Saturday, March 27, 2010

Korea Vlog 2: Buseoksa Temple (부석사)

Second video in the series. This one covers my trip to Yeongju city (영주시), in particular my day at Buseoksa temple (부석사). Rate, comment, subscribe!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Korea Vlog 1: Love Motel in Taegu

So, we travelled to Daegu (대구) for a job and ended up having to stay the night. A friend of mine recommended we try staying in a "love motel", called that because Koreans tend to take prostitutes to them due to their cheap cost and tacky decorations. I paid 45,000W for my room, which came with a big screen TV, a computer, a fridge, coffee, condoms, plush couches, and leopard print pillows. In my book, that's a damn good deal.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Korean Food Vol. 1

Typical Korean meal setup

So you have never had Korean food, right? Maybe you have heard stories of the infamous kimchi, or heard rumors about dogs for dinner. I'll help you by dispelling some myths about Korean food and perhaps preparing you for what you can expect when eating the native cuisine here. I'll even try to help with table manners and how to eat the food properly.

Things You Need to Know

Korean food is usually crazy spicy: Imagine southern food taken to the next level. It is seen as an accomplishment for restaurants to make the hottest food.

Koreans eat a lot of plants and vegetables: They eat leaves, random plants, soybeans, radish, and just about anything else that grows in the ground. Key tip: most of it is delicious.

Koreans cook food on their tables: When going to a restaurant that serves any type of meat, just know that they will bring you a hotplate and mini-burner to cook the meat on.

Meals usually have multiple dishes to "play" with: The usual Korean meal will look like the picture above, where you have a lot of different dishes to deal with. Don't be overwhelmed and just keep this one tip in mind: There is no wrong way or combination when it comes to eating these. Simply partake and enjoy.

Korean meat dishes consist mainly of pork, beef, chicken, dog, or squid: Just keep in mind that squid is very popular out here. Dog is not as popular, but can often be seen as a substitute for some meats if a store is running low.

Ramen is a separate food group here: Ramen is split into two groups here: spicy (normally "shin ramen", 신라면) or not spicy (usually "jjajang ramen", 짜장면). Spicy is obviously a red color, where non spicy jjajangmyun is a thick black color. Koreans pronounce the word 'ramen' as 'ramyun', due to spelling differences.
Kimchi Ramyun

I'll post some more tips along with recommended foods in my next volume of Korean Food.

COEX Mall and Aquarium

Seoul has an amazing amount of malls, shopping districts, and traditional outdoor shopping areas. Today, I'd like to introduce you to one of the malls I visited when I first got to Korea back in November. It's a fairly large mall known as the COEX. By fairly large, I mean three floors, one of which is underground, and hundreds of shops, food places, arcades, and book stores. There is even a nice size zoo/aquarium inside the main building. For someone like me who is from a not-so-large city, a mall of this magnitude was nothing short of overwhelming.

I happened to go in the middle of what seemed to be a flower festival. There were flowers arranged in decorative displays, so I assumed it was a holiday of sorts. I entered the COEX through the main entrance, which leads into the display area. Various schools, associations, and businesses set up kiosks to display their products and/or services. The first and second floor of the COEX mainly consist of display areas, with a few large restaurants mixed in. The main shopping area of the COEX is in the basement, which is also attached to the Samseong subway station and two hotels. Stores in the basement range in variety from small Korean shops to brand name outlets including Adidas, Nike, American Eagle, and many others. The food court within the COEX is massive. There is everything from Chinese food, to Mediterranean, to American. You name it, they got it. Not to mention, there are probably 20+ coffee shops and a ton of restaurants randomly in the COEX, including a TGI Fridays. There is a full service movie theatre attached to the COEX as well.

The most impressive part of the COEX is the aquarium within. I really should call it a zoo, though, because there were other animals besides aquatic ones inside. The aquarium looks tiny from the outside, but I think you will be pleasantly surprised with how massive it actually is. The entrance fee is 15,000W, which is about $13.50 depending on the exchange rate. For that price, this exhibit is absolutely worth it. Take a few hours to check things out, snap photos, and just have a good time.

Getting to the COEX is fairly easy, whether you take the subway, a taxi, or the bus lines.
  • Subway: Depending on your location, you need to find the nearest transfer station for line 2, the green line (or inner-city line as they call it). Head towards the Samseong station, which is where you will exit. Exit #6 will lead straight into the COEX mall.
  • Bus: Depending on your location, you want to make your way to Samseong subway station. This can involve many transfers depending on your location, so I would recommend the subway instead. You can use this site to find a direct bus route to the COEX.
  • Taxi: Unless you know Korean or have a friend that can translate for you, I would not recommend a taxi trip. Some taxis do offer service to English speakers, but are few and far between.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What is this blog?

If you have stumbled upon this blog, chances are you have some sort of curiousity about Korea and what it's like to be a foreigner here. Let me start of by introducing myself. My name is Corey and I live in Korea. In particular, I live in Seoul (the capital). I am 23 years old and currently serving my time in the US Air Force. From this date, I have another year and eight months left in Korea. Why am I blogging about my time here? Mainly because I knew nothing and could find hardly anything about being a foreigner here in Korea. Most of the info I found was written by teachers who are here for only a year or two and couldn't provide much info. I want to share my experiences and challenges here and hopefully someone can get some use out of it.

A little more about me. I love culture, history, and languages. For all three of these things, Korea satisfies me immensly. Over 5,000 years worth of history, a truly unique culture, and an intelligently designed language...what more could a culture nut ask for? I am currently dating a Korean girl by the name of Yumi who will be helping me write some of these posts. In particular, she will help with basic Korean lessons and my food blogs.

Alright, enough introduction. Posts will come soon and as often as I can remember. See you on the battlefield!