my most difficult class of high school ESL students. The majority of them have extremely low English skills, and consequently, even lower motivation. I wanted to address their lack luster enthusiasm, and make it clear that I’m not here to make them miserable, but to help them; and that even if they have no aspirations for becoming a fluent English speaker, they can still get something out of our class. So in addition to writing the letter below, I took it one step further and actually read it to them. I arranged the desks in a circle, found a seat among them, and (with the help of direct translations from my co-teacher) talked with them. Here’s what I had to say:
For starters, I hope you know that I care about you. And I care not just about your ability to understand and use English; I care about you as people. I truly believe that you are all smart, interesting and talented individuals. I admire your dedication and commitment to athletics, and I am amazed by how hard you all work to reach your sports-related goals.
Now I’d like to talk about why we should have that same kind of passion in the classroom.
But before we get to that, what do you think the purpose of school is? Learning to read and write, solving math equations and studying history? Yes, we are here to learn about those things. There is value to all of that. But there’s also a bigger skill we develop along the way. It’s not listed in your textbook and you won’t find it as a question on a test. The skill is: not giving up. In general, school is about learning how to solve problems and learning how to accomplish things we never thought were possible.
You already practice this skill every day in your sports training. When you are totally exhausted and your coach asks you to do something one more time, do you lie down on the floor or shake your head “no?” No, you do it. Because you know he or she has your best interests at heart, and because you want to be the best you can be in your sport.
Now it’s time to practice not giving up in the classroom. Some of you are already doing this. I see you putting in effort, participating and trying your best. But others are giving up. You’re quitting without giving yourself a chance to succeed.
In what ways do we quit as students? What does quitting look like? Sleeping during class, refusing to engage in an activity, choosing not to write a sentence or answer a question. Why do we quit? Because we’re exhausted, tired, bored, scared of making a mistake, feel like we’re in over our heads or believe we’re so behind that there’s no point in trying?
As much as I can, I understand that you’re exhausted. I’m not in your position, so I don’t fully know what it’s like. And it would be unfair of me to simply tell you that balancing the demands of your training with your schoolwork is not that hard.
But I do want to ask you to try harder. Don’t give up. Try to bring the same amount of passion and focus to class that you have in the gym; because if you do, you will improve. And, you might even have some fun! Are you familiar with the expression, “A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step”? Well, the same is true with our class. The end result of understanding and speaking English starts with showing an effort or interest in communicating, even if it means asking a friend or teacher to help translate. Then, slowly, we start to use basic words and body language, and our language ability grows from there.
And who knows, one day you might find yourself traveling and competing in an English-speaking country, or interacting with English-speaking athletes at an international competition! Wouldn’t it be cool to have a short, simple conversation with them? Wouldn’t you feel proud of yourself?
English may not be something that you need in your everyday life now or in the future. But you will need tenacity, the ability to work hard and thrive in the face of adversity. So whether you’re motivated to learn English to one day use it outside of school, or you’re just here to develop your work ethic and courage, it’s important that you find a reason for being here. It doesn’t matter how fragmented your sentences might be or how many mistakes you make. It matters that you try.
In return, I promise to be here and support you. I will push you and encourage you, and work with you to help you reach your goals; because I believe you have far more potential than you might give yourself credit for.
So let’s do this. Let’s work together to overcome the language barrier so we can keep getting to know each other and learn from each other. It’s time to step up our game and forget about excuses. Quitting is not an option. Let’s sit up straight, open our eyes and learn some English.
Queer Links from the Week: Gay rights opponents store City Hall, Ex-gays in Korea, and Sergeant Arrested for Homosexual Rape
The Korea Observer Reports that a a sergeant was arrested for homosexual rape of an 18-year-old soldier. While the sergeant stated it was consensual sex, the soldier accuses the sergeant of repeated sexual assault.
In pop culture, Modern Farmer had an episode where Lee Shi-eon mistakes Mina for a lesbian (Korean). Not the most interesting plot device. Just like last week, actors go on talk shows and talk about going to a queer bar to work on a role. This time, Jeong Seong-hwa talked about visiting gay and transgender bars for his role in Le Cage Aux Folles.
Unlike the fortune tellers of the West, this jeomjaengee, like most in Korea, is well into the later years of his life and is anything but gimmicky. Dressed in a tracksuit and balding, he doesn't exactly exude a mystic aura, but he is no-nonsense and quite knowledgeable about the meaning of the Tarot of Marseilles cards (the ones typically used in tarot readings) laid out before me, ready to reveal the answer to my burning question. If anything, the poster of G-Dragon, a former customer of his, and the autographs of Korea's most popular stars, validate his wisdom, no doubt gained through years of study of Chinese astrology.
Although tarot cards have been used in divination since the 15th century in other parts of the world, they have only been popular in Korea for a couple decades. As using shrinks is still quite taboo here, many Koreans will visit fortune tellers when faced with a certain dilemma or need advice about an important upcoming event. It's not uncommon for a woman to seek the advice of a fortune teller in regard to her compatibility with a romantic interest, or a businessman to ask if a specific deal would be profitable or not. As such, Korea’s fortunetelling industry is outstanding in terms of volume and popularity, in comparison to other nations.
In addition to tarot readers, there are alternative forms of fortune telling, many of which are more traditionally Korean. These include gwansang (fortune telling through facial characteristics), saju (prediction of good or bad luck based on one's birth date), and other forms of revelation of one's future by spirits through a mudang, or shaman.
I was visiting the tarot reader mostly out of sheer curiosity (and blog research, of course), but quickly got wrapped up in the moment and found myself hanging on to every word the gentleman said. He reassured me that my horrific card did not imply death, but that it wasn't necessarily good, either. I had actually fibbed a bit in my question to him and he immediately recognized in the first card that I had told him something inaccurate. He went on to correctly describe in words my exact feelings and worries with each subsequent card I picked. In the end, the answer he gave me was what I suspected but not necessarily what I wanted to hear.
Hoping for a more optimistic outlook, my Korean friend, who had been interpreting the entire time, suggested we try another place. Upon entering, we sat next to a female fortune teller at her table draped in velvet. My friend would later tell me that she felt uneasy around this particular jaemjangee, as her eyes were unable to maintain focus and were darting throughout the room during the entirety of the reading, as if watching passing spirits. Although the cards she used were different and consisted of colors rather than images or icons, her divination was almost exactly the same as the previous one. In addition, she told me shockingly accurate facts about the situation- details so precise that I began to think that maybe there was some validity to tarot after all.
In the end, the answer and advice I received from the two fortune tellers wasn't what I wanted to hear, but was potentially what I needed to hear. In a way, I left feeling more at ease about my problem. I quickly realized why fortune telling is such a big industry in Korea. In a world where the future is hazy and we are forced to make difficult life choices on our own, it's a hell of a lot easier to have someone else make a decision for you. Even if that person is a complete stranger. And at 5,000 won a shuffle, the answers to life's toughest questions are a heck of a deal.
Tarot card and saju readers can be found near Hyehwa Station, along the walls of Tapgol Park in Insadong, and throughout the streets of Sinchon. The two specific tarot card readers that I visited are located on Parking Street in Hongdae. To get there, walk straight from exit 9 of Hongik University Station (Seoul Subway Line 2) and walk straight for about 5 minutes. Take a left at the first major intersection and walk straight. Once you reach H&M, take a right and cross the street. There are a cluster of saju/tarot readers located in the building that sits in the middle of the fork in the road. Note that most fortune tellers do not speak English so it's best to bring along a Korean friend to interpret.
Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.
This is a video I entered in the 2014 Imagine Your Korea video contest! The winners will be announced on December 5th, so I’ll be sure to let you know if anything happens!
The beautiful shrine at Sanbangsa Temple in Seogwipo, Jeju-do.
Hello Again Everyone!!
Just to the west of Bomunsa Temple, literally a ten foot walk, is Sanbangsa Temple. This hard to identify temple, simply because it looks like an extension of Bomunsa Temple, has quite a few unique features to it.
As you make your way up towards Sanbangsa Temple, you’ll be greeted by the stately bell pavilion that is beautifully framed by Mt. Sanbangsan. The bell pavilion is joined by a couple of masterful sculptures dedicated to Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise), as well as Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). Next to these statues stands a cairn constructed from the dark black volcanic rock that is everywhere on Jeju-do Island.
Just a little further along, and up a couple more sets of stairs, you’ll enter the temple courtyard. Straight ahead lays the main hall. Inside this hall are numerous murals that line the walls. These paintings include a mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife), Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), Chilseong (The Seven Stars), Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), a Gamno-do mural, and Samshin (Shaman Deity of Birth). Samshin is an extremely rare deity to find at a temple, so have a look at the far right corner of the main hall to see this grandmother figure. Finally, sitting on the main altar are a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Jijang-bosal and Gwanseeum-bosal.
The final thing to enjoy at Sanbangsa Temple is an altar just to the right of the main hall. This colourful altar is inhabited by numerous green statues of Gwanseeum-bosal. At the head of the altar are a triad of stone statues composed of Seokgamoni-bul, Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). This entire statue is fronted by yet another masterful statue of an elegant Gwanseeum-bosal.
HOW TO GET THERE: From the Seogwipo Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to take bus #702 for 22 stops. The ride should last about an hour and eleven minutes, and you’ll need to get off at the Sanbangsan bus stop. From this stop, you’ll be able to see the temple on the mountain to the left of Bomunsa Temple.
OVERALL RATING: 4/10. While it’s the least spectacular of the three, which includes Bomunsa Temple and Sanbanggulsa Temple, Sanbangsa Temple is a nice addition to this set. With its beautiful views, its green Gwanseeum-bosal shrine, and the shaman Samshin mural, this temple can add a lot of unique features to your temple travels, especially if you’re already in the area.
The beautifully framed bell pavilion at Sanbangsa Temple.
The view from the main hall.
A look up at the main hall and Mt. Sanbangsan.
Another beautiful statue of Gwanseeum-bosal at Sanbangsa Temple.
The amazing green altar at the temple.
The main altar inside the main hall.
A set of murals that line the walls of the main hall including the Samshin mural to the far right.
The Gamno-do mural.
And the guardian mural.
This past week marked my third full month living in South Korea, and nearly-third full month of teaching middle and high school ESL. Up until now, pretty much all of my blogging efforts have gone toward recounting the many wonderful, new and exciting things that I’ve seen and done. I’ve hiked some killer mountains and stood in awe of glorious views. I’ve biked to the beach and back, soaking up the sun in the Korean countryside. I’ve been to several festivals, gone zip lining and am fortunate to have positive relationships with coworkers, expats and a handful of Koreans outside of school. And yet, despite all of this, lately I’ve felt like I would happily give it all up in exchange for a plane ticket home.
True to the trend depicted on this culture shock chart, the honeymoon phase is over and the magic has worn off, leaving me in a state of full-blown homesickness and disenchantment. Going to the grocery store used to be an adventure; an exhilarating quest that resulted in me boldly buying something off the shelf purely because the picture looked yummy. Now it’s more of a hassle; a frustrating and time-consuming endeavor that results in me purchasing anything even remotely recognizable, or nothing at all. The language barrier, which started out as a challenge I was ready to face head on, has become more of a hindrance; an obstacle that impedes even the most basic tasks, like paying bills and getting a haircut. And then there’s the food. For the first month or so, I was very good about eating at least a little bit of kimchi with every school meal and giving everything on my tray a try. Most recently, though, I usually just move the kimchi around to make it look like I’ve touched it and I pass on the seafood dishes. I have officially entered the preliminary low of culture shock.
Compounding these pangs of homesickness and cultural aversion is yet another downswing on a different emotional roller coaster: teaching for the first time. All through my TEFL certification and EPIK orientation, I naively believed I was fully prepared to handle this job despite my lack of experience. Then, after the first week or so, it finally hit me: I have no clue what I’m doing. I fell into survival mode and ever since then have been throwing anything at the wall in the hopes that it will stick. Most mornings I fight negative thoughts of self-doubt and anxiety as I drag my feet to school. I sit at my desk trying to plan a lesson and sometimes an hour or more goes by with no result because I’m paralyzed by my own skepticism and insecurity. And at the end of the day, I go home wondering if even a handful of students benefitted from my presence.
It’s a double whammy. A perfect storm. An uphill battle against two enemies that have combined forces. As much as I could be, I was prepared ahead of time to deal with culture shock and the challenges of being a new teacher. But I never really considered the fact that I would be fighting both beasts simultaneously. It’s an overwhelming feeling, and for awhile now it has followed me around like a second shadow that I can’t shake.
This is not a rant about why Korea sucks or how teaching ESL abroad with no experience is a bad idea. Or at least, I don’t mean it to be. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know that I have many good things to say about both topics. I just wanted to acknowledge the other side to the reality of living in a foreign country and the learning curve that every new teacher rides during their first year. I wouldn’t be giving you an honest or accurate picture of my experience if I didn’t. Culture shock is no joke, and neither is homesickness or the battle to find your way in the classroom.
Having said all of this, I promise to not let these struggles permanently turn me into one of those cynical, unappreciative expats who never has anything good to say about their time abroad. No one likes a whiner. But for right now, at this moment in time, I wanted to be real and admit where I am.
I have faith that things will get better. And, intellectually, I know that nothing in life is forever. It would just be nice if my heart and soul got the message too. Until they do, I’ll keep rolling with the punches of The Double Whammy.