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Andrew Ahn's Upcoming Film: Spa Night

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Korean-American director Andrew Ahn (do you remember Dol?) is crowdfunding for a new film about a Korean-American teenager who discovers an 'underground culture of  gay sex' at his new workplace: a Korean spa.

While there are saunas meant for gay sex in Korea, I didn't know that the same thing was happening at jjimjilbangs in California. Ahn's original discovery of a gay scene in Korean spas made him have to deal with the confluence of his Korean and gay identity, and I am really excited to see how he weaves this narrative into a feature length film. To read more about the film and to fund the project, head over to Kickstarter.

Oh, and thanks to two friends (one was Tumblr-famous Seoul Sizzle) for linking me to the KoreaAm article that led me to finding this awesome project.

Why You Should Blog About Korea

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Moving to Korea is quite an adventure and while you will gain invaluable experience while you're here, whether you're enrolled in a language school, teaching English or simply backpacking across the country, writing a blog is one of the best things you can do to document your journey. But your blog doesn't have to be just a diary to keep track of your day-to-day life. In fact, there are a number of benefits to writing a blog, some more valuable than others. Read on to see what you can gain from blogging.

Updating Friends and Family in the Motherland

Considering you're probably moving at least a few thousand miles away from home, blogging is a great way to keep worried parents and curious friends updated on your adventures abroad. Social media sites are a great way to share photos and keep in touch, but blogging allows you to explain the stories behind those photographs and to paint a more accurate portrayal of your life as an expat. It's also a great way to make your friends jealous, or at least envious enough to make them want to pay you a visit.

Educating Yourself and Others

When you start a blog, you'll find yourself constantly wandering about the content of your next post. Such pressure to write about interesting tidbits- whether they be cultural observations, travel tips or personal experiences- will have you wanting to see more, read more and learn more. I'm fairly confident that the reason I've learned so much about Korea is because of this blog, a hobby that pushed me to get out and explore whenever I had the time to do so.

In addition to educating yourself, you have the power to inform others. If you keep at it and post consistently, you'll eventually earn a voice. A voice that can be heard by hundreds, if not thousands of internet users. What you use this power for is up to you, but to be able to raise awareness about particular issues or to shatter a stereotype about a culture evokes positive change, change that you can be responsible for.

A piece on display at the House of Sharing, a safe house for victims of sexual slavery during the Japanese Occupation.

Outlet of Self-Expression

Even if you choose not to promote your blog and instead keep it as a personal journal, the platform allows you to express yourself and your feelings. Sometimes this outlet is necessary when transitioning to a new country, or experiencing the ups and downs of the life of an expat. It's also interesting to be able to read previous writings and observe how both you and your outlook on the world change over time. It serves as a testament to how you grow as an individual.


One of the cool things about being a blogger in Korea, or a travel blogger in general, is that there is a strong network of fellow writers that exist online and offline. I have mixed feelings about the Korean blogosphere, but for the most part, I have also met some great friends through the hobby. It's not unusual for me to meet up with these blogging buddies for a drink, a photo walk, or even to collaborate on blogging projects. Put yourself out there, don't be afraid to reach out to others and soon enough, you'll have a slew of new friends to explore Korea with.

Korea bloggers have a drink at a Christmas "Tweet-up."

New Career Paths

Although I arrived in Korea with a nursing license, I have held positions as an English teacher, a social media marketer, a public relations coordinator, a travel consultant, a dialogue coach, an expo assistant, a travel show host, an editor and a writer. I can say that my blog has opened up most of these doors for me and has acted not only as a platform to gain exposure but through it, I've learned invaluable skills that I will no doubt use in my future career, whatever that may be.

Even if you're not looking to be a professional writer or an online marketing strategist, your blog will bring you down paths you never even knew existed.

Exploring Samcheongdong on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines iFly TV's "Secrets of Seoul."

Monetary Benefits and Blogger Perks

Sure, work experience and new friends are great reasons to start blogging, but let's be honest here, the tangible benefits are what most bloggers seek. I'll be the first to say that making money with a blog isn't easy; perhaps because profiting from Seoul Searching isn't the reason I write it, I don't really know how to monetize a blog the way professional bloggers do.

However, English blogs about Korea is a fairly untapped niche and Korea-based businesses are more than willing to provide you with perks in exchange for promoting them. While some find this controversial, I believe that if a post is honestly written and is clear in stating that it was sponsored, it's not only fair but beneficial for everyone, including the reader.

Additionally, there are a number of government-sponsored programs (including Global Seoul MatesWorldwide Korea Bloggers, and K-Performance Supporters) that have been established to promote Korea. Bloggers can apply for these programs to participate in free trips, get access to events and even earn some really cool prizes in exchange for blog posts. Other sites, such as Trazy and the upcoming Omija Korea, offer monetary incentives and benefits such as free Korean classes. And for those living outside of Korea, the Korea Tourism Organization has even been known to sponsor airplane tickets to see and blog about the country.

Fellow Global Seoul Mates and I participating in a mission-based challenge to bring to light some of Seoul's unknown attractions.

The benefits of blogging about Korea are endless, so what are you waiting for? Start your blog today!

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

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Bulgogi, Bibimbap And One Brilliant Cooking Class

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If you’ve read my blog before you’ll know all about my love of food, especially my new-found love of Korean food. So imagine my excitement when I found, quite by accident, cooking classes for foreigners in Seoul. I immediately booked a class, excited not only for the experience, but also so that I could start to recreate my favourite meals at home. After all, I will at some point go back to England, and if I don’t know how to make Bibimbap by then it will be a disaster.

I wanted to share my experience of the cooking class, simply because it was one of the best, if not the best thing I’ve done in Seoul. It’s fun, interesting, and you learn something new, Oh, and you get a delicious meal at the end (how delicious will depend on your cooking skills, of course).





A little bit about the classes: they are run by The Food And Culture Academy and you can find their website here. The Academy is located in Jongno Gu, Seoul and directions can be found on their website. The prices range from 20,000 won to 65,000 won, and this includes: the price of the class, the meal at the end with some side dishes included, and a copy of the recipe you followed. There is a huge selection of cooking choices, including: Bulgogi, Bibimbap, Dakgalbi, Japchae, Mandu, Paejon, Gimbap, and different types of Kimchi. If, like us, you’d like to cook more than one thing, there is a 1 + 1 option.

Getting bandaged after my little accident!

Don’t worry if you’re not a talented cook- the website calls the class ‘An Intensive Cooking Class for Avid Cooks’, but this shouldn’t put you off, as it’s not a scarily serious or difficult class by any means. Two minutes into the class, I chopped straight into my finger while cutting an onion, so I didn’t exactly prove myself as a super-advanced cook by any means! There is a chef with you at all times to direct you and make everything simple and easy (luckily).

So we chose two things off the menu, cooking one first and leaving it to rest while we started on the second. This was a good way to do it, but also meant that at the end of the class we had not one, but two meals to eat. For someone with a big appetite like me, it was obviously great, but make sure you go feeling hungry!

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How it works- the cook simply instructs you as you go through, step by step.  It’s good because you can also ask questions about what you’re making, which is pretty interesting! We learnt a lot about the history of the food and the different variations throughout the country. And obviously the main benefit of having your own chef is that you’re closely guided as you cook. You’re not just given a recipe and left to work through it.

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When you’ve finished, there’s an area for taking photos of you standing proudly with your food; you can even dress up in Hanbok if you choose, to feel even more Korean and properly get into the spirit of things. Then, there’s a separate eating area where you can sit and enjoy your food. It’s nice that you’re given a few side dishes, as it feels like sitting down in a restaurant for a proper meal.

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So, if there was one thing in Korea that I’d recommend doing, whether you’re here on holiday or living here, it would be this cooking class. It’s excellently run, the staff are so friendly and helpful, and it’s a chance to learn about your favourite foods and how to recreate them yourselves. Most importantly, it’s a great way to eat and have fun; it sure beats going down to the local cafe!

To find out more, check their website and get yourself booked in to a class. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Filed under: Food, Korea, Living


Kathryn's Living

Die einflussreichsten Städte der Welt: Seoul auf Platz 16

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Der Beitrag Die einflussreichsten Städte der Welt: Seoul auf Platz 16 erschien zuerst auf Mayerkim. - Dein deutscher Blog über Korea & Seoul. Alles, was du garantiert (nicht) über Seoul, koreanische Kultur und Reisen nach Korea wissen musst. Inkl. Sightseeing und Nightlife!

RTBC Day Six: Teaching Mentors

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Reflective Teaching Blog Challenge – Day Six: What does a good mentor do? Explain.

Regardless of what field you’re working in, everyone should have a mentor. And it doesn’t matter where you are in the span of your work life either. Whether you’re at the beginning or the end of your career, you’re never too old to benefit from the wisdom and experience of someone else!

Good mentors offer everything from direct advice to subtle hints in order to help steer you in the right direction. They share openly and willingly about the good, the bad and the ugly sides of the job, and they explain how they’ve responded to all of it over the years. Good mentors keep you from drowning, but also know when you’re strong enough to save yourself. They too have learned from their own mistakes, and they understand the value in that. Good mentors offer words of encouragement and confirmation, along with constructive criticism and tough love. They’ve gone through the same highs and lows as you, so they totally get it when something is cause for celebration and they know how to lift you back up. In sum, a good mentor wears many hats: the puppet master, the shepherd, the storyteller, the teacher, the friend, the party planner, the therapist, the coach, the lifeguard, and more.

Standing at the beginning of (what could be) my teaching career, I am lucky enough to have several mentors in my corner. Some of them carry a lifetime of teaching wisdom while others offer years of general life experience. I am grateful for each and every one of them, and I plan to learn as much from them as I can, for as long as I can!

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Man of the Week: 이재준 (Lee Jae-joon)

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Let's start with the obligatory six pack that every actor in Korean needs. Lee Jae-joon is no exception. Thank you very much. 

The second lead in Leesong Hee-il's queer film Night Flight, Lee Jae-joon, is quite a handsome fellow. Born in October of 1990, the only role he has been credited for so far on Daum Movies is as 기웅 in Night Flight.

Lee Jae-joon (left) in Night Flight

He did a pretty great job keeping the audience interested in the story even though his character was one of those brooding silent types. But I guess when you have a pretty face it is easy to keep people's attention. 

But I think I actually prefer the scruff he was rocking in Night Flight. Even if it did make him look a bit like he was still dealing with the after-effects of puberty.

Let's hope for more of Lee Jae-joon in the future. 

Autumn Hiking in South Korea: Part 5 가지산 (Gajisan)

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Cover. Wonderful weather

After a seasonal hiatus in respect of sporting fixtures on weekends and travel trips over the spring and summer it is rapidly reverting to ideal hiking conditions in the Republic of Korea. As the weather cools and the leaves begin to turn and fall I find myself being drawn back to the escapist attractions of the Korean mountains. My return to the rocky tree-shrouded country landscape began on Hangeul Day (national holiday for the celebration of the Korean writing system) at Gajisan, a mountain that narrowly wins the honour of being the highest in the Yeongnam Alps, an area that I had heavily explored during the last winter.

0. The first clearing on the ascent

I invited my Korean friend Mia along for the hike and we met in northern Busan at Myeongnyun station just after nine o’clock to catch the number 12 bus to Eonyang, a small town to the east of the Yeongnam Alps. I’ve taken the number 12 bus before and it was equally slow as before as it trundled out of Busan into Yangsan and then snaked its way slowly between the villages that lie north of Yangsan. When we eventually arrived in Eonyang around an hour and a half later our patience for public buses was stretched and we jumped in a taxi. Our taxi ride took us to the gates of Seongnamsa (or Seoknamsa as it should be romanized from the Korean 석남사). After readying ourselves we headed to a car park to the left hand side of the main entrance gate where a path began that would take us along a counter-clockwise route to the peak of Gajisan. As we passed a large group of hikers in the car park Mia immediately almost stood on a snake that slithered across the beginning of the path.

1. Halfway up Gajisan

2. Avenue of trees

3. Looking across to Ulsan from the false peak

The route begins with a relatively shallow ascent and gradually steepens until the point that trail gives way to slightly more technical, partially eroded, and rocky route. Personally I found the whole route relatively easy but many of the hikers we passed were increasingly fatigued as we passed them. Mia also found the going a little tough and was generous enough to curse me repeatedly for bringing her along. A heap of verbal motivation and my adamance that it wasn’t so severe as some of the other routes in the Yeongnam Alps may or may not have helped. I was also rebuked for falsely advertising the actual peak. As sky gave way to rock and treeline I was vocal in my expression that ‘it’s not far now’ only to clamber upon a false peak with an ascent and a further climb to the actual peak visible another kilometre away.

4. looking over to the real peak

5. False peak posing

6. My hiking partner

7. Numerous peaked horizons

8. Summit photo

The final climb brought us to the top of the 1240m peak but this was not even halfway through the actual hike, I chose not to mention this to my friend. At the top of Gajisan, on what was a warm and mostly clear autumn day, we were greeted with an incredible view across all directions. Mountain peaks and receding horizons contrasted with the bright blue sky as far as we could see. After queuing with other hikers for some mandatory photos we began the hike that followed the ridge north before stopping for a snack on one of the notable rocky outcroppings that overlooked the view towards Ulsan in the east.

9. panorama with surprised Korean man

10. Beginning of the descent

The undulating ridge trail lasted for a few kilometres before we began the knee-bursting descent. Although not particularly steep it was certainly relentless with few plateaus. The ground was skiddy, the dried and crumbling mud providing a surface that required cautious attention. It was quite a relief to reach the outside grounds of the temple, neither of us had much desire to look inside and we followed the exit road to the main entrance gate and then crossed over to a small bus station.  We had decided on our descent that we did not relish the long journey on the number 12 bus from Eonyang back to Busan so we decided to catch a bus from outside the temple to Ulsan KTX station and then take the rapid KTX service back to Busan. At the KTX station we even had twenty minutes to grab some cheap Korean food to fill our grumbling stomachs.

11. Contrasts in foliage

12. Down the ridge to the temple and eventually to nthe KTXOn reflection this is a good hike, it only takes in one remarkable peak and can be accomplished in half a day if you can keep a good pace up. The views from the summit are quite breathtaking, as much of those in the Yeongnam Alps are, if you are interested in the route we took you can check the GPS recording here: I am of the understanding that you can turn this into a longer hike that ends in Unmunsa a temple to the north-east although I think you would have to then travel to Miryang to find any suitable transport to any of the respective cities in the region.


The 1000 Linga adventure

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Nestled on top of Kulen mountains is another treasure in Cambodia. We drove for about an hour and a half from Siem Reap through windy roads to reach the top. With such sights, greenery and bird calls, time just flew by!

windy road to Kulen mountains
Windy road to Kulen mountains
Over not-so-safe bridges to Kulen mountains
Over not-so-safe bridges
Our van was indeed driven over this bridge to and fro. I had some special respect for the driver after this one.

To reach the 1000 Lingas in Kulen mountains
To reach the 1000 Lingas in Kulen mountains
 But the water was in full spate and we were unable to see the Lingas in their glory.

But the drive was so worth it to see the river meandering through the forest in Kulen mountain
But the drive was so worth it to see the river meandering through the lush forest in Kulen mountain
After focusing on the river for a bit, i was able to see the dark bumps under water which are the Lingas
After focusing on the river for a bit, i was able to see the squarish dark bumps under water. These are the Lingas.

 This place is named the 1000 Lingas, where Linga denotes Shiva, one of the three major Indian Gods but then, the guide told us that there were more than 1000 lingas under the water. There is also a lying down pose of Vishnu, another Indian God. It was constructed to imitate Ganga, the holy river of India. Having more than 1000 lingas is supposed to cleanse the water and rid of all the sins of the people and to irrigate the fields with the blessings from the Almighty. The guide said that no one knows who actually commanded the work to be done or when it was made or by whom.

People are not allowed to wet their feet, walk over or take a bath on the 1000 Lingas- That would be disrespecting the Gods. But there is two fold waterfall downstream that the people can enjoy the blessed water. It was quite surprising to see that despite that fact that there was just a small rope and a small sign saying that people were not supposed to swim there, there was absolutely no one trespassing. The water was crystal clear and tasted good. (You are allowed to drink the water - that is like prasadam/ theertham)

The holy water from the 1000 Lingas blesses the people who take a bath in the waterfall
The holy water from the 1000 Lingas blesses the people who take a bath in the waterfall
Kulen waterfall
The larger, and relatively unsafe but amazing waterfall where we had a wonderful bath
The rickety bridge experience at Kulen mountains
The rickety bridge experience at Kulen mountains
N for Not -so-safe bridge 
Roasted Frogs, street food in Cambodia
Roasted Frogs, street food in Cambodia
There is lotus all around in Cambodia. I am moving here.
There is lotus all around in Cambodia. I am moving here after I retire.
Cute little girl hard at work.
Cute little girl hard at work.
We also had a chance to see the Buddhist temple on top of the Mountains. It was nicely perched on top of a hill.

Naga - the mighty snake depicted almost everywhere in the place of handails in Cambodia
Naga - the mighty snake depicted almost everywhere in the place of handails in Cambodia. Makes me wonder how much they revered or feared snakes.
Huge Buddha on top of the mountains
Huge Buddha on top of the mountains

Buddha on top of mountains
The temple nicely perched on top of the hill.  
View from the top of the hill
What a view from the top of the hill
Resting place when we reached the bottom
Resting place when we reached the bottom

 The 1000 Lingas was not on top of my must-visit places when compared to Bayon and Ankor Wat in Cambodia. But i happened to see a Discovery program and it was so impressive that i had see this place as well. Cambodia is one of the much-visited places by Koreans. Infact, during the Chuseok holidays(Korean Thanksgiving) that we had visited Cambodia, we constantly heard Korean everywhere. There were even Korean-friendly hotels, Korean food and even North Korean specialty restaurants. Looks like I have a tight bond with Korea :D

RTBC Day Five: Welcome to my classroom!

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Reflective Teaching Blog Challenge – Day Five: Post a picture of your classroom. Describe what you see, and what you don’t see that you’d like to.

IMG_1127 The view from any classroom at the school. IMG_1126 A relay race to write all the days of the week! This ultimately morphed into a  competition that had kids running across the length of the room! Students studying frequency adverbs!

So, this is the classroom I teach in! Er, rather, these are the classrooms I teach in. At my school, the students stay in the same room while all of the teachers rotate throughout the day. As a result, neither myself nor my fellow teachers has a subject-designated classroom. However, every room is equiped with a tv monitor and computer cable, as well as ethernet, so using PowerPoints and the internet on my school laptop for class is no problem.  My students and I also interact with the chalkboard quite a bit. The desks and chairs are very lightweight, so they move easily, allowing for relatively quick restructing of class set-up. And a wall of windows overlooking the play yard lets in plenty of natural light during the day, so the kids don’t feel quite like they’re in a dungeon, at least!

While I am grateful to have access to modern teaching technology and classrooms that are big enough to move around in, there is a lot more I wish I had to offer my students. If I were working in my own classroom, a room that was all about learning English, I could create a much more specialized, stimulating environment. I would LOVE to decorate the walls with calendars depicting days of the week and months of the year, a weather board, and posters of basic responses to questions like “How are you?,” complete with pictures, of course. Each class could have its own section of the room, or a bulletin board, where good work could be featured or a new word, displayed. One corner of the room could be filled with shelves of English books, magazines and newspapers, and perhaps a comfortable chair or two. And, scattered around the room would be the many different games and materials I use to get kids engaged and excited about the lesson.

That’s the dream. And maybe when I move to the new school in February that will happen…maybe. For now I’ll try to make the best of the situation I’m in by creating more mobile versions of the above posters/calendars. That way I can take them to each class. The games and activities I create will continue to pile themselves up on my desk and spill out from my drawers. And some day soon I’ll ask my co-teacher about the school budget and how much, if any, room there is for English literature and media. Baby steps!

The school logo stands for: Ulsan Sports Science (Middle and Secondary) School All the teachers share an office space. IMG_1129 The view fo my school as I walk to work every day. My school is the white building in the middle. To the left of the main school building is the gymnasium and cafeteria. It's hard to tell, but the students are still training in this picture. That bright light you see on the right is a flood light for the archery range!




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