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Trump, Naturally, is Making this the Weirdest North Korea Crisis Ever

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This is a re-post of something I wrote for the Lowy Institute this month. In short, Trump is not only making this rolling semi-crisis more dangerous, but weirder too. US presidents don’t talk like vengeful Old Testament prophets, ratings-seeking reality TV stars, or children taunting their siblings, but I guess they do now. *sigh*

I spoke at the New Yorker Festival of Ideas last week on North Korea. I said then that if Trump would simply get off Twitter, there would be a noticeable step down in the tension our here. By extension, I mean he should stop ad-libbing scary, off-the-cuff remarks like the ‘calm before the storm.’ I did the best I could to explain these sorts of remarks here, but honestly, I wonder if he really even grasps the scale of his office. Today’s preposterous comment on the US nuclear stockpile suggests he doesn’t.

My full essay on how Trump is changing this NK crisis from the usual pattern is below the jump.



In the ten years I have lived in South Korea, I cannot remember a North Korea crisis like this. Usually these events stem from some obvious North Korean provocation, such as the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan in 2010 or the landmine attack of 2015. There then follows a set of steps all but ritualized at this point: a UN Security Council meeting followed by sanctions; a declaration of alliance solidarity so well-trodden I could draft it myself; a demoralizingly head-in-the-sand call from China for ‘calm’ on all sides; outlandish counter-rhetoric from the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) about aggression its ‘sacred’ sovereignty; and South Korean (and Japanese) media frustration on how to hit back. And not to forget that requisite Western media hysteria about imminent war. Then everyone sorta forgets about it for awhile until the North throws another tantrum.

A lot of this is playing out again this time too. But US President Donald Trump, as is his wont, is upsetting yet another ‘establishment,’ although not obviously for the better. Here are five lessons to date from the weirdest ever North Korean crisis:

1. When US Presidential Leadership is Poor, it becomes the Defining Variable of North Korean Crises.


No one would have thought to say this a year ago, because usually US presidents have been admirably responsible in dealing with North Korea given how dangerous it is. But Trump, with his own KCNA-style rhetoric, is adding a whole new variable, or rather, activating one we never really thought to consider before. There seem to be at least five explanations floating around on cable and social media for his behavior: 1. He actually means what he is saying. 2. He is trying to divert attention away from domestic challenges like the Mueller investigation of his Russia activities. 3. He is pushing back against John Kelly and his own staff, because he instinctively resents direction. 4. He is is trying to bait North Korean leader Kim Jong Un into a casus belli-worthy provocation. 5. He is just mentally overwhelmed by the office and saying whatever comes tumbling through his head. Whatever your choice, the recklessness of Trump’s nuclear threats is astonishing. It is no longer an exaggeration to say that the biggest variable in this crisis going forward is Trump’s own psychology.

2. The North Koreans will Match Trump Insult for Insult.

This should not actually come as a big surprise. If you follow North Korea, you know they are prone to over-the-top commentary. This is the reason the Korea analyst community has encouraged Trump not engage KCNA round-for-round in this war of words. Most knew it would turn into an undignified food fight, and so it has. Trump cannot win. The North will say anything it has too. It is not constrained by typical diplomatic niceties. It referred to US President Barack Obama as a monkey, and previous female South Korean President Park Geun-Hye as a prostitute. It is only a matter of time before KCNA creates a nickname for Trump, starts mocking his hair, or picks up on the common left-wing critique that Trump is mentally ill. This would all be childish and irrelevant, except that psychology, like Trump or Kim’s own anger, paranoia, anxiety, and so on, is increasingly driving this contest.

3. The Western Media Risks Complicity in a Panicked March to War.


Last month I argue for Lowy that the disjuncture between Western, especially American, media, and South Korean media on North Korea was inexplicably large, with the Westerners far more alarmed than South Koreans. This continues to be the case. Most recently, the North Korean earthquake that turned out to just be an earthquake got far too much speculative attention that it might be yet another nuclear test before it was disproved. I also continue to notice the large gap between Korea experts brought onto the networks and the networks’ own in-house panels of generalist journalists and commentators. The latter are almost always more alarmist and hawkish than the former, who almost uniformly seem to think this crisis need not tip into a conflict. I find Fox, especially “The Five” show, to be the most egregious on this.

Reaching to established contributors is cheap and convenient, but this is such a serious topic that TV producers should think twice about defaulting to Washington generalists. The run-up to the Iraq War similarly failed to tap the expert community deeply enough, and the crisis this involves nuclear weapons. There are a lot of very good Korea experts out there, and they do not get nearly the airtime they should compared to generalist journalists and pundits.

4. China is Still the Key


There is growing acceptance that the China track has failed, but it is still the most realistic way achieve some cap on the North’s programs which does not involve the huge risks of air-strikes, or the huge concessions required by talks. Probably the smartest thing Trump has done on North Korea to date is push China hard. Yes, it has not worked out well, but the alternatives are all so poor, I find all the criticism of this track curious. China’s economic leverage is established – critical oil exports, recipient of 92% of North Korean exports, banking access, and so on. That leverage is vastly preferable to the other two options – conflict or talks. Airstrikes have well-established risks and should only be an absolute last, preemptive resort if Northern missiles are actually fueling. Airstrikes could easily ignite a spiraling regional conflict. Talks are similarly a weak vehicle. The North Koreans will demand huge concessions now. They have nuclear weapons and have endured months of Trump’s taunts. They will ask for so much, that the South and the US will almost certainly demur. So if hawkish military alternatives are too risky, and dovish negotiations sure to flim-flammed by the North, what is left? Sanctions, missile defense, and other unilateral actions will buy us time, but they will not cease or cap the programs. Only China has the economic weight to really punish the North. China’s tolerance for NK shenanigans – up to and including a fusion weapons on an ICBM – is much higher than almost anyone expected. But I see little alternative but going back to them yet again.

5. South Korea is being Sidelined.


This may be inevitable given the character of the US president. Trump cannot help but make events about himself, but his shenanigans are nonetheless pushing South Korea out of the loop. When I discuss this crisis with my students, the questions mostly circle around Trump and his Twitter feed, not their own government. The Korean media even has a term for this – ‘Korea passing.’ This is obviously bad all around. It is South Korea who will bear the brunt of any North Korean retaliation, as well as the massive burden of unification, plus the catastrophic costs of any American nuclear strike against North Korea – because North Korea would almost certainly collapse in the wake of that, and South Korea would then inherit the blast zone(s). South Korean President Moon Jae In may be a dove, but Trump the hawk is dominating the debate. Secretly though, I imagine, a fair number of South Koreans do not really mind. Support for unification has declined over the years, and anxiety over its costs is high. North Korea’s weirdness and backwardness is deeply off-putting for a country that wants to join the modern world. Unfortunately, the South cannot escape the North’s shadow. When it falls apart, the world will look to South Korea to clean up the mess whether its wants that burden or not. If Trump obscures the South’s primary responsibility for the North by seemingly taking over the issue from them, he is only making things worse when the North Korea burden inevitably returns where it belongs.

Filed under: China, Korea (North), Korea (South), Trump, United States

Robert E Kelly
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science & Diplomacy
Pusan National University




Korea Made Me Love My Body – I’ll still get Breast Implants!

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I’m Considering Breast Implants

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Even Though Korea Made Me Love My Body

Before coming to Korea, I read plenty of articles about how Native English Teachers felt they weren’t beautiful enough to live in Korea.  I work in Apgujeong (the ritzy part of Seoul) and see plenty of women with rhinoplasty or breast implants.  I see men and women who have taken full advantage of the plastic surgery capital of the world.  Ashley Perez, a Cuban/Filipino/Korean-American BuzzFeed celebrity wrote the first article I read on the topic.  Kayla McColl was another blogger from the early days who I found while looking for places to find protein powder in Korea.  She’s documented how her eating disorder began at home but intensified in Korea as she became a bikini fitness competitor.  I think she’s removed a few of the articles that had me concerned and has replaced them with stories of how she turned it all around.

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Breast Implants and My Fitness Journey

At 5’8″ and about 215 lbs, I was one of those “she’s got a pretty face, but…” characters.  I was terrified that I’d get to Korea and be called a monster.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been called names by kids and adults alike, but those actually began when I was approaching a healthy weight.  I’m not a small woman by any stretch of the imagination.  I’ve worked very hard to learn about nutrition, develop fitness plans (including weight lifting and cardio…ugh, cardio…), and how to balance it all with a social life.  Weighing in around 160 lbs now, I’m strong and confident in my fitness accomplishments in Korea.  One thing (or a pair, in my case) is missing.

Easy Weight Loss Tips - The Toronto Seoulcialite

** Want to see the “before” pictures? Click any of the fitness links above ***

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Top 5 Reasons Women Consider Breast Implants

Motiva (the brand of breast implants I’ll be getting) has included a list of the top 5 reasons women consider breast implants, and I have to say that they’re pretty spot on.  While only 3/5 reasons currently apply, the parameters surrounding my breast augmentation make this surgery a no-brainer for me.  I’ve worked hard to improve my body, but as those fitting room pictures will show you – I’m flat as a board.

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My Doctor at TL Plastic Surgery (near Apgujeong Station exit 5) understands my reasons and my goals.  Dr. Yim Joonghyuk understands that I’m not a Dolly Parton wanna-be.  For me, this isn’t “go big or go home” breast implants.  The goal is to correct my shape and feel more feminine overall.  Furthermore, I don’t want back pain or anything else inhibiting my fitness goals.


I also can’t thank Mona and Dean at Seoul Cosmetic Surgery enough!  This dynamic duo truly understands the unique needs of a foreigner in this type of situation.  Dean has the contacts, language skills, and business clout, while Mona has the experience, business ethic, and femininity to understand my needs.  They both work together seamlessly to ensure the needs to the patient are met while consulting with the clinic.   I feel safe in their capable hands.

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Breast Implants – To Look Better

Well…duh, right?  Growing up, I always thought that I would just…fill out later.  I was always a bit of a late bloomer.  My teeth came in late, my period too, and I didn’t lose my baby fat until I was well into university.  I thought my breasts were the same.  Turns out I have constricted breasts.  Also known as “tuberous breasts” (thanks, Doc), this congenital abnormality is thought to affect 1 to 5 per cent of breast augmentation patients.  If everyone’s look like mine (sad puppies) I can understand why!  I’ve never had any “false advertising” complaints, even though I’ve worn a padded bra my entire life.  I would imagine most men and women with this condition let it go under the impression they just have crappy tits.

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Increase Positive Self-image Perception

“We all know we have to love ourselves the way we are, period. We are unique and perfect already, and that is something that women considering breast augmentation need to understand before even going to the procedure. So first, you have to love yourself, and realize that a breast augmentation can improve physically the beauty you already own. When we feel in our best we increase our self-esteem and of course, our perception of our image and gain high confidence in the way.”

I’m not sure I could have put this better myself.  I can run circles around Seoul and do squats til failure, but nothing is going to make “Wit” and “Candor” grow except weight gain or pregnancy.  I’m avoiding both.

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Correct Uneven Breasts

Most women have asymetrical breasts, but mine are kind of on another level.  While both small, my right breast is significantly smaller than my left.  This makes buying everything from bras to bikinis to ballgowns a hassle.  Some places (rarely in Korea!) will let you buy a small top and medium (er…sometimes large) bottoms.  When you’re working with two entirely different cup sizes, you’re not just in hot water at the beach.

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About Motiva Implants® Silicone Breast Implants

  • State-of-the-art shell design that results in a strong and durable breast implant.
  • Exceptional elasticity for ease of insertion and smaller incisions.
  • Ultra soft, form-stable filling gel for optimal shape retention and feel.
  • The most complex and advanced range of implant projections to meet the expectations of both the surgeon and patient.
  • Specialized choice of surface texturing, without the use of foreign materials that can damage the implant shell.

Motiva Implants® SilkSurface and VelvetSurface are unique surfaces obtained without the use of foreign materials like salt or sugar, with a controlled process designed for a better biocompatibility. Additionally, these nano-surfaces promote a more natural interaction between the implant and the surrounding tissue, allowing the implant to better adapt to the normal movement of the breast.

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A New Kind of Confident

Korean beauty standards didn’t propel me to change who I am.  This country has enabled me through time and financial flexibility to achieve personal goals.  In Busan, I had the time to develop a fitness routine and the stamina to continue while navigating a much busier schedule in Seoul.  Going to jimjilbangs (Korean baths) and seeing how little Korean women care about letting it all hang out gives me the confidence to do the same.  Taking care of my skin properly and being open to botox has allowed me to look in the mirror and see the girl I’ve always been (rather than the old hag I saw in Osaka).

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Plastic Surgery in Korea

I understand that for some Koreans there is a sad reality accompanying some plastic surgery procedures.  Competition in the job market is fierce, and some will go under the knife to get a leg up over similarly qualified candidates.  That’s not the case in my unique, and yes – privileged, position.  Motiva breast implants are designed for active, confident women.  They even have a section on their blog dedicated to post-op fitness.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: nobody has ever complained about the size of my breastsI’ve only personally felt less feminine because of them.  I may not be the woman I’ve always wanted to be (physically, emotionally, of career-wise), but I’m well on my way.

The post Korea Made Me Love My Body – I’ll still get Breast Implants! appeared first on That Girl Cartier.

The Toronto Socialite
That Girl Cartier


Frequently asked Questions about Everything Korean PART 1

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When I started this blog a couple of years ago, I vowed to myself that I will never ever abandon it no matter how busy I am… but I couldn’t keep that promise. Now that I’m back to blogging, I … Continue reading

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Korea This Week: October 2nd – 8th

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Pop Still Eating Itself

A Korean lawmaker has recently charged Chinese content producers with plagiarizing Korean television programs. The Korea Times piece notes that the increasingly “brazen” plagiarism is occurring on the heels of the Korean government’s decision to install the THAAD missile defense system, which China opposes and which led to a series of boycotts that included Korean dramas and other pop culture content.

Korea watchers will feel their irony sensors tingling, as Korean pop culture producers and entertainers have often come under fire for improperly borrowing other people’s work, as was allegedly the case with three out of the seven new TV programs reviewed by just two days ago.

Various accusations of plagiarism against Korean artists, students, and academics are disappointingly easy to dig up. Korean rocker Jeon In-kwon was accused of ripping off a German song last April; 200 Korean professors were busted for copyright infringement in a major scandal in 2015, after passing off books by other authors as their own; and plagiarism was detected in 1,500 college admission essays in 2016, though the actual number is believed to be higher if one includes the practice of ghostwriting.

If the issue is not one of plagiarism per se but of the “brazen” way in which work is pilfered, Chinese content producers might do well to heed the example of K-Pop boy band Seventeen, whose Billboard-charted single “Don’t Wanna Cry” bore an uncomfortable similarity to “Something Like This” by The Chainsmokers and Coldplay. Rather than merely plead innocence, they last week pleaded innocence and added Chris Martin et. al. as co-copyright holders to stave off a potential lawsuit. Progress of a kind.

Full disclosure: this photo is being used without permission.

The Kim Young-ran Law, One Year Later

In September of last year, The Improper Solicitation and Graft Act (commonly known as “The Kim Young-ran Act”, after the Supreme Court justice who proposed it), went into effect in Korea, aimed at reducing common and culturally-sanctioned forms of bribery like gifts and meals proffered to public servants, teachers, and journalists.

One year down the track, the law seems to be having an effect, according to recent polls cited by the Korea Herald. The one-year-old law, which places limits on the amount of money that can be spent on meals (30,000 won), gifts (50,000 won), and wedding/funeral cash gifts (100,000 won), has reportedly had an effect on restaurants, flower shops, and gift-set retailers, many of whom have scaled prices to comply with the law and/or have reported declines in sales.

Critics say that the spending limits are set too low, and place unreasonable restrictions on legitimate expressions of gratitude and goodwill. It has been frequently noted that the law has affected gift-giving culture, an important part of many holiday traditions, but which also often straddled – and crossed – the line into bribery.

On the plus side, some parents and teachers have reported feeling less stress as a result of the law, referring to the long-standing practice of showering teachers with gifts in order to secure extra attention for particular pupils, while many Korean companies have seen their entertainment expenses drop significantly, as the space for legally-compliant wining and dining has diminished.

Prior to the law taking effect, many restaurants, like this one in Seoul, highlighted items whose price fell under the 30,000 won limit.

Goodbye, Super Chuseok (Who Could Hang a Name on You?)

Super Chuseok has come and gone, and the nation goes back to work tomorrow after an unprecedented 10-day break. Though the holiday was hoped to spur domestic spending, record numbers of Koreans opted to take the opportunity to vacation overseas.

For foreigners in Korea, Chuseok can likewise be a mixed bag. One recent Korea Herald piece spoke to the loneliness experienced by many foreign wives, as well as the stress of preparing for the holiday in a culture that still often expects women to shoulder the main burden of shopping, cleaning, and cooking for large numbers of people on major holidays.

In a recent Korea Times editorial, Emmanual Yi Pastreich laments that Chuseok is losing is central character, as it shifts from a contemplative holiday centered around gratitude for one’s forebears, into one more focused on consumption. His characterization of the new Chuseok actually reminded me of a certain American holiday that involves turkey, sofas, and football games:

          “Now the holiday has become a celebration of consumption: eating food, and then eating more food. The children watch television and adults gossip about forgettable topics in a desultory manner. Not a word is spoken about the past and little attention paid to the details of the food itself or even to each other. The spirit of reverence and of thankfulness has been lost.

In our household, Chuseok is neither the best of times, nor the worst of times, but this year it was certainly relaxing, if slightly marred by US President Donald Trump vaguely hinting at war with North Korea. Some things, alas, will never change.

And if anyone missed the (admittedly reaching) reference in the title of this segment, here it is, in all its mournful glory.

And how was your week?


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코스 3-1, 3-2 | Course 3-1, 3-2

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Course 3-1 and 3-2 are city courses. Think sidewalks and city stairs and steep, ridged concrete. Since Busan was mostly spared from the physical destruction of the Korean war, the way is windy and narrow and veers as people did more than 100 years ago. We came across a hill with a special name and a placard to explain that it was “Going to market Hill” 장고개 as in this was the hill that people climbed to go to Busanjin Market 부산진시장 back in the day. We also got to see the famous ’40 steps’ 40계단 where Korean war refugees searched for loved ones near Nampo Station 남포역. So far, this course has been the most historically interesting. A lot of the shops we passed were decades old with that particular font and most of the people in the neighborhoods were also along in years. It was a stark contrast from Course 2 which highlights the newer and richer area of Busan.

Course 3-1 starts at the end of Course 2, Oryukdo Skywalk 오륙도 스카이워크, and then ends around the Busanjin Market 부산진시장. It was well-marked with small signposts and the occasional ribbon until the UN Memorial Cemetery UN 기념공원. I got lost in the cemetery and just kept walking west until I got to the Busan Museum 부산박물관, which was not open at 8 am when I got there starving. Fortunately, this was where I met up with Sara, my Spanish friend from my time in Jeonju, and she offered me a banana. Combined with a convenience store sandwich, we pressed on in the rain using her phone map for the tricky spots where we couldn’t find the way. I wish it was better-marked and also more accurately!

On course 3-2, it’s so much up and down on the city stairs which are steep enough to reach out and touch with your hands. It would be a wild sled ride down in the winter and I bet the residents are very cautious on the four days of the year when it gets icy in Busan.

The issues with marking continued and I’ll probably contact the powers-that-be at some point to offer my ribbon-hanging services. For example, we were following the spray-painted seagulls on the pavement and we ended up down several flights of stairs before we couldn’t find anymore. The arrow was just wrong and we had to just go back up and use the phone map to figure it out. Also, the stamp stands 도보 인증대 are pretty hard to find in a few locations and I just gave up looking. Half of me wants to just enjoy the walk and observe all the little things that I’d miss on a bus or in a car and the other half wants to stick to the ‘route’ and ‘complete’ the trail.

Sara and I got to Nampo Station and called it a day even though we hadn’t gotten to the end of Course 3-2 at Namhang Bridge 남항대교. In terms of restaurants, cafes, and bookstores, Nampo is the best. The end of Course 3-2 is relatively in the middle of nowhere – not even a CU in sight.

Course 3-1 and 3-2 ended up being just over 23 kilometers and about 5 hours of walking. I would recommend it only to people interested in Busan history and people wanting to see the slower-paced city life that lives and breathes in these neighborhoods.

Galmaetgil 365
A year of movement


Seoul Food: Bali in Mangwon

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Bali in Mangwon Restaurant Balinese Food Seoul Hongdae Toronto Seoulcialite

Bali in Mangwon

It’s no secret that Bali is high on my list of places to sink my teeth into once my final contract in Korea is complete.  I had no idea I’d get my wish so quickly (and literally) this Chuseok vacation!  Bali in Mangwon is a “Surfer-made Balinese food & drink” stop a hop, skip, and a jump away from Mangwon Market in Mapo.  Years ago I read how getting stuck in Mapo meant you were far from the heart of Seoul.  Now that The Soul of Seoul has so kindly shown me around, Mapo may just have stolen my heart (and Seoul).

Bali in Mangwon Restaurant Balinese Food Seoul Hongdae Toronto Seoulcialite

Hallie owns and operates The Soul of Seoul as a blog and runs tours of the city (contact:  Thankfully, as a friend and fellow dreamy cafe-lover, I got the best of what was open in Mangwon during the holiday!  According to Hallie, Bali in Mangwon constantly has a line right out the door.  When we passed by there were a couple of groups waiting for it to open, so we stuck around too and got the first table.

Bali in Mangwon Restaurant Balinese Food Seoul Hongdae Toronto Seoulcialite Bali in Mangwon Restaurant Balinese Food Seoul Hongdae Toronto Seoulcialite Bali in Mangwon Restaurant Balinese Food Seoul Hongdae Toronto Seoulcialite Bali in Mangwon Restaurant Balinese Food Seoul Hongdae Toronto Seoulcialite

The interior of Bali in Mangwon has calm, beachy vibes.  It’s entirely different from the weathered feel of the side-street on which it’s located.  Mangwon is full of personality.  Tons of street art and colourful walls brighten up the area.

Menu Bali in Mangwon Restaurant Balinese Food Seoul Hongdae Toronto Seoulcialite Bali in Mangwon Restaurant Balinese Food Seoul Hongdae Toronto Seoulcialite Menu Bali in Mangwon Restaurant Balinese Food Seoul Hongdae Toronto Seoulcialite

Bali in Mangwon Menu

Having eaten my weight in Nasi Goreng on my summer vacation to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore,  I was eager to give it a go in Seoul.  Everything sounded right up my alley translating what I could understand from their primarily Hangeul menu.  The server spoke English pretty well and Hallie’s Korean is far superior to mine, so we went ahead and ordered based on recommendations.  We ordered the Nasi Goreng with Chicken, Padang Ayam Green Curry, and Bakwan Jagung.  I had never tried Balinese food, but the menu seemed to be a perfect combination of Malaysian and Thai flavours.  Certain menu items are only available for dinner, so visit during the evening seating if you want beef!

Nasi Goreng Chicken Bali in Mangwon Restaurant Balinese Food Seoul Hongdae Toronto Seoulcialite

Nasi Goreng

How good does that fried egg look?  We cracked the yolk and went to town mixing it into the spicy fried rice loaded with fried garlic slices, hot peppers, green onions, chicken, and cilantro.  This was my favourite dish from lunch, although everything we ate was pretty fantastic.  Indonesian Nasi Goreng is totally different from Malaysian Nasi Goreng.  There were no fried anchovies (thank goodness!) and the dish came already prepared with the sauce mixed in.  It wasn’t a super saucy like in Malaysia.  I loved how all the spices danced together!

Nasi Goreng Chicken Padang Ayam Green Curry Bali in Mangwon Restaurant Balinese Food Seoul Hongdae Toronto Seoulcialite Padang Ayam Green Curry Bali in Mangwon Restaurant Balinese Food Seoul Hongdae Toronto Seoulcialite

Padang Ayam Green Curry

Hallie and I agree that we could eat curry every day of the week and never grow bored.  This mild green curry was full of pineapple, eggplant, bay leaves, thick cut ginger, and chicken piled high with lettuce, cilantro, and fried garlic slivers.  The chip on top is a prawn cracker (thanks, Paul H).  I’ve been having a bad string of luck with seafood in Korea giving me irritated skin, so Hallie gave it a go.  She wasn’t sure whether it was a fish cake or pork skin, so the flavour was pretty mild.  Rice accompanies this entree, so no need to order a side.   If you’re not a fan of heat I’d go for this option!

Bakwan Jagung Bali in Mangwon Restaurant Balinese Food Seoul Hongdae Toronto Seoulcialite

Bakwan Jagung

Full disclosure, we only ordered this side because of the peanut sauce.  I assumed because it was served with peanut sauce that it would be a satay dish.  We were pleasantly surprised by the fried corn fritters.  They were gone in a heartbeat and (what a travesty) we didn’t even finish the incredible, creamy peanut sauce!  The only downside of this dish was that it took forever to arrive.  The food isn’t exactly prepared quickly at Bali in Mangwon – don’t arrive as ravenous as we did!

Hours Bali in Mangwon Restaurant Balinese Food Seoul Hongdae Toronto Seoulcialite

Contact/ Directions to Bali in Mangwon

  • Hours: Monday – Saturday 12 PM – 3 PM, 5 PM – 10 PM
  • Phone Number: 02-336-0527
  • Address: Mangwon-dong 394-86, Mapo-gu, Seoul 04017
  • Instagram: @Bali_in_Mangwon

Bali in Mangwon Restaurant Balinese Food Seoul Hongdae Toronto Seoulcialite Bali in Mangwon Restaurant Balinese Food Seoul Hongdae Toronto Seoulcialite Bali in Mangwon Restaurant Balinese Food Seoul Hongdae Toronto Seoulcialite Bali in Mangwon Restaurant Balinese Food Seoul Hongdae Toronto Seoulcialite

Bali in Mangwon

Next time you’re looking for international eats do yourself a favour and get out of Itaewon and over to Mapo.  There is plenty of amazing Korean street food at Mangwon Market.  The surrounding area has tons of cafes, Makgeolli and Pajeon joints, KBBQ, and Dalkgalbi as you’ll see in the video below.  Beyond Korean food, there is Bali in Mangwon and a Laotian restaurant down the road I’ll have to go back and try soon.  Mangwon is such a lively area – get out and explore… with no fear of Bali Belly!

Do you have a favourite Mangwon eatery we can try next?  Let us know in the comments!

The post Seoul Food: Bali in Mangwon appeared first on The Toronto Seoulcialite.

Ang Traje de Boda sa Ukay-ukay PART 3

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PART 3: Ang Hagulgol “Kanina kapa nakakulong sa kwarto mo. Hindi ka man lang bumaba para maghapunan.” Pinuntahan ako ni Mommy sa kwarto dala ang isang tray ng pagkain. “Heto ang gatas at paborito mong pandesal. Kumain ka kahit konti.” … Continue reading

Anthracite Coffee Roasters in Hannam-dong

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Anthracite Coffee Roasters was one of those places I walked past a million times and thought about dropping in, but never did. Then a travel magazine contacted me about it. Located on the Hannam-dong end of the Itaewon main drag, the place is hopping on weekend afternoon, but it turns out, like most things in Seoul, it’s very quiet on a Sunday morning. Especially a rainy Sunday morning.

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anthracite coffee hannam, seoul

They have a decent selection of desserts and coffee.  Their beans are freshly roasted, and they offer a variety of single-origin and blend options. Apparently one of their most popular blends is their butter fat trio, which features coffee from Guatemala, Brazil, Ethiopia, Indonesia and Colombia. The desserts are house-made at their other branch. The selection changes periodically, of course, but they’ve got different flavors of pound cake (orange, fig and chocolate, lemon), green tea tiramisu, banana cake, financiers, madeleines and canelés, which are suddenly popping up all over Seoul.

The prices were a little steep. But that’s not unique, is it? You can also buy their beans, if you’re the kind of person who enjoys a nice cup at home on occasion instead of guzzling it all day long like I do. I don’t usually go in for fancy beans for home use, other than when I have company, because otherwise my coffee bills every month would rival my rent.

anthracite coffee hannam, seoul

anthracite coffee hannam, seoul anthracite coffee hannam, seoul anthracite coffee hannam, seoul anthracite coffee hannam, seoul

The interior’s got that broke-down industrial Soviet vibe that’s on trend right now, but which I don’t mind, because it’s keeping people from tearing down old buildings here in Seoul. I’ve seen photos of their Jeju branch, which like everything else on that island I seem destined to never make it to, looks beautiful. They’ve got a branch in Hapjeong as well.

anthracite coffee hannam, seoul anthracite coffee hannam, seoul anthracite coffee hannam, seoul

The cheesecake was nothing to write home about, but the financiers were really nice. I saw a review that said they were dry, but I think you can even see in the photos that they weren’t. The coffee was good, but I’m not a reliable judge in that arena, as probably evidenced by the fact that I always take my coffee with milk. Still, I know enough to separate the swill from the higher end stuff, even if I don’t mind the former, and it tasted like real coffee. We also ordered a ginger hot chocolate, which I actually preferred, maybe because it was unique, and I enjoy that combination of flavors a lot.

I wouldn’t make it a regular spot, only because I try not to pay more for my coffee dates than I do for my dinner, but it would be a nice place to drop in every now and then, especially when meeting up with someone.

Anthracite Coffee Roasters
서울시 용산구 이태원로 240
240 Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Monday-Sunday 10am-10pm



The post Anthracite Coffee Roasters in Hannam-dong appeared first on Follow the River North.

Follow the River North

Freelance writer and editor. American in Seoul. I write about Korean food. I blog about all food. Last year I wrote a monthly column about traveling to different places around the country to explore Korean ingredients and cuisine. This ignited my interest in local foods and cooking, which I blog about regularly now. I also blog restaurant and cafe recommendations, recipes and some background and history about Korean food.

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Eating Pig’s Feet in Korea – JOKBAL – 족발 처음 먹는 미국인

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I'd always wanted to try pig's feet, but never wanted to pay for it. For a relatively expensive price (around $30) it seemed just out of my curiosity's reach. In addition, many Koreans dislike the smell of pig's feet, as well as the texture. So finding someone to even go together with was difficult. Then this time in Korea I found out my friend Claire (who I've filmed an interview with before) happens to really like pig's feet. This was my chance. I brought along my camera and we journeyed together to try it out (for my first time).

Pig's feet do smell bad, but only from the outside of the restaurant where the steam travels blocks away. From the inside, the smell isn't very strong. It smells like Chinese medicinal herbs, which isn't an off-putting smell, but is strong. However the pork itself has no such odd flavor. The smell comes from the herbs that are used when preparing the pork to help remove the pork's own strong smells, and it helps a lot.

Once you've tried a bite, the pork instead tasted almost like regular chicken, or just soft and juicy pork. But there's also a unique texture to some of the pieces. Part of what comes out will also be "collagen" which is kind of a hard jelly. Some people dislike that texture. I didn't mind it.

You can also order different kinds of pig's feet. For this video I tried regular and spicy, and ended up liking both equally as much. And you can choose between the front legs (highly recommended for their flavor) or the black legs.

So if you get a chance an excuse to eat pig's feet, give it a try. In fact, just give everything in Korea a try. That's the whole purpose of this video series, I think. Even things that sound like they'd taste disgusting can be delicious.


The post Eating Pig’s Feet in Korea – JOKBAL – 족발 처음 먹는 미국인 appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

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