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Which Ski Resort Was a Korean Drama “Goblin” Filmed?

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Who’s been watching “Goblin” or “Goblin: The Lonely and Great God“, the hottest and newest Korean drama around? If you are not watching it, you are missing out big time! Starring Gong Yoo, Lee Dong-wook, Kim Go-eun and Yoo In-na, the drama is currently airing on Korean cable channel called tvN on Fridays and Saturdays. … Continue reading Which Ski Resort Was a Korean Drama “Goblin” Filmed?
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Restraint and Burden-Sharing to Revive US Alliances, not Tear Them Down

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Image result for restraint

This is a local re-post of an essay I published with The National Interest last month.

My concern is to separate the idea of greater US caution and self-discipline overseas from faux-complaint that this is ‘isolationism.’ Just because the US is more cautious in its use of force, or more demanding of its allies, doesn’t mean the US is abandoning them. Indeed, pushing them to do more, spend more, think more strategically about their own security is a way to revive US alliances, to make the US alliance framework less unipolar, richer. and more fully capable. I don’t see why this is so often derided as isolationism

Will Trump do this? Probably not. For a moment there, it seemed like he might embrace a foreign policy of restraint, but his hawkish cabinet picks and proposed DoD build-up suggest that is unlikely.

The full essay follows the jump.


As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump insisted that America’s allies were receiving a free- or cheap-ride on American security guarantees. He insisted that they pay more. If they did not, a President Trump might not feel compelled to meet US treaty obligations. Now that he has been elected, there is rising anxiety among American allies that such a scenario might come to pass. Very exposed allies, such as the Baltic states or South Korea, feel this most acutely. South Korea’s president, Park Geun-Hye, made sure to phone Donald Trump within twenty-four hours of his victory because of these anxieties.

There is a necessary debate to be had with US allies on burden-sharing. Unfortunately, Trump to date has cast that in a bean-counting light: how much do allies pay for this or that American capability? This could easily degenerate into a he-said-she-said contest over who paid how much for this lightbulb or that paperclip. While there is space for America’s wealthiest allies to pay more, such a frame casts the US military in a mercenary role at odds with the liberal values that underpin most American alliances. This is why Trump’s claim that America should have taken Iraqi oil fell so afoul of the foreign policy community. It smacked of war spoils-taking.

Such bean-counting misses the real issues, which are allies’: willingness to spend more of their own resources on their own defense and power projection; commitment to develop hi-tech, highly trained forces capable of inter-operating with the contemporary American military; and general strategic seriousness.

Burden-Sharing Conflicts Endemic to Alliances

As early as President Eisenhower’s ‘New Look,’ the United States has tangled with the European members of NATO especially over the proper contributions of those allies to the larger effort. Such issues have also cropped up regarding America’s Asian allies since the 1980s. At that time, Japan was thought to be overtaking the United States, in part because its military spending was so low due to the American guarantee. Later, as North Korea nearly collapsed in the wake of the Cold War, this critique was expanded to South Korea. Writers at The National Interest have been at the forefront of these arguments.

And the numbers are indeed disturbing. Only four of twenty-eight NATO members meet the recommended defense spending floor of 2% of GDP. Japan spends an astonishing -1% of GDP on defense, while South Korea spends around one-half to one-third what it otherwise would against the North Korean threat. All these states are wealthy enough to spend more. American officials have lobbied for this for years, and Trump may be the ‘unpredictable’ figure necessary to finally achieve this by threat unfortunately, if not by persuasion.

Improving these numbers in aggregate is significantly more important than zero-sum fights over allied payments to the US which Trump has highlighted. Burden sharing agreements get very complicated very quickly. It is difficult to determine the precise nature of expenses as well, given hard-to-calculate opportunity costs for land use, road construction, environmental damage, and so on. Many US allies could indeed pay more, and for G-20 allies like Britain or Japan, there is really no excuse for the relationship not to be at least 50-50. But treating even close US allies as clients-for-cash is sure to provoke a domestic backlash over what is bound to be portrayed as a shakedown and, more importantly, misses the forest for the trees: the larger American interest in pushing allies to spend, do, and think more themselves. The real goal is not to tear down US alliances over demands for cash, but to build them up through greater allied seriousness of purpose.

Expanding Allied Capabilities and Imaginations

Trump’s goal should be to encourage US allies to spend more of their own resources on forces and doctrine. Sure, allies could pay the US more, but far more valuable would be their own ability to carry more of the load. Multilateral operations carry greater international credibility, relieve operational tempo stress on the US military, and signal to opponents that they face a full-bodied international coalition of serious, committed democracies, not just the Americans yet again. Britain and France’s failure to be able to sustain their air operations over Libya in 2011 is emblematic of allied atrophy, as was the US support required by many allies who sent forces to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Almost every major US ally has cut its capabilities since the Cold War, relying on what disgruntled American analysts call ‘Uncle Sucker’ – the US willingness to step in at the last resort when allies are stressed. In Europe we see this where the Balkans’ crises of the 1990s and the recent Ukrainian crisis were pushed onto the US. In Asia we see this in the South China Sea, where locals like Japan, Australia, India, and so on should be far more engaged. Further, only a few US allies still train enough and are technically sophisticated enough to inter-operate with American forces. Lagging allied capabilities have become a genuine interoperability handicap that a cash hand-out will not fix.

These declining capabilities reflect a larger collapse of strategic imagination. The real problem of US allies is not tribute payment but infantilization. In Europe, the case for European military integration has been obvious for decades, made even more obvious by Putin’s growing troublemaking. But the American military shield permits minor issues like Greece to capture the continental agenda. If the Trump threat finally convinces Europe to build an EU army, that is no bad thing. In Asia, Japan’s famous pacifism is a wholly artificial construct made possible by the US guarantee, as is South Korea’s continuing strategic obsession with Japan rather than North Korea or China. In all cases, the US guarantee shrinks strategic horizons and permits domestic particularities and obsessions to overwhelm obvious geopolitical realities.

Seriousness, not ‘Better Deals’

Trump’s life-long obsession with deal-making, and his instinct to read negotiations as zero-sum, likely stand behind his demand for more allied money. Indeed America’s wealthiest allies could pay more. In South Korea, for example, there is no reason for Seoul to refuse to pay for THAAD missile defense which will mostly shield South Koreans not Americans. But these are minor issues compared to the larger need for US allies to get serious about their capabilities and strategies. America’s Eurasian allies are all closer to the action than the US. On Russia, Germany and the EU should be taking the lead; on China, Japan should be out front; on North Korea, South Korea should take ownership, and so on.

This suggests that the alternative to America’s current internationalist-interventionist foreign policy consensus is not simply isolationism or retrenchment, as that consensus endlessly insists. Instead of demanding cash under threat of abandonment, as Trump has hinted, his administration should direct the burden-sharing debate toward allied foot-dragging. The point is not to cast American alliances into doubt, but to reinvigorate them with greater allied strategic seriousness. Allies would be wise to listen, lest a more Trumpist GOP in the future take an even harder line.

Filed under: Alliances, Hegemony, Neocon, The National Interest, United States

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


What is the Cost of Living in Korea?

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If you read any article on ‘The World’s Most Expensive Cities’, then you are likely to see Seoul somewhere in the top ten, possibly nestled between Copenhagen and Los Angeles.

Don’t let that put you off! The cost of living in Korea is actually far more reasonable than such articles make out, and it is possible to live very well on a moderate amount of money in Korea.

Cost of Housing in Korea: Seoul vs Other Cities

Cost of Housing in Seoul

View of downtown cityscape and Seoul tower in Seoul South Korea.

The general prices of things are pretty similar across Korea. But one thing is far more expensive in Seoul than elsewhere: Housing. Housing is the big reason why Seoul often appears on top ten lists of the world’s most expensive cities. These lists are often skewed by the assumption that you need a detached house with a garden, something that is the preserve of Samsung CEOs and famous actors in Seoul.

Most people live in small apartments, and a one room apartment can set you back anywhere from 300,000 won per month to well over a million won a month, depending on the location of the apartment (Gangnam being one of the most expensive, the far north of the city being a lot cheaper), the facilities, and whether it is a new building or an old building.

Outside of Seoul, things get a lot cheaper, with even some of Seoul’s satellite cities like Uijeongbu being almost half the price of Seoul. Cities in other provinces are cheaper still, especially in the older neighborhoods.

Cost of Utilities in Korea

Cost of Utilities in Korea

Gas fees will probably work out at around 10,000 won most months, apart from the winter, when the gas powered underfloor heating systems of most Korean buildings are in use.) During these winter periods, gas bills are often in excess of 100,000 won per month, and can be even higher if you leave the heating on all day. The same goes for the air-conditioning units in the summer, which can lead to exorbitant electricity bills if left on throughout the day. Otherwise, electricity bills will probably be somewhere between 10,000 and 30,000 won per month.

Internet and TV packages often work out at around 30,000 to 50,000 won per month, depending on your subscription. Smartphone packages will be around 30,000 to 40,000 won per month plus the cost of the phone, which is often paid in monthly installments. Some apartments will also have a maintenance fee of around 100,000 won per month.

Medical Costs in Korea

Cost of Medical Care in Korea

All residents of Korea are required to have basic medical insurance, which comes directly out of employees’ pay checks (assuming that they have an employer who plays by the rules). If you are married and unemployed, then you can be put on your spouse’s insurance.

The basic medical insurance doesn’t cover everything, though. First, you will have to pay a small amount of the cost of seeing the doctor, getting x-rays, etc. Also, you will have to pay a small amount at the pharmacy for your medicine. Each of these fees is usually between 5,000 and 20,000 won. However, anything extra, such as MRI scans or major operations will see your medical bills start to rise pretty fast, and if you have a serious illness then it can be financially burdensome. Full on medical insurance (Allianz, etc.) can be bought, and usually costs around 100,000 to 200,000 won per month depending on the age and general health of the applicant.

Cost of Transportation in Korea

Once you have sorted out your housing, the cost of living in Korea can be very affordable indeed, due to the cheapness of transportation and food. The standard journey on a bus or subway will cost between 1000 and 2000 won depending on the distance, and transfers between different types of transportation are free. Taxis are also affordable for short distances, especially if you are sharing the cab with friends. A taxi journey halfway across Seoul (say from Itaewon to Jamsil) usually costs around 15,000 won. Taxi prices are more expensive after midnight.

If you are travelling around the country, then buses from Seoul to Busan are often around 20,000 to 30,000 won one-way depending on the type of coach you take. A KTX train will cost just over 50,000 won for the same journey. As the journey from Seoul to Busan is just about the longest possible journey within mainland Korea, other bus and train trips should be cheaper.

Cost of Food in Korea

A cheap lunch of gimbab or soup will cost between 1,000 and 3,000 won. For a small meal at a cheap restaurant, you can expect to pay 5,000 to 7,000 won. Regular Korean restaurants are usually between 10,000 and 15,000 won per person. If you are looking for foreign food then that gets more expensive, with meals usually in the 20,000 won or more category.

Due to the low cost of Korean food, it is often cheaper to eat at a restaurant than to cook for yourself, especially as most supermarket foods come in family-sized portions, which can lead to a lot of spoilage if you are living alone. Fresh fruit is particularly expensive.

Cost of Clothes and Entertainment in Korea

Cost of Entertainment in Korea

It is hard to state the price of clothes as fashion is very subjective, but prices are generally similar to other cities. It is possible to buy things like T-shirts for 5,000 won and jeans for 20,000 won in some places. Luxury items get expensive very quickly, and there is a ‘luxury tax’ which makes more expensive jewelry very pricey.

Cinema tickets are usually in the 10,000 to 12,000 won range, with snacks costing another 10,000 won on top of that. Singing rooms (noraebang) vary depending on how luxurious they are, but coin singing booths are 1,000 won for three songs. If you want to watch a baseball or soccer game, then often the cheapest tickets will be around 10,000 won per match. Unlike in other countries, snacks purchased inside the stadium are often only slightly more expensive than if they were purchased outside the stadium. Gym membership is often between 30,000 and 100,000 won per month depending on the quality of the facilities.

Hopefully this article gave you a good idea of the general cost of living in Korea. Of course, the exact cost of living depends on your lifestyle. As a general rule, living like a Korean (eating Korean food etc.) is a lot cheaper than trying to replicate the lifestyle of your home country, and can also help you understand Korean culture better. If you follow that advice, you will quickly find that Seoul is a very affordable city to live in!

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Val Hamer: Life After EFL

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Are you Planning on Teaching Abroad Forever? If you answered “no” to that question, then this post will be an interesting read for you! My own interest in what happens to ESL/EFL teachers abroad who go back to their home countries began a couple of years ago. That was the …

The post Val Hamer: Life After EFL appeared first on My Life! Teaching in a Korean University.

Jackie Bolen: How to Get a University Job In Korea


My Life! Teaching in a Korean University

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MMPK January 7th Meeting Registration Open!!

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It’s a brand new year Mamas & Papas and we couldn’t be more excited to get back into the swing of tasting and exploring the awesome world of Korean traditional […]

Makgeolli Mamas & Papas

(Updated) A free Hangul typing practice game - New Version

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Last month I made a free game for practicing typing Hangul, and I promised to add updates and new features to it. Well, I re-made the entire game from scratch, and improved on every part of it that I could. I'd still like to add more features, if there's interest in the game.

Here's a trailer of the updated game.

It's the year 2020 and the Hangul Aliens have invaded the planet. Fortunately for us, they have a weakness - the modern Korean keyboard. Can you save earth from disaster?

How to play:

Type the letters on your keyboard as they fall from the sky. If you make a mistake, a meteor will fall down. You can shoot meteors with your turret, using the space bar. Any letters or meteors that hit the floor will drain your life.

If you don't know where the keys are on the keyboard, you can press Escape at any time to show an interactive keyboard and pause the game.

Remember that some letters also require the shift key.

There are 4 levels: consonants only, vowels only, consonants and vowels, and a master mode. In master mode, letters will continue to fall more frequently and faster over time, making it more difficult the longer you play. There is no time limit in master mode, so try to score as high as you can.

There are also a variety of falling items that you can shoot: health packs will restore some of your health, comets will slow down falling objects temporarily, nuclear bombs will destroy all letters and meteors on the screen, and power ups will increase the speed and effectiveness of your turret.

Download the game here:

Click here to download for Windows.

Click here to download for OSX (Mac).

Click here to download for Linux.

The post (Updated) A free Hangul typing practice game - New Version appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

 Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean





Comfort Women Remembered In Melbourne, Australia

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South Korean ‘comfort women’ were recently remembered at an event in Melbourne as part of ’16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence,’ a movement that began at Rutgers University in 1991 but is now sponsored by the UN. As it does every year, the campaign kicked off around the world on November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and continued through International Human Rights Day on December 10th. On Friday, November 25th, Korea FM reporter Chance Dorland attended the Amnesty International Pop Culture Network sponsored event ‘Fundraising Kpop Cocktail Party‘ and spoke with Yena Hong, a South Korean studying in Melbourne, who organized the fundraiser.

This episode is brought to you by Podcast Assist & its $30 per hour flat rate podcasting voice overs, editing, mastering, transcriptions & even hosting (select a topic, they’ll create & host the podcast). Visit for more information. 

If the audio player doesn’t load, stream the episode online here or download the full episode here.

Interview answers, both in written & audio form, have been edited for length & clarity.

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The post Comfort Women Remembered In Melbourne, Australia appeared first on Korea FM.

New Style for the New Year!

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So it is 2017 and I am super excited for the coming year. The reason is that I am taking 2017 very seriously and I am going to drive this blog and my school into new heights this new year. So what does that mean for you, my loyal reader? Well, that means that you get to learn a whole lot of new skills from me. I have been collecting a ton of material to help you be the best in 2017 and this blog is going to be the dispensary for that knowledge, skill, and training.

I know what you are thinking “Jason, has this not been done like 2,000,000 times over by more well-known photographers?” To that I say, “you are right, but so what?” I am not being cocky, but I just have to state that the style of blog where I write about the musings of an aging expat photographer/English teacher is not the most original either. Thus, I want to push and challenge myself. I really want to put my 13 years of teaching and my Masters of Education to good use.

With that being said, here are the changes that you are going to see in the year 2017:

More Learning-Focused Articles

Last year I lead a number of workshops and helped a few photographers improve their skills. It felt great to help photographers along on their journey through photography. While it is great writing about places that I’ve been, I felt that it would serve you, my precious readers more if I focussed each post about learning how to improve your technique and learning a new skill along the way.

In the upcoming articles, I am going to be taking you through some of the steps that I take to get the photos that have appeared on the pages of magazines and even National Geographic. I will show you the steps and techniques that will get you the shots that you want. This will also push me as a teacher and as a photographer as well. It will be a divergence from what I have done for years on this blog but I think that it will be a better move for the future.

More Content

I think that within the last week I wrote more articles on this blog than I did in the last 6 months. The truth was that I was spread way too thin. With a lot of work cleared off my plate for 2017 I am back in the game and going to head out strong. Thus, you are going to see a lot more content being sent out this year.  This content as mentioned before will be more focussed and directed at improving your photography.

More Courses at

Last year I launched my own school for photography with a great course on creating cinemagraphs. I really enjoyed creating the course but had little time to add to the school since then. In this coming year I am going to add a great number of courses design to give you hours of training to help you master lightroom, photoshop, and much more. These courses will be high quality and offer downloads and discounts for you as well. If you are a beginner or a so-called expert, there will be something there for everyone.

So that is my plan for 2017. Let me know what you think of the changes and what you want to see content-wise. Ideally, this blog is going to be more focussed on you, the readers more than anything else. I want to create content that you resonate with and that works for you. Thus, I am hoping to have more interaction with you all this your. Also if you haven’t already, sign up for my email list and I will notify you when the new courses and content goes live.

Happy New Year Everyone!

The post New Style for the New Year! appeared first on The Sajin.

Korean Cafe’s New Holiday Drinks Every Coffee Lover Must Try This Winter

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Nothing’s more perfect than a hot cup of coffee on a cold winter’s day, right?

If you’re a coffee lover, definitely check out these new delicious winter drinks served at Korean cafes to cozy up this winter!

1. Angel-in-us CoffeeAngel-in-us.jpg

Angel-in-us has come out with three drinks to keep you warm and let you have a warm winter: A bright Purple Sweet Potato Latte, rich Irish Coffee and creamy Eggnog Latte!

2. A Twosome Place

A Twosome Place has also released three delicious winter drinks. Among them, one that particularly stands out is the White Cream Tiramisu Latte (doesn’t the name itself make you salivate?). Not to mention the adorable snowflake decor on top!Twosome.jpgThere’s also a Pistachio Latte and Vin Chaud, which is a blend of mulled wine with sweet fruits.

3. Holly’s Coffee

Holly’s certainly is feeling festive with their drinks.  Don’t worry as just because Christmas is over, it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy these drinks with festive cheer thrown into them! There’s Toffee Delight, Belgian Cafe Mocha, Mint Chocolate and Real Belgian Chocolate!

4. Paik’s Coffee

Paik's Coffee.jpg

Known for their cheap and affordable prices and large range of drinks, Paik’s Coffee has released a Chocolate White Mocha, Tiramisu Latte and  Classic White Chocolate! Mmmm just look at all that chocolate powder.

5. Tom N Toms

Last but definitely not least, Tom N Toms has come out with five “romantic” drinks to fill your winter with some love. Romantic Cinnamon Mocha, Mint Mocha, Milk choco, Mint Choco and Cinnamon Choco. They even come with an adorable candy cane stirrer!

Don’t forget to check out, Korea’s #1 Travel Shop for more exciting and informative posts like this one as well as the latest things to do in South Korea!

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