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Guilty Pleasure: Authentic Southern-Style Comfort Food in Itaewon

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Something about the cold weather really puts a damper on my mood. So, what do I do when I've got the winter blues? I eat! And while I've managed to find comfort in certain Korean foods over the years, nothing really puts a smile on my face like the fatty goodness that is Southern food. Fortunately enough for me, there's been a renaissance of Seoul's international food scene over the past year, with a growing focus on Southern-style barbecue and comfort food. Yet, no one seems to have hit the nail on the head quite as well as Guilty Pleasure.

Obscurely tucked away on a side alley in Itaewon, Guilty Pleasure exudes the ambiance of a hip city hangout, with its sleek, backlit bar, fanciful lighting fixtures and neon wall hangings. Yet, nothing about it feels pretentious. Which is fitting, seeing that its menu places an emphasis on comfort food.

Although I had heard rave reviews about Guilty Pleasure's weekend brunch, I wanted to check out its weekday dinner menu, which looked as equally as impressive.

My friend and I started with the Spinach Dip (₩9,000) and the Mac and Cheese (₩10,000). The almost curry-like dip was nice and smooth and tasted good on the accompanying baguette slices. Usually, I prefer my spinach dip to be a bit on the cheesier side, but considering the dishes that followed, it was probably a good thing it wasn't so rich.

The chef (who hails from New Jersey), killed it with the mac and cheese, which incorporated a cauliflower base, bacon lardons, chunks of tender pulled pork smoked in-house, truffle oil and fantastically gooey cheddar cheese. The top was browned and crispy, just as the dish should be. I was already feeling full and the mains hadn't even come out yet.

Next up was the Cuban Sandwich (₩15,000), one of a few sandwiches on the restaurant's varied menu. In addition to the classic ingredients of ham, pulled pork, Swiss cheese and pickles, homemade duck prosciutto is added to give the sandwich a unique taste. The duck was fairly poignant but tied the sandwich together nicely. The pressed Italian roll was also great. Although it wasn't the best Cuban I've ever had, it's definitely one of the best in Seoul.

The star of the meal was the Buttermilk Fried Chicken (₩17,000). Marinated in Guilty Pleasure's homemade buttermilk for three days, and then deep fried, succulent chunks of chicken are served over creamy sausage gravy alongside two buttermilk biscuits. The dish was wonderfully rich and the nice combination of textures, flavors and spices paired perfectly. I couldn't get enough of the crunchy and crispy batter shell. The biscuits were the real deal, bringing me back to the Saturday mornings of my childhood.

The bar has a great selection of beverages, and we settled on a hoppy Lost Coast IPA (beers start at ₩7,000) and a Fresh Limeade (₩7,000), which I'll definitely be going back for in the summer. Crisp, tangy and refreshing, it makes for a great thirst quencher.

To finish off the meal, we had the Beignets (₩5,000), an item that instantly made me ecstatic the moment I saw it on the menu. I doubted they could live up to those at Café du Monde in New Orleans, and while they were a bit different, they definitely exceeded my expectations. The sugary fried donuts were served a top of a warm blueberry sauce, making it cobbler-like, a great way to end an indulgent dinner.

I know I probably shouldn't visit Guilty Pleasure very often, especially if I plan on donning a bathing suit this summer, but I have a feeling I will be back fairly often. The ambiance, authentic dishes and value for money make Guilty Pleasure a must-visit for anyone craving tasty comfort food.

More Information: Guilty Pleasure

Address: 1F, 2-10 Itaewon-ro 20-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul / 서울특별시 용산구 이태원로20길 2-10

Phone: 02-794-4332

Hours: Tues - Thurs 6pm-12am; Fri 6pm-1am; Sat 12-3:30pm & 6pm-1am; Sun 12pm-3:30pm & 6pm-12am

Facebook: Click Here

Get There: From exit 4 of Itaewon Station (Seoul Subway Line 6), walk straight until you reach Dillingers. Go down the adjacent stairs. At the bottom, turn right and walk straight for about one minute until you see the Guilty Pleasure sign on the right hand side. Walk up to the top of the stairs and go in the building on the left; the restaurant is on the 1st floor.

Although this post is partially sponsored by Guilty Pleasure, the opinions are, of course, my own. 

Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.

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A Lunar New Year’s Feast for the Homeless in Busan

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Back home in Florida I would often volunteer at homeless outreaches that my church supported. There was a large one in Ft. Lauderdale that was jointly supported by the city and our church. Reaching out to those in need or even homeless is a rewarding and humbling experience. It helped me to reflect on the issues in my life and immediately see them in a different light. I think King Solomon put it best when he said,

I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless (vanity), a chasing after the wind. (Ecclesiastes 1:14)

20150219_121154When I came to Korea I knew that being involved in a ministry like this would be helpful for me in planting my feet and keeping me sane during the readjustment phase of being in another country.

I actually teamed up with a family from America and headed aimlessly into Busan streets looking for homeless people. It was a completely random effort as we had no familiarity with Busan and also no idea where to find the homeless. Common sense told us that a good place to start would be near bus or train stations and lower income districts. We were right and we eventually stumbled upon some folks sleeping out near Busan Station that told us of a large soup kitchen a couple subway stops down from us.

20150219_121342They were right in directing us to this facility as there were hundreds of people lining up to hear the Word and have their stomachs filled at this location. At Busanjin Station is a complex that is funded and supported by local churches and City Hall that provides multiple meals throughout the week, each week, all year for the thousands in need in Busan.

Ever since those days I’ve attended periodically to lend a hand with handing out food and even speaking at times (with a translator).  It’s a great and blessed place. Even though we may not speak the language, just being there is a welcome gesture to the team as well as the people coming to dine.

20150219_122405It’s Lunar New Year in this part of the world and it’s a big holiday. Everything is shut down here in Busan at least for the first part of the day in celebration of the new year. At this soup kitchen was also a special effort. The meals served were great, and there were 7 served in total in recognition of the new year.

20150219_121109I attended this time, lent a hand, and went away feeling blessed as usual. With a slight re-calibration of my mind and heart that the things I stress over are generally a figment of my imagination.

And temporary.






The post A Lunar New Year’s Feast for the Homeless in Busan appeared first on .

the Red Dragon Diaries

ESL, Travel, and Judo!

Korean Love Phrases For Dating & Romance

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


Hey there lovebirds!

After seeing our Korean phrase list, many people have been asking for Korean love phrases that they can use when dating Koreans. Here is a list to cover what you need!

The Korean love phrases below can be used for many romantic situations, such as:

  • Blind dates
  • First dates
  • Couples
  • Fiancees
  • Spouses
Korean First Date

This date is going G-R-E-A-T thanks to Korean love phrases!

In addition to phrases, we’ve also added in plenty of romantic Korean words for you.

These are all updated for 2015, so you can feel confident that you’re using the same words that Korean couples use these days.

1. Two Rules for Korean Love Phrases

i. Only “You”

You’ll notice that in many of the Korean love phrases below, there is often no specific word for “you”. That’s because it’s not used often in the Korean language.

Koreans will use the other person’s name, the other person’s, or omit the pronoun “you” all together.

You may see some phrasebooks that use the term “당신” to explicitly say “you”. That’s ok. However, the problem is that Koreans don’t use this term very often, so it sounds a bit strange. It’s very formal to be using it with Korean love phrases. 

Also, it’s a bit of an outdated term that means “honey”, so it can be confusing!

In the expressions below, you usually don’t need the “you” if it’s clear who the recipient is. If it’s unclear, then you can use add their name or title from part (ii) below.

ii. The Korean Name Game

Koreans use a hierarchical system for referring to each other. It’s embedded in the language in a number of ways, and they consider it an important way of showing respect.

Simply put, Koreans will talk differently to one another depending on the age difference between them and the other people they speak with.

If you are in a relationship with someone older than you, it’s respectful to use the correct title (“오빠” or “누나”). If your significant other is the same age or younger, you may be able to use that person’s name. It depends on your level of closeness.

Here are the rules for using names and titles:

For females:

  • To older men: “오빠” 
    • Example: “사랑해요” —> “오빠 사랑해요”
  • To younger men: His name
    • Example: “사랑해요” —> “민석 사랑해요”

For males:

  • To older women: “누나”
    • Example: “사랑해요” —> “누나 사랑해요”
  • To younger women: Her name
    • Example: “사랑해요” —> “지나 사랑해요”

The rules above will help you correctly use the phrases below. Get practicing so you can shower your significant other with kind words and affection!

Korean Affectionate Names for Dating

He loves being called “오빠”!

2. Meeting & Dating Korean Phrases

Maybe you’ve got a first date planned. Or perhaps you’ve been meeting this special some for a few weeks?

Use these phrases to get the ball rolling. They will help you plan the date, all the way up to becoming a couple!

English 한국어 (Korean)
What is your phone number? 핸드폰 번호가 뭐예요?
Let’s talk on KakaoTalk 우리 카카오톡 해요
Do you have time this weekend? 주말에 시간 있어요?
Are you available ________? ________에 시간 있어요?
I’m busy on________ ________에 바빠요
Shall I set you up on a blind date? 소개팅 해줄까요?
Shall we go on a date together? 우리 데이트 할까요?
Shall we get dinner together sometime? 언제 우리 같이 저녁 먹을까요?
Shall we go for a short walk? 잠깐 산책할까요?
That was a great evening 즐거운 저녁이었어요
When shall we meet again? 언제 다시 볼까요?
Will you be my boyfriend/girlfriend? 우리 사귈래요?

3. Kind & Caring Korean Compliments

These expressions will help you express your admiration for your date or significant other. He or she will appreciate your sincerity and kindness!

English 한국어 (Korean)
You are handsome! 잘 생겼어요!
You are charming! 매력적이네요!
You are pretty! 예쁘네요!
You are so cute! 너무 귀여워요!
You are incredible 대단해요!
You look great! 멋지네요!
You are so sweet! 정말 친절하네요!
You make a good first impression! 첫 인상이 좋네요!
You are the man of my dreams 내가 꿈꾸던 남자예요
You are the woman of my dreams 내가 꿈꾸던 여자예요

4. Affectionate Korean Love Phrases

As you get further along with your Korean relationship, you’ll want to explain your feelings. Use the phrases to show your affection.

English 한국어 (Korean)
I miss you 보고 싶어요
I like you 좋아해요
I like you a lot 많이 좋아해요
I want to see you 보고 싶어요
I love you 사랑해요
I love you a lot 많이 사랑해요
I love you too 나도 사랑해요
Give me a hug! 안아 주세요!
I want to hug you 안아주고 싶어요
I will give you a hug 안아줄게요
I want to kiss you 뽀뽀하고 싶어요
Kiss me please 뽀뽀해 주세요
I want to be with you 같이 있고 싶어요
I miss your smile 미소가 정말 그리워요
I would like to spend more time with you <이름>랑 더 오래 같이 있고 싶어요

5. Heart-to-Heart Korean Expressions

As your feelings become stronger, you’ll need the words to communicate those emotions onto your partner. These expressions should help you accomplish just that!

English 한국어 (Korean)
It was love at first sight 첫눈에 반했어요
I’m touched 감동 받았어요
I love you with all my heart 진심으로 사랑해요
I love you more than you know 생각하고 있는 것 이상으로 사랑합니다
I love you more than words can express 말로 표현할 수 없을 만큼 사랑해요
I love you more and more everyday 시간이 지날수록 더 사랑해요
You don’t know how much I love you 내가 얼마나 사랑하는지 모를 것 같아요
I’m crazy about you 너에게 반했어요
I’m yours 나는 니꺼야
We’re a match made in heaven 우리는 천생연분이예요
Let’s get married 나하고 결혼 해주세요

6. Korean Love Words

Here’s a list of common words that you’ll hear in Korean dating, from cute names to serious lifelong commitments.

English 한국어 (Korean)
baby 자기
honey 여보
secret crush 짝사랑
couple 커플
date 데이트
boyfriend 남친
girlfriend 여친
kiss (quick peck) 뽀뽀
kiss 키스
blind date 소개팅
blind date for marriage 맞선
group date 미팅
lover 연인
love 사랑
boyfriend or girlfriend 애인
engagement 약혼
remarriage 재혼

7. Korean Words to Avoid

Some words will brighten your day, and some are bad news. Here are the Korean words that you’ll be better off avoiding.

English 한국어 (Korean)
player 바람둥이
cheat on 바람 피우다
flirt 작업
hit on 헌팅
divorce 이혼
broken heart 실연

8. Korean Fight & Breakup Phrases

In relationships, you have to take the good with the bad. If it wasn’t meant to be, then these Korean breakup phrases will help you make a clean break and move on.

English 한국어 (Korean)
I’m not interested 관심 없어요
Leave me alone 나를 혼자 있게 해주세요
You are not my type 내 스타일 아니에요
Go away! 그냥 가 주세요!
Please stop nagging me! 바가지 좀 긁지 마!
Our relationship was doomed from the start 우리 관계는 처음부터 문제가 있었어요
Let’s break up 이제 해어져요
Want more Korean phrases? Go here for the complete list of “Korean Phrases You Can’t Live Without”!

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! 
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Part-Time/Hourly Negotiable April 2015

Insignia is currently accepting resumes for Employment Workshop Facilitators in Korea.  As an Employment Workshop Facilitator with Insignia you will conduct workshops for separating and retiring US military personnel and their spouses on an as needed basis.  The number of workshops scheduled is determined based upon the need of the site; this typically equates to one workshop per month but may vary.

Workshops curriculum is focused on areas including but not limited to: Career Decision Making, Identifying Job Goals, Translating Military to Civilian, Marketing Transferrable Skills, Techniques for Job Searching, Resume Preparation and Interviewing Skills


As an Employment Workshop Facilitator you will be responsible for delivering the company provided 3-Day Employment Workshop Curriculum to separating and retiring service members and spouses in a face-to-face setting.


  • Successfully provide a virtual training demonstration on related material as part of the interview process
  • Possess comprehensive knowledge or experience in relation to:
    • US military/US military clients
    • US labor market and the Employment practices of both public and private sector employers
    • Career Counseling
    • Human Resources
  • Apply their own personal style to the delivery of the requisite curriculum
  • Be self-motivated, efficiently manage time, and provide a comfortable environment conducive to learning
  • Respectfully maintain control of the room and effectively handle distractions and/or interruptions
  • Complete and submit minimal but required reports and paperwork on time
  • Have a Military ID or other document allowing them easy access to military bases and buildings
  • Be open/flexible to travel to other military installations


  • Associate degree or 3+ years training experience
  • Must be eligible to work in the United States
  • Must have Internet accessible personal computer
  • Must have easy access to scanner/fax machine when needed
  • Must be able to access bases

If you are interested in applying for this position, please email your cover letter, resume, and salary requirements to:, Attn: EW Facilitator – Korea

IKEA in Seoul

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Happy Lunar Year to all my friends in the blogworld! Welcome to the year of the Sheep :)

It is a time of the year when Seoul is empty as this is a time when Seoulites visit their family back in their hometowns. So, we took this opportunity to visit the massive IKEA Furniture store that has opened on the outskirts of Seoul. It took 2 subway transfers and one taxi ride to reach that place.  

IKEA in Seoul
IKEA, close to Seoul

IKEA has been so crowded ever since it was opened in Korea few months back. That is why we took this opportunity to go there on a less crowded day.
2nd biggest IKEA
This supposed to be the 2nd biggest IKEA store in the world. Believe me, it was massive. We just skimmed over the store. The chocolates were the reason we went there in the first place :)

pretty pieces in IKEA
pretty pieces in IKEA
 The store was not so crowded as it was a few months ago, it was still filled with shoppers doing their holiday gift shopping.

IKEA Seoul
As usual, the furniture there were stylish, cheap and colorful

Thankfully, it was not too crowded on this day!

IKEA Seoul
Beautifully packaged furniture.
 Not wanting to do 2 transfers back home, we decided to take the KTX back. The KTX station is so close to the IKEA, only 10minutes by walk.
KTX station close to IKEA
The KTX station.

The long walk through the station

I slipped on the station while climbing down the stairs and ended up having a sprain and out of commission for 2 days atleast :(

F for Furniture and Sprained Foot  for ABC Wednesday

How to Learn the Korean Alphabet

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Korean culture is on the rise: worldwide music and pop culture success, rapid economic growth and some of the world’s biggest and most relevant companies have put Korea on the map in a big way!

As the world becomes more connected to Korea through pop culture and the economy, the Korean language will become increasingly important.

And the best way to start learning Korean is to learn to read Hangeul, the Korean alphabet.

That’s where this post comes in. It teaches you how to read the Korean alphabet!

Did you know that there are fewer Korean characters than there are letters in the English alphabet?

Korean has 14 vowels and 10 consonants.

Unlike Japanese or Chinese, which have thousands of characters and each can have 10, 15 or more strokes, the most complex Korean character has only five strokes.

On top of this, Korean has a grammar structure that can be mastered by understanding some basic rules.

This makes Korean a great language for rapid learning, and it all starts with knowing the Korean alphabet – the basic building blocks of the language.

This post makes use of psychological techniques which are designed for more rapid encoding and memorization of the characters.

It covers the how, what and why of the Korean alphabet, and it is the only guide of its kind.

This is Korean, broken down and simplified. This is language learning for the everyday language learner.

Let’s get started.

Go through at a brisk pace, but ensure proper encoding and memorization along the way. This post is actually a snippet of a full “cheat sheet” guide we have created called the 90 Minute Challenge.korean alphabet stopwatch

At the end of the entire challenge, the ultimate test is being able to read nine words in Korean. If you like this preview, you can sign up to get the full challenge for free.

Are you ready to get started? Let’s do this thing!


The Korean Consonants

The Korean language has both consonants and vowels just like English.

Let’s learn the consonants to start.

First, let’s take a look at the English alphabet. Instead of looking at the actual letters, let’s just look at the sounds they make.

In doing so, we can find the closest equivalents in Korean so that we can start to make associations.

In Korean, there are no F, R, V, or Z sounds, so let’s take them out.

korean alphabet in english

The rest of the sounds exist in the Korean language; however, the Q, W, X and Y sounds:

a) Can only be made by combining two or more sounds (ie., X = K+ S),


b) Cannot be made without adding a vowel sound after (ie., “ya” or “yo”)

So let’s take these letters out too.

how to learn the korean alphabet

Finally, let’s remove the English vowels, since we are first focusing on the consonant sounds.

How many are left in red?


But we can group C and K together, since in English, they make the same sound.

how to learn korean alphabet

This leaves a total of 12.

Let’s take a look at those 12 first. Since we’re learning a new language and have never seen these shapes before, it will be very difficult for us just to memorize them. Therefore, we need to ‘link’ them to something already in our minds in order to create an association.

Let’s do this using a visual learning technique to associate the new characters with pictures and sounds we already know.

The first letter of the English word in the picture has the same sound as the Korean character.

This will help to start to create the associations.

The character ㅂ, which has a sound similar to B in English, looks like a bed with a post at either end.

Make this association in your mind. Write it down and commit it to memory.

Korean alphabet b sound

Likewise, the character ㄷ could be seem as a doorframe or the panels on a door. Correspondingly, this character makes the sound D.

The Korean character ㄱ has the appearance of a gun and sounds similar to an English G. The same goes for ㅎ(H), which looks like a man with a hat, and ㅈ (J) which could be seen as a jug with a spout at the top.

Try creating these associations now.

Korean alphabet h j sounds

Next is the character ㄹ, which has 5 strokes and could be compared to the rungs of a ladder. Its sound is most similar to an English L and can be made the same way by pressing down with your tongue.

korean alphabet l sound

Finally, there are the characters ㅁ, ㄴ, and ㅅ, which have the sounds M, N and S respectively.

The ㅁ is a sqaure box like a message on a phone or a piece of mail.

The ㄴ points up and to the right like a  compass pointing to the north (and the east at the same time).

The ㅅ is like a seashell or clam, having only two strokes which slightly overlap.

korean alphabet m n s sounds

The Aspirated Consonants

Now, let’s take a look at four of the sounds we just learned.

B, D, G and J.

Make each of these sounds now. “B”. “D”. “G”. “J”.

What if we made them stronger, aspirating as we spoke them? What sound would we then make?

For B, a more aspirated sound forcing out more air would make P sound. How about D? It would result in a T sound. “T”. Try it now.

And G? A “K” sound, like a C or K. In English, these two sounds are very similar. Try saying “I’ve got a cot” five times.

The C is really just an aspirated G.

Finally, if you aspirated a J, it would result in a “ch” sound. Try saying “cheap Jeep” several times and you’ll notice how similar the sounds are.

Let’s match up the non-aspirated English sounds with their aspirated sound pairings.

See how similar these sounds really are?

korean alphabet aspirated consonantsWhen we do the same in Korean, we’ll see some visual similarities in the characters, which can help greatly for memorization.

korean alphabet aspirated consonants


It’s almost as if all we did was add a small line to each consonant to create the aspirated equivalent.

The next four Korean characters are called the aspirated consonants, and are similar in sound to their non-aspirated counterparts.

Let’s make a visual association as well to really drill them in.

The ㅋ (K) could be compared to a key, while the ㅌ, which has a “T” sound, could be associated with teeth (like the ones in your mouth or the teeth of a fork).

korean alphabet k sound

korean alphabet t sound





Remember math class? I hope so!


What’s that number? Pi! And the Korean character with a similar sound to P looks very similar to the symbol for pi. That makes it easy to remember.

korean alphabet p soundSo there we have it. That’s how you learn the Korean alphabet!

how to learn korean alphabet

But we said there were a total of 14 consonants in Korean, so what are the last two?

One of them is special, because it doesn’t have a direct equivalent to an English letter. Instead, it represents a sound in English.

ㅊ, the character representing the “ch” sound in English (“choose”), looks like a church with a steeple at the top. We can associate it this way, or remember it as an aspirated J (ㅈ) and add an extra line.

korean alphabet ch sound


The Remainder

You’re already more than halfway toward learning the characters! We wanted to make things super easy for you to print out and study so we’ve created an easy download for you to continue the 90 Minute Challenge toward learning how to read in Korean!

By finishing the Challenge, you’ll be able to read 9 words in Korean within the next 45 minutes, plus you’ll learn an easy technique to learn the rest of the vowels!

To get your 90 Minute Challenge “cheat sheet,” head on over to the sign-up page and we’ll email it over to you ASAP!

Click here to download the 90 Minute Challenge

That’s all there is to it! We wish you the best of luck in the Challenge, and don’t forget to post your time for a chance to win a scholarship to our paid program!

What do you find most challenging about learning the Korean alphabet? Let us know in the comments below! 


Best Korean BBQ (Samgyeopsal) in Seoul

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I discovered this restaurant 4 years ago when I was out in the rain one day at Hapjeong Station and I saw some locals queuing on a street corner despite the weather. In other words, this place is pretty popular, so turn up early or prepare to wait!

Kimchi Fresh Samgyeopsal restaurant at Hapjeong station.

The speciality here is the samgyeopsal (BBQ pork) cooked with generous helpings of kimchi. There’s also “moksal” which is a different cut of pork. Don’t forget to try their mushrooms and also the steamed egg soup, which is a fantastic way to wash down all the meaty stuff. After all the meat is gone, you can order kimchi fried rice that is made in front of you on the hot plate.

Moksal, a thicker cut of pork.

Kimchi fried rice with seaweed.

Most locals grill their own samgyeopsal here but if you’re a foreigner, the staff will probably help you with yours. We spent about 20,000 won per person for a group of 7, including drinks (beer and soju).

After dinner, walk it all off with a stroll at the nearby Han River.

How to get there:
서울 마포구 합정동 414-5
Just outside Hapjeong Station (Line 2) Exit 5.

Don’t eat pork? Check out my post on the beer can chicken place instead.

I maintain this site as a hobby and have personally verified or experienced most of the information posted here. However, prices and conditions may have changed since my last visit. Please double check with other sources such as official tourist hotlines to avoid disappointment. If you’d like to contribute an update or additional useful information for other travelers, please comment below!
Prices provided in Korean won or US dollars.

Now and Then: Jikjisa Temple

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An aerial shot of Jikjisa Temple from the last century.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Jikjisa Temple in Gimcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do, was first founded in 418 A.D, and it’s believed to be one of the oldest temples on the Korean peninsula. It’s believed to have been established by the venerable monk, Ado. In fact, one of the meanings behind the temple’s name has to do with Ado. The name “Jikji,” in English, means “pointing directly,” which is in reference to Ado when he pointed at a perfect spot to locate a future temple that turned out to be Jikjisa Temple. Another meaning behind the temple’s name is that it refers to a Seon expression where one is “pointing directly to the Original Mind.” One final meaning behind the temple’s name is that during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), temples weren’t built by using rulers; instead, they were measured by hand. In English, “Ji” means “finger.”

Monk Ado, a Goguryeo monk, is legendary in his own right. It’s believed that he was the first missionary monk to introduce Buddhism to the shamanic Silla Kingdom, which formally accepted Buddhism in 527. Originally much smaller in size when it was first established, Master Jajang-yulsa further expanded the temple to some forty buildings in 645 A.D. Jikjisa Temple enjoyed a further renaissance with major renovations in the 10th century under the geomantic recommendations of Master Doseon-guksa.

Like so many other famous temples throughout the Korean peninsula, Jikjisa Temple faced almost complete destruction during the Imjin War in 1592. Ten years later, in 1602, some twenty buildings were rebuilt. Jikjisa Temple faced repeated destruction by fires throughout the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), as well as further damage caused by fighting during the Korean War (1950-53). It wasn’t until 1966, with governmental support, that the temple was finally rebuilt to its former glory by 1981.

Today, Jikjisa Temple is the 8th regional headquarters for the Jogye-jong sect, which is the largest Buddhist Order in all of Korea. It was also the first temple to participate in the Temple Stay program in 2002. The temple continues to provide the Temple Stay program to any and all guests. In total, the temple houses a National Treasure and ten additional Treasures. The one National Treasure it does house, National Treasure #208, is the Gilt-bronze Sarira Reliquary from Sakyamuni Stupa of Dorisa Temple.


Another aerial shot.


A shot of the Mansye-ru Pavilion.


A look towards the temple’s main hall.


 A look towards the Biro-jeon Hall.


Another temple hall.


A picture from what looks to be Buddha’s birthday.


And one more look at Jikjisa Temple in all its splendour.


A look towards the Mansye-ru Pavilion, today, through the Cheonwangmun Gate.


The Biro-jeon Hall to the left with the Myeongbu-jeon Hall to the right.

The post Now and Then: Jikjisa Temple appeared first on Dale's Korean Temple Adventures.

Inspiration through Dance - Dance To Connect in Busan

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Being part of a multi-racial society can be a barrier to making friends due to the limitations of language, but recently here in Busan four groups of people crossed that divide in a most unusual way.

The Dance-To-Connect workshop arranged by the American Embassy Seoul and the American Prescence Post in Busan invited the Battery Dance Company (BDC) from New York to hold a week long workshop in Busan.

The worksop was hosted at the Sohyang Music Theatre near Centum in Busan and comprised of four groups of people numbering about a hundred strong.

The four groups were split into, North Korean family members, disadvantaged children, a choir and multi-national housewives.

The theme of the show was to highlight the emotions of the lives of people in each group. I was very fortunate that my wife, a Filipina was one of the housewife group members and became the photographer for the event.

The event started on Sunday 25th January and lasted until Friday 30th January. On the opening day each group was assigned a dance instructor from the famous Battery Dance Company, who would guide them in Modern Dance towards the final performance which was not actually made known to the participants until later in the week. 

Clement Mensah, African by birth but trained as a dancer in London and later joined the Battery Dance Company in New York was the instructor for the housewives group that I followed.

The opening, was to have the housewives talk in their own language about the stereotypical view of the housewife and how it influences their role in society. Clearly sitting in a group trying to talk of such a personal subject needed some encouragement until one or two strongly focused ladies presented their views and issues about life a multi-racial household.

The starting point was for each dancer to dance out their name, this helped everyone to recognise each other when there was no common language between them. This melting pot of nationalities included, Korean, Filipino, Chinese, Vietnamese and Ukrainian with limited common language skills. There were a few of the group members that knew each other previously but in general they were strangers to each other. It is amazing that even weeks after, I see some of the dancers still recognising others by the name-dance.

Then each member would have to dance out their daily houshold routine in front of the whole class -twice !, and even at this point it was interesting how the second performance improved over the first.

This was the opening for Clement to use their emotions to act out in 'Modern-Dance' style, some of their activities and later to add emotion and build a dance routine around this.

Over the course of the week, Clement built on the subject of the household routines and selected parts to be used in the final performance.

For me there were some memorable days, one of those was asking the group to form either pairs or small groups and try to lift or carry each others weight. With little guidance I saw some very strange moves and efforts and found myself being called to photograph some hilarious moments as they struggled and collapsed into piles on the floor. By the end of the thirty minutes I was the one sweating !

The final performance was on Friday night, the first time the group saw the theatre was about two hours before the performance when they pitched up to practice their routine under the direction of the lighting and performance director's command.

The theatre is a truly beautiful place with almost 1200 seats in two teirs. The stage was enourmous in both depth and width. From the audience the lighting, sound and visual effects were stunning. When I saw the final practice I was amazed and excited and knew that I had to get it right in the camera because this was a remarkable event.

The final performance would have the performance by the amateur dance groups interspersed by a performance from the professional Battery Dance Group.

As previously agreed by the Organisers I have put many of the photos of the amateur performers on Flickr for anyone to look at, these can be found at : (please like your favorites)

The choir had been tutored by Mira, she is a very talented songwriter, musician and dancer. Three of the four songs were written by the children and the last by Mira. All were fantastic and worthy of praise, at the same time they danced out thier routines, clearly some appeared to depict the struggle in North Korea and the survival of these people. It was hard to believe that just a few days before they were not even dancers, now they looked professional. One of the dancers introduced the western influence of break-dancing by spinning around on the floor and using one handed break-dance routines.

The housewives bought their piece of homelife to the stage with real pazazz, it was obvious that the group had bonded well and turned their 26 person routine into real eye-candy using the routines they had designed and practiced themselves during the week.

Not to take anything away from the true professionals though, the routines of (Battery Dance Company) were amazing. In all honesty, and I am sure like so many of you reading this, I never developed a liking for this expressive modern dance style. This is probably due to not understanding it, but after a week with these groups I not only understand the art of modern dance but feel the passion in the story of the dance. Clement put on many solo routines, clearly an amazingly talented dancer with a strong muscular body that most men pray for. His routines depicted the developemnt of 'man'from birth and through life in a way that stirs the passion of the audience. It was like opera without the singing and the music added another dimension to your perception of the dance.

The BDC  were four, they each performed impressively both individually and together in a flawless performance that made the audience pay full attention.

Equally however we must remember that the BDC has turned ordinary people into great dancers in just a few days and that the dancers put a lot of effort into becomming those great dancers to everyone's delight.

From an outsiders perspective, I saw individual people dancing in their own tightly controlled space on day one, clearly aware of the group perception of themselves, to a group of flamboyant dancers using every inch of space they could get, share it withothers and even buckets of tears when they finally said goodbye. If this is about connecting people it worked to perfection. the group have formed lasting bonds, got thier own social network group and will soon attend a reunion dinnner once more.

thanks to the American Prescence Post in Busan; Mr. Kim DB, and Mr. Byung Junghwan in particular for their efforts.

FB : "Battery Dance Company"



Created with flickr slideshow.

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