Recent Blog Posts
ESL Activities Superlist If you’re looking for ESL activities, you’ve most certainly come to the right place! I’m going to share with you my top 50 ESL activities that cover a range of skills and situations-warm-ups + icebreakers, reading activities, writing activities, speaking activities and listening activities. Most of the …
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Are you planning a trip to Korea? Traveling can be expensive, and I'm not only talking about the airfare. There's food, transportation, souvenirs, and other expenses that can quickly add up. But not to fear! After living in Korea for several years, I've compiled a list of 8 secret tips you can use to help save you money while traveling in Korea.
Watch the video here, and check out the tips below~!
Here are the 8 tips described in this video:
#1: Kimbap is Cheap and Healthy (김밥)
#2: Transportation Cards (교통 카드), Membership Cards, and Point Cards
#3: Nighttime Food Discounts
#4: Transfers within 30 Minutes or 1 Hour (환승)
#5: Getting Discounts (깎아 주세요) + 많이 주세요
#6: Eat Korean Food and Avoid Foreign Food
#7: Make a Budget + Currency Exchange at the Bank (교환)
#8: This one’s so secret that I can’t tell you. Let me know if you find out what it is.
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Even if you’ve already been in Seoul for a while, or are currently planning your first or second trip there, it’s hard to run out of fun things to do in Seoul. But the problem is that if you go online and search the topic, especially if you are new to the country and the language, many sources always seem to tell you the same things. Because of this, it’s easy to get the feeling that there’s not much to do or see in Seoul.
It’s time to shake that feeling off now! We’ve compiled together a list of fun things to do in Seoul that include many of those spots you’ve already read about before, but also many others you might not know about yet. This post is your perfect source for a bucket list for Seoul!
Fun Thing #1: Spend the Night at Dongdaemun
You heard me right! If you want to stay out all night but not in the traditional sense of partying, you should head over to Dongdaemun. Their shopping centers are open until 5am and the Megabox movie theater is also open all night. Shopping and movies have never sounded as much fun before, am I right??
Fun Thing #2: Visit Bukchon Hanok Village
This is the perfect opportunity to combine traditional Korean culture and architecture with indulging in pretty cafes and restaurants. And because this village comprised of traditional Korean housing is located right at the heart of the city, you’ll get to see just how magnificently traditional and modern Seoul blend together!
Fun Thing #3: See the City from the Bus
If you want to maximize the amount of fun things to do and see in Seoul during your stay, how about knocking off a lot of the major attractions on one go and take the Seoul City Bus Tour? There are different route options offered, you can hop on and off wherever you’d like, and the cost for the bus ticket is only 10,000won.
Fun Thing #4: Have a Photoshoot While Wearing a Hanbok
All over the city, and online, exist shops where you can rent yourself a beautiful hanbok for a few hours (~13,000won) or even the whole day (~26,000won). Once you’ve put on this comfortable Korean traditional clothing, make the most out of it and go have an amateur photoshoot with your friends at one of the many palaces in Seoul! If you come in dressed up in a hanbok, the entrance fee will be waived. And if you’ve still got time left on your hands after checking out the palaces, why not have an afternoon stroll in a hanbok around the city center? Making everyone envious of your magnificent outfit.
Fun Thing #5: Check Out the Palaces
Gyeongbokgung Palace, Deoksugung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace, and Unhyeongung Palace are all among the most popular tourist attractions in Seoul, and are all located close enough to each other you could even see them all in one day! Even if you opted out of renting out that hanbok from fun thing #3, checking out these palaces will still make your afternoon fun. And don’t worry if you’ve already visited some of them once – each season in Seoul brings out a new kind of beauty to be seen on these palace grounds.
Fun Thing #6: Walk around Cheonggyecheon
This stream going through the center of Seoul is stunning both day and night, offering different kinds of atmosphere whether you go during the day or at night. Twice a year, in May and October/November, the river also lights up beautifully for a lantern festival.
Fun Thing #7: Sample Korean Alcohol
While Korea only offers a limited selection of Western alcohol, and at a rather steep price at that, their own alcohol offerings keep getting increasingly interesting as the years progress. Whether it’s soju or makgeolli, the often fruity flavors certainly don’t stop at one. In fact, the abundance of different flavors available ensure that there’s a lot of fun to be expanded over several days, so don’t hesitate to go out now and find your favorite! Though do be careful not to have too much fun or the day after might be uncomfortable (even if it brings along the perfect opportunity to indulge in Korean hangover soup called haejangguk (해장국)).
Fun Thing #8: Put Up Love Locks at Namsan Tower
Okay, you definitely aren’t required to put up any love locks anywhere, but do head up to Namsan Tower to get the best view of the city. There are hiking routes available to get up the mountain, but most people opt to take the cable car up. You can either stay on ground once you reach the tower, or head over to the top floors of the tower and into the observatory to see the city around you. And if you do decide to put up your own love lock to accompany the many others, those can be purchased right at the gift shop. It’s a nice way to commemorating having been at Namsan Tower, or in Seoul in general.
Fun Thing #9: Eat and Shop at Common Ground
It hasn’t been too long since the shopping center called Common Ground, made entirely out of ship containers, opened up right by Konkuk University (건대). With it came three floors worth of shopping, restaurants, cafes, a small gallery, great photoshoot spots, and several festivals held all around the year. It’s definitely THE shopping center to visit if you can check out only one of them!
Fun Thing #10: Stop By ALL the Animal Cafes
Korea has got a strong café culture, and they have truly taken it to another level by opening several animal cafes all over the city. Even if you’ve already visited some of the dog and cat cafes for afternoon cuddles, the fun hasn’t stopped there: Seoul now also has raccoon, sheep, and bird cafes among others! And each of these cafes are guaranteed to offer a different kind of fun.
And this is just a fraction of all the fun things to do in Seoul! We’ll keep updating our list periodically to give you more and more options for what to do for fun while in Seoul. But for now you can start off with this list of 10!
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Photographer: Wilfred Iven
Why Do They DO That?!: Who Pays on the First Date?
This new series entitled “Why Do They DO That?!” (henceforth: “WDTDT”) is all about the things that some men do which baffle women. On wine nights the ladies have gone through it all. We’ve asked “why would he go back to her?”, “why won’t he call/ text?”, “why won’t he kiss me if he says he likes me?”, etc. The thing that baffles me the most is what they won’t do, or the sneaky and conniving things that some men do. This leads me to the age old question (for our generation, at least), “Who Pays on the First Date?”
Read to the end for my personal take!
Photographer: Jay Wennington
This is a situation I’ve encountered first-hand, but have heard from other gal pals as well. I find that this is particularly prevalent with guys you meet online. Whether it be Tinder, POF, OK Cupid, or even instagram, these particular guys have a heavy rotation for a specific reason. You chat for a bit online and he suggests meeting up. He suggests a trendy new restaurant you’ve wanted to try. Great! You share a couple of dishes and he either says he’s not going to drink at all or he has a cheap bottle beer. Trying to match the vibe of the date, you either have the same beer, something of the same value, or water. You don’t want to go overboard, right? You don’t want him thinking you’re some sort of alcoholic or that you’d win first prize in a pie-eating contest.
Photographer: Mitch Rosen
He likes You (maybe)!
You finish up, you’re still a bit hungry, and he suggests you move on to the next spot. Awesome! He wants to spend more time with you. He likes you! What you may or may not realize is that in your effort to be polite and accommodating, he’s been in control the whole time. He grabs the cheque, you pull out your wallet, and he insists on paying. Ever so sweetly and carefully he lulls, “you can get the next one”. Why do they DO that?! I think you know why…
Photographer: Alex Knight
Bourbon by the Barrel
Your next spot is uber hip with a great atmosphere, low lights, and expensive cocktails. He’s pulled this trick before and wants you to foot the bill for his top shelf Boulevardiers. This might be the point at which you’re tuned into his ploy, it might not. Most girls I know don’t want to poke the bear, so instead of saying something we’ll go along with it and balance out his suddenly extravagant tastes with house wine or draft beer. While he’s downing two at once, you’re pacing yourself.
Photographer: Olu Eletu
So…Who Pays on the First Date, Then?
In this situation, you’re both paying. That said, you’re paying through the nose for his wild night out since he’s made the initial investment. This has actually happened to a friend of mine and me in Seoul with the same guy. She’s had some bad luck having also been out on a date with The Military Man (yep – Mr. Cherry Freak himself), too. This guy has the same M.O. each time: he takes the girl for Korean Barbecue, orders some soju (maybe $2 a bottle?), eagerly foots the bill, and then suggests much pricier spots in Gangnam. When the remaining cheque(s) arrive, he sits back, sneers, and gives the same line without missing a beat, “your turn”.
Photographer: Gabriel Gurrola
Who Should Really Pay on the First Date?
I think that in this day in age, especially if you’re both teachers in Korea making the same salary, it’s ideal to go Dutch. If you’re in a relationship show that you care for one another by thoughtfully bringing over his favourite beer or wine for movie night. Never arrive at someone’s place empty-handed. This is pretty much a rule whether you’re dating or not (and with men and women, alike). If you are dating, go back and forth, but don’t be a doormat (that one goes for guys and girls, too). A relationship is a partnership. If you want a sugar-daddy (or a sugar-mama!) there are plenty in and around Seoul. If you want a partnership, however, it’s a two way street, ladies and gents.
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Have you been out with someone who played you with the line, “Your turn”? Have you felt like you were completely missing your backbone in that situation? Let us know in the comments!
English Speaking Tip: Opening a Conversation
If you want to improve you’re English speaking skills, you’ve come to the right place! I’m going to give you one a favourite English speaking tip. This one is about how to open a conversation in English.
Opening or beginning a conversation is pretty similar whether it is small talk or not. You can bring up some non-controversial topic, like the weather (or traffic, if you have both just arrived somewhere). Pro English speaking tip: unless you are speaking about the traffic or the weather, your opening comment should be pleasant (it’s okay to complain about snow, rain, or terrible traffic!) If you begin other topics with a complaint, the listener is less likely to want to keep talking.
At a Meeting
If you are at a meeting (such as a Meetup meeting or social organization), you might ask a stranger if they have been attending/ a member for a long time. By telling them it’s your first time, they are likely to introduce you to other people, or at least let you know what to expect. If it is not your first time, and you see someone you know or spoke to previously, you can ask them how they’ve been since you last saw them.
Ask for Information or Help
Other common ways to begin a conversation include asking for an opinion/advice, information, or help. For example, you could ask someone the time or if they have seen your pen or coffee cup. If something has received a lot of attention in the news (and is not controversial), you could ask their opinion, “What do you think about _____?”
When you Have Something in Common
If you and the listener have something in common, bring that up. “You work with _____, don’t you? He and I (went to school together).” You might know that the two of you have some common interest or experience, which makes a great way to start a conversation. When you are at a party and only know the host, you can ask someone, “How do you know_____?”
If Nothing Else Works…
If nothing else works, you can walk up to someone and say, “I’m _____, and I just wanted to introduce myself.” Of course, after that, you should have some reason for wanting to talk to them, even if you have to admit, “I don’t know anyone here, and you look the most interesting.”
I hope that you enjoyed this English speaking tip about how to open a conversation in English!
More English Speaking Tips
If you found this English speaking tip useful, and want even more of them, you’ll need to check out this book, 71 Ways to Practice Speaking English: Tips for ESL/EFL Learners on Amazon. This book will help you speak English more fluently and easily in no time! Think about what this would mean for your job, school grades and social life!
You can get this book full of English speaking tips for less than the price of a cup of coffee!
The post English Speaking Tip: Learn How to Open a Conversation appeared first on ESL Speaking.
The view from next to the main hall at Bongseosa Temple in Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do.
Hello Again Everyone!!
Like so many temples in the Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do area, Bongseosa Temple is located in and around the Mt. Muhaksan area. Specifically, Bongseosa Temple is located to the east of Seohaksa Temple and on the eastern slopes of the mountain near a cluster of older apartments.
On the last road before the mountain begins, you’ll find a long set of stairs that leads up to the Bongseosa Temple grounds. Passing through the beautiful Iljumun/Cheonwangmun Gate combination, you’ll notice four paintings of the Four Heavenly Kings next to each of the gate’s pillars. To the left where the trail takes you, you’ll find a stone statue of a child-like Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom).
Just beyond the Munsu-bosal statue is the main temple courtyard. To the right are the monks’ facilities like the kitchen and to the left are the monks’ dorms. Between both of these sets of buildings is Bongseosa Temple’s main hall. The exterior walls to the main hall are adorned with the Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, mural set and the Palsang-do mural set, as well.
Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll notice a glassed off interior that houses the triad of statues on the main altar. In the centre sits Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). All three are beautiful in their complex designs. To the right of the main altar is a newly painted guardian mural and to the left are judgment murals for the afterlife.
To the right of the main hall, and almost fully encompassed by the temple’s facilities, is the temple’s large bronze bell. And out in front of the main hall is a stately five tier stone pagoda with ornate stone lanterns on either side.
To the rear of the main hall, rather strangely housed in a sheet metal looking shed, is the slender Yongwang-dang. Housed inside this peculiar shaman shrine hall is an older looking mural dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King). And to the left of this painting is an Indian wooden relief of the various stages from the Buddha’s life.
The final shrine hall that visitors can explore at Bongseosa Temple is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. Housed inside this hall are three wooden reliefs dedicated to the three most popular shaman deities in Korea: Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) and Chilseong (The Seven Stars).
HOW TO GET THERE: From the Masan Intercity Bus Terminal, there are several buses that go to where Bongseosa Temple is located. One of these buses is Bus #707. After eight stops, or sixteen minutes, you’ll need to get off at the “Seowongok Ipgu” stop. From the stop, walk north for about a kilometre and then head towards the mountain to your left. There will be signs along the way to guide you.
OVERALL RATING: 5/10. The main highlights to Bongseosa Temple are the main hall altar pieces, as well as the older Yongwang painting to the rear of the main hall. Other highlights are the temple’s bronze bell as well as the temple’s stone pagoda.
The Iljumun/Cheonwangmun Gate at Bongseosa Temple.
One of the Four Heavenly Kings housed inside the Iljumun/Cheonwangmun Gate.
The child-like statue of Munsu-bosal.
The main hall at Bongseosa Temple.
One of the Ox-Herding murals that adorns the main hall.
As well as the last painting of the Palsang-do murals.
A look inside the main hall at Bongseosa Temple.
This Judgment mural is painted on the wall to the left of the main altar.
The view from the main hall out towards the temple’s stone pagoda and row upon row of apartments in Masan.
The large bronze bell at Bongseosa Temple.
The older Yongwang mural to the rear of the main hall.
It’s joined by this panel from the wooden relief of the Buddha’s life.
As well as this one.
The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.
The wooden relief of Dokseong housed inside the Samseong-gak.
As well as this Sanshin relief.
And the view from the Samseong-gak.
This is a local re-post of an essay wrote for The National Interest about 10 days ago. Basically, I’m curious why the Chinese are making such a huge deal out of THAAD missile defense. They’ve been bullying South Korea relentlessly for a year or so now over this. But THAAD doesn’t even impact them, as everyone knows now. That graphic over, from the Heritage Foundation, nicely illustrates that.
So the big question is why. Why is China making a huge deal of something where it’s so obviously on the wrong side of the debate? (Everyone can see North Korea’s nuclear missile program and South Korea’s obvious need for a ‘roof.’) Why does China think something this minor – THAAD has no impact on Chinese strategic forces – is worth wrecking a decent relationship with South Korea, one of the few regional states that is not that scared of China’s rise? Is this coercive diplomacy to prove Chinese regional hegemony, with South Korea being the first target to be bullied into knuckling under? Is Vietnam next? Or does China really care about North Korea so much that it wants NK to be able to blackmail South Korea with nuclear missiles?
I can’t believe that latter explanation is right. To me, this is China feeling its oats. It’s rising; no longer feels it has to keep its head down per Deng’s early advice. Now it’s number 2 in the world, on the way to being the world’s largest economy. So it’s going throw its weight around, and the states closest to it will feel the hammer of its prestige-seeking fall first.
The full essay follows the jump:
In 2016, the South Korean government agreed to the 2017 installation of a US missile defense system, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). The objective arguments for South Korean missile defense are pretty irrefutable at this point. North Korea’s missile program is well-known. Pyongyang conducted dozens of tests just last year and even talks up intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Its nuclear weapons capabilities, after five tests in ten years, are well-established also. And the regime’s harsh, extreme rhetoric about South Korea – turning Seoul into a ‘sea of fire’ – is notorious. If any state in the world needs missile-defense, it is South Korea.
The Chinese know all this. The Chinese also know that THAAD is not particularly effective against Chinese strategic forces. The South Korean THAAD radar will be configured around North Korea, not China, and cannot simply be ‘turned left;’ the technology and software package is more complicated than that. The US already has remote-sensing for Chinese strategic launches in any case, so THAAD’s X-band radar adds nothing new. THAAD is also intended for use against a few incoming missiles (in their ‘terminal’ phase, per the name of the system), not hundreds of missiles in the lift-off or boost stage, as would be the case were the Chinese to launch against the United States. US and South Korean officials have explained this to the Chinese repeatedly, and the media discussion of this has been quite extensive. It is hard to imagine that the Chinese are still unclear about the technical issues around THAAD.
Politically, South Korea has tried for years to work with China on the underlying issue – North Korea’s missilization – to no avail. South Korean President Park Geun Hye launched a three-year charm offensive to flatter the Chinese into a tougher line on North Korea. South Korea has consistently reached out to China to work on North Korea sanctions at the United Nations. Seoul has said THAAD is only a stop-gap measure until its own Korean Air and Missile Defense is completed. It is very obvious that South Korea wants some kind of deal with China on North Korea. The THAAD decision came only after years of prevarication during which Seoul would likely have made major concessions for serious Chinese action on the North.
Yet the Chinese will not budge on THAAD, nor will they seriously enforce the sanctions. They warned South Korea for years not to accept THAAD and in the last year, have threatened various punishments. Stephen Haggard conveniently brings together the many, often quite petty ways, the Chinese have struck back. Beijing is essentially demanding that South Korea remain defenseless – ‘roof-less’ – in the face of a spiraling nuclear missile threat on its doorstep. That is an astonishing ultimatum – to effectively surrender South Korean national security over an existential threat to demands of a foreign power. That China would make such a demand regarding an issue where the developments all broadly support the South Korean position – the North Korean missile threat is blatantly obvious, as is the South Korea’s thin defense – shows all the more chutzpah on Beijing’s part. The Chinese ‘argument’ against THAAD is so preposterous, that it is hard to read its demands against Seoul as anything but bullying power politics.
The question then is why – what is China’s objectively bizarre resistance to something so obvious telling us? For years, China vigorously promoted the idea that its rise was different from that of previous great powers. Its ‘peaceful rise’ would open the possibility of a ‘new type of major power relationship’ to promote a ‘harmonious world.’ All would benefit from China’s growth, as the ‘one belt, one road’ initiative tied Asia together. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank would help developing states. Chinese cultural production even got in on the act. But in its maritime periphery, specifically, the South and East China Seas, China is acting, however quietly and obliquely, like a fairly typical aggrieved rising power. Its actions on Senkaku, the Paracels, Scarborough Shoal, North Korea, and now THAAD all suggest that it expects regional states to bend to its demands conveniently packaged as uncontestable and expanding ‘core interests.’
This looks an awful lot like a sphere of influence by stealth. China has learned the cost of unnecessary belligerence. It is avoiding the forthright aggressiveness of Imperial Germany or the Soviet Union, which both provoked large counter-coalitions to their rise. Instead, it pursues a salami slicing strategy of pushing here and there to see what happens. This escalating coercive diplomacy worked reasonably well with the Philippines, where President Rodrigo Duterte last year gave up and bandwagoned with China to appease it. And in South Korea, this year’s leftist presidential candidates are hinting that they will roll-back the THAAD deployment. Seoul conservatives will read this as ‘kow-towing’ to Beijing, but economic anxiety is rising given South Korea’s asymmetric economic interdependence with China.
The next questions then are: will China try this bullying, using asymmetric economics and oblique threats as a lever, again elsewhere (Vietnam would be my guess)? And will Japan and the US, the only regional powers with a serious ability to push-back, eventually hit some kind of threshold and respond?