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Monitoring Seoul

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Korea is slowly but surely opening up itself to the world. Always belittled by the giants of China and Japan, Korea is blossoming into the world bearing its own unique scent. With the electronics and automobile biggies Samsung, LG, Hyundai leading the way, the Koreanisms have reached far and wide. The Korean dramas are extremely popular with the younger generation in China and India, with many of them translated even into the regional Indian languages. K-POP is widely loved and is again quite catching.

There is also a significant amount of interest from the Korean Government to welcome the foreigners into their country and more importantly, keeping them happy. The Seoul Metropolitan government has now made an effort to hear the views and problems of the foreigners living in Seoul. A few foreigners have been selected to monitor the conditions and problems faced by the foreigners and report it to the city so that they are can make a change and improve the conditions and even meet the expectations of the foreigner. I am one of the selected few :)

We were invited for a ceremony and were presented with a certificate and were briefed with the process involved in the program. It was quite interesting although the entire program was in Korean. Then, were taking on a tour to the new city hall in Seoul, which is totally eco-friendly. It was nice to connect with foreigners from different nationalities, chat about each other's issues and just plain enjoy each others company.

M for Monitoring Seoul for ABC Wednesday

thisgirlabroad: I have officially seen the most impressive...

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I have officially seen the most impressive temple in all of my travels here in Chiang Rai, Thailand: Wat Rong Khun (commonly known as the White Temple).

#travel #ChiangRai #WhiteTemple #WatRongKhun #Buddhism #Thailand #religion #modern #culture #tour #expat #expatlife #explore #beautiful #backpacker #peaceful #love #holiday #vacation #hkiger #happy #paradise (at White Temple / Wat Rong Khun (วัดร่องขุ่น))

I need to go here!

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Sex-ed Guidlines Say No to Homosexuality, IGLHRC Condemns State's Endorsement of Conversion Therapy and More

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LOTS of news this week, with both articles in English and Korean.


The new standards for sexual education in Korea block education about homosexuals and other sexual minorities. Responses were swift with the Ministry of Homosexual Affairs writing a satirical piece praising the non existence therapy as a means to rid the country of homosexuals and Asia Pundits reporting that in a similar vein Seoul was to rename Gye-dong to something less, well, gay.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has produced an open letter concerning the state's endorsement of gay conversion therapy. TKQ has been reporting on this ridiculousness, most recently on March 23rd.

Avaaz has taken note of the homophobic protests in response to the same-sex kiss in Sunam Girls High School detectives with a petition calling for the Korea Communications Standards Commission to not support discriminatory attitudes and allow the show to continue its broadcast.

Finally, the Seattle Gay Scene did a piece on the Seoul gay scene and local artist Heezy Yang.


The Asan Institute has released a report on a four year study that looked at individuals perspective on people's comfort levels with homosexuality, and found that 60.2% of young people agree with the legalization of same-sex marriage, almost double the rate of 30.5% in 2000. The report's entire contents can be found here.

In response to the aforementioned homophobic protests of Sunam Girls High School, some activists engaged in a kiss protest. Awesome.

The Kyunghyan Shinmun has a piece on whether comic strips can change attitudes on sexual minorities, particularly looking at the comic Meatballs for Everyone.

Finally, actress Seo Kap Sook got attention for her role in Bongja, with Netizens shocked that a women that has a daughter could play a queer role so convincingly. Oh Netizens.... As Bonja is a movie from 2000, I'm not quite sure why this has become hot news this week.

The (not so) Good Earth

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Heron trash

by Eli Toast

So I’m sleeping in fifth gear and lurch awake as if I’ve accidentally down-shifted into first. I run to my kitchen which stinks like hot batteries. The electric stove is glowing orange, the refrigerator door is open, and the shelves are collapsed inside. As my panic ebbs, I await the inevitable emotional tidal wave of jagged flotsam to surge over the levee and dump a bunch of bush-league angst into my so-called soul. I look out my window and life outside is a blazing shithole of consumer goods.

There are warm coins stuck to my body because I slept naked, which is rare because I usually pass out fully clothed, but last night I called multiple people retards and engaged in a vehement argument about whether or not a bear can beat up a lion; which it can.

As I shower, more coins fall from my body and clang in the tub. Beneath the hot water I engage in a, flat, red-eyed, vaguely suicidal shower-thought about eating a heaping spoonful of the entire periodic table of elements and washing it down with a tall glass of the fluid that leaks out of air conditioning units.

Shower finished, I pose in my post shower glisten and behold my grossly flatulent apartment in ruin. I notice the heat from the stove has dissipated and left the room cold. Before dressing I check the news hoping that a family of rich people have sunk their yacht into a shoal of hungry barracuda.

Last night I tried to chop a hamburger in half with my hand. I honestly can’t believe that I have any friends at all. I’m convinced this is the worst hangover of all time, and maybe it is. Well… It probably isn’t the worst, because my first year in college I got so drunk I almost died.

I need to eat and I’ve got wicked heartburn, but whatever, so I use the end of a dirty spoon to apply I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter to some stale whole wheat bread I grabbed out of the cupboard. Then I remember that when I got home earlier this morning I ate three boiled hot dogs smothered in mustard, accompanied with several rugged chunks of cheese that I pried free from a one pound brick of Kirkland sharp cheddar with a fork. I also ate around fifteen kalamata olives and remember dropping several pits on the floor and defiantly leaving them there. Hot dogs, bread, and shorn  hunks of cheese with fiteen or so olives? Sure. I remember that. It was a swarthy and reckless eating session and I’m a steaming pile of shit.

Every single dish I own I leave in the sink, partially submerged in tepid bilge.

Everything will collapse and anarchy will be loosed; roving mobs of murderers will riot with impunity; the seas, lakes, and rivers are so choked with toxic slime and plastic, nothing but poisonous heaps of garbage will be left to our mutated babies when they inherit our newly slag-pitted earth; the banks will burn and the oily smoke will twist into the radioactive sky. Wholesale murder is already rewarded with fist bumps in corporate genocidal fraternities. This is where my head is as I step out the door, dressed, on my way to work.

Outside the sun’s muted rays slant at a cruel angle through the winter haze. A dirty, feral cat roots around a ubiquitous pile of Asian garbage and quickly regards me with near poultry-level skittishness that has been bred into it from a lifetime of matter-of-fact cruelty. On the way to work I walk past a river full of sewage where off in the distance a gray heron stands at the bank and I think about these poor birds forced to live next to this stinking river…but then again, I live next to this stinking river, and so does everyone else.

I turn from the river into an alley and there is an ageless woman bent in half, wearing a puffy nylon jacket, parachute pants, and rubber shoes, pushing an old two-wheeled cart full of cardboard. She’s prowling for more cardboard so she can sell it to a cardboard buyer in some infinitely straightforward transaction. She is obviously alone and poor, because why else would she be collecting cardboard at her age and condition on such a horrible morning? We pass each other in complete silence.

Then an old Korean gentleman waiting at the bus stop asks me where I’m from.

“The States,” I say.

“I’m a minister,” He says, “Are you a Christian?”.

“No, I’m not religious.”

“I lived in the US for 11 years, in Pennsylvania. I’ve met Eisenhower. Are you familiar with Eisenhower?”

“Yes,” I said, “somewhat.”

“How about Pearl Buck?” He asked.

“Sure, I know,” I said, lying.

“She was a friend of mine.”

“Wow, that’s amazing.”

“I hope that someday you find God,” were his parting words.

A headache as evil and big as Monsanto hunkers down behind my eyes as I think to myself: “Pearl Buck? Huh… That was weird.”

Crossing campus I encounter a handful of errant goofballs who’ve strayed from the student body pack; they greet me with unrefined, though hardly pure, glee. I get to my office and thankfully no one is there. I look around and can’t believe any of it’s true. I haven’t earned any of this, but I’m also starting to give up on all that “woe-is-me” bullshit. I find eye drops and gum in my desk drawer and apply both. I take off my jacket and lay it over the back of my chair. I gather my things and wonder if I can summon the cowardice to cancel the day.

I exit the office and wade down the hall until I arrive at my classroom. I take a big breath, walk in and say:

“Good morning everyone. Are you ready?”

And they are.





Voila! Cream Cheese Kimbap! #cheese #kimbap #kimseonsaeng...

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Voila! Cream Cheese Kimbap!

#cheese #kimbap #kimseonsaeng #Korean #koreanfood #korea #SouthKorea #seoulfood #busan #bukgu #hwamyeong #seoulcialite #kimbab

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Holidays to Fall in Love in Korea

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Spring is upon us and love is in the air! With the days getting warmer and the trees beginning to bloom again, it’s the perfect time of year to cherish your loved ones and perhaps begin a new romantic endeavor. Valentine’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to let your significant other know exactly how you feel about them and make them feel appreciated. However, that’s the only official romantic holiday that the Western world has to showcase love and affection. On the other hand, love in Korea is an enduring experience with a slew of different love-oriented special occasions to remind those celebrating how important it is to express appreciation and spread the love! Read on to learn about a few of Korea’s holidays devoted to love (or lack thereof).

Black Day – April 14th

Holidays like Valentine’s Day exist to encourage couples to dote on each other and purchase greeting cards. Black Day is on the opposite end of the romantic spectrum – celebrated (so to speak) on April 14th, Black Day is a holiday explicitly for people that are not coupled up. Black Day can be a day of celebration or mourning depending on the person — some people love being single, and some people hate it and can’t wait to jump into their next romantic tryst. No matter how you feel about being single, Black Day is a day to congregate with your fellow single friends (wearing all black, of course) and eat traditional Korean noodle dishes with a black bean sauce. Chances are that black coffee will be there, too. Black Day is a mixture of drama, melancholy, and humor – there’s something for everybody!

Valentine’s Day – February 14th

There’s no escaping this classic holiday – however, in Korea, Valentine’s Day means something a little different than it does in most other countries. If you’re a lady, being in love in Korea on Valentine’s Day means showering the object of your affection with elaborate chocolate treats. It’s thought that there is a direct correlation between the intricacy of the chocolate gifts and the intensity of the emotional attachment of the giver – it’s the perfect time to go over the top with candy and kindness to show the special man in your life how you really feel!

White Day – March 14th

Noticing a pattern yet? That’s right: Korean love holidays tend to becelebrated on the 14th of the month, which is nice because it means you’re less likely to forget an important one, like White Day. White Day is the complement to Valentine’s Day – it’s a day on which men can express their feelings to the special women in their lives with elaborate chocolate and candy. If somebody gives you a gift on Valentine’s Day and you have since developed romantic feelings for them, White Day is the perfect day to return the sentiment!

Rose Day/Yellow Day – May 14th

May 14th is a day that everybody can celebrate, whether you’re single or romantically committed. Couples exchange fresh roses to express their love, and single Koreans get together to eat yellow curry (and hopefully snag a date!). Yellow is a warm color that hints at the beautiful summer quickly approaching, which makes Yellow Day the perfect time for a new special someone to come into your life. Who knows – maybe it’s someone that will take you by surprise!

June 14th – Kiss Day

Kiss Day in Korea

Source: Nice Guy Korean Drama Ep 6 차칸남자: Bad Luck Kiss

We all know that roses, chocolates, and curry are only part of what makes being in love in Korea so awesome. Kiss Day, celebrate on June 14th, is a day for celebrating love with kisses and physical affection. Kiss Day would be the perfect opportunity to step outside your comfort zone and show a new romantic partner exactly how much you care. Don’t be shy – everyone will be doing it!

July 14th – Silver Day

Silver Day is a day that’s especially fun for couples that are heating up and starting to get a little more serious. These couples can exchange jewelry, especially matching rings made of silver, which make their intentions clear and take the relationship to the next level. Silver Day is also a day on which it’s acceptable to ask friends for small (silver) change to fund romantic outings. Come on – wouldn’t a good friend be excited to fund your potential happiness? Give it a try!

October 14th – Wine Day

Wine Day is my personal favorite. No matter how good you are at relationships, chances are that you’ll probably be single at some point – even the best things come to an end eventually. Let’s just hope that your bouts with singledom occur on Wine Day, falling on the 14th of October. The woes of being single pair perfectly with an earthy merlot or a sweet moscato. Grab a bottle, put on a moody record, and celebrate the holiday in style!

December 14th – Hug Day/Sock Day

While many of these holidays seem intuitive, December 14th may be a bit of an exception. Hug Day and/or Sock Day is a day when couples are encouraged to spread the love by hugging and expressing affection – or buy purchasing socks for their significant other. On the other hand, who doesn’t love a good pair of warm, fuzzy socks, especially in the middle of winter? Good call, Korea.

Love in Korea is a special phenomenon, and the multitude of holidays for various parts of romantic relationships mean that everybody gets to join in. Single? No problem. See you on Black Day – I’ll bring the black coffee. Just meeting somebody and getting to know them? Great! Pick them up a rose on rose day and show them how much you care. Getting serious about your relationship? Look into getting a silver promise ring on Silver Day, or go straight for a heartfelt kiss on Kiss Day. There’s no right or wrong way to express love in Korea, and taking part in these holidays is a fun cultural experience that brings people together.

Do you have any funny or touching experiences celebrating a holiday on this list? Let us know in the comments below!

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First day of Spring at Oryukdo, Busan

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The thing I love most about Spring, is that every Spring feels like the first Spring. It feels like a discovery, a revelation, and a homecoming. Especially in Korea, where the rains come in early summer rather than May, and everyone waits with anticipation for the cherry blossoms to come alive again. There is even a cherry blossom forecast here–it’s pretty amazing. But Spring is also fleeting, as are the cherry blossoms, and every year I find myself wishing I could make time stand still, every March 21st. It’s that feeling that I live for every year, that makes parts of me awaken that I had long forgotten throughout winter. I become whole again.

I’m actually sad more often in Spring, because I spend too much time contemplating the impermanence of cherry blossoms, of warm, sunny days, of my time in Korea, of my life, everything. Yeah, what a bummer, right? Well NOT this year!! I’ve been consciously practicing living in the moment, through meditations and mantras I find helpful to center myself throughout the day.

So in that spirit, this year, on the first day of Spring, we made the hour drive to the southern coast of Busan to see Oryukdo, a series of rock islands that change in number with the tides. They can be seen from the mainland, or if you’re in the sea-faring mood you can catch a ferry from Mipo terminal on Haeundae beach.

We opted to check out the view from the mainland, and my first glimpse was from the car window as we parked behind a long line of cars leading down to the viewing area. We were clearly not the only ones with the same idea, as lines of tour buses and hordes of selfie sticks came into view.
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The sun was shining, the ocean breeze blowing, it was the perfect spring day. To see more of what we saw and did there, check out the video! Since starting this post, it has rained for over a week! So if the weather is as dreary where you are, I hope this is a bright spot in your day! Get outside and explore the world you’re in!

The post First day of Spring at Oryukdo, Busan appeared first on Evan and Rachel in Korea.



Some tasty #bulgogi #kimbap! #bulgogikimbap #food #foodporn...

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Some tasty #bulgogi #kimbap! #bulgogikimbap #food #foodporn #koreanfood #Korean #SouthKorea #Busan #bukgu #hwamyeong

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Saturday in Seomyeon

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This weekend was gray and rainy.  I had planned on heading to the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival on Sunday, but the weather and my persistent cough didn't really make me want to do anything.  I managed to get a sweet pair of prescription glasses (frames, check up, and lenses for KRW 10,000 at Davich!) on Friday night, and Saturday we planned to do some shopping.  Checking out my closet I've noticed that I brought a lot of pairs of pants but have been rotating a few shirts.  I had planned on wearing tee-shirts or tank tops with cardigans or jackets over top, but with the weight-loss I've seen (a few pounds here and there but I think I've gained some muscle) they fall far too low to wear to school.  Being from Toronto, I wear a LOT of black which isn't exactly exciting for my students.  My goal, by heading to Seomyeon (the most crowded area in Busan, having a floating population of 165,300 a day), was to shop with B at H&M and to not buy anything black.

Having read some blogs of women I thought were slimmer than I, I assumed that H&M (and sometimes Zara) would be the only places I would be able to shop.  This was not the case at all.  I've managed to purchase a sweater from a local market (it cost KRW 10,000 and was one of those "one size fits all" which usually never ends up fitting anyone right), and this shopping trip was also very successful.  We stepped into the first cute store we saw upon emerging from the subway, which was called MIXXO.  Even in Canada I sometimes wonder if the cute new styles will fit me properly.  I don't have much going on upstairs (other than a big rib cage), and I have hips and a booty that don't quit so even buying clothes at home can be a bit of a struggle.  MIXXO describes its fit as: 

"abetter fit for you

The perfect fusion of Golobal fashion trendy design and tailor method that fit the Asia women’s figure ,
will let you find your just right patten ."

...that's right.  "The Asia women's figure".  Not the North American tall-girl figure that wears a 10-12 (I've got some size 6-8 in my closet here in Korea - let's hope I can fit back into the 6 by summer, shall we?).  I was nervous, but I picked up a few different styles (that were all between KRW 9,600 - 12,900, I might add), and headed to the fitting room.  Surprisingly they all fit quite nicely, and being that my rule was not to buy anything black I had avoided bringing dark colours into the fitting room.  

I purchased 3 tops that will be good for layering (sometimes it's freezing out and sometimes I'm a sweaty mess throughout the course of the same day), and that will brighten up my closet and outfits.  The yellow shirt (pictured above) was one that I liked but apparently looked weird from the back so I made sure to limit myself to 3.    The white one does, indeed, have palm trees and parrots as the pattern.  It makes me giggle.  A couple of the blouses are quite loose, but being that I do have a North American rib cage and let's face it - there's some "support" in all my bras, the medium would have just been too tight across the bust.  Oversize shirts are really popular in Korea.  Nothing is tight or low cut on top, but it is true that you'll see Korean ladies wear very, very short shorts and skirts.

I noticed that my favourite J-brand black jeans were fraying a little on the right leg, so I did ultimately end up breaking my rule by purchasing a new pair of black high-waisted pants.  They're incredibly comfortable and were described by my friends (K joined us at H&M) as "second skin".  They're a little tight at the waist, but let's face it - there was a Subway Subs in Seomyeon and I was definitely a little bloated after my first real bread experience since departing for Korea.  I also managed to pick up shoes in Korea!  Yup - my size 9.5B feet are happy go lucky in my cute black peep-toe flats that will be great in the summer with the colourful skirts I brought along.

So there you have it - if you're 5'8" and not a stick figure there is hope for you in South Korea!  Go forth and fash-ion!

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