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Public Sewol Discussion With LA Times’ Steven Borowiec At “Seoul Book & Culture Club”

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Steven Borowiec PresentationOn the two year anniversary of the sinking of the Sewol, dozens gathered at a public event in Seoul to discuss the factors that led to the April 16, 2014 ferry sinking that killed more than 300 people, most of whom were high school students on a field trip. LA Times reporter Steven Borowiec hosted the free “Seoul Book & Culture Club” event where he presented information from his ongoing Sewol reporting & facilitated discussion with both audience members & other journalists in attendance. recorded the presentation & asked the LA Times journalist why he chose to participate.

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










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Itaewon: For Cocktail Lovers?

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This past summer I visited Seoul for a whirlwind, one night only stay after an interview for an MBA program.  I wasn’t there for the shopping or the nightlife, but a couple of friends from Busan were up for the weekend so I decided to stick around.  We checked out Prost, which I have since revisited and which has been jam-packed and unbearable each time.  Up until this weekend I hadn’t really had a wild and wonderful night on the town.  Enter Ramie’s and Fountain.

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Saturday night it rained HARD.  We were pretty tired, and with the rain the thought of going out was an option, but certainly not a priority.  I got a message from a friend of mine mentioning that her friends had taken off and that she was having a single social in Itaewon.  The cab to Itaewon tends to be around KRW 10,000, so we packed the ol’ umbrella and were soon whisked away to the Hamilton Hotel, behind which you’ll find both bars.

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For some reason, the rain seemed to make the neon lights pop even more brightly.  We could see a number of spots we had never explored, one of which was Fountain.  The stone staircase looked like it could be a really cool spot, but we were meeting at Ramie’s so we didn’t immediately stop in.

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At Ramie’s, I had my first Moscow Mule in AGES, which was served properly in a beautiful copper mug.  It was really tasty and well worth the KRW 11,000 for us to sit in the upscale, but still relatively casual and modern bar with some sweet, ambient lounge tunes.

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I’d like to try it out again for dinner (the menu looks amazing!) and drinks on a night when it’s a little busier, as there were only two or three tables on the third floor that were getting any action.  That said, it was raining something fierce!

20160417_051014.jpgAfter Ramie’s we wandered down to Fountain.  Of course, I had no idea that it was brand new, I just loved the old school Italian vibe wandering up the stone staircase to the venue.  20160417_024252

No cover was required, which surprised me as I walked in and saw a huge stone wall that made the bar which was oddly reminiscent of The Alamo, The Roman Forum, and the library of Celsus at Ephesus.

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Even more wonderfully bizarre?  The DJ played a hit list from my childhood.  We selfied a video of No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” (which I will most definitely not be sharing here! :P) as well as “I Want it That Way” (Backstreet Boys, obviously) and a whole slew of other jams from my youth.  It turns out I had actually shared a profile of Fountain from A Fat Girl’s Food Guide.  Coming to the realization that I was in that barcade was pretty wild!

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The vibe was insane with the music, the decor, the Champagne (they have G.H. Mumm for a decent enough price as well as Veuve Clicquot and Moet & Chandon if you’re celebrating), the KRW 8,000 Negroni (seriously – where can you get a Negroni for $8 anywhere?!  That’s a 3 oz beverage, ladies and gents!), and the free arcade games (yes… FREE..thank you for sponsoring my new favourite place, Jack Daniels).


I think this spot was built with me (or any other entitled, childish, and fabulous millenial) in mind.  Fountain, you’ll definitely be seeing me again!

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International Wines and Spirits Expo 2016

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When it rains it pours!  If you haven’t already marked your calendars for the Makgeolli Festival at Goyang, or the Korean Traditional Liquor and Food Festival at Namsangol, then you might as well do that and add another!  One of the biggest events of the year in the alcohol industry is happening for a short three days starting on Thursday this week.

Held at COEX, this exhibition shows wines, spirits, sake and yes of course Korean traditional alcohol! There will be exhibitors from 200 companies spanning 20 countries.  We know first hand that there are some artisan brewers showcasing at the exhibition, so if you have any time feel free to get over to COEX and show them support…and of course taste some truly excellent brews!

Wine and spirits expo


Industry Show Days:   Thursday April 20th – Friday April 21st

Public Day:  Saturday April 22nd

Time:  10am – 6pm (5pm on Saturday)

Where:  COEX Exhibition Centre

Cost:  20,000won

For more details on how to get there and what’s going on visit here.

The spring season for makgeolli festivals and expos continues!!

Makgeolli Mamas & Papas

Ox: Smoke and Grill

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American BBQ seems to be taking off in Korea! In Seoul there are several restaurants, including the excellent ‘Linus’ and ‘Manimal’, to name a couple. In Busan we have the fantastic ‘Haeundae Smokehouse’, and now, the new kid on the block….literally.

‘Ox: Smoke and Grill’ is situated in the heart of Haeundae, just a few minutes’ walk from the subway station, in a tight cluster of streets full of restaurants, love motels and Hotels. The restaurant itself is on the ground floor of the Industries Hotel. You can view their Facebook page here.

The interior is light and airy. Cool, grey tiled floors and imposing white marble table tops greet you as you walk in. The banquette seating is plush and black, with modern art installations on the walls. All-in-all a classy, contemporary vibe has been achieved.

The restaurant opened its doors on Thursday April 14th, and myself and 5 friends paid a visit on Sunday April 17th. Very hungry, we dived straight in. We each ordered the ox platter, to share between two people. This enormous meal comes with brisket, pulled pork, and your choice of either ribs or smoked chicken. Apple coleslaw, dry rub fries and two mini rolls are included as sides.

The first thing I should say about the platter, is that I think it represents excellent value. At 36,000, two people can be extremely well fed, as the portions of meat are generous. Now, onto the food. The brisket was good, with a fantastic, flavoursome rub, a well charred outside, and a tender middle. The smoker has been imported from Georgia, and the authenticity shines through. The pulled pork was also delicious, rich and moist, and extremely flavourful. The ribs however, were the standout. Huge, meaty things, with a sticky, peppery marinade that provided a beautiful counterpoint to the richness of the meat. Similarly, the sides were well executed, tasty fries, and a sharp, sweet apple coleslaw that was a lovely accompaniment to the meat. I hugely enjoyed piling pulled pork into the bun, with a generous scoop of apple coleslaw. Fantastic stuff! The only downside to the platter was the temperature of a couple of the elements. The pulled pork and the fries were bordering on cold, which was a shame.

We also ordered some additional sides to accompany the platter. The BBQ beans were extremely tasty. The sauce was spot-on flavour wise, and the pulled pork in the sauce was very generous! At times, it looked like we had more pork than bean! The only downside to this was the beans were also served on the cold side. A shame. The mashed potato was creamy and smooth, with a dollop of the BBQ beans on top, to provide some extra zing.

The mac’n’cheese (a must try at any BBQ restaurant in my opinion) was a surprise. Rich and creamy, but with chopped spring onion and red pepper in the sauce, not quite traditional. However, it was served piping hot and with a pleasing layer of grilled cheese on top. A big winner for me! The only downside was that the mac’n’cheese was served a full 15 minutes after the rest of the meal. It was  hot and excellent, but getting it ready at the same time would have been welcomed.

Ox serves Korean draft beers, such as Max, and also Gorilla craft beers. A couple of IPA’s went along fantastically with the food. These are priced at 7-7,500 regularly, although we were lucky enough to arrive during the opening weekend, so were a steal at 3,00 each!

All in all, I was impressed with Ox. There are a couple of wrinkles to iron out, but it represents fantastic value for money, and you certainly won’t go home hungry, as the portions are extremely generous. A welcome addition to Busan’s dining scene!


To find Ox: Smoke and Grill, come out of Haeundae subway station exit 5 and walk down towards the beach. Take the third exit on the right and walk about 25 metres. The restaurant is on the ground floor of the Industries hotel.

Address: 16, Gunam-ro 24beon-gil, Haeundae-gu, Busan, Korea. Industrie Hotel, 1F

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Filed under: Food Tagged: american, American BBQ, Brisket, busan, craft beer, Food, restaurant, ribs

Eat Busan, Eat The World!

Children’s Day in Korea

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Everybody in Korea gets excited when they look at the calendar and notice that one of the days is written in red. These special ‘red days’ are national holidays, which means that salaried workers get a day off work and children get a day off school. One of the ‘red days’ in May is Children’s Day.

Children’s Day in Korea is celebrated on May 5th. This date, 5/5, has a certain symmetry to it, and is therefore easy for people to remember. Although many countries around the world have a day designated as ‘Children’s Day’, the dates vary from country to country. For example, Hong Kong celebrates Children’s Day on April 4th, the USA celebrates it on the second Sunday of June, and Brazil celebrates it on October 12th. The only country other than Korea that celebrates Children’s Day on May 5th is Japan. Moreover, many countries that celebrate Children’s Day don’t designate the day as a national holiday or do anything particularly special for it.

The History of Children’s Day in Korea

Children's Day in Korea

The origins of Children’s Day in Korea come from the 1920’s. During that time, students wanted to draw attention to their situation as a way of improving their social status. One of the main supporters of the movement was children’s writer Dr. Bang Jung-Hwan, who started using the word 어린이 (eorini) to mean children. Children’s Day was originally on May 1st, but as this coincided with Labor Day, it was moved to May 5th. The day became an official public holiday in the 1970’s. Koreans have been enjoying a day off work on May 5th ever since.

Three days after Children’s Day, on May 8th, is ‘Parent’s Day’. However, this day is not a public holiday. Traditionally, children give their parents carnations on parent’s day. As a result, many convenience stores and shops will have special displays so that children can easily buy flowers or other small gifts for their parents. The Korean word for Parent’s Day is 어버이날 (eobeoinal). The day was originally designated as ‘Mother’s Day’, but as there wasn’t a ‘Father’s Day’, the two days were combined to make ‘Parent’s Day’.

How to Say ‘Children’s Day’ in Korean

To say ‘Children’s Day’ in Korean, you can say 어린이날 (eorininal). This word is made up of the word for children (어린이), and the word for day (날). It is therefore easy to learn and remember. Children’s Day is a public holiday. The Korean word for ‘public holiday’ is 공휴일 (gonghyuil). Children’s Day falls on May 5th, or 오월 오일 (owol oil) in Korean.

Things to do on Children’s Day in Korea

As parents in Korea often don’t have much time to see their children due to overtime or working on the weekend, many families make an extra effort to do something special on Children’s Day. Children’s Day also falls in May, which usually means that the weather will be good for outside activities as it is warm but not too hot or humid. Parents will often take their children somewhere special and treat them to snacks or ice cream on Children’s Day. Places like amusement parks, zoos, and parks are especially popular places for Koreans to take their children on May 5th.

Amusement Parks 놀이공원 (noligongwon)

Visiting an amusement park is a popular activity on Children’s Day. Two of the most popular amusement parks in Korea are Lotteworld and Everland.

Everland is located in Yongin, near Seoul. It can be reached by taking the ‘Everline’ monorail that connects the park to the Seoul subway network. However, it may be quicker to take an express bus to the park. Everland contains a zoo, a safari park, and many rides (놀이기구 – noligigu) and rollercoasters within its large grounds.

Lotteworld is located at Jamsil subway station, and half of the amusement park is inside, making it a good choice if the weather is bad. The amusement park also contains an indoor ice rink, and is next to a department store and large mall. Seoul Land is another amusement park near Seoul. It is near Seoul Zoo at Seoul Grand Park (대공원 – daegongwon) subway station in Gwacheon.

Zoo 동물원 (dongmulwon)

A trip to the zoo is also a popular activity on Children’s Day in Korea. There are zoos in several Korean cities. Seoul has two zoos: the main zoo at Seoul Grand Park (대공원 – Daegongwon), and a smaller zoo at Children’s Grand Park (어린이대공원 – Eorinidaegongwon), which is near Konguk University in north east Seoul. If you want to learn the different names of animals in Korean, then a trip to the zoo is a great way to practice these words. Quickly learn the names of the animals the night before, then you can practice the new vocabulary all day and make strong memories. Here are three animals to get you started:

Lion – 사자 (saja)

Tiger – 호랑이 (horangi)

Elephant – 코끼리 (kokkiri)

Picnics 소풍 (sopung)

Another popular activity is having a picnic. The parks along the Han River are likely to be full of families on Children’s Day. People will put up a small tent so that they can rest in the shade and enjoy snacks while children fly kites or ride bikes. There are many convenience stores along the river to purchase snacks from, but many people also order food and explain their location to the delivery men who ride on motorbikes looking for the person who placed the order.

As well as these common Children’s Day activities, there are many other things that you can do with your day off. You could go to a baseball or soccer game (there are K-League soccer matches on many national holidays including Children’s Day), go hiking up a mountain, or take a one-day trip to the countryside. You could even stay home and intensively study Korean, after all, learning the Korean alphabet only takes 90 minutes, so you could make a lot of progress in one day.

How will you spend your day off on Children’s Day? Let us know in the comments below!


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Peking Duck is hands down the best thing I ate in Beijing. It’s...

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Peking Duck is hands down the best thing I ate in Beijing. It’s heavily disputed which restaurant serves the best, but we decided to go to Da Dong Roast Duck 北京大董烤鸭店. They have three restaurants in Beijing to choose from. 

Someone from the restaurant sliced the duck at our table. We ate the meat with scallion, cucumber and sweet bean sauce in pancakes rolled around the fillings. Seriously the best thing I ate the whole trip.

About the girl

Hi, I'm Stacy. I am from Portland, Oregon, USA, and am currently living and teaching ESL in Busan, South Korea. Busy getting into lots of adventures, challenging myself, and loving people. Something more than an ethereal will-o-wisp.

Thank you so much for visiting and reading.

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Everyone Hates David Cameron and his Tory Friends

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Last Saturday a shit tonne of people descended on London for the People’s Assembly‘s March for Health, Homes, Jobs and Education to vent their many frustrations at the Tory government’s handling of pretty much everything.

Despite 150,000 people from all over the UK calling on David Cameron to resign (baring in mind the Panama Papers recently shed light on a £30,000 payment he received from his dad’s morally ambiguous tax avoidance schemes; that his party is in disarray over the EU referendum, and the entire country was appalled by his government’s efforts to give yet more tax breaks to the richest at the expense of disabled people… oh, and he allegedly face-fucked a dead pig) most of the Sunday papers couldn’t be arsed to report on it.

Well, if you’ve ever read Media Lens, you’d expect nothing less.

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 18.27.22Anyways, if you don’t happen to be a UK leftie, then you might be asking yourselves, “Who, slash, what the fuck is the People’s Assembly?”.

Well, the People’s Assembly is a broad section of politically independent campaigners united against austerity and the cuts to public services, the selling off of public assets to private hands, the carving up of the NHS, the shredding of Human Rights Act, the attack on trade unions, the misrepresentation and scapegoating of minorities, migrants and refugees, the academisation of all state schools, and so much more.

For me, the protest took on an air of an enormous festival for every shade of indignado. From all manner of leftie weirdos – socialists, communists and anarchists – trade unionists, human rights activists, and environmentalists to teachers, primary / secondary / college / uni students, doctors, nurses, firemen, social workers, mums and dads, disabled people, migrants, journalists, blokes in kilts and even goths. Just about everyone has a bone to pick with this government.

Personally, the protest gave me hope that I am not at all alone in my discontent with neoliberal ideology.

Well they tell me I’m just pissed off…But I’d rather be pissed off, than be pissed on

As well as bellowing my favourite four-letter profanities David Cameron’s way, I was also down there to cover the protest for WellRedFilms, a new media collective of radical videographers and activists shaking up the neoliberal system with their anti-capitalist, anti-racist, pro-environmentalist videos.

I also took a shite load of photos:


People assembled at the People’s Assembly



WellRedFilms doing their thing


Even anarchists need selfie sticks!

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While the main protest stayed up in Trafalgar Square, a few of the hardcore decided to bring the protests to the establishment’s doorstep and occupy the main road outside of Downing Street with their boom boxes blasting out electro reggae, cans of beers, dope roll-ups, and dreadlocks, which brought the attention of the boys and girls in blue.

Most of the protesters sat on the floor and quietly discussed politics, smoked their weed and drank a few beers. Others danced to their awesome tunes, while a few engaged in debates about capitalism with a couple police officers. All this was a nice gesture, but I wondered what, if anything was the point in this mini occupation.

Sure, sitting in front of Downing Street and blocking the traffic, while a nice rebellious gesture, is not going to bring down the government, neoliberal capitalism, the monarchy, TTIP, or corporate greed.

Saying that however, the lad in the baseball cap at 3:45 in the video makes a good point when he told us,

We’ve got to at least voice our opinions and say enough is enough. And maybe the more of us that come down to these events and the more of us that come together, we’ll then reach out to the people in the middle who go to work, who have a job, who don’t know what to do, who pay their taxes, but they know the system’s wrong and they want some sort of a change. So things like this are good. They’re showing unity, they’re showing compassion and understanding.

“You don’t always do something to win, for reward or for status, or to make someone like you. You do something because it’s right, you do something because it matters. That’s the only way we’re going to change the politics of things.


Protestors occupied the main road outside Downing Street






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Chimaek: A Korean Classic You'll Want to Eat Right Now

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Korean Food and Cooking

There are some food discoveries that feel like breaking into the vault, and there are others that feel like finding cash on the ground. Those in the latter category are so straightforward, so obvious, so unfair even, that you're left only to wonder why the rest of us aren't doing this—or rather, eating like this—all the time.

Chimaek is one such discovery.

Do we have your attention?

The word is a mash-up of fried chicken (chi) and beer (maekju), a combination that's been a staple of Korean dining for years. Now, this might not seem on par with the invention of kimchi, or say, the light bulb. It's not even an invention, really. "I've had fried chicken and beer before," you're saying. "What so special here?" But Koreans, in a true collective stroke of genius, built an entire business model around this pairing. They made it one thing.

Chimaek started in the 1970s, and fried chicken has remained the anjoo of choice ever since. ("Anjoo" refers to any food that pairs well with an alcoholic beverage.) "Peak Chimaek" hit during the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup, when it seemed as though the entire nation packed into bars to watch TV and eat fried chicken. Is there any better way to enhance the visceral connection to a sporting event than by eating with your hands and sipping on a beer?

Currently, there are more than 36,000 fried chicken places in South Korea. It's common to use the whole bird for frying, as opposed to picking and choosing the number of wings, thighs, etc. The chicken is typically double fried and covered in a thick, tangy sauce. As far as the beer goes, the theme is light and watery, as Korea hasn't had much of a beer culture until very recently. But the beer isn't meant to be a flavor vehicle anyway. It's a cold, carbonated rush to complement the spicy, salty, oily chicken. Water isn't tough enough. A strong IPA or Porter would ruin the palate. Light, watery beer is the way.

We sipped on Kloud, a German-style lager, and Hite, a pale lager. Both are made in South Korea.

You can dine-in for chimaek (moving from place to place with a group of friends is common), but it's also a major part of Korea's notoriously tenacious delivery system. You can get chimaek delivered to your apartment, or you can get it delivered to a mountain for a picnic. The normal delivery obstacles in an American city (a fifth floor walk-up! a missing doorbell!) don't really exist. The fried chicken and beer will get there, somehow. This system adds another layer of "flavor" to chimaek: The people want fried chicken and beer, and they want it now, please.

Though you might not need help imagining why someone might want this, we are passionate about providing context. Some reasons for ordering chimaek in Korea include:

1. A late night snack craving.
2. A sporting event.
3. A party.
4. A Korean drama marathon.
5. A bad day (This one is a guess, but an educated one.)

The reason we had chimaek at our office this week:

1. Research.
2. Hunger.

JUST enough for four people.

We ordered from two different places—Pelicana Chicken and Bon Chon—in four different styles. From Pelicana, we got the regular (which has the default tangy, thick sauce), and the sauceless (though a wave of disappointment flooded the office as they forgot the scallions on top). From Bon Chon, we went with soy garlic and hot and spicy. Feelings were mixed among our small but selective group of eaters. One felt the sauce on the Pelicana regular was not nearly thick and spicy enough, while another felt that the Bon Chon had an unexpected lightness. The most noticeable things for me were the lack of grease and impressive crispiness even after a car ride and a series of Instagram photos, the two most common causes of death in fried chicken. I also really enjoyed that Pelicana makes use of the whole chicken. One can't live on wings alone.

While we were eating, I was thinking of all the artisanal trends that could disrupt this perfect waltz of a dish. It's too easy to dream up a local hand-crafted beer (it's in the batter, too, of course!) next to chicken that's been fried in sunflower oil and topped with a doughnut—all served in a pastel-colored mason jar. Tune it all out. Light, watery beer and spicy, fried chicken. Don't fight it.

I repeat, do not fight it.

One last thing: There must always be a side of pickled radish. In Korea, the meal is considered incomplete without it. That's another thing to love about chimaek—it is a refined indulgence.

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Sewol 2 Year Anniversary Street Interviews

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Sewol Underwater

April 16th, 2016 marks the two anniversary of South Korea’s worst maritime disaster when the Sewol Ferry sank on a routine trip from Incheon to Jeju Island while transporting hundreds of high school students on a field trip. asked people on the streets of Seoul about the anniversary, how South Korea has changed since the sinking, & if the real truth of what happened will ever be known.


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










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