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Making the Best of Blue Hour

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One of the best times to shoot in my opinion is “Blue Hour” This is the period of time after sunset or just before sunrise where the sky is a brilliant colour of blue. Without going into to too much detail about the proper names or the azimuth of the sun, I want to introduce you to this as it will change how you shoot long exposure/ nighttime photos.

Blue Hour at Daewangahm

Why is Blue Hour So Special?

The main reason is the colour and the light. Many photographers know that sunsets and sunrises are great. I have seen many pack up and leave once the sun is gone. Also I have seen many head out too late thinking that night photography is better when the sky is pitch black. However, there is a magic to this hour and it should not be ignored.

The reason blue hour is so special is because it is dark which means that water and and car lights will streak and blur. However, it is not too dark so that clouds are still visible not to mention that the sky’s a  deep blue colour adding a lot more interest than just black. This is important for cityscapes and anywhere that there is a bit of pollution.

The one thing to keep in mind is that it only lasts for an hour and realistically even less. So you have to be on the ball and set up if you want to catch it. This also makes it a bit challenging to shoot as you don’t have much time to move around during blue hour.

Also, it should be noted that blue hour during overcast or rainy skies can work as well. As the light fades blue hour will briefly appear even without a visible sun. This means that even if the sunset was disappointing, the blue hour might save the shot. However, if the skies are too dense then of course this will decrease the amount of time for blue and in some cases cause it not to appear at all.


 What Can You Shoot?

My personal favourite are cityscapes as the blue hour allows for the lights of the buildings to be on and the cars to leave light trails. Also you still have detail in the sky and that adds a lot to the frame. It is also not too dark meaning that you will also have detail in the darker part of the frame.

Moving water is another great subject as you can keep the definition in the subject areas but you are able to blur the water. This is the key as like with any long exposure you want to have that sense of motion.


What you want to get out of the blue hour is really what you want to achieve in a night time shot but with much more colour and detail throughout the image. This is why I love this time so much. You can the longer exposures of night photography but you still keep the colour in the sky.

The long and short of this is basically blue hour is great for buildings and architecture, cityscapes and landscapes and as well as anything with moving objects like cars and amusement park rides.

What Happens if I Miss it?

I would almost always say to make sure that you get there before boue hour. I better approach your be to get set up for the sunrise/sunset and then use the blue hour as a finishing point. That way you are there earlier and you already have a sense of the location.

blue hour Ulsan


That being said, if you just missed it you can sometimes brighten the sky a bit using a cool graduated filter inside of lightroom. I know that GD filters are pretty sweet but what I mean here is that you cool the temperature down to give a cool colour cast in the sky. This may not always work but it is good to know if you want to attempt to save your shot.

Basic Edits

One of the best things about blue hour photography is the fact that you don’t need to do and heavy editing. Most of the colour is already there. For the example below from Busan, South Korea it only took me a few moments to get this image looking great. I will also be showing how I edited this photo in an up coming tutorial over at so be sure to look for that.

At any rate, basically this photo was adjusted merely to sharpen and bring out the natural pop of the blue hour. It was shot about 1 stop over to make it a little brighter but that is about it. Drag the slider back and forth to see the difference.

Your Mission… Should You Choose To Accept It

Get out there and shoot some blue hour shots. Play around by increasing your f-stop to get longer exposures. If possible try getting onto a rooftop somewhere and see your city from a new angle. Let me know how you did in the comments below or post your photos in the comment section on my facebook page

The post Making the Best of Blue Hour appeared first on The Sajin.

Weekend Warriors: Daedun Cloud Bridge and Chateau Mani Winery

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On a Friday night in February, I hopped on a bus from the WinK Taphouse and headed down to the middle of Korea.  WinK has definitely stepped up their food menu game.  I really enjoyed the spicy mac and cheese, which had a real kick to it and plenty of bacon.  The ooey-gooey cheese is what I crave most Friday nights!  You might remember WinK from my tour to Jindo for the Sea-Parting Festival.


We arrived in Daejeon around 1 AM.  The group slept at a jimjilbang (bath house and sauna) overnight.  We were up, at ’em, and on the road by 7:20 AM.  After about an hour of driving we made it to Daedun Mountain which has stunning snow-capped mountains, beautiful views, and plenty of tasty Korean food and Makgeolli.  The Daedun Cloud Bridge is a must-see when visiting Korea.  We then went on to visit Chateau Mani.  Young Dong is an area well-known for its grape growing and wine-making.  Some say it’s like the Napa Valley of Korea.

Daedun Mountain and Daedun Cloud Bridge

There are two ways to reach the cloud bridge and vertical stairway.  The tough way is to take the hiking trail which is pretty steep and can take experienced hikers about an hour to an hour and a half.  The easy way (which we took) was the cable car.  I had been hoping to hike, but once we started the trek I thought it would be safer to take the cable car.  The walk from the bus to the cable car was already pretty steep, and with the cold, ice, and about 28 other group members I thought it best to save the hike for another time.  The cable car itself takes you almost right up to the top where there are stairs to the Daedun Cloud Bridge and two lookout points.  After another set of slippery stairs you get to the cloud bridge!

Daedun Cloud Bridge Cable Car Pricing:

Round Trip = 9,000 won (8,500 won if in a group of 30 + people)
One Way = 6,000 won (5,500 won if 30 or more)

Once you cross Daedun cloud bridge you’ll have to go down to make your way back up to the vertical bridge.  From the top of that bridge to the peak is about 30 minutes.  I actually had to slide on my bum to get down from a particularly steep and slippery section, so I avoided that area too this round.  The people who went up to the peak said that it was too foggy to see very much anyway even though it was a clear day.

You can’t skip a chance to have makgeolli (rice wine) and pajeon (savoury panake) when hiking (or taking a cable car to a mountain).  This area is known for it’s chestnut makgeolli.  The flavour is fairly subtle, and after a couple of servings you’ll definitely get a case of the giggles!  At the base of the mountain you’ll find a plethora of restaurants and food stands.  Knowing we’d have lunch at the winery, we chose to just have one order of jeon and then share some tasty hotteok, too.  Hotteok is fried dough filled with brown sugar and, depending on the region, different kinds of nuts or seeds.  This variety had sesame seeds!

Chateau Mani Korean Winery

Apparently this is the same winery to which the wine train will take you!  They make 4 different kinds of wine there and store a plethora of other bottles for people conservatory-style.  The wines are made from grapes grown in the region.  They had a dry white and a dry red which I still found to be quite sweet.  The white wine had an interesting smoky taste that I probably wouldn’t order again.  The dry red was pretty typical cheap-tasting red.  We had a grand time eating, drinking, and chatting away with our new pals.  

Lunch was bbq duck with plenty of side dishes.  Extra wine carafes were KRW 7,000 each.  At that price, everyone was having a toasty time.  Later, we were able to check out Chateau Mani’s tasting room.  There, we sampled some more wines (free of charge) before heading back to Seoul.

Winery Tour and Foot Bath

I actually didn’t do the foot bath this time around because I had already done it in Muju.   We opted to stick around the tasting room.  We  joked around with other members of the tour and our lovely ahjumma hostess who was taking care of our sampling.  The people who did do the foot bath loved it.  They came in and out of the gift shop and tasting area to grab glasses to bring back while soaking.

Like it?  Pin it!  Also make sure to check out the list of all upcoming trips at WinK Travels Facebook and follow The Toronto Seoulcialite for more Korea trip rundowns!

The post Weekend Warriors: Daedun Cloud Bridge and Chateau Mani Winery appeared first on The Toronto Seoulcialite.

The Toronto Socialite
That Girl Cartier


Monday, February 27 Korean News Update

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President Park Geun-hye will not appear at the final hearing for her impeachment following protests by hundreds of thousands in Seoul over the weekend, no trace of the nerve agent that killed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s half brother has been found at the airport where he was attacked, China is blocking access to South Korean music & dramas, & women in the ROK are predicted to be the first group in the world to have an average lifespan of more than 90 years. All that & more on the latest Korean News Update podcast from Korea FM.

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 Monday, February 27 Korean News Update appeared first on Korea FM.

Korean Phrases Ep. 48: 오리무중

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This week we have a new "Korean Phrases" video, and we're going to be learning another useful idiom from 한자 (Chinese characters used in Korean).

We'll be learning about the idiom 오리무중.

Check out the video below!

The post Korean Phrases Ep. 48: 오리무중 appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

 Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean





The 7 Worst Guys An Expat Can Date

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Expat Dating - That Girl Cartier

Photographer: Dave Meier

We have a tendency to get a little bit lonely living abroad.  Expat dating can be tough!  It’s not always easy to meet someone who speaks English, and if you haven’t been somewhere long then your foreign language skills might not be strong enough for the dating world.  Men we’ve met while living abroad and trying to feign off loneliness haven’t all been bad.  The stereotypes represented are just that, stereotypes and generalizations, so please take this all with a grain of salt and a bit of a laugh.  Before you go locking up your love and throwing away the key, see if you notice any similarities herein.  This is all about the very worst of the worst: The 7 Worst Guys an Expat can Date.

Expat Dating - That Girl Cartier

Photographer: Ben White

The Local

This guy just wants to date someone foreign he can show off to his friends.  It’ll be a fleeting romance.  You’ll wonder what exactly you both were thinking.  In Korea, they call this phenomenon “Riding the White Horse”.  I’ll leave you and your imagination to that one.  This isn’t always the case, of course, but as a caucasian woman with blue eyes and blonde hair I’ve found more often than not this type of local’s intentions are pretty transparent, and they’re simply not for me.

Expat Dating - That Girl Cartier

Photographer: Taylor L. Spurgeon

The Green (CARD) Monster

This fellow might come from a country with a less than ideal passport situation.  Alternatively, he might have visions of moving to a different country for fame and fortune.  The Green Monster just wants you for your connection to your home and native land, land of hope and glory, or the home of the brave (most likely the latter, in my experience).

Expat Dating - That Girl Cartier

Photographer: Amanda Jordan

The Military Man

The Military Man tends to want to settle down.  Being deployed over and over again means he’s a lone wolf.  More often than not he’s “exclusively dating” a few lovely ladies.  They really do want to have their white picket fence and 2.5 kids, but the struggle is real when living in what amount to dorm rooms.  If you find a diamond in the rough, he will be the most loyal, caring gentleman in the world.  The standard review of the Military Man is that he’s a dirty dawg.

Expat Dating - That Girl Cartier

Photographer: Frank McKenna

The Eternal Expat

Flitting from city to city and country to country “sampling the local fare”, this guy has found a good life.  Probably considered to be generically attractive from a North American perspective, he’s got a charming personality.  Somewhere down the line he was likely a varsity athlete or fraternity brother.  He’s got natural game and women everywhere swoon.  He’s never settling down in one place, and for him you’ll never been enough.

Expat Dating - That Girl Cartier

Photographer: Ben White

The Lifer

Like the Eternal Expat, The Lifer doesn’t want to return home for fear he’ll just never have it as good.  He’s a 6 at home, but a 10 abroad.  Out every night of the week, he’s got a local girlfriend, but still crushes Tinder, Bumble, and OkCupid on the regular.  With expat dates across the city during the week, he’s got a locally-sourced meal every Sunday night.

Expat Dating - That Girl Cartier

Photographer: Ben White


The LBH or “loser back home” is a nightmare for both expats and travelers alike.  This guy has no social skills, but collects friends like Pokemon cards (note: he’s got a fat stack of those back home, too).  He’s likely well-educated (at least a Bachelor’s degree) and assumes that because he’s foreign (read between the lines here, ladies) he’s got something over the rest of the males in the country.  He’s not picking up the cheque anytime soon (which is fine, but let’s at least go Dutch) because he’s got massive student loans in arrears.  He probably has an acoustic guitar at home and has learned to play all of 3 chords.  Avoid this one like the plague…his friends are way cooler than he.

Expat Dating - That Girl Cartier


The Travel Romance

This one shouldn’t be avoided altogether, but you must know upon entry that your risk of heartbreak is about 90%.  Meeting in vacation mode gives you the opportunity to live without the stress of work and other responsibilities at home.  You both are at your best around one another.  You’re swept up in the bliss of being in a new place with new adventures at every turn.  Give in to the Travel Romance, just don’t give away your heart completely.  It will fly away to the other side of the planet to taunt you with ransom letters every time your time-zones allow you to connect.

Have you had an expat or travel romance which has stood the test of time?  Make sure to leave a comment below!  If you’re in Korea, check out this list of stellar date spots in Seoul.  From the budding romance to a tale as old as time, The Toronto Seoulcialite has got you covered.

Like it? Pin it!

That Girl Cartier - 7 Worst Guys an Expat Can Date




Korea’s Spring Festivals 2017 in March

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March is the month that marks the beginning of spring in Korea. As the warm sunlight thaws the land of morning calm after the freezing winter, early spring flowers finally start to bloom. Mountains and fields are filled with vivid spring colors and it is time to go on a day trip. Let’s take a look at where to go for your spring day out in Korea.

1. Gwangyang Maehwa (Apricot Flowers or Plum Blossoms)

02-body1_gwangyang-maehwa-festival-in-spring02-1Gwangyang Maehwa Village is famous for its beautiful apricot trees. Every March, this small village is covered with white Maehwa (apricot flowers or plum blossoms). As Maehwa is known as the first spring flower to bloom, a nice day out at Gangyang Maehwa Village will quench your thirst for long-awaited spring flowers.

Strolling beneath Maehwa trees, tasting local Gwangyang food and taking a tour to the nearby Ssanggyesa Temple will make a perfect spring excursion.

For more information, click here.

Location: Jeollanam-do (southwest province)

2. Gurye Sansuyu (Cornelian Cherry)

03-body2_gurye-sansuyu03-1As the weather starts to get warmer, the sansuyu (cornelian cherry) trees welcome the new spring season by decorating Gurye with its bright yellow flowers.

The Gurye Sansuyu Festival is an annual festival held in the base of Jirisan Mountain, located in the Jeollanam-do Province, where you can see the beautiful bright yellow sansuyu flowers in full bloom.

You can also visit nearby Hwaeomsa TempleIt is one of the 10 most famous temples in Korea and a must-visit temple for those who want to relax their minds in the quiet temple and learn about the historic national cultural heritages.

For more information click here.

Location: Jeollanam-do (southwest province)

3. Uljin Snow Crab

04-body3_uljin-snow-crab04-1-uljin-snow-crabUljin is a county down south where snow crabs are most caught in Korea. You can taste the delicious snow crab caught straight from the ocean and enjoy a fun day at Uljin Snow Crab Festival The first week of March is the best time to savor snow crabs.

For more information, click here.

Location: Gyeongsangbuk-do (southeast province)

Photo Credits
Republic of Korea Gwangyang Maehwa Festival in Spring
barama1 구례 산수유
purunuri 울진 대게(Sculpture of Uljin Snow Crab) via photopin (license)
a service for travelers to easily share and discover the latest hip & hot travel spots from all over the world. 
We are currently focusing on Korea as our destination and plan to expand to other countries gradually. 

Seoul Dating: This Is What You Came For…isn’t it?

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Rihanna - This Is What You Came For - That Girl Cartier

Seoul Dating: This Is What You Came For

Dear Wonderful Readers and Internet Trolls,

It has come to my attention that I’ve become known around Seoul as “the girl who goes on dates and then writes about them”.  Cool.  Let’s go ahead and clarify that, shall we?  ThatGirlCartier has been around since 2009 (on Twitter).  If you want the roots of the name itself, go check out one of my first posts on this site.  On instagram?  You can creep me back to 2012 there.  You’ll see pictures of food, fashion, fitness, culture, travels, a variety of weights and hairstyles, and oh yes – a couple of ex boyfriends.  That’s life, ladies and gentlemen.  Expat dating is tough!  Seoul dating is a minefield.  Just like Juicy Couture sweats and UGG boots, some things don’t last. If Juicy is any indication, some things might just return (you know who you are and yes, you’re welcome back – just say the word).

Gossip Girl Seoul Dating That Girl Cartier

xoxo Gossip Girl

The idea that I’m some sort of “Land of Morning Chaos – xoxo Gossip Girl of Seoul Dating” is ludicrous.  That said, if any of the show’s designers want to dress me I would not put up a fight.  Also, wasn’t Gossip Girl a dude in the end? Writing bits and bobs about my silly Seoul dating life seems to be a bigger deal to men than it is to women.  Men seem to either really appreciate my writing from an outside perspective, or take what’s written too personally.  To those who understand this to be entertainment and defend me and my right to write, thank you!  To those guys who “would never go on a date with a dating blogger”, well this one’s for you.

Seoul Dating That Girl Cartier

Express Permission

If an expat dating experience ends up on That Girl Cartier it’s because express permission has been granted to share whatever has occurred on the date.  Tinder often initiates Seoul dating.  I’ve mostly got stories in the vault which aren’t all that interesting.  A lot of people ask to be featured on The Toronto Seoulcialite.  One guy even snatched my phone for a couple’s selfie just in case he “made the article” I was thinking about writing on Olympic Park.  This is not new.  Expats constantly ASK to be featured on the site. The marketing men, military men, locals, teachers, or anyone else from the list want to be here.  It is astoundingly easy to get material, because people love having our experiences shared anonymously online.  Sometimes they’re exaggerated.  Most of the time they’re not.

Expat/ Seoul Dating That Girl Cartier

Hey Friends,

I recently shared a tidbit on my personal Facebook page from a comically bad first date.  My personal profile is just that: personal.  Venting and sharing anecdotes on my personal page should not be grounds for an attack.  I feel that everyone’s entitled to share personal opinions on Facebook.  November 8th and 9th, January 20th, and the past month have been great indicators of just how many personal opinions people share on Facebook.  I’m a writer.  Your antics won’t get published to my site without permission.  Please continue to be ridiculous and make me push my own boundaries, too.

Remember friends, readers, and trolls, this right here?  This is what you came for.  

I wouldn’t have 3 times more views on this silly little website than its informative sister site if it wasn’t.

The post Seoul Dating: This Is What You Came For…isn’t it? appeared first on That Girl Cartier.

Cancelling TPP, Protectionism Not Necessary for a Restrained Foreign Policy

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Image result for tpp

This is a local re-post of an essay I wrote for The National Interest a few weeks ago. Basically I argue that a restrained political and military foreign policy does not imply an isolationist or protectionist economic foreign policy.

This strikes me as an important distinction. There is a lot talk that Trump’s election implies a less interventionist foreign policy, that the white working class doesn’t want to fight neocon wars anymore. I am sympathetic to that. But a greater caution in military choices does not have an economic correlate of withdrawing from free trade, or picking foolish fights with allies. Restraint is neither economic protectionism, nor bashing allies Trump-style. Those tow together are more like isolationism.

As I say on this site regularly, the concern of foreign policy ‘restrainers’ is not to abandon American allies, but to get them to take their own defense more seriously. But I see no reason to extend that to trade. Greater protectionism will simply drive up prices for the white working class at Walmart, while re-shoring a few jobs at most. Recall that it is technology that wiped out smokestack jobs in the Midwest, not China. Worse, protectionism has a powerful long-term negative impact on security. States which seal themselves off start to fall behind technologically. That impacts military tech too, as one can see in the communist states during the Cold War. It is critical for American military pre-eminence that it remain a free-trade economy that regularly absorbs the most recent technologies, no matter how much dislocation they bring, no matter where they come from.

The full essay follows the jump:


President Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric raised hopes that might pursue a less interventionist US foreign policy. Trump was the only truth-teller on the Iraq War in the Republican primary. He mainstreamed the issue of low allied contributions to the American defense network, which hitherto was mostly a debate among foreign policy wonks. He talked of avoiding foolish wars. He intuitively grasped the disconnect between the insouciant belligerence of neoconservative and Washington-based US foreign policy elites, and the working class voters who filled out the ranks and fought those wars. More broadly, he demonstrated that even within the ‘national security party,’ there is a constituency seeking a less arrogant, high-handed, and meddlesome foreign policy.

The verdict is still out on whether Trump means this. His cabinet and staff picks include superhawks like national security advisor Michael Flynn and chief strategist Steve Bannon. But his belligerence toward allies – cancelling the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the haranguing tone, the dismissal of international organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union, and so on – is not a requirement of a more cautious foreign policy. Restraint need not mean isolationism, and alienating the US from much of the world – barring Russia, of course – is the likely outcome of Trumpism if the president and Steve Bannon do not slow down.

It is important to make these distinctions, because the long-standing retort to restraint is that it is retrenchment, abandonment of US leadership, withdrawing from the world, and so on. This was captured most famously in the relentless repetition of the Republican talking point that Barack Obama was ‘leading from behind.’ But much of that is false. Nothing in a restrained foreign policy says the US states should antagonize friends or practice protectionism or mercantilism. Mature diplomacy and liberal, trade-friendly economics do not require a parallel commitment to US global dominance.

Restrain seeks: greater care in choosing when and where to use US force; greater concern for the violence and destabilization the use of force unleashes; greater awareness of the spiraling financial costs of conflict; anxiety over possible American ‘imperial overstretch’; humility regarding the horrific human toll when the US unleashes its powerful military on others. None of that requires breaking US alliances. As I have argued before in these pages, the point of restraint instead is to incentivize US allies to spend more, build better, more interoperable forces, and strategize and plan more.

But for reasons only he and Bannon know, Trump has cast many US alliance relationships into doubt. Secretary of Defense James Mattis had to run to Japan and South Korea last week, and will go to Europe next week, just to quell the anxieties. In just two weeks in office, Trump has managed to inflame US relationships with its closest partners, including Britain, Mexico, and Australia. If countries so culturally close to the US as these are targets of Trump’s wrath, how will he deal with alliance friction and disagreements with more culturally distant states like Japan or South Korea?

Similarly, his cancellation of the TPP adds nothing to a more disciplined foreign policy. Free trade is entirely commensurate with a US pull-back from overstretch. Restraint is not autarky, mercantilism, protection, the denial of visas to legitimate foreign business operators, and so on. Restraint is not isolationism, which increasingly appears to be Trump’s impulse. Indeed, any serious strategist will see the obvious military threat of autarkic economic strategies. Militarily powerful states must be able to capture any and all technological gains generated by economic development, even by foreigners, lest they qualitatively fall behind. Communist states constantly suffered from this problem. Committed to closed, internal-only development, they quickly fell behind open economies in developing and deploying new technologies. While the lost consumer pleasures, such as like washing machines or televisions, could be ignored, the military applications of breakthrough technologies such as computers could not. Communist militaries were constantly forced to rely on quantity, because their quality was always a decade or two behind their opponents’. When Bannon speaks of restoring America’s “shipyards and ironworks,” he is invoking a long gone coal-and-steel US economy impossible to revive without a genuine autarkic turn.

The internationalist retort of course is to blend this all together: US participation in the global economy necessitates US global leadership and a consequent willingness to regularly use force. But the relationship is not as tight as neoconservatives would have you believe. The central pillars of the world economy outside North America are Europe and East Asia. The US can maintain a middling commitment in these places without sprawling elsewhere, most obviously the Middle East. US dependence on Persian Gulf carbon is diminishing rapidly due to fracking and renewables, and carbon needs to be significantly more expensive globally anyway due to its alarming global warming externalities. In short, US participation in the global economy need not mean hegemony outside a few core areas, and certainly not the Middle East given the high cost of US dominance there and the declining value of its one serious export.

For US allies, this is weird time. The next American elections, for the legislature, occur in 2018. Traditionally the president’s party loses; a large anti-Trump wave could stop much of this. Conversely, a moderate legislative defeat, followed by Trump’s re-election in 2020, would lock-in these grand strategic shifts. The wisest course for allies now is likely to ignore Trump’s outbursts whenever possible, smile gamely, make a few face-saving concessions, such as Shinzo Abe’s American jobs-program, and hold tight for 2018. If the orange storm does not subside by then, it may to time to consider more autonomous national strategies.

Filed under: Foreign Policy, Restraint, The National Interest, Trump, United States

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




Best Korean Chain Restaurants in Korea

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The number of restaurants in Korea is pretty overwhelming. There are so many restaurants that in some districts, it is possible to eat at a different restaurant every day for a year. There are some restaurants that you will see in multiple locations around the city, these are Korean chain restaurants. Knowing about the best chain restaurants in Korea can be useful when you are visiting a new area and want to eat a particular type of food. Keep reading to learn about some of the top chain restaurants in Korea, and the types of food that they serve. Once you find one that you like, remember its name and you will find it easier to choose where to eat when you are hungry.

Saemaeul Sikdang (새마을 식당)

saemaeul sikdang

Baek Jong-won is Korea’s answer to Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsey. The most well-known Korean celebrity chef also owns several chains of restaurants, coffee shops, and pubs. The most successful and long-lasting of these is Saemaeul Sikdang. The restaurant sells standard Korean barbecue options like galbi, but also has a few signature dishes of its own, such as its seven-minute jjigae (stew), or its spicy yeoltan bulgogi (열탄불고기). If you are struggling to find somewhere to eat, then you can often find this restaurant in any nightlife district for an easy meal.


Bonjuk (본죽)

When winter sets in and you need some warm comfort food, Bonjuk is the place to go. This rice porridge, ‘juk in Korean, restaurant sells warm filling food that is perfect for a cold winter day. There are plenty of different options here, from samgyetang (chicken and ginseng) porridge, to pumpkin porridge, and even octopus and beef porridge (I’m not kidding!) The portions are so large and filling that you will struggle to finish your dish. This restaurant can be found in almost every neighborhood in Korea, not just the main restaurant areas. It also does take-out if you want to order some ‘juk’ and take it home.


Yugane (유가네)


Korean restaurants are often specialized towards one particular dish, and Yugane is no exception. The restaurant chain sells Dalkgalbi (닭갈비), a spicy chicken stir-fry that is cooked in front of you while you wait. Dalkgalbi is the signature dish of Chuncheon, Gangwon province, and people will travel there just to experience the Dalkgalbi Street in that city. If you want to save yourself a trip, just visit Yugane instead. As well as the regular dalkgalbi, yugane offers several other options like octopus and chicken dalkgalbi or cheese dalkgalbi. The pre-barbequed dalkgalbi option is also excellent. If you find the dish a bit too spicy, take some of the sauce out before it gets stirred into the meal.


Oppadalk (오빠닭)


One of Korea’s many chain chicken restaurants; Oppadalk’s name means ‘big brother chicken’. The restaurant’s full name, Obeune bbajin dalk (오븐에빠진닭) means ‘the chicken that fell out of the oven’, and there are many other chicken restaurants that have copied Oppadalk’s naming style. Unlike many Korean chicken restaurants, Oppadalk specializes in baked chicken (hence the ‘oven’ part of its name), rather than fried chicken. The restaurant also lets you choose half-and-half chicken menus, so you can have a mix of fried and baked chicken, or chicken with spring onion mixed with roast chicken for example. Among Korea’s many chicken restaurants, Oppadalk stands out due to its quality, so it is worth looking out for when you are feeling like having some chicken or chimaek (치맥 – chicken and beer).


Jaws Ttokbokki (죠스 떡볶이) and Mimine (미미네)


Ttokbokki (떡볶이), the spicy red cylinder-shaped ricecakes that you see being sold in food stalls on the street in Korea, is often seen as a snack rather than a full meal. However, anyone who has eaten them before will tell you that they are very filling and could easily pass for a meal if they had to. There are lots of ttokbokki stalls, but sometimes you want to sit down indoors to eat it. Two of the most well-known ttokpokki chains are Jaws and Mimine. Jaws has been around for a long time and can be found almost everywhere in Korea. Mimine has fewer stores, but rather uniquely, uses smaller ricecakes than usual. This can be useful if you find it difficult to fit a whole ricecake in your mouth. When ordering ricecakes, Koreans often order sundae (순대), intestines filled with blood-soaked rice, which is kind of similar to English black pudding. As this doesn’t suit many foreigners’ palates, it is worth noting that Mimine serves tempura shrimp instead.

Hongma Banjeom (홍마반점) / Hong Kong Banjeom (홍콩 반점)

Hong Kong Banjeom is the most well-known chain for Chinese food in Korea, although rather confusingly it underwent a semi-rebrand so half of its restaurants are called Hongma (Hong Kong and Macau) Banjeom instead. It might seem odd that this is on a list of best Korean chain restaurants in Korea, but Korean Chinese food is very different from Chinese food in the West, let alone Chinese food in China. Common dishes in Korean Chinese restaurants include black-bean noodles, spicy seafood soup, and sweet-and-sour pork. Hongma Banjeom has a selection of other Chinese dishes that you can order too, such as kung-pao chicken, which are hard to find in other Korean Chinese restaurants.


Andong Jjimdalk (안동찜닭)

Andong Jjimdalk sells a hearty chicken stew that is great for a group meal. The stew is originally from the Andong region, hence the name, but the restaurants can be found around most Korean cities. The chicken is slowly cooked in a broth with potatoes and glass noodles. It usually comes in its spicy variety, but you can order the milder soy sauce version instead.

These are just a small selection of the various restaurant chains in Korea. There are many other chains in Korea, often specializing in other foods like pizza or sushi. Have you tried eating in any of these restaurant chains? Do you agree that they are the best Korean chain restaurants in Korea? Let us know in the comments below.



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