도착

*The “My Winter in Korea” Series*

도착, or “dochak,” means arrival, but getting all the way to Seoul, South Korea wasn’t easy!

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Airport fashion~

Dressed like this and with only my envelope clutch by my side, I went from Austin to LA, from LA to Beijing, and then finally from Beijing to Seoul.

Of course, as soon as I got to the Austin airport and tried to check in, there was a problem with my booking! But, in the end everything got fixed– and quickly! As if that wasn’t enough, later on one of my flights I met a friendly nose-picker, but I was sandwiched between him and a frequent farter

>.<

Nevertheless, along the way I did discover that my favorite airport is the one in Beijing! It’s clean, modern, and even a little fancy.

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At the Beijing airport~

… But, more importantly, it has a charging point!

Yay, a life-line~

Yay, a life-line~

So, I was able to bring my dead phone back to life and email my dad, talk to a few friends, and get instructions to my new home for the next two weeks from my host.

When I finally left the airport in Seoul– fill out your arrival card (available in English) and your customs card (available in Korean) on the plane folks, the first thing that hit me was the smell of Seoul, and I could NOT stop smiling!

I caught the bus with no trouble thanks to some help from an ahjusshi, and as I headed to Cheongdamdong I watched some of my favorite idols like EXO dancing on screen while also checking out the scenery outside.

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On the 6006 bus~

Unfortunately, there is a huge problem with redevelopment in South Korea, and many Koreans are going to lose their homes; but, this is on the other side of the Han River closer to Incheon.

A sign protesting the redevelopment~

A sign protesting the redevelopment~

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The other side of the building even had a sign that said, “This apartment complex that kicks out people who protest the redevelopment.”~

Once I crossed the river, things were better and brighter, and I even knew where I was. After a short walk, I found my new home! It’s a 지하, “jiha” or basement, apartment, but it looks exactly like the pictures and has hot water along with everything else I need, but the computer is broken, and I didn’t bring my laptop…

(Thankfully, my host is so nice, and he is letting me use one of his laptops instead, which is why I can finally update you all!^^)

Anyway, I got settled in around 3 P.M., took a shower, got ready, and met up with my best friend. We caught up at my place for awhile before heading to Itaewon Exit 2 for dinner. Here, I also saw my first celebrity– Hong Seok Cheon, a famous gay Korean who owns a restaurant in Itaewon.

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I didn’t take a picture of him, but I did take a picture of this menu right in front of his restaurant with his face on it~

We went to get burgers, and we had to wait for forever because the place was so crowded, but it was worth the wait!

Mine~

Mine~

Hers~

Hers~

But, after being out and about, even my friend noticed and finally commented about the stares when an ahjusshi stared and smiled at me for a good while as we waited for the subway to take us back to my place.

(It doesn’t bother me, but it does take some getting used to!)

The worst thing about my first day back in South Korea was taking the bus during rush hour. It’s like a horrible amusement ride that throws you around and squashes you up against strangers– never doing that again no matter what my friend says.

So far so good!

I’m settled in and slowly mapping out and exploring Seoul from my new home.

It’s day two now, and I went back to Itaewon Exit 2 for breakfast at Flying Pan Blue and a little shopping.

Flying Pan Blue~

Flying Pan Blue~

White wine~

White wine~

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“Fair lady” pancakes– yes, I ate them all by myself~

I also went shopping and bought a pillow and a pen.

A traditonal Korean pillow so I don't have to sleep on the huge, hard one here or on my bag full of socks and underwear~

A traditional Korean pillow so I don’t have to sleep on the huge, hard one here or on my bag full of socks and underwear~

It's a 고추, or ... aka "penis"~

It’s a 고추, or “gochu.” It means hot pepper literally but is slang for penis…~

Anyway, I have New Year’s Eve dinner plans tonight with my best friend again. We are going to get fusion food: Korean + TexMex. A local chain in Austin opened up here in Korea! It’s called Coreanos, but we might go to Vatos– owned by UT Austin alumni,  instead.

I will be starting the partying and more soon– now that I’m over my jetlag, so stay tuned!

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Two Weeks of Seoul

*The “My Winter in Korea” Series*

I had donuts for breakfast and pizza for dinner; and, soon I’ll be having the white winter that I’ve always dreamed of in Seoul, South Korea!^^

When?

D oppa is picking me up and taking me to the airport tomorrow night. I’ll arrive on the 30th.

What?

Two weeks of Seoul!

(I’ll be back on the 11th, which is just in time to make it to class on the first day of school, which is on the 13th.)

Where?

I’ll be staying in Cheongdam-dong, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Gangnam, and my apartment is located just two to three minutes away from SM!

A map of the different districts in Seoul~

A map of Gangnam~

Why?

I’ll be graduating from law school next year in May, and I’ll have to spend the next few years studying for the bar, finding a job, and working. So, my second trip to Seoul is ALL about taking a break in what will be a very cold paradise but a paradise nonetheless. 

(Unlike last summer, I will not be going to school or working while I am there.)

How?

I worked two to three jobs this past year and saved up– that’s how!

I am excited about graduating, but like everyone else these days I am also worried about what comes after! At 24, I’ll definitely be a “young lawyer,” and part of me just wants to party and travel…

>.<

So, I’ll do my traveling while I still can!

Anyway, I’m really excited to see my best friend. I still remember when I dropped her off at the airport in August! I’m also excited to meet a few new friends and catch up with some old ones.

My To Do List:

I’ve only got two weeks, but that’s plenty of time to eat, drink, and party in Itaewon, Hongdae, Apgujeong, Cheongdam, and Nonhyun. I will also visit the Han River, Namsan Tower, and (hopefully) Busan!

In addition, I will visit SM and YG along with a few other entertainment companies with my dongsaeng as soon as she gets to Korea. She just left for Japan, and I am excited about getting to see her later once she gets to Korea.

I’ll be doing some shopping, too, but not for myself.

(You know who you are.) 

My Suitcase:

I’ve got my bag packed, and I’m both excited and worried about finally wearing these babies:

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My UNIF Salem Boots~

I’m packing lightly, just 2 or 3 pairs of shoes and 2 bags– leggings, leather pants, leather shorts, 2 pairs of jeans, 3 maxi skirts, 1 midi skirt, 3 sweaters, 4 or 5 dresses, and 4 or 5 tops + my coat, scarf and glove set, and fur head wrap.

Everything fits into one suitcase, but I’m a genius when it comes to packing– okay, I’m not, but having “skinny” space-saving hangers helps!

(Everything is still on the hanger.)

I’m also bringing underwear (duh), my skin care products, and make-up.

(Yup, all in one suitcase.)

Oh! I definitely won’t forget to bring my new camera…

So, stay tuned for two weeks of Seoul!

I’m excited. Are you?

That One Time I was Scouted by OnStyle Korea…

*The “Preparing for Life in Korea” Series*

This post is part continued conversation, part appetizer for Preparing for Life in Korea, Part 3: Finding a Job in Korea. I will also be writing Preparing for Life in Korea, Part 4: Finding a Place to Live in Korea.

In Korea, scouting is a Big Deal, and being scouted is one of the best ways to find a job in Korea.

Many of Korea’s biggest talents were either scouted on the street– like Kim Tae Hee, or they were “that friend” who went to audition for fun and actually passed the audition while their friend who went for real didn’t– like So Ji Sub, or they were 낙하산, “nakhasan” or “parachutes” who got into the business by using their connections– like Mir of MBlaq.

(Check out more “how they got famous stories” featuring Korean idols HERE.)

But, my story is a little different, since I wasn’t even in Korea when I was scouted by OnStyle Korea

Back in 2011, I used to blog on Naver and post in fashion cafes there, too. While making my blogI got to practice reading and writing in Korean. While posting in fashion cafes, I got to practice “speaking” Korean. I even made a lot of Korean friends on Kakaotalk through my “activities” there.

I had been blogging for about a month or so– just off and on. Then one day– suddenly and unexpectedly, I got a 쪽지, “jjokji” or message, from a 작가, “jakka” or writer, who worked at OnStyle Korea.

To this day, I have no idea how she found me or my blog, but she said that she had seen some of my photos and thought that I would be a great fit for an up and coming reality TV show about 일반인, “ilbanin” or regular people, who become friends with 연예인, “yeonyaein” or celebrities.

Uhm, my photos? I only had a few uploaded– at least on my blog, and they were nothing special! But, they did match the concept of the show, which was about taking a closer look at the “celebrity” life through the eyes of a “regular” person.

(These are the few photos from my blog that I could find. Thankfully, one of my old friends who took them also uploaded them to her Facebook.)

2

At Pure Night Lounge~

3

At Pure Night Lounge~

The writer thought that I was Korean, which doesn’t really make sense, but I suppose she just assumed that I was Korean since I was blogging in Korean and on a Korean website.

(Again, I don’t know how she found me or my blog, and I also don’t know what photos she was talking about!)

Anyway, I started digging around, and I found the interview that she sent to me:

A screencap~

A shortened screencap~

After I filled this out with the help of my Korean friend whose mom actually writes Korean dramas– she even wrote one of my favorite ones, I sent it to the writer at Onstyle Korea. Then, we had a phone interview.

In the end, they didn’t mind that I wasn’t actually Korean. In fact, they were excited about having a “sexy” foreigner on their reality TV show; and, having foreigners on Korean variety shows is actually a trend these days. But, they did mind that I wasn’t actually in Korea, and I was already in law school at this point, so I didn’t mind staying here in America, either!

When I actually got to Korea, I was scouted again: Twice in Apgujeong, once while out shopping and once while out clubbing, but I’ve already talked about that before.

Where to get scouted and where to audition?

Definitely Seoul! Yeoksam, Apgujeong, Nonhyun, Cheongdam, Sinsa– basically, the neighborhoods of Gangnam for both scouting and in person auditions. Maybe Myeongdong and Itaewon for scouting, too.

(There’s a reason why Kim Woo Bin left the countryside of South Korea to pursue his dreams in Seoul!)

So, for the girls that I have been talking to lately who are interested in modeling in Korea or being a part of the entertainment industry in Korea, this post is meant to encourage you to learn Korean and go to Korea– after all, it was really my knowledge of Korean and trip to Korea that gave me access to many of these opportunities.

If any of us are actually serious about our dreams to take ourselves where we want to go or to take the world where we want it to go, then we’ve got to get out there, and we’ve got to put ourselves out there.

After all, Mark Twain said the following:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Wise words, Twain, wise words.

“Would a Kpop idol or Korean actor date or marry a non-Korean girl?”

*Korean Culture: The Good, The Bad, &The Ugly*

“Would a Kpop idol or Korean actor date or marry a non-Korean girl?”

*Silence*

I’m going to break my silence today.

Kpop idols and Korean actors express their ideal types all the time, which can make ALL girls– including Korean girls, who don’t have pale skin, V-lines, S-lines, long legs, big eyes, or a “glamorous,” big chest lose hope when it comes to dating or marrying the (Korean) boy or man of their dreams.

(G-Dragon, T.O.P, Taeyang, Lee Seung Gi, Lee Min Ho, Kim Woo Bin, Lee Jong Suk, and personally, Gong Yoo So Ji Sub!)

Sure, some of them idealize Beyonce, Jessica Gomez, and Scarlett Johansson, but how many of US actually look like that?!

(Not many.) 

Reality Check #1

It’s important to separate fantasy from reality– fact from fiction, especially when it comes to dating and marriage. We ALL have “ideal types,” which is just a statement about what we find most attractive– usually physically, but how many of us actually hold other people to our (physical) ideals when we date, and how many of us actually end up dating or marrying our “ideal types”?

Today, in response to someone somewhere, I wrote something along these lines:

“Sure, some Korean guys find their ideal type, and sometimes we do, too.
Sometimes we meet our ideal types in person, but if they have a personality or background that doesn’t match with us, then we might not want to date or marry them. Sometimes, we meet someone who isn’t our ideal type, but if they have a personality or background that does match with us, then we might want to date or marry them…

Changing our ideals, or at least whether or not we stick to them, is just part of life and finding the ‘ideal,’ or right person, for all of us.”

Now, boys and men of ALL races tend to look more at a girl or woman’s physical appearance when choosing their one night stands, girlfriends, and wives, so yes– physical appearance matters, but do girls and women have to match their physical idealsIt depends on the person; and, a shallow, superficial person who cares ONLY about someone else’s physical appearance and whether or not it matches their physical ideals is probably either really young and has never been with anyone seriously, or really shitty and has never been with anyone sincerely.

Reality Check #2

Kpop idols and Korean actors make up a small percentage of the Korean population, and they do not represent the views of Korean boys and Korean men as a whole.

For example, it’s like a Korean boy or Korean man assuming that what Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, and Halle Berry look like and say represents all black women as a whole– that what Selena Gomez, Jennifer Lopez, and Sofia Vergara look like and say represents all hispanic women as a whole– that what Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, and Scarlett Johansson look like and say represents all white women as a whole…

I could go on, because there are so many different races of women, but you get the point:

Stop stereotyping an entire race and gender of people, because you wouldn’t want people to stereotype you based on your race and gender, either.

Because,

“Would a Kpop idol or Korean actor date or marry a non-Korean girl?”

is also often:

“Would a Korean guy date or marry a non-Korean girl?”

But, Korean guys are different from each other the same way people of any race and gender are different from each other; and, if you are interested in Korean guys, then meet them in person (or at mykoreanfriends.com) and have those serious and sincere conversations once you get closer to each other, always remembering to treat every person you meet with an open mind, one that isn’t based on your stereotypes of some people.

Reality Check #3

Since when has it been okay to date or marry someone because of or based on their race?

Okay, I’m being naive, but “It’s 2013.” I didn’t grow up in the Civil Rights Era. My generation is one of the Age of Information, of the Arab Spring, of the “It’s 2013.”

It’s 2013, and it’s time to stop using race as a way to judge yourself and others.

Being “black” or “hispanic” or “white” or “Indian” or “Korean” is not something that society– or anyone else for that matter, has the right to define FOR you. Define yourself, which means doing what you want to do, dating who you want to date, and marrying who you want to marry.

Weak people will crumble under the pressure– the burden, of the “blood, sweat, and tears” kind of freedom that 2013 promises, but strong people will keep calm and carry on.

(Because, it takes blood, sweat, and tears to define yourself– to do what you want– to date who you want– to marry who you want– to just be yourself when society and so many people tell you to be who THEY want you to be.)

So, would a Kpop idol or Korean actor date or marry a non-Korean girl?

Kpop idols and Korean actors work in a country that is HIGHLY judgmental of image. For example, first impressions, which are often physical, are also often everything. So, it would be bad for their career to damage their image by dating– period, let alone dating or marrying a non-Korean girl in what is still a very homogenous country.

(HERE is just one of the latest dating scandals that has hot Korean actor my husband So Ji Sub in even hotter water.) 

But, Kpop idols and Korean actors are people, too, so if they fall in love with a non-Korean girl– seriously and sincerely, then who knows what they would do?!^^

So, girls– women, it’s good to have ideals, even physical ones, but if you meet your dream guy in person– be he a Kpop idol or a Korean actor, you will quickly find out that he is just that– a person, like you, but different from you.

Being different from the boy or man of your dreams doesn’t make falling in love, dating, and getting married to him impossible. It just makes it harder to do, because you have to take the time to build bridges to each other, sometimes crossing language, cultural, and even physical barriers, which is what this blog is all about:

Two different people. One love.

Love in The Time Between Dog and Wolf

*Short Stories*

(Love in The Time Between Dog and Wolf is a bittersweet, supernatural romance from Seoul Shorts: “Disturbing yet riveting, these short stories will take you to a place you’ve never been before.”)

Love in The Time Between Dog and Wolf

Introduction

The scent of autumn filled the air.

The spinning of a car’s wheels suddenly awakened dying leaves from their slumber and spun them around weakly one last time. Wheels curved back and forth in a dizzying spiral as the mountain road stretched on narrowly. It was a road that was shadowed by tall trees on both sides– a road that wound its way towards the sky.

Min Hyo Rin carved a path into the clouds without looking back. She had already spent too much time looking back. It was time to look forward, time to forget the past.

At the top of the mountain was a decaying wooden house. She passed through a  broken metal gate and parked in a wide gravel driveway. She left the engine running as she sat in her car. Finally, she turned the key– killing the engine– killing the part of herself that longed to go back. She stayed in the silence that had fallen and whispered as she stared ahead, “Is this it? Is this the house he left me? I don’t remember it this way…

So empty.”

She rested her head against the car’s steering wheel and sighed softly. Even though the sun was still hanging in the sky, she didn’t feel the warmth of autumn. The leaves were falling in love with one another, tangling themselves into piles, and the wind was a soft whisper that brushed against the window of her car.

She drowned in her memories, a slow descent as she sank to the bottom.

The faces of a man and woman in a faded photograph that she had tried to call mother and father, the face of an old man that she had tried to love, the faces of strangers that she had tried to call friends, the face of a boy that she had loved…

She stepped out of the car as she pulled herself to the surface and struggled to breathe through memories that were thick and suffocating. She gulped the autumn air in and slammed the door of her car, leaning against its cold, metal frame as her knees buckled under the heavy weight of her memories.

Coming to the house the old man had left her after he had died only reminded her that he was gone. She remembered his face: dark, wrinkled from smiles, and with eyes that had gleamed with too much wisdom. He had given her a home after the accident, but she had never been able to forget her real home, her dead family.

She had always been alone since then.

She remembered their backs, not their faces: the backs of her parents as they had lain on blood-stained concrete, the back of the old man as he had turned away to hide his illness, the backs of her friends as they had walked away without looking back, the back of a boy…

They had all left her, or moved past her and towards some future that she couldn’t see.

She stumbled towards the mountain’s edge. There was an aching stretch of blue sea that led to a sun that had slowly begun its descent. The horizon stretched on and on, and she wanted to stretch on and on until she had traveled the whole world, until she had found a place to call home.

The sun set as she cried silently. Her heart was turned upside down and emptied as the wind blew hollowly over the mountain. Night fell, and the stars shined softly between gaps in crystal white clouds. The moon was half-full, or maybe half-empty. She shivered from the cold and suddenly felt sleep pressing against her eyes. She walked to her car on shaky legs, opened the trunk, and took out her suitcase. She wondered what she had packed. It was so heavy. She stared at the run-down wooden house before going inside.

It looked back at her for a long, long time.

The house was small and cramped, cracked and stained with age. One wall was a huge window that gave way to the view of the mountain’s edge and the sea. She had shared this small space with the old man years ago, but now she shook out blankets that had gathered dust and got ready to sleep alone. The room felt empty even after she laid the blankets on the floor, so she started unpacking. The silence was deafening. The floor had finally warmed, though, so she sat down and poured herself a drink. She finished one, then two, and then three bottles of soju. She drank quickly– out of loneliness, and the room transformed into another world. The view from the window swallowed her whole. She got lost in a sky, then fell and drowned in a calm sea that reflected an expanse of stars thrown carelessly into the sky, the sky that hadn’t held her. There had been no room for her amongst the stars.

She spread her limbs out on the floor gracelessly. Her thoughts wandered towards barren places, towards bitter memories, but when her mind was as empty as the starless sky outside her window, she passed out on the cold wooden floor.

The sun streamed into the room through the window. Hyo Rin was awake, and she sat with her knees curled up to her chin and her arms wrapped around her skinny legs. Dark circles rested underneath her eyes, and her black hair was a tangled mess. Her skin was paler than usual, and she looked starved.

Forcing herself to do something– anything, she took a shower and got ready for the day. She put on a long black dress that hung loosely on her body and fell heavily to the floor. She made breakfast, but barely ate. Later, the feel of sunlight through the window as she washed dirty dishes made her feel dead inside. She felt dead inside with so many unspoken words stealing the life and light from her body. They pushed at the edges of her mouth but never fell out. She had no one to give them to, because everyone she knew was already gone.

Outside, birds chirped loudly, and more leaves fell to the ground. The trees stood against the wind, bare and naked. At the mountain’s edge, rocks tumbled down into the sea, and autumn came to an end.

Hyo Rin woke up to falling snow and ice on her window. She started the day with soft shadows on her face and walked outside wrapped tightly in a blanket. The old man’s memory was as harsh as the sting of the cold on her cheeks. He had built the house before his family had died. They had lived together– something more than strangers, but nothing more than that. She didn’t know that he had died until a phone call came, and it had awakened her from the dream she had been living.

She sat down by the mountain’s edge. She thought it would be nice to tumble over the edge and fall like the rocks that crashed into the sea. Something about being alone in the midst of silent memories and snow made her feel old and dead. Too many years had passed, and she hadn’t held onto them tightly enough. Love had passed, and she hadn’t held onto it tightly enough. It was as if she had already tumbled down…

She watched the snow fall softly before reaching into her pocket and dialing a number on her cell phone.

“Mrs. Kim?”

“Yes, who is this?

“Min Hyo Rin.”

An awkward silence fell after she spoke while Mrs. Kim struggled to remember who she was.

“Oh, Hyo Rin! I had heard you returned home, but I haven’t seen you in town so I didn’t believe it.”

“Do you have any positions available?”

The abrupt change in conversation threw Mrs. Kim off balance, but she replied quickly.

“I have some time today. Would you like to get some tea in the village square? We can talk more then. I haven’t seen you in for-”

”Is noon alright with you?”

She cut Mrs. Kim off before she could finish speaking. She was already tired of talking– already tired of listening– already tired of living.

“Yes, of course. I’ll see you then, dear. And your… grandfather… Mr. Lee… we all felt the loss of his passing.”

She waited until Mrs. Kim hung up the phone, then let it drop from her hand. It hit the frozen ground with a dull thud, and she shivered, feeling even colder than she had before. The morning faded as she stared over the edge and into the water. She felt herself hanging in the sky– would she fall– would she die– would she ever feel alive?

She knew the sky wouldn’t hold her, but what– no, who would?

Her room filled with blinding light as she got dressed, but it passed quickly as rain clouds covered the sun. She picked out a knee-length black dress with a sweetheart neckline. She draped a long gray sweater over her shoulders. It hung over her thin frame loosely. She ate breakfast, distracted herself with a book, and when noon approached she was in her car and driving down the old mountain road.

She would never be a child again, but like winters that had passed the sky was gray with puffs of white clouds that it breathed out with a heavy sigh. The grass was faded, just tufts of dull brown life. The earth was wet from melted snow. The trees were pale twists of white.

She followed the directions and road signs amidst the shadows from the tall trees until she reached the village square. She parked next to a tea shop called Cha Jjang. The town square was full of strange places and the faces of strangers. She went inside the small building and walked up a flight of steps. She could see most of the town square from the roof where tables had been set in a careless, cozy manner. She sat at an empty table near the balcony. Her mind wandered as she waited for Mrs. Kim to arrive. She thought of the time she had been with the old man. They would get ice cream and sweets at Woo’s. She looked for it– her head turning and twisting to find it, but it was gone. It had been replaced by a new ice cream shop with a bright neon sign…

Suddenly, a cold wind blew heavily through the town. It moaned and ached as it traveled alone through streets filled with couples and children, friends and families. If only she could live like the wind, invisible. She watched people walk by without seeing their faces and got lost in moments she hadn’t known how to treasure until there had been no more moments to treasure.

Mrs. Kim thought Hyo Rin was a beautiful young woman in clothes she would wear if she was thinner. Hyo Rin managed to stretch a smile across her cheeks as she agreed to work at the high-school as an English teacher. She had lived in America for years now, but her English wasn’t as good as she told Mrs. Kim it was. She felt bad for lying. They spoke about this and that, and Hyo Rin recited her lines with shaking hands, but kept the truth buried somewhere deep in her damaged heart.

For some reason I didn’t die when my parents did.

I wish I had, because I have never felt alive. I had nightmares for weeks about blood and cracked glass and screams. An old man found me in an orphanage where I had been taken after the accident. He raised me, but from the first day I had to move into that old, wooden house I knew something was wrong, something was gone that I would never get back.

The new house smelled like my dead dad, but I couldn’t remember his face unless I looked at the picture the old man gave to me. I cried myself to sleep for days, but one day I woke up, and I didn’t feel like crying anymore. I didn’t feel like remembering anymore. I grew up and began to realize what it all meant. My memories would creep into every waking and dreaming moment, and it was hard to pretend that I was like everyone else.

The picture I used to have of my parents was too sharp. They were always smiling. I wish they could have cried with me, laughed with me, but their faces were always the same and nothing in them ever changed. I was always smiling in that picture, but I have changed. Now, that picture is lost, and I  seem to have forgotten how to stretch my lips into a smile. Does it look like a grimace?

Do I look like I’ve ever been loved?

Hyo Rin pretended to be a character in a play, because the story was better if it was told in a different way, with a different ending starring a girl who was able to forgive and forget the world for taking so much from her and leaving her with so little.

Her cup of coffee turned cold as Mrs. Kim smiled.

Papers were messily strewn all about as Hyo Rin looked over the schedule and workbooks Mrs. Kim had given her a few weeks ago.

“Miss Hyo Rin.”

It didn’t fit, but she put it on anyway. She had a degree in business management. It seemed useless now.

Night fell with a hush as day was slaughtered once more. If she could, she would be fine in a while. She had lived her whole life wanting to be fine in a while. She had lived her whole life with the hollow echo of loneliness that had always sunk in when she thought she had finally escaped from it. She had lived with the deep ache of frustration as days had blurred into years, and she had never really escaped from it. It seemed as if she had always been lost in the space between the earth and the sky– the beginning and the end– the dusk and the dawn. She could only fall asleep after telling herself that everything would be different in the morning.

The alarm clock rang, waking her from a nightmare. The sheets were twisted and tangled around her body. Shadows rested like caves beneath her eyes– sunken in eyes, and it was sinking in: The futility in searching for something different.

It was impossible to recognize the girl with dark circles beneath her eyes and a sweeping sense of despair beneath her feet when she finally dragged herself to the bathroom and looked at herself in the mirror. It began not to matter, though, because she kept seeing and kept walking even though there was nothing in sight and nowhere to go.

Dog

A month had passed.

Hyo Rin was no longer nervous as she tied the brown belt around the waist of her navy uniform. Her black hair was loose about her head but chin length. She threw on a gray cardigan and grabbed her black bag. She had to be at the high school in 30 minutes, so she made a quick breakfast and headed out the door, went back in to get some papers she had forgotten, and left again.

The morning air was still and quiet. It always felt strange to wake up before the sun managed to spill across the sky. Shadows boxed their way across the earth as clouds gave way to shine, and soon the day would begin, and in a while the day would end. She drove down the same road and wondered if she would ever reach an alternate destination.

The students were silent. Her English class was small, only about thirteen, third year students, and most of them were boys. They came to her classroom every day with the same tired expressions on their faces. One boy she had never noticed before was staring out the window, but she couldn’t remember his name. When the bell rang, her students left in groups, but he left alone.

She stood at the front of the room and watched her students as they studied. Some slept. One student stared out the window the same way he always did, and she wondered what he saw. A student asked a question. She had difficulty pronouncing certain letters. They laughed when she made a mistake.

“Lice cake? No, rice cake is deokbokki.”

Her students went back to their books once their laughter had died down. A peaceful silence fell, and sunshine poured in through the window and onto his desk. She still didn’t know his name. He wasn’t doing anything, and she wondered if he had finished all of his work already. When class finally ended, her students left in a rush while she stayed, lingering in the silence.

She was left with too much time on her hands again. Later, she made her way to the cafeteria and returned to the classroom to eat. The room was always empty after her English class had ended. Today was different.

The boy was there, the one who always sat by the window. He was asleep. She hesitated, then walked towards him and tapped him lightly on his shoulder. He slowly lifted his head and rubbed eyes that were framed by the longest lashes she had ever seen on a boy. She read his name-tag: Song Hae Jin. He looked at her without speaking, and an awkward silence fell between them. She spoke first.

“Have you eaten?”

He didn’t reply, but she handed him her silver bowl of rice, then put some kimchi and gogi on top. She went to her desk at the front of the room and sat down, eating what was left on her tray. He stared at her without smiling or speaking.

“Lunch is already over. You should eat…

Before it gets cold.”

She spoke softly, and she wasn’t sure her voice would reach him. He seemed so far away. He hesitated but finally ate. When he finished his meal, he rose and placed the empty silver bowl on her tray before returning to his desk. When she had finished eating, he rose again, took the tray, and returned it to the cafeteria. She watched him leave and waited for him to come back.

She sat in the still silence of the room for what seemed like hours before packing her things and going home. He was absent from class the next day, and she found herself staring at his empty desk when the bell finally rang.

She began to notice him when he came to class, and she watched him when he wasn’t looking. He was beautiful. She didn’t want to go back to the mountain, back to that empty house. She wanted to stay near him, to stay lost in dreams that were still golden even though they had faded a long time ago.

He left when class ended, and she wondered if he would ever fall asleep in her classroom again, or eat with her again. Suddenly, she couldn’t remember where she was supposed to go or who she was supposed to be.

A knock sounded on the door. When she didn’t answer– lost in thought, the door opened.

It was him.

“Hae-…”

She trailed off, suddenly turning away embarrassed. She found herself staring out the window awkwardly and unable to speak. She wondered if he had a home and a family that missed him. He walked towards her with his hands shoved deep into his pockets and his broad shoulders slouched. He sat in the seat next to the window and blocked her view. He didn’t look at her or speak to her. She watched him from her desk and wanted to tell him to move– to leave– to go home, but she didn’t. She couldn’t. She felt plain in her simple navy dress and low, worn-down brown heels that she wore everyday. She looked at him carefully, trying to memorize him completely.

His legs were too long, his body too muscled, and his jaw too sharp but still smooth like a boy’s. He finally looked away from the window. There was something in his eyes, as if he was really looking at her for the first time, but he turned away again.

She felt embarrassed. He wasn’t here for her. She grabbed her things and left. She was walking down the hallway when someone grabbed her from behind.

Hae Jin wrapped his arms around her before she could speak or move, and something about being in his arms made her never want to speak or move again. Who was she? What was she? Her thoughts faded, and blinding, numbing sensation emerged from her nerves and limbs.

Was this happiness?

Hae Jin handed her a folder that she had left on the desk before she could speak or move, and something about the way he walked away made her want to speak and move until she was by his side again. Who was he? What was he? Her thoughts spun– round and round, and she fell until she tumbled into a world full of bright, vivid dreams.

Was this real?

Hae Jin smelled like the sea. There was the pale perfection of his skin, the deep brown of his eyes that were framed by long, black lashes, the soft curve of his mouth, the broad spread of his shoulders and long reach of his arms and legs…

Then, he was gone.

Hyo Rin woke up in the middle of the night with his face etched into her mind. The lingering traces of her dream made her feel too warm, so she walked into the cold night in her white slip and saw him.

“Hae Jin?”

He ran away before she could call out, before she could say the words pushing against her cracked, dry lips, “Don’t go… Stay.”

The next day he walked in late. She forgot the lesson as she turned around to see him. She forgot her students. She forgot herself. She smelled the sea, and watched its waves curl towards her shore as he came closer. As he walked past her, retreating, the sun cast soft light onto his pale skin. He went to his seat and stared out the window. He wrote something in the frost-covered glass.

“Did you sleep well?”

He paused after writing and let his fingers fall slowly until they curled tightly into fists on top of his desk. He turned and stared at her with a sad, hollow look in his eyes, almost as if he wasn’t sure that she would see him or what he had written.

She smiled a rusty smile that stretched the corners of her eyes and revealed yellowed teeth. She had always lived her life with carefully sewn-in-seams. They had burst– one by one, until she was no longer held together by anything but a thread. He was pulling her last one. He smiled, a  slow stretch of soft, pink lips across white teeth as he pulled her last thread. She was no longer held together by anything but his eyes and his smile.

Suddenly, the bell rang, and class ended.

Her students left– one by one, until just one remained.

“Hae Jin.”

She said his name for the first time, but he pretended not to hear and stared out the window.

“The bell rang…”

He got up suddenly and left without looking back. The door slammed shut behind him, the writing melted off the window, the memory of his smile faded, and she was no longer sure she had seen anything at all.

Hae Jin was absent again.

Hyo Rin looked for him during lunch, but she didn’t see him sitting with the other students from his class. She walked through the cafeteria line and sat quietly with the other teachers. She barely touched her food but listened as they gossiped. She wondered what it would be like to sit with Hae Jin in the quiet of the classroom again.

A slow, steady ache settled into her chest as she forced herself to eat. It spread as she walked to her empty classroom– as she sat in the silence– as she drove home– as she slept. The familiar ache was still there when she woke up in the morning: disappointment. She stared at the ceiling as she lay on the floor of her small room and tried to breathe in and out softly as disappointment swept through her flesh and bones. Still, her first thoughts were of him. She struggled to wake from a dream.

She got up, stripped, and stepped into the shower.

He was brushing his teeth in the mirror. 

She stepped out of the shower, wrapped herself in a soft towel and brushed her teeth.

When she looked up, he was staring at her from behind. She could see his face and form in the mirror. He smiled.

She turned around, but he was gone. He was never there. She pressed her forehead against the mirror and wanted to slam her head against the glass until she finally came to her senses. She was alone. He was not with her. He was always on her mind, though. From that moment on she decided to forget everything about herself.

She smiled suddenly, because she could only remember him.

Everyone she had ever loved had left her, but she told herself that he would stay, that the moment when he became like all the others would never come. She got dressed, carefully put on makeup, and drove to school with a practiced smile on her face.

“I don’t feel good.”

He was holding onto her tightly, and suddenly she felt better.

Hae Jin walked into the classroom and sat by the window. He was the last to arrive. Class ended, and he was the last to leave, but he left without looking at her, and she watched his back as he walked farther and farther away from her.

If he had stayed, she would have told him. She would have told him everything. How she felt like she was nothing. How she felt like she was invisible, slowly fading into the chalkboard or the cafeteria table or the wooden floors or the star-filled sky. How she wanted him to see her and smile at her. It meant everything to her, his smile. She slipped away, and she felt herself slipping away, but he was walking away, and there was no one to catch her as she fell.

The door finally shut with a loud click. She breathed heavily, and the feelings that she had held inside rose to the surface. She closed her eyes and covered her mouth, because she did not want to let them out, not the tears that pressed at her eyes or the words that pressed at her lips. In that moment she knew she was destined to live and die alone.

He rushed in, swinging the door open with a loud crash. He saw her crying, ran to her, and wiped away her tears with soft hands.

She finally left the empty room.

There was someone singing softly in her ear. The deep, rusty voice woke Hyo Rin from her dreams. Her feet took her outside to the mountain’s edge in a daze.

Hae Jin was standing quietly by the sea with his back to her. She wrapped her arms around her chest and finally felt the cold of the wind. He turned around, and he looked haunted, as if he had been waiting for her to come and she had taken too long. She didn’t move, couldn’t speak.

He walked to her slowly and wrapped his arms around her tightly. She pushed him away, then took his hand. She pulled him into her room, onto her blankets. They moved but didn’t speak. His hands ran down her body, and his lips pressed desperately against hers. They became the rocks that fell down the mountainside and into the sea– crashing, destined to sink to the bottom.

She fell asleep in his arms.

He was gone when she woke up, but something lingered, and she felt as if he was by her side. She slept all day.

Night fell, and when he returned she looked into his deep, long-lashed eyes as he came inside of her. If they were in love, it was only because they had met in the time between dog and wolf: The time when day blended into night as dusk fell and dreams became one with reality.

Hyo Rin wanted to hear his voice again, but the night was quiet. Days and nights passed, and even though she waited for him by the edge of the mountain, she never saw him again.

A month passed, and Hyo-rin finally asked Mrs. Kim where her student, Song Hae Jin, had gone in a soft, hesitant voice. What she heard broke something inside of her, something he had held together.

“He died. He went to the mountain top and threw himself into the sea. No one knows why it happened. Thankfully, they found his body a few days before you moved into your father’s home. It would have been…”

 She blinked as Mrs. Kim’s words blurred together, and the words that had been pressing against her mouth finally found their way out.

“I don’t feel good.”

Mrs. Kim smiled. It pulled at the corners of her eyes and made her face wrinkle the same way the old man’s face had as he lay in his coffin.

“Why don’t you take a few days off. The year is almost over and the students are busy studying for their college entrance exams. It’ll be okay for them to have a study hall instead of going to English class. Have you seen the nurse? I had a cold last week, but I’m fine now. They gave me some awful tasting medic-”

Hyo Rin walked away while Mrs. Kim was still speaking, her head nodding as she spoke to herself.

“Yes, the nurse. I just need to see the nurse or even a doctor. I’m fine. It’s just a cold. I must have caught a cold…”

She walked into the classroom and saw him again. He was sitting in his seat by the window, and she was sure he would finally say something to her, but when their eyes finally met he looked at her– looked through her, and then she watched as he slowly faded away.

She sat down in his seat and looked out the window. She wanted to see what he had seen. The view outside stretched on and on. It was filled with light but somehow empty. She had been filled with dreams but somehow empty for a long, long time.

Hyo Rin walked up the steps and knocked on the door of a small, unfamiliar house on the poor side of town. A frail, sickly man answered the door.

“Who are you?”

“Miss Hyo Rin, I’m Hae Jin’s teacher.”

He stared at her as  tears fell down his face. They were tears that he did not bother to hide.

“Hae Jin is dead!”

He slammed the door in her face, and she heard the sound of the lock sliding. She looked up and stared hard into the sun. She walked backwards and finally turned and walked away on unsteady feet. The faces that passed by her blurred together. She heard voices, then nothing.

Wolf

Spring passed by quickly, and suddenly it was summer.

Hyo Rin could not remember herself, but she could not forget Hae Jin. She wanted to forget the moments she spent waking up alone, the moments she spent drinking alone, the moments she spent looking into the faces of strangers wondering if she would wake up with one of them or alone…

She was tired of those moments.

Strangers stayed strangers. Dreams stayed dreams. Hope finally died, and she decided to give up. Too much time had passed, and everyone she had ever met remained the same. Maybe, she was just incapable of seeing them differently.

She couldn’t stop herself from remembering the darting glances and the soft whispers, the cold stares and the loud screams, the hands that had pushed her away and the hands that had held her even though she had wanted to leave, the words that had torn her apart and the words that had never put her back together. She had lived too much of her life pretending that she was someone else– that she was fine, and suddenly she realized she had never been fine.

She was tired of pretending.

A summer rain fell. She ran outside and raced towards the horizon. At the edge of the mountain she screamed Hae Jin’s name. Finally, with a voice as raw and tired as she was, she told him that she loved him.

He was drifting in the sea, a dead body she could never reach.

Daybreak

It was the first day of school, and autumn leaves fell as Hyo Rin stood outside and waited for her students by the gate. She could see them in the distance as they walked down the road, their faded clothes and bright smiles. Mrs. Kim was staring at her.

Hyo Rin had put on makeup and grown out her hair.

“You look so pretty. Are you seeing someone?”

She waited for Mrs. Kim to finish speaking before answering.

“No.”

Hyo Rin smiled, looking up through the bright red trees and into the golden sky. The wind swirled the falling leaves into a dizzying spiral, and then carried them far, far away. Hae Jin, like a leaf he had been carried somewhere far, far away by the wind after swirling around her in a dizzying spiral, but she smiled, because she remembered his voice, could still hear his soft singing…

My Etude House Haul

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*Korean Skin Care: Hauls, Help, &More*

One of my best friends is Chinese, and she pretty much forced me to take some of the skin care products that she bought in Korea…

>.<

Anyway, the skin care products that she gave me were from the famous Korean brand Etude House. I was reluctant to use them on my skin. After all, I still blame American skin care products for a lot of the damage that my skin suffered when I was younger and struggling with acne, and I really like the all-natural, African skin care products from Madina that I’ve been using.

Well, one night I decided to use the pomegranate mask that she gave me. Ever since then, I’ve been cheating on Madina with Etude House, and my skin couldn’t be happier.

It all started with one little pomegranate mask from Etude House that smelled amazing and left my skin bright, moisturized, and soft, but it didn’t stop there.

Missing U Black Charcoal Chin Pack & Face Masks in White Pearl and Collagen

Missing U Black Charcoal Chin Pack and Pearl Extract + Essence Masks

Missing U Black Charcoal Chin Pack 

After talking with my close friend and blogger at Mind, Heart, and Seoul, I found out that Etude House also makes these amazing black charcoal chin packs, which have been great at cleaning out and clearing up the little black spots that I get on my chin.

(They are smaller than you might imagine, but they fit my face just fine!)

Masks

The masks are great, but I’ve only used the pomegranate one so far.

(I’ll probably use the essence mask tonight.)

Baking Powder Pore Cleansing Foam & Good Bye Trouble BB Magic Mist

Baking Powder Pore Cleansing Foam and Good Bye Trouble BB Magic Mist~

Baking Powder Pore Cleansing Foam

Baking powder in a cleanser? This should have happened a lot sooner, because after using this product for just two or three days, my skin is already squeaky clean and shiny. It also removes make-up– really, so no more removing my make-up before I cleanse; and, the light citrus smell is amazing.

Good Bye Trouble BB Magic Mist

In addition, my skin is really oily, so I made the switch from a moisturizer to a mist. I read a lot of bad things about the mist after I ordered it, but I’m glad I did! It’s great at moisturizing my skin and evening out my skin tone. It also smells amazing, too.  

And, yesterday my mom actually thought that I was wearing make-up, but I just had the mist on!^^

(I use a lot– about 5 sprays, since I’m using it in place of a moisturizer. If you have dry or combination skin, definitely don’t do this! Use it before or after you put on BB cream instead.)

 &  &  &

Uhm, the make-up is also fabulous.

Color My Brows #3 Red Brown

My eyebrows are black, so I’ve been coloring them with a pencil and brush since the wig I wear is burnt caramel. This product is the brush and the color all in one, and I really love it– no more pencil sharpeners, pencils, and brushes just to get my eyebrows to match my hair color!

(The brushes also come in black and light brown.)

Oh My Eye Line AD no.1 Black

The eyeliner goes on neat and clean– and trust me, I’m totally new to eyeliner. So, if I can do it without messing up, you can, too! The brush is super thin, which is why its so easy to use, and you get a really nice, true black color.

 Lash Perm All Shockcara

The mascara has the best brush I’ve ever used– gets every lash and goes on thick without clumping. Now, my lashes are longer and thicker, which is great.

 Dear Darling Neon Tint #1 Neon Orange

My favorite, because I am SO sick of pink lip-anything, so I went with this neon orange. It’s definitely what I wanted– and not neon at all, just orange-y.

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I finally bought a camera, so I hope you enjoyed the pictures! Here is one of me at home with my new makeup from Etude House on~

So, that was my Etude House Haul!

I’m excited to have my skincare and makeup ready so that I will look or at least feel amazing when I go to Korea in eight days.

(I ordered everything on Amazon, but it will be MUCH cheaper for you if you don’t, and I can’t wait to check out an Etude House store when I’m actually in Korea, too.)

Preparing for Life in Korea, Part 2: Studying Abroad in Korea

*The “Preparing for Life in Korea” Series*

These days, many high school, college, and graduate school students from around the world are interested in studying abroad in Korea. However, whether you are studying abroad in Korea just to have fun and learn about Korean language and Korean culture OR to prepare for a life and a career in Korea, it’s important to find the study abroad program that is right for you!

BUT, if you are studying abroad in Korea to prepare for a life and a career in Korea, then you have to be a lot more serious about where you go to school and what you decide to study while in school:

You have to find a study abroad program offered at a school that will look good on your resume and impress Korean employers. You also have to find a study abroad program with classes that offer educational, practical, and professional experience in your chosen field so that that you can succeed, or at least get hired, when you finally start looking for a job in Korea.

So, for students who are interested in studying abroad in Korea in order to prepare for a life and a career there, this one’s for you.

1. Pick your career path and (try to) stick to it BEFORE you decide to study abroad!

I studied psychology and fashion design before somehow ending up at law school. I always wanted to study abroad, but it was only after I was sure about my career path in law that I decided to study abroad at a law school in Korea and learn more about life in Korea from studying and working to dating and everything in between.

(I was lucky, because after a quick search I found a study abroad program on international law offered by Fordham University School of Law– one that took place over summer at the Sungkyunkwan University School of Law in Seoul, South Korea.)

 If you are interested in seeing what career paths are available to foreigners in Korea– to foreigners who do or don’t speak Korean, then the best place to look might surprise you: Craigslist Seoul.

Once you’re on CL Seoul, just browse through the job listings that best fit your chosen career path or field.

(For example, I would look at the “legal/paralegal” or “government” job listings, but less traditional fields like marketing, entertainment, writing, etc., will have more results and better results. In addition, it wouldn’t hurt to send an email to potential employers and do a little networking, either, but I’ll talk more about finding a job in Korea in Preparing for Life in Korea, Part 3: Finding a Job in Korea.)

You can also look for study abroad programs that fit with your career path at these Top Ten schools:

Seoul National University

Yonsei University

Korea University

Pohang University of Science and Technology

Ewha Women’s University

Sungkyunkwan University

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology

Pusan National University

Hanyang University

Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

Okay, so you’ve picked your career path and a study abroad program that fits with it, but when should you study abroad– later?

No, because…

2. The sooner you study abroad, the better!

If you can fund your study abroad through working a job or two and getting a tuition loan or scholarship, then there is no reason to put off studying abroad– the sooner you go, the better.

Why?

Well, you’ll get to see if living– studying, working and dating, in Korea is something you actually want to do; and, by attending a school in Korea, you’ll also get meet peers and professionals who you can network with later on when you are trying to find a job in Korea.

 Many schools offer fall, spring, summer, and even winter semesters abroad– along with exchange programs, so take a look at your wallet and your calendar and start those applications, but ONLY if you…

3. Already know the requirements of your study abroad program and have made sure that you meet them!

Applying was a painless, simple process for me, and many of you will be able to apply directly to schools in Korea or through study abroad programs like CIEE; although, those applications are a LOT more complicated.

However, most study abroad programs in Korea only take students from accredited universities– not community colleges; and, your GPA (usually) matters.

However, Hanyang University’s International Summer Institute (HISS) takes ALL students:

“In order to participate in HISS, students must be enrolled in a college or university program, or at least need to have graduated from high school. The average age of students on HISS is between 18 and 25. If you meet these requirements, you can proceed to the application procedure below.”

(Check out the HISS application HERE.)

Studying abroad in Korea is another big step in preparing for life in Korea, and make your study abroad in Korea count by thinking about your future– not just having fun.

For more on studying abroad in Korea go HERE to read more about the following: the admissions process, languages of study, programs of study, and scholarships.

HERE is another helpful site, but like most Korean sites, it’s pretty… but a little overwhelming!

Updates: Blogging for Dramafever, A New Page, &More

*Off Topic*

Finals are almost over, and I will be in Korea on vacation in less than two weeks! But, I also have (more) exciting news to share.

I’m excited to be partnering with and blogging for Dramafever; and, you can check out my first post, “6 reasons Heirs Needs a Season 2,” right HERE.

In addition, I know that my blog is getting bigger and Bigger and BIGGER, but I don’t want you to feel lost in the midst of my many blog posts. So, in order to make finding the blog posts you’re looking for easier, I’ve changed and updated one page that you HAVE to take a look at:

Navigation!

The Navigation page has all of my main topics, special series, and (one) short story in a compact, easy-to-read ‘em all layout.

Now, that I’m finally (almost) on vacation, I’m catching up on the blog posts that I promised!

So, stay tuned for Preparing for Life in Korea, Part 2: Studying Abroad in Korea.

Also stay tuned for my (unexpected) blog post Etude House Haul where I’ll talk about and share pictures of this amazing Korean skin care and make-up line that I was introduced to recently by one of my best friends!^^

13 More “Must-Watch” Korean Movies

*Must-Watch Korean Movies, Must-Watch Korean Dramas, &More*

Here are ten 13 more “Must-Watch” Korean movies; because, you can never have too many Korean movies to watch, right?

Many of these Korean movies are also independent films, but Korean movies are also well-known for many other genres from melodramas to black comedies to crime action thrillers (and everything in between). So, I’ve gone ahead and mixed things up this time!

This Korean movie list also features many of my favorite Korean actors:

Lee Jung Jae, Lee Byung Hun, Ha Jung Woo, Won Bin, and even Kim Su Ro.

It also features many of my favorite Korean actresses:

Moon So Ri, Jeon Do Yeon, and Gong Hyo Jin.

And, if you haven’t, check out the first list HERE before getting started on this one.

1. 3 Iron

3 Iron~

A woman who is being abused by her husband meets a drifter on a motorcycle when he breaks into her house one day. What happens next is an adventurous love story that– as you’ll see, doesn’t need words.

Watch HERE, English subbed, on Youtube!

2. Oasis

Oasis~

Shockingly disturbing but surprisingly undramatic, this love story between a man with autism and a woman with cerebral palsy– no, this love story between two people, will leave you breathless and in tears as the true meaning of love even in the midst of misunderstanding unfolds.

(This movie features one of my favorite actresses, Moon So Ri, and you can find her in a Good Lawyer’s Wife, too.)

Watch HERE, English subbed, on Viki!

3. Green Chair

Green Chair~

She’s 32– 30 in America. He’s 19– just 17 in America. But, age is just a number, or so the old saying goes…

Warning: Although most Korean movies have some explicit content, I don’t think I need to warn you about them before you watch them. However, the sex scenes in Green Chair are long and explicit– even borderline pornographic, but that just makes this love story a little bit more than fiction.

(This will always be one of my favorite Korean movies, just because the lead actress is a crazy, insecure, neurotic mess, but that doesn’t stop her from discovering the true meaning of love.) 

Watch HERE, English subbed, on Amazon!

4. The Housemaid

The Housemaid~

A sexy husband, a pregnant  wife, and a desperate housekeeper make for one dirty house in this star studded, award winning black comedy.

Watch HERE, English subbed, on Amazon!

5. My Heart Beats

My Heart Beats~

In this black (romantic) comedy, a single, “forever alone” 40-something woman quits her job as a professor and decides to become… a porn star? But, what happens next as she explores her body, mind, and heart is an unexpected, explosive, and heartwarming romance.

Watch HERE, English subbed, on Amazon!

6. Old Boy

Old Boy~

This classic, crime action thriller is one that will leave you with chills:

For reasons unknown to him, a man gets kidnapped and trapped in a small room one day. He stays there for 15 years, and when he finally gets out– all he wants is revenge.

Watch HERE, English subbed, on GoodDrama!

7. I Saw The Devil

I Saw The Devil~

This is another excellent crime action thriller centered on revenge:

A man will do anything to save the woman he loves from a depraved serial killer, but his quest– his thirst, for revenge takes him to a dark, dangerous place.

Watch HERE, English subbed, on Amazon!

8. A Bittersweet Life

A Bittersweet Life~

A Bittersweet Life~

A gangster falls in love with the woman who belongs to the man he works for; and, what happens next is both brutal and bittersweet.

Watch HERE, English subbed, on DramaGo!  

9. The Chaser

The Chaser~

This crime action thriller will make you check your locks and leave the lights on before you go to bed as a lousy pimp turned detective chases after a twisted serial killer who killed several of his working girls.

Watch HERE, English subbed, on DramaGo!

10. The Man From Nowhere

The Man From Nowhere~

One little girl gets rescued by the hottest, most bad ass man alive, and this crime action thriller will leave you crying– and begging for more.

Watch HERE, English subbed, on Hulu!

11. Mother

Mother~

One mother goes to drastic lengths to protect her handicapped son when he is accused of a heinous crime.

Watch HERE, English subbed, on GoodDrama!

12. Volcano High

Volcano High~

This classic martial arts film stars big stars like Jang Hyuk, Shin Min Ah, Gong Hyo Jin, Lee Sang Woo, and Kim Su Ro– well, this was filmed (way) BEFORE they were big.

Watch HERE, English subbed, on GoodDrama!

(I remember LOVING this movie when it came out in 2001. At that time, it was shown on MTV. It was also called a “Kung fu” movie and dubbed by several famous hip hop artists, including Andre 3000, Big Boi, and Snoop Dogg… Hallyu before Hallyu was Hallyu?)

Don’t believe me?

Well, HERE is proof that this actually happened.

13. Crush and Blush

Crush and Blush~

This odd and awkward romantic comedy will pinch at your heart and bring tears to your eyes as you cheer on a red-faced, frizzy-haired girl who just wants to fall in love.

Watch HERE, English subbed, on GoodDrama!

So many movies, so little time!

Better go get started watching one of these “must-watch” Korean movies now– don’t forget the popcorn.

P.S.: Want more Korean movies? No problem, because I have a third Korean movie list with even more must-watch Korean movies from romantic comedies to horror flicks to action-packed blockbusters!

^^

Inside FNC: Cheongdamdong 111

Screencap~

*Kpop, Korean Idols, &More*

It’s always hard to describe what life at a South Korean entertainment company is really like to foreigners who are interested in becoming a Kpop idol or a Kpop star. From the managers who will control your daily schedule to the sunbaes who will boss you around to the practice rooms where you will spend most of your time– now you can see it all for yourself through the part reality, part variety show Cheongdamdong 111!

The cast~

The cast~

Cheongdamdong is a “neighborhood,” or district, in Gangnam.

(Gangnam Style is actually a song that pokes fun at the rich people who live there.)

You might know it as the place where I’ll be staying this winter while I’m in South Korea, but in case you didn’t know, Cheongdamdong is also one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Gangnam, Seoul, and all of South Korea.

More importantly for this post, Cheongdamdong is home to some of the biggest South Korean entertainment companies from SM to JYP to Cube and even FNC.

(I’ll be living just two to three minutes away from SM!)

Cheongdamdong 111 takes you inside FNC– literally, and shows you the lives of the CEO, trainers, managers, Kpop idols, and trainees as well as the lives of the actors and actresses who are also a part of this very successful South Korean entertainment company.

So, who’s who at FNC?

CEO:

Han Sung Ho

Artists:

FT Island, CNBlue (“Yoon Chan Young”‘s band!), Juniel, AOA, and more.

Actors and Actresses:

Lee Dong Gun, Yoon Jin Seo (Cha Eun Sang’s older sister!), and more.

Screencap~

Screencap~

In addition, after watching this show you might better understand THIS post on becoming a Kpop idol or a Kpop star; and, you might also better understand why its so important to speak Korean, understand Korean culture, and practice Practice PRACTICE.

You’ll also understand more about how these companies work by getting a behind the scenes look at management, production, and training.

Plus, its just a lot of fun to watch!

(I’m already on Episode 2 as I take a very long break from writing my final papers…)

Wanna watch Cheongdamdong 111, too?

For full-length but unsubbed episodes, go HERE and watch it on OnDemandKorea.

For shorter but English subbed episodes, go HERE and watch it on Dailymotion.

Finally, as a quick preview here’s “Yoon Chan Young,” Kang Min Hyuk of CNBlue, talking about what its like to act with “Lee Bo Na,” Krystal Jung of f(x).

More Food For Thought

*Black Girls in Korea: Relationships, Beauty Tips, &More*

It’s that time of year again. No, not Christmas…

Finals.

*Sigh*

So, here are seven blog posts that I’ve been wanting to share with you all; and, as I write papers instead of blog posts, stay full with more food for thought!^^

1. Click HERE for more on becoming a Kpop star, and get advice from Cube’s own management!

I really liked this article, and be sure to check out So You Want To Be a Kpop Idol, a Kpop Star? for two new links to full lists of both the artists and addresses of entertainment companies in Korea.

2. Click HERE for more on the “black girl in Korea” beauty tutorial– this one’s all about black hair care in South Korea!

For black girls who want to go natural– by natural I mean not weave, in Korea, then this is a great post about where you can go to get a relaxer. Be sure to check out the rest of the blog posts written by The Wonderful World of Dee AND the rest of the new blogs on my Blog Roll.

3. And, click HERE for more on being a girl or woman in Korea!

These tips and tricks will help you girls and women survive in Korea. Be sure to check out the comments, too.

4. Click HERE for more on how to kick the words “fetish” and “fever” to the curb!

This article is DEFINITELY worth reading, and the following goes for EVERY person of ANY race:

“Personal preferences in dating or sex are not the same thing as fetishes. We can’t help who we’re attracted to, and a lot of us have a type, but no one should project the kind of personality, behavior, and values they like in a romantic partner onto someone else, let alone an entire ethnic group.”

5. Click HERE for more on how barriers between two different people can get broken down, turning into one love– a love that’s capable of changing the world for the better!

This article about a black man and the KKK will definitely shock and surprise you, and I am inspired by his passion and courage to be a part of the change I wish to see in the world– a change in the world that I’m hopefully being a part of through my blog.

6. Click HERE for more on how to have self-esteem and self-confidence!

Even though I’ve talked about self-esteem and self-confidence in The “Black Girl in Korea” Beauty Tutorial and The Self-Confidence Campaign, this article does a great job of breaking the important things down for you in 13 steps.

Last but not least:

7. Click HERE for more on the things that you will never need to stop doing if you are no longer in college!

I’m proud to say that I’ve never done #1, #13, and #14, but I’m (still) guilty of all the rest, and I’m in law school now…

*Sigh*

Clubs, Nights, and “Spas”: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

*Korean Culture: The Good, The Bad, &The Ugly*

In Korea, clubs, nights, and “spas” are all VERY different, so before you decide to go to one, make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into!

A Quick Vocabulary Lesson:

클럽 literally means club. 나이트 literally means night and is short for 나이트 클럽, or nightclub. 안마, or “anma,” means “spa,” which I’m putting in quotes for a reason, because this is not always your average spa; 안마 can also mean “massage parlor.”

The Good: Clubs in Korea

I went clubbing (a lot) when I was in Gangnam last summer. Answer in Cheongdamdong was popular at that time, but I never went. My favorite clubs were Ellui in Cheongdamdong– my new neighborhood, and NB, YG’s club, in Nonhyundong– my old neighborhood. However, the hottest club right now is Octagon, which is also in Nonhyundong, and I went there once last summer.

Things at the trendiest clubs in Korea always get wild. Famous Korean celebrities often show up there, and famous Korean musicians often perform there. For example, Leessang, Beenzino, and Wa$$up have performed at Ellui, and Park Myungsoo, Lee Haneul, and even Yoo Jaesuk have been special guest DJ’s at Octagon.

So, for those of you who haven’t been, let’s go to Ellui and Octagon!

Clubs in Itaewon are also popular amongst celebrities, and I had a great time at a small club there called B1. There are (were?) some  popular clubs in Sinsadong, too, like Holic; but, whatever– I never went there, because it was famous for having the best looking girls.

Speaking of girls…

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“Gangnam girls” at Octagon on Halloween Night~

(For more pictures of the girls– and boys, at clubs in Korea, be sure to click the underlined links above and check out each club’s photo album!)

Anyway, clubs in Korea are like clubs in the rest of the world. Boys and girls dress up, and the girls definitely wear less clothing than the boys. However, the style of club wear is very different in Korea. Most girls wear low-cut mini dresses OR jeans– usually Robin’s Jeans, and a low-cut tee. Clubs in Korea also have tables where you can sit and drink with friends– or strangers, and VIP lounges.

Warning #1: Some clubs in Korea– like in Hongdae and Busan, are “Korean Only.” White, black, whatever– you will not get in. No, this is not entirely racist. A lot of it has to do with the (bad) history of foreigners in South Korea.

Warning #2: A “물” check, or “water” check, means to check the quality of the girls (or boys) at a club. Basically, some places– especially in Gangnam, that want the best “water” will NOT let you in if you are under-dressed OR overweight. Yes, this happened, and it happened to the friend of a girl that I met last summer. So, dress and look your best!

Warning #3: Clubs in Korea are well-known for being a place to pick up the opposite sex, hookup, and have what is (usually) a one night stand, so if you start dating a Korean guy or have a Korean boyfriend, then he may or may not let you go clubbing.

(This might just be a warning for me, because I would die a terrible, sudden death without my weekend-ly dose of clubbing.)

For more on clubs in Korea, be sure to check out this awesome article on clubbing and partying in Korea and Seoulnightlife’s (crazy) tumblr.

Tips: Most clubs in Korea have at least $20.00 cover every night, but cover usually comes with a free drink, too. Sometimes its ladies’ night, so girls get in for free. Sometimes, like at Ellui, if you like their Facebook page you can download a voucher and get in free before midnight. Basically, clubs (and drinks) in Korea are EXPENSIVE, but not as expensive as nights!

The Bad: Nights in Korea

Nights, or nightclubs, and 부킹, literally “booking,” go hand in hand. I have a few girl friends who have been to nightclubs and been “booked,” but my Korean friends– especially the guys, always told me not to go; and, I didn’t.

(It’s not really my style, but I think it would be fun with the right girls.)

Booking is, in my opinion, what separates clubs from nights:

A group of boys get a table, which usually costs at least $200.00. There, they also buy food and drinks. A host (usually a guy) grabs a group of girls (who are probably dancing on the dance floor but also have their own table) and takes them to a group of boys at a table. If the girls like the boys, they stay, but if they don’t, they (can) leave.

However, some nights also have hosts and hostesses– no, they’re not just there to take you to your table and bring you food; and, some nights also have private rooms, so…

Tips: If you go, make sure you go with girls who are on your level– meaning, make sure you go with girls who will stay with you if you want to stay and leave with you if you want to leave.

The Ugly: “Spas” in Korea

Fans of Kpop might remember Se7en and Ssangchu’s recent scandal.

Se7en and Ssangchu caught coming out of a “spa” while they were (supposed to be) serving their mandatory two years in the Korean Army~

They claimed that they went to a “spa” for a massage, but a “spa” is also a place where you can pay for sexual favors and sex.

Obviously, I haven’t been to a “spa” before, but there was a rumor going around my school that several Korean boys I knew had gone to one over summer to lose their virginity.

(Funny, I know.)

Finally, apart from “spas,” I also know people in Korea go to love motels, which I’ve mentioned before, and “DVD rooms,” which I haven’t mentioned before, to have sex.“DVD rooms” are basically Blockbusters with rooms in the back– rooms with couches and (probably) condoms and Kleenex.

Tips: Make sure your spa is a spa and not a “spa,” and stay away from (or at least be careful of) Korean guys who ask to take you to DVD rooms.

I know people like to go to Korea to party, but always be EXTRA careful when you are in a foreign country.

Dress appropriately, drink moderately, and always Always ALWAYS go out with a group of people you can depend on to get you home safely.