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Gwaneumsa Temple – 관음사 (Jeju City, Jeju-do)

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 The Buddha on the Hillside at Gwaneumsa Temple in Jeju-do Island.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Gwaneumsa Temple is named after Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). This fairly common temple name in Korea is located on the northeast side of Mt. Hallsan. It’s believed that the temple dates back to sometime during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). However, there is very little proof that indicates the exact year of Gwaneumsa Temple’s construction. During the early 1700’s, when the Joseon royal court proclaimed Confucianism as the state religion, Buddhism suffered horribly from this policy decision. In fact, Gwaneumsa Temple was completely destroyed during this time in Korea’s history. However, in 1912, the temple was rebuilt by the Buddhist nun, Anbongryeokwan. It was later renovated and expanded in 1964.

You’re first greeted to the temple by a wide Iljumun Gate with a copper-coloured roof. Just beyond this is the pathway that leads up to the temple. The pathway is lined by numerous stone statues dedicated to Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha), as well as towering cedar trees. It’s perhaps one of the most picturesque entryways to a temple in Korea. Slightly to the right, and just past the cedar trees, is a large statue dedicated to Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). This large statue is surrounded by descriptive statues of various life-sized statues of guardians.

A little further up the trail, and you’ll see the Cheonwangmun Gate that houses murals dedicated to the Four Heavenly Kings. There are some more Mireuk-bul statues, this time housed atop stone spires, as well as a cave where monks once meditated inside it. Now, it’s a shrine for prayer.Before you enter the temple’s courtyard, you’ll see a beautiful koi pond with a brick pagoda in the centre of it. The Temple Stay building is slightly to the right as is the gift shop.

Finally, you’ll enter into the temple courtyard with the main hall, the Daeung-jeon, straight ahead. With its beautiful copper-colour roof, and paper lanterns out in front, it makes for quite the view. Housed inside the main hall is a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power).

To the right of the main hall is the Jijang-jeon. Housed inside this double altar hall is a large green-haired statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) to the left and an intricately painted Dragon Ship of Wisdom mural to the right. To the far left of the main hall sits the bell pavilion, as well as a stout three-tier stone pagoda.

Housed slightly to the left of the main hall, and up a set of stairs, is the rather large Samseong-gak shaman shrine. The exterior walls to this hall are decorated with various murals including a painting dedicated to the Bodhidharma. As for inside this hall, and sitting in the centre of the main altar, is a rather long, but slender, mural dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars). This painting is joined on either side by a mural dedicated to both Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) and Doseong (The Lonely Saint), respectively. Perhaps the most interesting painting of the group is the mural dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King) with its vibrant colours and stoically seated king.

The final part of Gwaneumsa Temple that visitors can see is a large golden statue of Mireuk-bul sitting on top of a neighbouring hillside. He’s surrounded by a pantheon of smaller sized statues dedicated to various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Slightly down the hill, and to the left, are a triad of larger stone statues dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal, Munsu-bosal, and Bohyun-bosal, respectively.

Admission to the temple is free.

HOW TO GET THERE: You’ll need to take a bus towards Sancheondan from Jeju City. The bus departs every twenty minutes and the ride should last about 30 minutes. When the bus drops you off at Sancheondan, you’ll need to walk an additional thirty minutes to the temple. The signs should help guide your way.

OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10. Perhaps the most famous temple on Jeju-do Island, Gwaneumsa Temple has a lot for the temple adventurer to see. From its beautiful entryway to the koi pond, the temple has a lot of aesthetic beauty. And when you couple it with the large-sized golden statue of Mireuk-bul on the hillside, as well as the Dragon Ship of Wisdom and Yongwang murals, you’ll definitely need to make Gwaneumsa Temple a stop in Jeju-do!


The Iljumun Gate at Gwaneumsa Temple.


The beautiful entry path that leads up to the temple grounds.


Just one of the statues helps guide the way.


The Cheonwangmun Gate at the temple.


The meditative shrine cave at Gwaneumsa Temple.


The beautiful koi pond at the temple.


The view as you first approach the temple courtyard.


To the far left stand this three-tier pagoda and two story bell pavilion.


Straight ahead is the copper-coloured main hall.


 The main altar inside the main hall with Seokgamoni-bul sitting front and centre.


To the right of the main hall is the Jijang-jeon.


The altar inside the Jijang-jeon with a large statue of the Bodhisattva of the Afterlife sitting all alone.


To the right hangs this highly elaborate Dragon Ship of Wisdom mural.


Up the embankment stands the larger sized Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.


Housed inside is this colourful mural dedicated to Yongwang.


A bit up the hillside, and you’ll be welcomed by a golden Mireuk-bul.


Back at the entrance rests this beautiful shrine dedicated to Amita-bul.


He’s joined by this fierce guardian statue.


 And this one, as well.

The post Gwaneumsa Temple – 관음사 (Jeju City, Jeju-do) appeared first on Dale's Korean Temple Adventures.

Economical Eating In Korea- Be Healthy Without Being Bankrupt

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Eating healthily on a budget is sometimes difficult- why buy a huge bag of apples for 5000 won (at the very least) when you can buy 5 huge bags of popcorn, or two boxes of choco pies for that price? Tempting indeed. It seems that all the staples of a healthy diet- meat, fish, vegetables, fruit- are the most expensive things to buy, which is very annoying when you’re trying to live healthily.

Renee Comet Wikimedia Commons
Renee Comet Wikimedia Commons

This is a problem for everyone, and is even worse for expats, who have to get used to seeing something which was cheap in their home country being triple the price in Korea. My biggest upset: oats. A 500 gram bag in the UK is only about 40 pence (about 700 won). In Korea, they’re pretty much non-existent, but if you do find them (thank you Costco) they are ridiculously pricey. So, adjustments to diet have to be made- I’d never eaten pumpkin before living in Korea but it’s now a central part of my diet, along with tofu, persimmon, enochi mushrooms and spinach.

My main lifesaver, however, is I Herb. I’m probably completely jinxing myself, but I’ve always had perfect customer service and deliveries from America within a week, which is amazing. Plus, delivery only costs $4- the same it would cost me to get to E Mart and back in a taxi. So it’s pretty much the perfect option.

And the other benefit? It’s not too expensive- “I Herb is The Best Overall Value in the World for Natural Products”, according to their twitter, and from my experience I wouldn’t doubt that. Most products are the same price that they’d cost you in a Korean Mart, or cheaper. Plus there is so much which isn’t readily available in Korea. What does this mean? That I Herb makes healthy eating easy, and doable on a budget.

There are hundreds of thousands of products on the website, but here are some of the best things which I’ve found:

  • Healthy Bread- Rye bread, Flaxseed bread, Multi-grain bread from $3.30 for 500 grams

  • Quinoa- $5.60 for 400 grams (compared to 10,000 won in Homeplus)
  • Grains- Buckwheat, Amaranth, Bulgar, Rye, Couscous from $3.60
  • Oats- $3 for 500 grams
  • Crackers- Ryvita, Crispbreads, Multi-seed, Multi-grain, the list is endless. From $2
  • Stevia- My saviour. Amazing to add to drinks, oatmeal, cereal, baking. And the liquid type doesn’t have any strange after-taste. From $4
  • Teas- Every type of tea you can imagine. And, cheaper than in Korean Marts- from $1.95
  • Coconut Oil- from $8
  • Herbs and Spices- from $2.60
  • Cereal- Hot cereal from $2.80, Muesli from $3.50, Granola from $4, and so many other types for the same price/ cheaper than in Korea. Including Weetabix- 24 biscuits for $5
  • Nuts- from about $8 for 450 grams
  • Seeds- from about $3 for 400 grams.
Luigi Chiesa Wikimedia Commons
Luigi Chiesa Wikimedia Commons

You can spend hours searching on the website and there are tons of other healthy goodies: cereal bars, dried fruit and vegetables, soup mixes, healthy butters, baking goods, healthy crisps and popcorn, protein powder and protein  bars (Quest Nutrition bars are so much cheaper on I Herb than anywhere else, and CarbRite Bars are so yummy). It’s such a good option for getting good-value healthy foods. It’s so popular that there are literally deliveries every week to teachers at our school.

Miia Ranta Wikimedia Commons
Miia Ranta Wikimedia Commons

As for buying foods on a budget from Korean shops- it can be done. One of the best things is that rice is everywhere, and a nice, healthy staple to add to your diet. To get top healthy points, choose brown/ multi-seed/ add barely to your rice. Then you’re instantly making your meals healthier. Cheap, quick and easy- what could be better?

A few other things which I have added to my diet because they’re healthy, cheap and easy to find in Korea are: tofu (especially Pulmone Half & Half which is so good), eggs, greek yoghurts (you can find these from 2000 won), vegetables (things like cabbage, carrots, spinach, and lettuce, which don’t change much in price despite the season), and tinned salmon and tuna.

This leads me onto my next point- buying tinned food is a good option for things which areso expensive otherwise. As long as you don’t buy the flavoured options (like chilli tuna or salmon which are more artificial and contain more sugar), this is a good way to eat healthy fish without spending too much.

The same goes for buying frozen things- why spend 6000 won on 100 grams of fresh blueberries when you can buy over 1 kilo of frozen blueberries for 9000 won? The same goes for mango, pineapple, strawberries, etc- go frozen, and you can enjoy all the healthy benefits of delicious fruit for a fraction of the price. I also freeze meat- buy bigger portions of fresh chicken as they’re much better value and then freeze them separately, another easy way to spend less but still be able to afford clean, healthy food.

I’ve also noticed how important it is when buying fruit and vegetables to only buy what’s in season; recently, the price of tomatoes went up by 2000 won in about 2 weeks and broccoli doubled in price- if you take notice of the price changes and only buy what’s in season, it’s much cheaper. This is especially true with fruit; there are a few weeks in summer when watermelon is actually affordable (yay) and the same goes for peaches and nectarines. At other times during the year, they’re just too expensive.

The thing I find which makes the biggest difference for fruit and veg is going to a local shop, rather than a chain. In my local vegetable shop I can buy carrots for 1000 won, a big bag of eggplant for 1000 won, a huge bag of spinach for under 2000 won, and a bag of 8 apples for 5000 won. Pretty good, when at the big marts everything is double the price!

I hope that’s given you some ideas on how to eat healthily for less. I manage to eat fresh, healthy food without going bankrupt, so it’s definitely doable. Still, if Korea decided to start selling oats for a reasonable price, that would make my life so much easier… Here’s hoping!


Kathryn's Living

Itaewon Festival

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Every day is a festival in Seoul. There are festivals for a particular flower when it blooms, festivals for the seasons, for foreigners, and many many more! Festivals are also celebrated to introduce the people to a particular area / museum / monument that has been recently open to public. Pretty good tactics!

Itaewon is the Foreigner area in Seoul. It is conveniently in the middle of Seoul. Close to City Hall, the palaces and the Financial districts yet only a bridge away from Gangnam and other trendy areas. A stroll into the main street in Itaewon will introduce you to the many tongues of the world. It is a place where there is a bit more English usage and one of the places where you are sure to get groceries from around the world. In the mood to try exotic food today? Tough enough to bar-hop through the night? Itaewon is the place to be. This weekend is the Itaewon Global center festival. It was just the place to be for a party!!!

The main street was blocked for traffic and it had the big stage with pyrotechnics and some cool music! Good way to introduce upcoming stars :)

Dancing to the beat with the crowd in Itaewon
Dancing to the beat with the crowd in Itaewon.

It was totally crowded!
Itaewon is the Spot to be this weekend!
 Spot- for Saturday Photohunt.
Aww! Free  hugs, Plastic wrap??? Lessons for what??? No wonder he ducked his face behind!

Where there is crowd, there is food in Itaewon
Where there is crowd, there is food

When you are full and content, what better to do than to shop?
When you are full and content, what better to do than to shop?

squid on the rocks
Still, where else can you can check out the squid on the rocks?

roses in itaewon
Impress your date with the LED roses

hanging out in Itaewon
Now, isn't that nice? Just hanging out with friends, chilling out with chums, just enjoying the music.

The fashion show in Itaewon
Another stage to keep the crowd's attention. Fashion from all around the world.
Yet another stage for newbies 
K POP in Itaewon
K POP rules!!
Where there is a crowd, there is food, and where there is food, there is garbage.
Where there is a crowd, there is food, and where there is food, there is garbage.
Itaewon is quite dirty and stinks during the weekends. But then becomes and spick and span on Monday mornings. 

RTBC Day Two: Video Games in the Classroom

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Reflective Teaching Blog Challenge – Day Two: Write about one piece of technology you would like to try this year, and why. What are you hoping to see of this edtech integration?

Mario Kart. League of Legends. Grand Theft Auto 3 and FIFA 3 Online. I polled my middle and high school Korean students a few weeks ago and these are their top favorite video games. This year I would like to use all of them in the classroom in some capacity.

Slide1Effective teachers cater to their students’ interests, and introduce content in ways that make it relatable to them. Especially when it comes to my male students, what better way to get them engaged than to play a clip of a pre-recorded game or a montage of epic moves? In a perfect world I would have access to my own game console (a PlayStation 2, an XBox, or a Wii) but for now I’ll settle for YouTube clips. Bottom line: I want my students to get excited about what they’re learning, and be motivated to think about/use English outside of class. Of course, the whole lesson cannot be spent playing or watching these games. But I really believe they have the potential to be a great jumping-off point or a cool way to sum up a lesson.

There are plenty of articles out there that further champion the use of video games in the classroom, but they’re moreso talking on an abstract level. I have yet to find very many great articles that spell out real and effective ways video games can be incorporated specifically into an ESL setting, so any suggestions of resources or personal recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

So far, I’ve cooked up one idea to use a pre-recorded FIFA 3 Online clip to segway into a lesson on colors. Students will watch the clip, and afterward I’ll introduce the color vocabulary. Then they’ll watch the clip again and write down how many different colored jerseys they see. From there, we’ll play some more review games to solidify acquisition of the color vocab and conclude with an activity describing their favorite team’s uniform! Thoughts? I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes!

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Busan Firework Festival

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What goes around comes around saying is perfectly true, do you know that even though the BIFF (Busan International Film Festival) is over, however we will have another major event soon in Busan.

Located in Gwangan beach with the famous Gwangan bridge as the background, the Busan International Firework Festival (부산 세계불꽃축제), is an event that held annually since it's first show in 2005. On 2011 due to the popularity of the year before, the event was held for more than a week!!

One view of the Firework Festival

This year the event will be start on Evening of 24th October and the major show will be held on 25th October as usual with the Gwangan Bridge as the background. Nevertheless, there will be another event such as the Concert that can be enjoyed in Busan Citizen Park on 24th October, so what are you gonna waiting for again, join us and book the place ASAP and enjoy the festival, not only the festival but also the laser light show directly after the festival.

Hope to see you soon~~

Should You Open a Bank Account in Korea?

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It’s finally happened. You’ve stuffed so much money under your mattress that you are having trouble sleeping at night. Is it time to open up a bank account in Korea?

Good question! Before you get started, let’s talk about what you need to know about having a bank account in Korea. After we cover the ins and outs of banking in Korea, we’ll give you a few banks to investigate. If you want to study Korean banking vocab, scroll to the bottom for common banking words. You can use them to impress the bank tellers when you stop off at your neighborhood branch!

So who needs this info? Do you? Maybe! This info may be useful if:

  1. You’re thinking about moving to Korea
  2. Will be moving to Korea soon
  3. Study Korean at a school and are only here temporarily
  4. Get paid from an employer overseas
  5. Want to brush up on your Korean banking knowledge

One thing to note here is that Korea is a rapidly changing country. With that said, the banking rules and requirements are constantly being updated. Use this info as a general guide, but make sure you call your bank first before you head in to open a bank account in Korea.

Here we go!


This is going to vary from bank to bank. Having an ARC (Alien Registration Card) will be the best and give you the most options for account functionality. For example, an ARC card may allow you to do online banking, get an ATM card, and transfer money overseas. If you don’t have an ARC card or are waiting for yours to be processed, most banks will allow you to open an account with a passport and an ID from your home country that hasn’t expired. A driver’s license or government-issued picture ID is best.

The closer you meet their requirements, the more choices you will have for your account.

Online Banking

If you’re ready to bring all of the fun and excitement of branch banking to your home computer, then you’ll be pumped about online banking! You’re going to need a digital certificate (공인인증서) in order to do online transfers, so make sure you sign up for one when creating your account.

Some banks have English menus for online banking, but menus are often limited. They will be fine for most normal transactions. Korean online banking is chock-full o’ security programs, so get read to do some serious add-on and plug-in downloading!

Digital Certificate

This is a digital file that identifies you so you can send money from your account. It’s an added layer of security to make sure nobody is trying to make you part ways with your hard earned cash. You can save this file to your computer, your USB, or your smartphone. Currently, it is somewhat challenging to transfer the digital certificate to your smartphone if you’re new to online banking. If that’s the case, make life easy for yourself. Try transferring the file to a USB drive (easier) and then work your way up to being smartphone savvy.

Smartphone Applications

Online banking in your pocket, anytime you want! The banks first rolled out the apps in Korean only, but they’re slowly changing over to English menu options. If you’re feeling brave and want to study Korean banking vocab, then give the apps a shot!

Password Paradise

If you love passwords, then having a bank account in Korea is going to be like Christmas coming twice in one year! For those only doing basic banking only, this won’t be an issue. If you plan to do online banking and use the ATM, be prepared to write your passwords down somewhere safe.

Banking Hours

Most banks are open from 9am – 4pm. Some branches stay open later or have Saturday hours.

ATM Machines

Many bank branches have ATMs that are open until midnight. Some places have 24 hour ATMs, but often they lock the doors after a certain time. Not to worry, there are plenty of ATMs all throughout Korea. They may not be your bank’s ATM, so be prepared to pay a small fee if withdrawing from a different bank’s ATM.

If you’re using your ATM card from another country, look for “Global ATM” signs so you can withdraw your cash from your international account.

Foreign Designated Bank (외국환 지정거래)

When you open a bank account in Korea, make sure to ask about 외국환 지정거래. This is extremely important! If you will be transferring money or using your ATM card outside of Korea, you will need to have one bank set up as your foreign designated bank. If not, you won’t be able to transfer money outside of Korea. Or even words, you may find yourself in a foreign country with no way to access your cash in Korea. You cannot have two foreign designated banks.

Service Charges & Fees

Most accounts don’t charge a service fee, and don’t require a minimum balance. You may have to pay a transaction fee depending on how you transfer the funds. Basically, the more labor-intensive for the bank, the more you’ll pay. Bank teller transactions will be the most expensive, followed by ATMs. Online banking have the lowest fees.

Ready to shop for banks? You’ll have plenty to choose from, so let’s get started with the big three that expats and visitors in Korea typically use. Give them a ring and see if they’re worth a visit!

KEB (Korea Exchange Bank)



Korea: 02-1544-3000 x8,9

Overseas: +82-1544-3000 x8,9

Notes: Expats love this bank. A little light on the ATMs.

Woori Bank



Korea: 02-1599-2288

Overseas: +82-1599-2288

Notes: ATMs galore. Online banking is improving.

Shinhan Bank



Korea: 02-1577-8380

Overseas: +82-1577-8380

Notes: Lots of branches, cater to expats and international visitors.


If you read to open a bank account in Korea and want to study Korean banking vocab before you chat with tellers, below are 10 must-know words.

Note: If you can’t read Hangeul yet, you can learn by downloading the free 90 Minute Challenge guide here.

Korean Banking Vocabulary

What do you think is the best bank for expats? Let us know your favorite bank in the comments below!

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Culture Shock, What Culture Shock? Embracing The Cultural Change.

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 Moving to another country, especially one as different as Korea can make you experience one tough culture shock: why are people staring at me… why is cereal so expensive… is itreally ok to spit in public?  Now, we’ve gotten used to being pointed at by amazed children (and yes, once making a child cry when they saw my face) and lots of Korean ways have become second nature (minus the spitting). So much so that back in England people must have wondered why I bow my head in greeting, instead of waving at them.

Of course we researched Korean etiquette before we came (oh, so that’s how I should leave my chopsticks at the end of a meal), but nothing fully prepares you for entering a completely foreign culture.

Here are some of the cultural changes we’ve become accustomed to during our time in Korea, albeit some more easily than others…

  • Discussing People’s Age

What’s one of the rudest things you can ask someone in England? Their age. This rule is even more important when the person in question is elderly. It’s one thing guaranteed to get you in trouble when you’re young and don’t know better: innocently asking an adult “How old are you,” will inevitably lead to a good telling-off.

So imagine our surprise when we first met our co-ordinator in Korea who happily told us on our first meeting his age (and has since repeated it on numerous occasions). We thought it odd, to say the least. But in a country where age equals respect, it’s something to be proud of.

Oh, and this doesn’t bear well for me as the youngest teacher in school; when students ask my age and realise how young I am, it doesn’t encourage them to respect me…

  • Discussing How Much Things Cost

Another faux-pas in England: telling someone how much a gift cost. And just in general, talking about the high price of something would make people think you’re boasting or just plain arrogant. It’s an awkward topic.

Roll on me feeling extremely uncomfortable when our director buys us a winter blanket as a gift, and proceeds to describe in detail just how much it cost and how extremely expensive it was (and repeats this ten times over). Um… Thanks…

  • Slippers/ No Shoes Inside


 No shoes inside the house is a fairly normal rule. But inside public buildings? Now that was new to me.

Comfy slippers in the workplace= so much better than smart shoes and much warmer in winter too; I love putting my furry slippers on when I get inside. Although I have to admit that it makes me feel slightly less professional…

Taking off shoes in restaurants isn’t as fun- having cold feet in the winter isn’t great and bare feet in the hot, sweaty summer…not the most pleasant thing!

  • Bowing Heads

I have become used to nodding at people I pass or make eye-contact with (and now also do the same in England, probably resembling a nodding dog at times).

However I still automatically smile too, something I just can’t snap out of. Don’t get me wrong, some Koreans smile back, but more often than not, a bow of the head is all I get. So it’s very likely that when I make eye contact with someone, the Korean is probably left wondering who the crazy smiling Westerner was.

  • Lack Of Queues

No, I haven’t gotten used to the lack of queues in Korea, nor will I ever. Maybe it’s just an English thing, but queues are just logical. And when someone cuts in front of me at CU, I still want to murder them.

The best example of why queues are the best? Flashback to the time when I was almost trapped in the closing doors on the subway on the way to watch Korean vs. Brazil at the World Cup Stadium- I was so rammed by the crowds of people, pushing from all sides. See, this is why queues were invented!

(On the other hand, I do love the Korean ticket system when you’re at the bank/ cinema etc, and it does prevent queue jumpers. CU- take note).

  • Showing A Lot Of Leg

This is one thing I really don’t understand: in the same culture where it’s frowned upon to have bare shoulders/ arms, people don’t look twice about girls wearing micro-mini-skirts and hot pants.

The shoulders issue isn’t surprising because it’s the same in many cultures, but what puzzles me is why this is seen as wrong, but legs on show is acceptable. I’ve seen some shockingly short  skirts/ shorts during my time in Korea (and yes, I know that makes me sound like I’m about 80): seriously, the skirts are so short they’d raise eyebrows in England… and don’t even get me started on the hot pants.

Why does it bother me? Because all I want in summer is to wear thin straps, without being glared at by Ajummas… it’s just too hot to wear sleeves!

  • Not Tipping

In lots of the restaurants here it makes sense that you don’t tip- you cook the food yourself, after all. But I still feel guilty when the people are so lovely, or you’re somewhere that cooks for you and it’s delicious, but it’s not normal to give tips here.

The reaction I got once from a taxi driver proved how unusual it was to tip: I told him to keep the change which was only about 500 won, but from his smile and surprise, you’d think I had given him 5000 won!

  • Sharing Food

a (8)

Sharing food usually comes naturally because it comes on one grill/ in one big bowl. But the first time we ate at a Western restaurant we realised it’s also the norm to share food there; you get one pizza and one bowl of pasta, and share both. Pretty good idea when you can’t decide on just one thing from the menu!

The only downside is that the servers as so used to people sharing that they don’t bring out your meals at the same time, leading to one person jealously watching the other eat (worst thing ever when you’re hungry).

  • Food Etiquette

a (16)There are quite a few rules about eating which we tried to learn before coming to Korea: wait for the eldest person to sit down first, don’t eat too fast, don’t eat too slow, never pour your drink first, don’t leave the table until the eldest person has. It’s like a minefield.

Our first meal, we were concentrating so hard on not offending anyone we could barely relax to enjoy the food… ‘what if I accidently pour myself some water first and instantly offend everyone’, ‘what if I need to leave the table’… ‘what if I put my chopsticks in the wrong place’.

The hardest thing? Never refusing food in case you look rude- let’s just say that after a meal with Korean colleagues, I’m beyond full. I’m just thankful that we go to a Christian school and so there are no shots of soju around…

Needless to say, there have been many slip-ups along the way. Like the first time I entered our new apartment after 24 hours of travelling and forgot to take my shoes off. Bad move. Luckily, our co-ordinator forgave me (I think). There are also the things I haven’t adapted to, and don’t think I ever will- I haven’t started audibly slurping my food, I’d just end up with it all over me! Not cool. 

But despite the cultural divergence, there are still little things which make you feel at home. The best is the friendliness of hikers, always having a friendly word to say; it reminds me of being back in England on a country walk, where everyone greets each other like they’re old friends. So despite the many changes, the gaping differences between England and Korea, it’s nice that some things have remained the same. 

"What does it mean?" in Korean

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If you've learned some Korean, but you don't know every single word and phrase yet, what do you do when you see or hear something you're unfamiliar with? Well, you can ask a Korean to tell you what it is, by asking them "What does it mean?" Find out how to say it in this week's new "Korean Phrases" episode right here.

Korean Phrases Ep. 29: What does it mean?

And are you just starting to learn Korean, or want a solid review of the basics? My new book "Korean Made Simple: A beginner's guide to learning the Korean language" is the book for you!

You can check the book out on my site here, or find it directly through Amazon and most online retailers.


 Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean





MICA’s First Live Performance on Superstar K6

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The sisters are still in! ^^ They got Filipino expats in Korea excited. Facebook walls are mostly about their exhilarating performance tonight. The girls sang “Maria”, original soundtrack of the romantic-comedy “미녀는 괴로워” (200 Pound Beauty). The judges gave them the second highest scores, and mostly positive feedbacks. With two female contenders, Foxstar  (여우별밴드) and Lee Haena (이해나), eliminated from the contest, MICA is the only remaining female finalist. Despite their high scores on tonight’s show, they are still on the 9th spot in the votes. Eliminations in every episode are based on votes, so even if the judges are in favor of them, they need more votes to move on to the grand finals. Well, as the show’s motto puts it, “Real miracles never stop”. MICA has gone this far. They made it to the Top 11 through wild card, and now they are part of the Top 9… let us keep supporting them by voting for them and promoting their group. Hopefully, we can get more votes even from non-Filipinos in Korea.

If you missed MICA’s performance tonight, you can watch it again by clicking this link.


While Filipinos are happy about MICA’s staying in the competition, some Korean netizens have already flooded Tweeter with negative posts about the group. For a country whose citizens are known for their nationalistic fervor, such reaction is understandable. Perhaps, in the weeks to come (hopefully MICA stays), those who bash these talented Filipino performers might just change their minds.

From Korea with Love




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