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Will Japan Get Sucked into the Post-PCA Ruling South China Sea Mess? Yeah, Probably

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2016.9. 6号(8/30発売)

This is the English-language original of an op-ed I published in this week’s Newsweek Japan. I was thinking about what if any impact the recent Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling on the South China Sea, and China’s full-throated objection to it, will have on Japan. Three things come to mind:

1. Given the size of Japan’s economy, Japan is more absolutely dependent on SCS freedom of navigation than anyone else. Its straight-up dollar interest in FON down there is huge. It is hard to imagine Japan not getting pulled in just by the criterion alone.

2. China need not start a war or do anything very dramatic to cause genuine trouble for Japan in the SCS. It only needs to stop a few transiting ships for a few days for ‘health inspections’ or ‘environmental concerns.’ Or its fishermen or coast guard could ram or block ships. Once the pressure of an incident rose, China would release the ships, saying that they were now in compliance with some bogus regulation. This would send a clear signal that China has its boot on Japan’s windpipe but in a very oblique way that would make responding to China very hard. The Chinese have proven themselves adept at this sort of salami slicing. Future one- or two-day stoppages for specious health or traffic safety reasons would constantly be hanging out there as a potential threat. At the very least, it would drive up the cost of shipping and insurance.

2. The US is probably not going to fight a major conflict with a near-superpower just over shipping lanes. Were Japan directly attacked, sure, the US would intervene. But the Chinese aren’t stupid. They learned from the massive counter-balancing the Soviets incurred when they tried to bully everyone during the Cold War. The Chinese are much more oblique and crafty, and they’ll work hard to avoid a direct military confrontation with the US. This too will likely force Japan to get more involved.

The full essay follows the jump.


Last month the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague delivered a major defeat for China in the South China Sea. Unanimously rejecting Chinese historical claims to the vast majority of the space, the court sided with the Philippines: China had trespassed into Filipino waters and was illegally occupying islands and reefs in the area. 

The South China Sea contains significant oil reserves, and countries in the region are eager to set up refineries (this is particularly true for energy-starved China). Particularly large quantities lie off the coasts of the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia. The East China Sea is also home to natural gas and fertile fishing grounds.

One month since the ruling, little has changed in China’s behavior. Nevertheless, the Court has given the smaller regional states a powerful public relations tool: China now looks like an outlaws. More lawsuits are likely to follow in the next several years.

China Ignores the Ruling

China dismissed the findings of the Hague court almost immediately. President Xi Xianping wholly rejected the ruling, calling it ‘baseless’. And there has been no reduction of Chinese naval and commercial activity in the disputed areas.

Though the PCA ruling is binding, there is no enforcement mechanism. Formal enforcement would risk an armed clash with China. There will be little consequence in the short term, and China will likely proceed with artificial reef creation and illegal fishing. Nevertheless the findings set a precedent that will likely embolden other countries in the region, namely Vietnam, Japan, and Taiwan, to bring similar lawsuits against Beijing. It is also an important loss of face, which is central to the justification of the Chinese Communist Party’s continuing dictatorship.

Great powers are prone to ignore international law they dislike. In 1986 the Court issued a similar ruling against the United States for illegal mining Nicaraguan waters. Like China, the US similarly dismissed the ruling and continued its operations. But the episode emboldened Congress to cut funding to the Nicaraguan contras, a key tenant of Reagan’s foreign policy, as well providing a foundation for lesser, smaller states to voice their concerns. China will likely face such legal harassment in the years to come. The ‘rules of the road’ in the South China Sea will become a permanent nuisance for Chinese participants in international fora.

Shipping Threat

A permanent Chinese presence in the South China Sea is a growing issue for Japan and others whose shipping transits the area. In fact, geoeconomic leverage, not military engagement, has been China’s modus operandi for years. Beijing punished the Philippines in the past with trumped-up safety regulations over imported mangos, as it is threatening to do so again after the PCA ruling. State-run media ran anti-Japanese editorials that encouraged Chinese consumers to boycott all Japanese products (leading to protests and demonstrations that severely dampened trade for years between the two countries). Korean cell phones were banned completely in the so-called ‘garlic war’ in 2000.

Thus, simply the threat of disrupting trade flows in the South China Sea could have consequences. The South China Sea is arguably the most important trade route in Asia. Over $5 trillion of commercial goods pass through the area each year. Japan and Korea rely on energy imports from the Middle East. Indonesia and Australia send through millions of tons of coal, and Thailand and Vietnam send rice.

China can use this leverage. It could assign arbitrary passage or docking fees, expand its coast guard to ‘randomly inspect’ certain vessels, or temporarily detain Japanese shipping for ‘health inspections.’ It may well declare an air defense identification zone over the space. These transaction costs would reverberate down the supply chain. Suddenly coal shipments might take twice as long to reach South Korea, threatening electricity for millions. Insurance costs would rise as companies feared delay and disruption. All this would not require overt military action.

Japanese Naval Power Projection

Under the 1982 UN Convention of the Law of the Sea, states may claim an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)of up to 370 kilometers from its coast(s). States have full and exclusive rights to natural resources within their own EEZs, but must permit safe transit through these zones according to the convention. Many countries in the South China Sea have overlapping EEZs, and China has disregarded all of them.

Hence the debate in Japan over an expanded military role may be overtaken by events. The United States is unlikely to wage a major conflict against China solely for regional states’ shipping concerns. Yet without some kind of regional coalition, China is unlikely to stop building just because of the PCA ruling. Among Asia’s democracies, only Japan is economically large and modern enough to lead such a bloc of resistance. China will not stop for the PCA or the delicacies of Japan’s constitutional debate. This challenge to Japan is materializing now.

Filed under: China, Japan, Newsweek, South China Sea, Strategy

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


Dear Korea #148: Survivor's Guilt

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Whenever life in Korea gets difficult, I often remind myself of where I’m from and the things I survived. Sure, not being able to find clothes in my size or being teased by the locals isn’t exactly my idea of fun, but it certainly beats staring at an almost empty bank account while trying to decide between having food or putting gas in the car.

I consider myself lucky to have the opportunities I’ve been given here. I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t help but feel guilty that I got those chances and escaped a crappy situation while the people I care about back home are still struggling. Since I moved to Korea, people I love have lost their jobs, homes, spouses, children, and everything in between. The best I’ve been able to do is send back some cash to help, and it kills me that I can’t offer them the same options that I got due to a combination of luck and knowing the right people.

I can only hope that I will someday be successful enough to offer more than good vibes. It’s a goal I’ve always had, and it helps to remind myself of it from time to time.

Jen Lee's Dear Korea

This is Jen Lee. She likes to draw.
She also likes green tea.

Got any questions, comments, or maybe even some delicious cookies you want to send through the internet? Feel free to contact us at dearkoreacomic at gmail dot com.

You can also leave comments on the comic’s Facebook Page!


How to Say ‘Don’t Worry’ in Korean

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Is your Korean friend worried about something and you want to calm him/her down, but don’t know how?

Are you worried about something but you aren’t quite sure what the response your Korean friend is giving you means

Today you’ll learn how to say ‘don’t worry’ in Korean so you can at least have one less thing to worry about in your journey to mastering the Korean language!

*Can’t read Korean yet? Click here to learn for free in about 60 minutes!


‘Don’t Worry’ in Korean

Dont Worry in Korean

The verb for ‘to worry’ in Korean is 걱정하다 (geokjeonghada). Following this, you can express that you are worried either by saying 걱정해요 (geokjeonghaeyo) or 걱정하고 있어요 (geokjeonghago isseoyo). To change from this to ‘don’t worry’ or ‘not to worry’, the imperative conjugation –지마세요 (jimaseyo), meaning ‘to not do something’ or it’s less formal alternatives are used.


Formal ‘Don’t Worry’ in Korean

Formal Dont Worry in Korean

1. 걱정하지마세요 (geokjeonghajimaseyo)

2. 걱정하지마십시오 (geokjeonghajimashibshio)

3. 걱정마세요 (geokjeongmaseyo)

This form is used with elders, those with higher status, or complete strangers.


Standard ‘Don’t Worry’ in Korean

Standard Dont Worry in Korean

1. 걱정하지마요 (geokjeonghajimayo)

2. 걱정하지 말아요 (geokjeonghaji marayo)

3. 걱정마요 (geokjeongmayo)

You can use this form with those older than you or those you aren’t well-acquainted with yet.


Informal ‘Don’t Worry’ in Korean

1. 걱정마 (geokjeongma)

This is used with those younger to you or who have a close interpersonal relationship with you.


To best enhance your learning and memorization, below are some sample sentences through which you can see and remember how the word for ‘don’t worry’ is used in practice.


‘Don’t Worry’ Sample Sentences


걱정하지 말고 긍정적으로 생각을 해 봐요 (geokjeonghaji malgo geungjeongjeokeuro saengkakeul hae bwayo)

Don’t worry and try to think positively


Other Related Vocabulary

Besides the above mentioned ways to express this phrase, here is another way for how to say ‘don’t worry’ in Korean.


마음 쓰지 말아요 (maeum sseuji marayo)

Don’t worry about it/Don’t care about it/Don’t mind it


A Word of Caution About Romanization

Romanization of Korean words is a great way to get started with learning Korean. Romanized words are like training wheels, helping you to ride a bicycle. However, at some point, the training wheels don’t allow you to go full speed, and they end up hindering you. They will end up slowing you down and you’ll never learn how to properly ride the bike without them.

The same goes for Korean romanization! The faster you can take off your Korean language training wheels, the faster you will be cruising to Korean fluency. .

Learning Korean alphabet might seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually a very systematic and simple alphabet to grasp! Most people can learn to read Korean in about 60 – 90 minutes.


Now that you have been introduced to how to say ‘Don’t worry’ in Korean, you are well-prepared to calm your friends down in situations that might need it. Also, you now know what you’re friends are telling you when they are saying 걱정마요. What great friends you have!


*Want more Korean phrases? Go to our Korean Phrases Page for a complete list!

Learn to read Korean and be having simple conversations, taking taxis and ordering in Korean within a week with our FREE Hangeul Hacks series:

Korean lessons   *  Korean Phrases    *    Korean Vocabulary *   Learn Korean   *    Learn Korean alphabet   *   Learn Korean fast   *  Motivation    *   Study Korean  


Please share, help Korean spread! 



How to Say ‘Amazing’ in Korean

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Have you ever wanted to know how to say ‘amazing’ in Korean? It’s a unique and positive word that you can use in many different situations. There are various ways to say this, so we’ll explain how to do it!

*Can’t read Korean yet? Click here to learn for free in about 60 minutes!

‘Amazing’ in Korean

Amazing in Korean

There are several different words for how to say ‘Amazing’ in Korean. Not only that, but each of these words also share a lot of the same synonyms in English. Here is a list of words that mean ‘Amazing’ in Korean:

한국어 Romanization Meaning
신기하다 shinkihada amazing, wonderful, marvelous
놀랍다 nollabda amazing, surprising, astonishing, shocking, startling
경이롭다 gyeongirobda amazing, wonderful, marvelous, extraordinary, miraculous
굉장하다 gwengjanghada amazing, wonderful, great, marvelous, excellent


Notice, however, that all of these words introduced above are in their basic verb form. This means that in order to use them in a sentence, proper conjugations need to be added. Unlike with action verbs, descriptive verbs such as the ones mentioned above are often used to describe nouns. Here is how you can conjugate each word.

신기하다 → 신기한 (shinkihan)

놀랍다 → 놀라운 (nollaun)

경이롭다 → 경이로운 (gyeongiroun)

굉장하다 → 굉장한 (gwengjanhan)

To put it simply, with a descriptive verb that ends with –하다, you can just drop –다 and add –ㄴ to use it in a sentence. Meanwhile, those with the –ㅂ다 endings, need to have the –ㅂ다 part switched up to –운.

It is also possible to end a sentence by using these descriptive verbs. In this instance, with the –하다 ending descriptive verbs, you can use similar conjugations as with any –하다 action verbs out there. As for the case of 놀랍다, for example, it changes into 놀라워요 (nollaweoyo), with the –ㅂ having been dropped off again.


Sample Sentences

Let’s look at some sample sentences to better establish your understanding of how to say ‘Amazing’ in Korean. This should help you also in memorizing the words.


Standard ‘Amazing’ in Korean

Standard Amazing in Korean


그렇게 많은 언어를 배울 수 있으니 너무나 신기해요 (geureohke manheun eoneoreul baeul su isseuni neomuna shinkihaeyo)

It’s truly amazing how you could learn so many languages


Informal ‘Amazing’ in Korean

Informal Amazing in Korean


오늘은 엄청 굉장한 영화를 봤어 (oneureun eomcheong gwengjanghan yeonghwareul bwasseo)

I saw a terrifically amazing movie today


그 여자의 소식을 숨이 멎을 정도로 놀라웠어 (geu yeojae soshikeul sumi meojeul jeongdoro nollaweosseo)

That girl’s news were so amazing it took my breath away


너의 생각을 경이로운 생각이네 (neoe saengkakeul gyeongiroun saengkakine)

Your idea is amazing


Other ‘Amazing’ Related Vocabulary

The verb 대단하다 (daedanhada) also has a very similar meaning and connotation to the words mentioned above. However, while it can also be used to mean ‘Amazing’, it is most often used to describe something that’s incredible, great, or tremendous.


A Word of Caution About Romanization

While we always offer a romanization of the Korean words we teach, it’s best to actually learn the Korean alphabet, Hangul. It’s best to use that more than the romanization which tends to have some variations that can get you and others confused when used. Romanization is perhaps best left to assist in learning the pronunciation of the words.

Learning the Korean alphabet might seem like a scary idea, especially since it’s a completely new alphabet system. However, it’s actually a very systematic and simple alphabet to grasp! You can learn to master Hangul in less than two hours.


Today you have not only learned how to say ‘Amazing’ in Korean, but added several new words to your vocabulary! Isn’t that AMAZING?!

*Want more Korean phrases? Go to our Korean Phrases Page for a complete list!

Gukcheongsa Temple – 국청사 (Geumjeong-gu, Busan)

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The three tier pagoda at Gukcheongsa Temple in Geumjeong-gu, Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Gukcheongsa Temple is located on the southern portion of Mt. Geumjeongsan in Busan. Gukcheongsa Temple is also just south of the Geumjeongsan Fortress walls. Gukcheongsa Temple was first constructed by the famed monk Uisang-daesa (625-702) during the Silla Dynasty. The temple was also used as a strategic military command post for the Buddhist warrior monks against the invading Japanese during the Imjin War (1592-98). Later, in 1982, a three tier pagoda that sits out in front of the main temple grounds, and in a pond, was constructed to console the spirits of Buddhist monks that gave up their lives to defend Gukcheongsa Temple.

You approach Gukcheongsa Temple up one of the roads that connects it to the mountainside Sanseong community. The first thing to greet you is a stout two pillar Iljumun Gate that is colourfully painted. A little further up the temple road and to the right, you’ll notice the beautiful temple pond with the three tier pagoda in the centre of it. Surrounding the overgrown pond are various stone statues that include Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).

A little further along, and past the temple parking lot, are the main temple buildings at Gukcheongsa Temple. But before you enter the main temple courtyard, you’ll notice an old monks’ residence that is no longer used. Have a look at its unique stone exterior.

Finally facing the Daeung-jeon main hall at Gukcheongsa Temple, you’ll notice two buildings book-ending the main hall. These are the new monks’ dorms and the visitors’ centre. The exterior walls to this hall are adorned with masterful Ox-Herding murals, as well as the Bodhidharma and the myth behind the wooden moktak. As for inside the main hall, you’ll be greeted by a beautiful triad of statues that rest on the main altar. Sitting in the centre is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). To the left of the main altar triad is an older Shinjung Taenghwa guardian mural. And to the right is a newer mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal.

The only other shrine hall to visit at Gukcheongsa Temple is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall to the left rear of the Daeung-jeon Hall. The exterior walls are adorned with a majestic tiger mural, as well as a mural dedicated to the myth of the golden well on top of Mt. Geumjeongsan. As for inside this shaman shrine hall, there are three rather plain murals dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), Chilseong (The Seven Stars), and Dokseong (The Lonely Saint).

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Gukcheongsa Temple, you’ll first have to travel to Hwamyeong subway station on the second line (#235). From here, you’ll have to catch a Busan city bus from the Deokcheon Rotary. Take the Busan city bus identified as “Sanseong – 산성”. Ride this bus until you get to the centre of the mountain community of Sanseong, which will probably take 15 to 20 minutes. Nearing the outskirts of this community, get off near a large bathroom complex (yes, you heard me correctly). Facing this community bathroom, head in the direction that your back faces. You’ll see a small brown marker sign that directs you towards the northern gate (북문) of the Busan Mountain Fortress (Geumjeongsanseong). Follow this road for one kilometres. Along the way, you’ll come across Gukcheongsa Temple to your right. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see the sort of out of place Iljumun Gate for the temple.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10. Gukcheongsa Temple is beautifully located on the southern slopes of the towering Mt. Geumjeongsan. Adding to its natural beauty is the three tier pagoda that sits in the temple’s pond, as well as the triad of statues that sits on the main altar inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.


The entry stone at Gukcheongsa Temple.


The stout Iljumun Gate at the temple entrance.


The temple pond and the three tier pagoda that sits in its centre.


A better look at the overgrown pond and pagoda.


The stone statue that stands near the temple pagoda and pond.


The temple grounds at Gukcheongsa Temple as you first approach it.


The old monks’ dorms at the temple.


The Daeung-jeon main hall at Gukcheongsa Temple.


One of the ten Ox-Herding murals that adorns the main hall.


As well as this moktak mural.


And this Bodhidharma mural.


The elaborate main altar inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.


The older guardian mural that takes up residence to the left of the main altar.


And the Jijang-bosal mural to the right of the main altar.


The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall to the left rear of the main hall.


The relaxing tiger that adorns one of the exterior walls to the Samseong-gak.


As well as this winged golden fish that helps depict the golden well associated with Mt. Geumjeongsan.


The paintings inside the Samseong-gak.


And the view from the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

7 Spicy Korean Foods That Will Turn You Red

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Do you have a passion for a life full of spice? Do you love to take a walk on the wild side? If that sounds like you, then read on, because we’ve put together a list of our favorite spicy Korean foods that are NOT for the faint of heart!

If “too spicy” isn’t in your vocabulary and you’re not afraid of food that’ll make your eyes well up with tears, try the tasty dishes on this list. If you live to tell the tale, be sure to let us know which of these spicy Korean foods is your favorite in the comments below!


Spicy Korean Food #1: Chicken feet (닭발)

Spicy Korean Food 1 Chicken Feet

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Korea isn’t the only Asian country in which chicken feet is a popular dish, but they do take a unique approach to preparation that sets Korean chicken feet apart from other variations. This Korean dish is an intimidating dish for a couple of reasons – first of all, you have to get over the fact that you’re eating chicken feet (talons and all). After that initial shock, though, you also have to be willing to eat one of the spiciest Korean dishes out there – that’s what makes this dish one for the true food adventurists!

If you’re brave enough to try chicken feet, we commend you AND you’ll have bragging rights for the rest of your life. Give this a try the next time you’re out with somebody special you’d like to impress!


Spicy Korean Food #2: Spicy Jokbal (매운족발)

Spicy Korean Food 2 Spicy Jokbal

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Spicy Jokbal is the spicy version of jokbal, a popular snack in Seoul eateries. This dish features tender, steamed pork that melts in your mouth tossed in a super spicy sauce and topped with scallions and sesame seeds for added texture.

Not quite as intense as chicken feet, this is a dish for anyone who loves spice but doesn’t want to feel like they were punched in the face by the spice content of their meal. Give this a try the next time you’ve been out with friends enjoying some alcoholic beverages – for some reason, the spice pairs very well with sake!


Spicy Korean Food #3: Ramyeon (라면)

Spicy Korean Food 3 Ramyeon

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Oh, ramyeon. Ramyeon is a dish that all Koreans are VERY well acquainted with – it’s easy to make, can be dressed up with anything in your fridge, and is very inexpensive, which makes it the perfect “It’s only Wednesday and I don’t get paid until Friday” meal!

Although there are nine million ways to prepare and enjoy ramyeon, most Koreans like their ramyeon as spicy as possible. Something about the combination of the tender noodles and the intense spice of popular brands like Shin Ramyeon make this snack an easy one to love. Pick up some ramyeon the next time you want a low-maintenance meal that’ll still take your taste buds for a whirl – for extra spice, add some Korean hot sauce to make things really interesting!


Spicy Korean Food #4: Tteokbokki (떡볶이)

Spicy Korean Food 4 Tteokbokki

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Tteokbokki is a crowd favorite when it comes to Korean street food: featuring fish cakes and rice cakes covered in an aromatic sweet and spicy sauce, there’s a lot to love about this dish. It’s no surprise that it’s as popular as it is!

While most tteokbokki incorporates a sauce that has a good mix of spicy and sweet elements, some tteokbokki vendors crank up the heat and produce a snack that’s sure to make your eyes water. Tteokbokki can be found at restaurants and street food trucks alike, so it’s easy to find if you’re up to try this beloved Korean dish. Pick up some tteokbokki the next time you want a simple but filling snack and find out what all of the fuss is about! We promise you won’t be disappointed.


Spicy Korean Food #5: Buldak (불닭)

Spicy Korean Food 5 Buldak

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Buldak rose to fame about ten years ago as an extremely spicy dish that Korean eaters can’t seem to stay away from. Often served covered in melted cheese, buldak is a very seasoned chicken marinated in a fiery sauce that will make you feel like your stomach is on fire.

Buldak is usually served over rice cakes or steamed egg casserole to help counteract the spiciness, this dish is not for the faint of heart. Pick up some buldak if you’re a glutton for punishment and feel the burn!


Spicy Korean Food #6: Donkatsu (돈까스)

Spicy Korean Food 6 Donkatsu

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Your tongue has never experienced anything like the spice factor of donkatsu! This dish features an out-of-this-world spicy pork cutlet covered in dark red chili sauce that looks kind of like blood – talk about intimidating!

You can find a dish called ‘Donkatsu of Death’ at Onnuriye Donkatsu in Seoul, which is just as frighteningly spicy as it sounds. Don’t say we didn’t warn you, and make sure you bring a gallon of milk (or two) to help you cope with the spiciness. Let us know in the comments below if you were brave enough to try the Donkatsu of Death (and lived to tell the tale)!


Spicy Korean Food #7: Galbi Jjim (갈비찜)

Spicy Korean Food 7 Galbi Jjim

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Another extremely popular Korean dish, galbi jjim is a stew of braised short ribs that are served tender enough that they’ll fall apart in your mouth. Though there are savory and sweet elements incorporated to balance the dish out, galbi jjim is served spicy enough that a couple of bites are all you’ll need before you start feeling the heat. In fact, it’s so spicy that if you order this dish at a restaurant, your server will often recommend also ordering a steamed egg alongside the stew to counteract the heat!

This dish is a popular one to make at home on special occasions, so bust out your Korean recipe knowledge and make some galbi jjim the next time you’re headed to a party or holiday celebration. You’ll be sure to ‘wow’ the other guests!


Do you have a favorite spicy Korean food that isn’t on this list? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!

Learn Hangul (Part 9)

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Here's the ninth episode of the new "Learn Hangul" series - a series designed to help you learn the Korean alphabet from the very beginning to the end.

So far we've been introduced to the basics. We've covered all of the basic vowels and consonants, all 6 syllable blocks, and double consonants.

Today's episode will cover strong consonants.

Stay tuned for more! New episodes of this series will be posted once a month until it is finished.

The post Learn Hangul (Part 9) appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

 Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean





Top 20 Things You Must Do in Seoul!

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allowto_landscape_2039.jpgSince so many parts of Seoul are so appealing and you may be wondering about where to visit and what to do (especially if you’re only here for a few days), here are our recommendations for building your bucket list for Seoul.

From popular and hip places to hidden local spots, we hope you visit these must-go places and have unforgettable experiences make amazing new memories. Now let’s hit the road~~~~!

1. Feel the Sublime Korea Through a Palace Tour

Old palaces from the Josun dynasty display the traditional beauty of Korea, showing how long and preserved Korean history has been. (It spans almost 5,000 years!) There are 4 major palaces in Seoul – Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Deoksugung, and Changgyeonggung. Changdeokgung, in particular, has been designated as a World heritage site by UNESCO and is renowned for its beautiful garden. You can also rent Korean traditional clothes –Hanbok – near the old palaces. Why don’t you walk along the same path that ancient Koreans did by becoming a princess or a prince from the Josun dynasty? Check out this link if you’d like to visit these old palaces? Or perhaps you’d like to rent a Hanbok남산

2. Romantic Night View From Namsan Mountain

Namsan Mountain, especially the N Seoul Tower on the top of the mountain, is a highly recommended spot for foreigners. You can see an overview of Seoul from all angles at the towel’s observatory. The night view of Seoul from N Seoul Tower is romantically beautiful. For example, there are the bridges over the black Han River at night that shine like diamond bracelets. The tower is a spot you can’t leave out if you’re a couple, as you can install a lock amongst the existing thousands, in hopes of having an eternal love. 노량진

3. Try Fresh Raw Fish in Noryangjin Fish Market 

If you want to see the liveliness of the local people in Seoul, Noryangjin fish market will show more than what you can imagine. You will  be surprised to see so many fish and other marine creatures gathered in one place. Owners in the Noryangjin fish market will try to attract you to their area by showing how fresh their fish are. You can even see the owners filleting the fish you choose and if you’re lucky, you may be given an extra fish or seafood as a token of their kindness.Check out our insider’s guide to the market here for more information. 홍대

4. Burn, Baby, Burn – Clubbing

Seoul is a city that never sleeps because young people usually dance the night away in a club or drink during the night. Hongdae is a popular area of choice for young clubbers, ie college students. Club NB2Cocoon, and Vera are some of the most well-known ones. Click here for a full list of clubs in Hongdae.

There are also many 24 hour cafes open in Hongdae for clubbers who want to take a rest. Gangnam is another hot place for clubbing. As there are a lot of companies’ offices in Gangnam area, usually people over 25 go clubbing after work. Club Octagon is one of the best clubs around, located in Gangnam and ranked 6th in the world. Check out our picks on the best clubs in Seoul here청계천

5. Cool Off in Cheonggyecheon!

Cheonggyecheon is a stream going through the northern part of Seoul. There used to be many stores along the stream, but it was restored in 2005 by Seoul City Hall. After the restoration project, Cheonggyecheon and the surrounding area became cleaner and more organized. You can even see fish swimming in the water. Many people have visited Cheonggyecheon during the summer, and sometimes people put their feet in the water.민속촌

6. A Blast To the Past: Korean Folk Village

You can experience how people from the past lived by visiting a Korean folk village. Real traditional houses are built and actors are hired to play the roles of people from the past to liven the experience. Instead of just seeing the ancient artifacts in museums, you can be a part of the lives of the commoners from the past. Visit now! 명동

7. Be a Shopaholic!

Shopping is something you must not miss while you are in Korea. There are numerous places to shop in Seoul from underground shopping complexes in subway stations to elegant shops in department stores. Myeong-dong is one of the most popular shopping areas as almost all of the famous brands in Korea are placed there, making shopping very convenient.Check out this post showing the must go places in Myeong-dong as well as discount coupons you can use.

Dongdaemun is famous for reasonably priced items and has several shopping complexes built in the area, providing young and casual style clothes for young people and tourists. Garosugil has risen as a trendy shopping area filled with small boutique shops full of unique styles. Here’s a list of places to go for a cheap shopping spree in Seoul.

8. Enjoy Exotic Cuisines in Itaewon

Itaewon is the most international place in Seoul where people of all cultures and countries gather. It is like a small village of the world. There are many restaurants specializing in authentic traditional dishes of various countries. Zelen is a Bulgarian restaurant run by chef Mihal Spasov Ashminov, who rose to popularity after appearing in Korean cooking TV show “Take Care of My Refrigerator”. Check out this list of our top favorite spots in Itaewon as well as discount coupons you can use here. Follow this link for a whole list of posts on places to dine in Itaewon as well! 

9. Head To Insadong For the Best Souvenirs

Good souvenirs show you to be a thoughtful and caring person to others around you. Insadong is a street filled with shops selling Korean traditional items perfect as souvenirs. From small items like a key chain to big ones like a piece of furniture, you can purchase almost anything. If something you want to buy is too expensive, don’t fret as it’s likely to be sold in another store for much cheaper. Besides shopping, there are many good museums and galleries to look around in. Check out this list of traditional restaurants in the area as well as discount coupons you can use. 광장시장

10. Irresistible Yummy Street Foods

You can easily find vendors selling street food in Korea. Korean street food has its own charm that can’t be replaced by meals from a restaurant. We bet that street vendors selling local street foods will draw you to their food with its mouthwatering smell and look. Gwangjang market is a famous place where you can enjoy classic local foods like mungbean pancake and sliced raw beef sashimi. Noryangjin is a great place where you can have a tasty meal for a cheap price with most dishes costing around 5,000 won or below. Street foods in Hongdae are trendy and experimental like their fashion style. Check out these posts on the best street foods from Jeonju Hanok Village and Myeong-dong. You also don’t want to miss the Seoul street food tour!

11. Sweat It Out at a Jjimjilbang

A Jjimjilbang is a Korean sauna where you can go into rooms with high temperature and emit any impurities and detox your skin by sweating. There are many types of rooms: Red clay room, Ice room, Crystal room and so on. However, before you enter , you are required to use a public bath in full nudity. But don’t worry! Public baths are very common in Korea and people couldn’t care less about how each other’s bodies look. Dragon Hill Spa is the most famous Jjimjilbang in Korea.Click here for an in-depth post about it and make sure you grab this discount ticket if you’re interested in going! We also have a list of the best saunas and spas in Seoul here북한산

12. Workout During traveling – Climbing Bukhansan National Park 

You may think that Seoul is just a city that is high tech. Well, you’re half right. Seoul is also an eco-friendly city surrounded by mountains where you can enjoy nature. One good way to experience this is by hiking along Bukhansan National Park, located in the northern part of Seoul. There are several courses to be hiking across, but most usually take about 4~5 hours to complete. If you get tired while climbing the mountain, try visiting the Buddhism temples built on the mountain. Unlike temples in the middle of the city, the temples isolated on the mountain are much more peaceful and reflective.DMZ

13. Experience North Korea Through a DMZ Tour

Korea has been divided into South and North Korea since the Korean civil war in the 1950s. At the border between South and North Korea, the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was set to prevent any invasion and is currently controlled by dispatched UN soldiers. With your ID, you can have a tour in DMZ guided by the soldiers. You can go to the Dora observatory to see North Korean villages, the third tunnel built by North Korean soldiers, and the joint security area Panmunjom. There are two types of tours available – the DMZ tour and the DMZ + JSA tour. Check out this post on the 13 things you need to know before visiting the DMZ before you go. 

14. Do You Enjoy Going On Rides At Amusement Parks?

There are 3 big amusement parks in or near Seoul – Lotte World, Everland, and Seoul LandLotte World has many thrilling rides and most of its visitors are of a young demographic. Everland has many rides just like Lotte World, but there is also a zoo, botanical garden, and place for glamping (a word combining glamorous and camping). Seoul Land has many exciting yet less thrilling rides, targeting families with children. Along with rides and additional attractions, various festivals are being held with numerous events in these amusement parks. Would you like to visit Everland? Check out these awesome deals on discount tickets to Everland (afternoon + night package, 1-day pass, half price group discount, ticket + shuttle bus ticket and discount ticket + private van transfer package) , Lotte World (ticket discount and 1-day pass + aquarium combo discount) and Seoul Land시청 스케이트

15. Be Yuna Kim in City hall’s Ice Rink!

When winter comes, Seoul city hall opens an ice skating rink in front of the Seoul Plaza for Seoul citizens. Usually, it opens from 10 AM to 10PM and the entrance fee is 1,000 won per hour including rental for ice skates. Next to the rink, various booths are installed to offer additional entertainments for the visitors.

여의도 벚꽃

16. Imagine the Sky Covered with Cherry Blossom Flowers in Yeouido

Spring is a romantic season, but what makes it more romantic is walking under cherry blossom trees. Yeouido has a road where a row of cherry blossom trees stands, with millions of people visiting during the Yeouido Cherry Blossom Flower Festival in April. We recommend you to visit at night as there will be fewer people and the cherry blossom flowers gleam dreamily under the street lights. For a full list of cherry blossom festivals in Korea, check out this post한강치맥

17. Small Picnic at Han River

The Han River is the perfect place to chill out during the summer. You can enjoy a nice little vacation in Seoul by feeling the cool breeze. Delivery foods are another attractive point of this venue with the menu of choice by most people being chicken with beer! You simply call any restaurant, order your food, tell them where you’re sitting and your food will be delivered right to you! You can sit on a picnic mat, eat, take pictures, ride an electric scooter or just nap.

However, beware of mosquitoes. Pack some bug bite ointment or mosquito repellent and reapply regularly throughout the day. There are lots of fun activities to enjoy such as wakeboarding and waterskiing, a ferry cruise, buffet cruise, tubester boat ride, or duck boat ride. Check out this post for a full list of things to do at the Han! 템플스테이

18. Cleanse Your Body and Mind With a Temple Stay

Want to wind down and enjoy some healing time? You don’t need to go out of Seoul to find your inner peace. You can join a temple stay operating in Seoul. Forget all the complicated and loud things surrounding you and relax and focus on yourself. In temples such as Gilsangsa, Hwagyesa, and Bongeunsa, you will learn basic temple manners and the way of life harmonized with nature through the guide of monks.Check out this page for a list of places you can have a temple stay experience! 케이팝

19. Explore the Hometown of K-pop

Seoul would be a fascinating city  to K-pop lovers. If you wait in front of the buildings of big entertainment companies like YG, SM and JYP, you may see your beloved stars commuting. This list tells you all of the locations of the major K-pop companies. You can even visit performance halls like Klive or SM artium where you can see K-pop hologram concerts like this one anytime.

A lot of K-pop concerts are also held in big stadiums in Seoul, giving you opportunities to participate in Koreans’ famous crowd sing-along. There are several lessons teaching you how to sing and dance like K-pop stars as well, like this one. Finally, your trip wouldn’t be complete without picking up some k-pop merchandise, so check out these stores to load up on some goods! 24시간

20. Enjoy Seoul Life For 24 Hours

As Koreans love to play even at night, many shops and facilities are open for 24 hours. Usually, in crowded areas like Hongdae and Gangnam, cafes are open for 24 hours to give clubbers a place to rest. Buses that start with the alphabet ‘N’ are night buses that run during the night, providing convenience to Seoul citizens. If you’re hungry at around 1 or 2 am, run to any convenient store to pick up a bite to eat. Click here to check out our list of must try convenience store foods and if you’re in Hongdae, try a slice of the famous Monster Pizza to fill your stomach after a night out. button_main 2
a service for travelers to easily share and discover the latest hip & hot travel spots from all over the world. 
We are currently focusing on Korea as our destination and plan to expand to other countries gradually. 

Registration for August 27th Meeting Open!!!

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Get ready Mamas & Papas, we are going old school comfort for our meeting this Saturday!  The last few meetings have been some incredible fine dining experiences, but we decided to switch it up a little and check out a little gem in the Sillim area.

better sootdae interior

Whilst there are no shortage of rough and ready makgeolli bars around Seoul, it can be a tough ask to find one with great atmosphere AND great makgeolli.

sootdae kettle

Well, fear not we have done the legwork and have found this rare combination.  Whilst we have never been to this place before, the MMPK team has actually studied brewing with the owner, so we know we will be in good company!

sootdae food

The location features some classic Korean style dishes in the old tavern style, and has been around since 1989 (no small feat for bars in Seoul!).  So if you would like to join us, send an email to


Makgeolli Mamas & Papas

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