Ghana’s Sam Okyere Is A Korean TV Star

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

I’ve talked about Sam Okyere before (aka Sam Ochiri or Sam “572”– “572” should be said in Korean, so that’s oh-chil-ee) HERE and HERE. Now, I HAVE to share this article about him:

Ghana’s Sam Okyere Is A Korean TV Star.”

To everyone who still thinks that Koreans are all just mean, racist people– to everyone who dreams of being a star in Korea even though they are not Korean– to everyone who loves to see One Love spreading across the world…

Keep your eyes on this guy from Ghana!

Sam "572" and his Aussie hyung Sam Hammington for Vogue~

Sam “572” and his Aussie hyung Sam Hammington for Vogue~

And now, part rant, part real talk– I hope you’re ready for what I have to say to everyone.

To everyone who still thinks that Koreans are all just mean, racist people…

I’ve read one too many stories from people who think that all Koreans are racist based on what they’ve seen and heard or a few bad experiences that they’ve had.

Now, although I’ve talked about whether or not Koreans are racist before, I have to elaborate: A lot of the negativity you experience has nothing to do with your race and everything to do with your expectations and attitude.

When it comes to South Korea, if you refuse to assimilate into Korean culture to some extent (whether because you think you can do whatever you want in someone else’s country or because you just aren’t thinking about the MANY differences between your culture and theirs), then yes– you will stand out like a sore thumb, and for all the wrong reasons.

Even if you’re standing out for the right reasons, you still might not know it!

For example, not speaking Korean means you really don’t know WHAT people are saying about you, and this statement goes out to the black girl who was also from America that I met during my first trip to South Korea. She turned heads and stopped traffic but assumed every Korean person was just staring at her rudely or saying racist things about her.

They weren’t.

In fact, they were complimenting her left and right, trying to catch her eye or strike up a conversation with her, but she had already put up a brick wall between herself and every Korean person– guy or girl, who crossed her path.

It was sad, to be honest, because she had really closed her heart off to the place where she was living and the people she met.

I understand that some Koreans ARE racist, but don’t let a few bad Koreans spoil the whole bunch. I had my own racist experiences in Korea– like the guy who told me to go back to my own country the first day I arrived, but that didn’t stop me from modeling in Korea, being in a Kpop video, and making tons of Korean friends and boyfriends boytoys.

(Yeah, let’s be honest…)

Basically, Koreans are just like us in many ways, so don’t judge them until you’ve met them.

Finally, there are the people– usually girls, who think that Korean guys only like Korean girls, or that Korean guys only like a certain type of foreign girl who is pale and big eyed with big boobs and a big butt but is still somehow skinny…

*Rolls eyes at ALL guys who want THOSE kinds of mythical girls*

I don’t know if you could tell, but I’ve gotten one too many questions asking ME if Korean guys like this or that in a girl. I don’t know– I’m not a Korean guy. I’ve let you all know what my Korean guy friends think, but I REALLY think you should just meet Korean guys and find out for yourself, because they are all different…

Just like the rest of us!

^^

To everyone who dreams of being a star in Korea even though they are not Korean

Even if you don’t want to be a Kpop star, which is hard for Koreans as it is anyway, you might still want to be a star– a celebrity, an entertainer, a comedian, an actor, a model, in Korea.

Sam “572” is doing BIG things in South Korea, so why can’t YOU? Is it really your race or your skin color (or size) that is holding you back or will hold you back?

No.

Sam isn’t Korean or pale skinned– far from it in fact. Yes, he is a guy, but that doesn’t mean he looks anything like the “ideal guy” we hear so much about in the Korean media or from the mouths of Koreans themselves.

What Sam does differently:

1. He speaks Korean fluently.

2. He understands Korean culture and more importantly Korean people.

3. He confronts issues such as racism and prejudice in the real world– not just behind a computer screen; and, he does more than confront them…

He changes them.

Now, I’ve seen a few people respond negatively to Koreans after watching Sam appear on the following episode of Happy Together (where Sam and Yoo Jae Suk first met and fell in love):

Why?

Well, one of the Korean hosts stated that he looks like Will Smith. Another host continually made stereotypes about Africa and African people.

They also called him “Black Sam.”

If you are American and thinking like an American, then this will immediately seem racist. However, you need to be able to see the world from someone else’s perspective and understand where they are coming from without letting your own personal experiences or biases come into play.

Koreans will ALWAYS tell you who you look like. It’s just a thing they do, and they do it to each other, too. The first words I often heard out of strangers’ mouths when I was in Korea were Beyonce, Naomi, or whatever famous black female star came to mind– and for Koreans, there aren’t many beyond Beyonce, Naomi, Rihanna, Whoopi, and Oprah!

So, it’s not something to get offended or upset about, although let’s face it– Sam looks like Will Smith about as much as I look like Beyonce or Naomi…

Not at all.

As for Park Myung Soo, the host who was stereotyping Africa and African people, he is ALWAYS rude. It’s his gimmick.

Koreans, by the way, have a completely different sense of humor and make jokes about or laugh at many things Americans are offended by. This makes sense since Korean people and Korean history are entirely different from ours, and things we as Americans might be sensitive about just don’t make Koreans as sensitive.

Unsurprisingly, on another show hosted by Yoo Jae Suk, Infinity Challenge, Sam and Park Myung Soo were watching soccer together with other Korean celebs and hugging whenever Korea scored– Yoo Jae Suk invited Sam since he thought he would be lonely watching the game alone.

Park Myung Soo even giggled like a little boy when they hugged– it was SO cute.

Aaw~

Aaw~

I’ve also heard that Sam supports Park Myung Soo by attending his events!

Finally, Koreans have a different idea of “black.” It’s just a color– sometimes, like white. They called the “other” Sam– Sam Hammington, “White” Sam, too.

To everyone who loves to see One Love spreading across the world…

I am so proud of Sam and so thankful that he is pursuing his dream with bright eyes and an open heart.

I hope he encourages you and inspires you the same way he has encouraged and inspired me– although I still have no desire to be a star in Korea even though I have had my own few seconds of fame.

Nevertheless, I am dreading the daily monotony of life as a lawyer and looking forward to KCON 2014!

So, be sure to check out the article, “Ghana’s Sam Okyere Is A Korean TV Star“!

Because, I think we should all be a little more like Sam– and that includes getting a cool last name that sounds like numbers in Korean.

<3

About these ads

Daniel Cooper: How One Korean Girl Broke My Heart, Then Fixed It

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

Daniel Cooper, my friend and fellow blogger at Voyage To Asia, is back with another great guest blog post!

Daniel Cooper~

Daniel Cooper~

And, if you haven’t read his first guest blog post, then be sure to check it out HERE.

This week he’s back to tell us more about his sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartwarming experiences in Asia!

How One Korean Girl Broke My Heart, Then Fixed It

Hello!

First off, this post is a little sensitive as it contains a bit of racism and targets international relationships, but…

Isn’t that what WGEB is all about?

So, let’s share!

^^

After being in China for a few months prior to the time this incident happened, I had already learned a ton of Chinese that I can competently use in any situation. It goes without saying that I thought I was “that guy.” My confidence was at an all time high, and I started learning some Korean around this time, too.

So, this is the story of how a Korean girl attacked me with racism, and then came back with real understanding. Now, she is one of my closest friends, but it all started during our first round of drinking one night in China.

Hyung:

“Daniel, what club do you want to go to tonight?”

Me:

“Hmm, well it’s up to you guys, but… Ruby’s is always fun.”

Noona:

“Okay, then let’s go to Ruby’s!”

So, after some soju and Indian food (Exotic, right?), we got a few taxis and were on our way. There were about 11 of us in total.

Once we arrived at the club, we found a sofa big enough for all 11 of us, chilled, had some drinks, and then danced– of course. Since I happened to see one of my other African-American friends, we wandered off together for a bit. Later, we decided to chill outside, and of course he started talking to some Korean girls…

In perfect Korean, which left me speechless and clueless.

I did notice that one Korean girl seemed upset, and I didn’t want anyone to feel left out, especially since I felt left out, so I asked if she spoke Chinese…

She did!

We chatted for a good five minutes, and she even cracked a smile before saying that even though I’m funny, don’t think about asking for her number or becoming her friend.

This was confusing as hell, so, like most people would, I asked her why.

She said, while pointing:

“You see my friend over there?”

Me:

“Yeah, she’s talking to my friend.”

Her:

“Yeah, I don’t like black people, so don’t ask me for my number or anything. Sorry, nice guy.”

Without pausing, I said:

“Okay well, give me your number.”

Her:

“Didn’t I say don’t ask?!”

Me:

“I didn’t ask.”

Her:

“Go away, I really hate black people. They are always so mean and vicious, and you don’t know how to love people right. I don’t trust you.”

I wanted to ask her what happened, but she kept on going and said:

“I swear if I see another black person hurt my friend or any of my friends, I will never let it go. I will never accept it.”

But, what really happened?!

Well, after doing my best to hear her out, I found out that her friend was really hurt by a black guy who cheated on her twice AFTER she forgave him, and then he lied to her about his visa expenses. She gave him half, since she didn’t have much at that time, and he took the money and ran…

Which is stupid, and not just because she is really beautiful!

To read how my friend and I turned this group of hurt and hateful Korean girls into happy Korean girls, be sure to check out Part 2 on my blog, Voyage To Asia.

^^

My Thoughts?

First, I want to thank Daniel for coming back like he promised, and I can’t wait to read the rest of his story!

Second, I wasn’t shocked by what she said, because I’m guilty of the same thing. I had a bad experience with one Korean guy a LONG time ago, and because of him I swore that I would never be friends with, like, or date a Korean guy ever again…

Well, the VERY next day I met my first boyfriend– a Korean guy, and I couldn’t have met a better guy! So, I think Daniel did exactly what he should have done in that situation: Keep an open mind and an open heart, even if someone else’s mind and heart are closed.

We all have our ideas about other races of people who are different from our own, and these ideas can be good or bad, positive or negative. However, like the girl Daniel met and I did, it’s important to realize that our ideas about other races of people– if prejudiced by one bad experience, are definitely wrong.

And for once, being wrong never felt so right!

<3

The Top 10 Trendy, Must-See Spots in Seoul, South Korea

Apgujeong Rodeo Drive~

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

Recently, I talked about the real reasons why everyone seems to be (and really is) going to South Korea. Although South Korea has many beautiful, exciting cities to see and explore, most people– including me, just go to Seoul.

(However, I’d also like to go to Busan for the summer and Jeju Island or Okinawa in Japan for my honeymoon!)

Anyway, Seoul is incredibly small, but it’s also jam-packed with tons of different, unique dongs, or neighborhoods, so it seems incredibly BIG. And, each neighborhood has it’s own style along with something special to offer, from sightseeing to shopping to something yummy to eat.

So, instead of getting lost in all that Seoul has to offer, just take this list of the top 10 trendy, must-see spots in Seoul with you whenever (and wherever) you go!

Before you begin reading, you need to know that I’ve been to Korea twice: Once in the summer of 2012 and once last year in the winter.

Okay, are you ready?

^^

1. Samcheongdong

If you watch the Korean variety show Roommates then you’ll know about this neighborhood, because So Ra unni is always going there!

I went there for the first time during my winter trip last year. Mr. Kang showed me around, and we walked on a beautiful cobblestone road past some traditional palaces before we stood in the long line for the famous Samcheongdong chicken skewers.

Yummm~

Yummy~

We also ate at a great ddeokgalbi matjib.

More yummy food~

More yummy food~

matjib is the name for a restaurant that specializes in making one tasty dish.

Along with the roads, palaces, and matjibs, Samcheongdong is also home to a national museum.

2. Sinsadong

Sinsadong is most famous for Karusogil, or Karuso Road, where you can window show, or really shop, and then sit down and relax with some good food and drinks at a nice cafe or restaurant.

I went to Sinsadong for the first time back in 2012. At that time I went there on a date, and we walked around, did some window shopping, and then ate at a nice Italian restaurant.

I went back again with Mr. Kang last year during my winter vacation, and we went to a nice bar where I got my first margarita in Korea!

My strawberry margarita~

My strawberry margarita~

… I’ll stick to drinking them in Texas, but thanks anyway, Seoul.

3. Itaewon

Oh, Itaewon!

How you’ve changed over the years. Gone are the dirty streets filled with suspicious foreigners. They’ve been replaced by poppin’ clubs, stylish bars, and cute shops.

I went to Itaewon during my first trip to South Korea in 2012, and I loved it– so much so that after partying in Itaewon all night, I missed my flight!

Of course, when I went again last year, I had to go back!

Mr. Kang took me to his favorite bar there.

Glam in Itaewon~

Glam in Itaewon~

We also ate at a pojangmacha, or tent bar, outside.

Speaking of eating, go here if you want to do some serious eating. Since it’s Itaewon, there is something other than Korean food here– and a lot of it!

One~

Celebrity Hong Suk Chun’s Famous Restaurant~

Two~

Burgers~

Three~

Burgers~

Four~

At Flying Pan Blue, my favorite place to eat in Korea~

Five~

Wine~

Six~

And pancakes~

Chicken Avocado Panini~

Eating a chicken avocado panini there with my best friend the night before I left~

Still, you have to be careful in Itaewon, because of places like THIS.

4. The Han River

I LOVE the Han River.

Where else can you take a nice walk, a refreshing run, or a fun bike ride outside during the day or late at night? … I don’t know, but I haven’t done any of that!

What I have done is get my chimaek, or chicken and beer, on there back in the summer of 2012. Of course, it was another date– one that was supposed to start with a boat cruise but never did.

The view from the river front chimaek restaurant~

The view from the river front chimaek restaurant~

And, here’s the boat cruise that I never went on.

The Han River Boat Cruise~

The Han River Boat Cruise~

I’m not complaining, by the way…

I’ll take chimaek on land over a boat cruise on water any day!

5. Hongdae

As you can see, there is A LOT of shopping to do in Hongdae.

And, oddly enough, after eating chimaek at the Han River we went to spot number 5, Hongdae, for the rest of our date where we had some fruit soju and snacks since you can also go to bars and clubs there.

Fruit soju~

Fruit soju~

Nachos~

Nachos~

Hongdae is also famous for– and named after, its college of the arts and artwork that the students there create.

Art~

Artwork~

More art~

More artwork~

The college~

The college~

Hongdae is also famous for its music scene.

Live music~

Live music in Hongdae~

So much fun~

That night was so much fun~

The clubs in Hongdae are there, but I don’t recommend going unless you enjoy being trapped in a fire hazard.

At Cocoon in Hongdae for the first (and second to last) time~

At Cocoon in Hongdae for the first (and second to last) time~

I barely escaped alive…

>.<

6. Myeongdong

Myeongdong is simple:

It’s ALL about shopping.

If you want to get your Korean beauty products, then you HAVE to go here for the wide variety of stores and their great sales.

I didn’t fall in love with Myeongdong until I went back last year in the winter and took this awesome picture after getting tons of awesome Korean beauty products from Etude House:

Me and my husband So Ji Sub~

Me and my husband So Ji Sub~

Yes, my husband!

<3

7. Dongdaemun

Dongdaemun is also simple, but the shopping here is much more Korean. Think bartering for prices and walking away with tons of really good but cheap stuff!

Apparently, this place was recently renovated and is now a hot date spot, which you’d know if you’ve been watching Roommates all the time like me…

>.<

However, I still do (or did) most of my shopping in Apgujeong.

8. Apgujeong

Oh, five or six years ago this would have been number one, but Korea changes a lot in months let alone years!

I love Apgujeong– the shopping, well, I loved it TOO much so I didn’t do much of it when I went back.

The nightlife here is the best!

My favorite bar in Korea, Bunker~

My favorite bar in Korea, Bunker~

Bunker buckets~

Bunker buckets~

And the food, well, its pretty good, too!

Texmex at Coreanos~

Texmex at Coreanos~

Soooo good!~

Soooo good!~

You can do it all on Rodeo Drive and even stop by the Galleria, H&M, and Uniqlo.

9. Cheongdamdong

This is where I stayed last year in the winter, and it was a dream come true!

What a quiet, lovely, filthy freakin’ rich neighborhood to get some REAL shopping done, and it’s also home to one of my favorite clubs, Ellui, and a bunch of entertainment companies like SM and FNC.

Apart from shopping at stores you can’t afford, there’s a few other things to do, like heading down into the subway and shopping there or walking around and looking for Korean idols.

So, keep your eyes wide open!

O.O

10. Namsan Tower

I saved the best for last!

Okay, that might not be true, but I still haven’t been here! I’m determined to go with my boyfriend (whenever I actually get one), so yes– I’m saving the best for last: Cable car rides and locks of love!

Cable cars~

Cable cars~

Locks of love~

Locks of love~

Oh yeah, there’s a super famous restaurant with questionably tasting food at the top of that tower. Yeah, I’d like there to go there someday, too.

And get proposed to, again.

So, do you know where you want to go once you go to Seoul, South Korea?

I know I do!

^^

Korean Boyfriends: A Korean Drama Come True?

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

I’ve talked a little bit about my ex-boyfriend, right? He’s from South Korea, and he had only been in the United States (Texas of all places) for six months when we met on January 23, 2011.

 That’s on 1/23!

Or, I would never be able to remember…

>.<

Anyway, he knew a little English, and I knew a little Korean; but, lets just say that my Korean improved and his English stayed the same.

Well, recently I’ve been watching the charming chaebol KDrama Scent of A Woman, and Kang Ji Wook (played by Lee Dong Wook) totally reminds of my ex-boyfriend– for better of for worse, since I don’t exactly want or even need to be reminded that I met, loved, and lost someone like him.

Now, I’ve watched a lot of KDramas, but I always thought they were a little very unrealistic. Well, I was wrong!

So, here’s why having a Korean boyfriend CAN be a Korean drama come true.

^^

Kang Ji Wook, or My Ex-Boyfriend?

Kang Ji Wook is a chaebol, which makes him rich and more than a little jaded.  My ex is, too. Born in 1984, he grew up in Apgujeong, one of the most expensive places to live in Seoul. But, he left home when he was 16 to work… and to get into LOTS of trouble.

(He has a tattoo on his back and more than a few Harleys. Last time I checked– still Kakao stalking, he bought a new apartment and a Ferrari.)

Anyway, Kang Ji Wook is also just a big kid with lots of scars left over from his childhood. His mother passed away, and he doesn’t get along with his father– AT ALL. Hmm, my ex actually came to America because his one and only older sister passed away, and he also doesn’t get along with his father.

So, what happens when a Korean guy like that falls in love?

He turns into a total angel and spoils the girl he loves!

Shopping Sprees

He's waiting~

He’s waiting~

Bored...~

Bored…~

But wondering what you'll look like in that dress~

But also wondering what you’ll look like in that dress~

Then: Bam!~

Then: Bam!~

Looks good, right baby?^^~

Looks good, right baby?^^~

My first second date with my ex was at this outdoor shopping mall in Austin called the Domain. We went shopping at a lot of places, but all I remember is going to Betsey Johnson!

Afterwards, we had a nice salad and steak dinner at an Italian restaurant. Of course, he over-tipped. Seriously, he didn’t understand the conversion rate at all and may have had Monopoly money in his pocket for all he cared!

Anyway, we went shopping together quite often until we fought in the Betsey Johnson store… two days in a row. He said that I “lose my mind” every time I go in that store, so I told him we should stop going shopping together, and we did.

Well, we stopped going to Betsey Johnson together, at least!

Sweet Serenades

Belt out a tune for me, baby~

Belt out a tune for me, baby~

On the weekends, my ex and I would always go to noraebang, or Korean Karaoke, after going DT. He is a really good singer, and he would always sing to me.

It wasn’t the first time (or the last time) that I was sung to, but it was definitely the best and most memorable! Right before he left, he actually serenaded me with this song, “Seoshi” by Shin Sung Woo:

“I’ll always be standing here, so after you’re tired from walking you can see me–

There, that star in the sky…

So you can see my heart, that loves you.” 

You probably had never heard of that song or that singer until you watched– if you did, a popular Korean variety show called Roommate.

The Not-Soft-But-Still-Romantic “Pillow Arm”

Pillow Arm!~

Pillow Arm, when you use his arm as a pillow!~

“Pillow arm” is really popular among Korean guys, but only the hardcore couples keep doing it night after night. I mean, his arm definitely falls asleep and goes numb!

Waking Up With Sunshine (and Him)

*Sigh*~

*Sigh*~

I don’t know, but this is why I was REALLY reminded of my ex. I mean, I loved waking up with him…

Me in his arms and sunshine on our faces- it was just a dream come true.

^^

If you’ve dated a Korean guy or had a Korean boyfriend, has watching a Korean drama ever reminded you of him?

If so, then let me know.

If not, then tell me about a character from a Korean drama that you wish was your boyfriend!

P.S.: No tears were shed while writing this blog post.

<3

The Top 6 (Real) Reasons Why People Go To South Korea

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

These days, it seems like everyone is going to South Korea, but why? Well, the following reasons are the REAL reasons why people go to South Korea. Some of them might shock you, and some of them might surprise you…

Or not.

Either way, I’m just going to tell you what I’ve seen, heard, and experienced first hand ever since I decided to go to South Korea for the first time back in 2012.

Reason #1: Sex

You would NEVER know that she's just a member of a girl group and that this is their video!~

You would NEVER know that she’s just a member of a girl group, that this is a screen cap from their music video, and that she’s NOT actually half-naked!~

Wait…

What?!

Why would anyone travel all the way across the world– or less than all the way across the world, just to have sex?!

I don’t know, but maybe it’s because of the image that South Korea projects to foreigners through its media, such as Kpop music videos featuring sexy but cute girls and boys and Korean dramas and Korean movies starring hot actresses and even hotter actors.

Either way, I saw it first hand when I went to South Korea. After all, I accidentally lived in a red light district my first time there!

Wait, what I actually saw was not sex, although when I went out with my classmates from law school one night, I did see many things that I should not have seen… just imagine hands going where hands should NOT be going, at least in public!

It can be hard for foreigners, especially girls, to go from sex to dating (and to marriage) since they do seem to make one BIG mistake that I already talked about HERE but also talk about HERE.

(Now, I don’t care WHAT country you are in– having sex with someone you just met is a good way to make sure that you don’t see them again, or at least not for anything more than that!)

However, most of us are young, wild, free, and just want to have fun while teaching English or studying abroad– no matter where we are; and, there is something “safe” about knowing that what you do in South Korea will (probably) stay there.

So, what REALLY makes sex the number one reason on this list: South Korea, while famous for music, dramas, and movies, is also “famous” for prostitution.

Reason #2: Teaching English

A teacher and her students~

A teacher and her students~

Okay, this is probably the reason that you were expecting to be first.

Most of the foreigners that I met in South Korea were teaching English, and they probably still are.

In fact, I took a Korean class in 2011 while I was completing my undergraduate degree in Psychology… and still dating my ex-boyfriend. He’s the (real) reason why I went to South Korea for the first time!

Anyway, about five or six students that I took that class with were (or still are) teaching English in South Korea, and there were only about 20 of us!

I’ve also met someone in law school who taught English in South Korea with his wife…

Anyway, you get the point!

Reason #3: Studying Abroad

Study abroad~

Study abroad in South Korea~

If you meet a foreigner in South Korea, and they’re not teaching English, then they’re probably studying abroad.

After all, I also went to South Korea for the first time to study abroad at Sungkyunkwan Law School, and I know many of you are planning on or are already studying abroad in South Korea, too.

(For more on studying abroad in South Korea, go HERE!)

Reason #4: The Nightlife

Whooo~

Whooo~

There is NOTHING quite like the nightlife in South Korea

Everything is open late, and it doesn’t matter what day of the week it is– a club somewhere will be crammed with good looking people swaying and grinding to some good beats until about 6 o’clock– or even 9 o’clock, in the morning!

Don’t even get me started on restaurants, bars, and even noraebang, or Korean karaoke. You can read more about that HERE, where I blog about my two week long white winter in Seoul that took place just last year!

^^

Reason  #5: Kpop

BTS~

BTS~

Yes, Kpop made the list, too.

Hell, I know I WANTED to see some Korean idols when I went to South Korea– I just never did.

*Sigh*

Maybe next time but definitely at KCON!

Reason #6: Military Service

The army~

The army~

I also met a lot of people who were in South Korea because they (or their family) were stationed there– like the boys I filmed that one Kpop video with…

Blink and you’ll miss it!

So, did all of the reasons you were thinking of make the list?

None of these reasons are “good” or “bad.” There are only good and bad trips to South Korea, so make yours good by going for the RIGHT reason, which is something only YOU can decide for yourself.

Now, if you want to know where to go once you get to South Korea, then stay tuned for The Top 10 Trendy, Must-See Spots in Seoul!

The Traveling Kimchi

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

Before The Traveling Kimchi was The Traveling Kimchi, she was just a girl named Jessica that I met in my first Korean class back in 2011. Little did I know that she would become a great friend AND fellow blogger years later.

We met again in 2013– when I went to Korea last winter. We had an amazing time at my favorite bar– Bunker, my last night there.

Recently, I found out that she’s been blogging about her adventures in South Korea, too, so I knew that I had to introduce her to you and share her adventures with you, too!^^

The Traveling Kimchi

The Traveling Kimchi~

Jessica~

“Who is the Traveling Kimchi?”

“Why, she’s a tiny half Korean-Irish American currently living in Seoul, South Korea! After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin the Traveling Kimchi decided it was time to explore her roots! Since her arrival in 2012 she has been blogging about her experiences not only in Korea but all of her adventures abroad. She hopes you will enjoy traveling along with her and are inspired to pick up your own passport and see a culture and world beyond your own.”

– From The Traveling Kimchi’s Facebook Page

In addition, The Traveling Kimchi and westerngirleasternboy might be two very different blogs by two very different people, but we share the same exact mission:

“… to encourage thinking openly, meeting new people, having lifetime experiences, and traveling abroad.”

The Traveling Kimchi is on Youtube, and I wanted to share this cover she did with you all since it IS Sunday morning!

By now, we probably all need a little pick me up before the week starts, so here it is:

She has a lot of other great videos on everything from her adventures in Korea and Thailand to her favorite beauty products to what to do BEFORE you come to Korea, so be sure to check them out!

Sunday morning…

For some of us, “rain is falling.”

For some of us, it’s Easter, and we’re with our families– celebrating what should be a day that is less about hunting for eggs and more about hunting for something else.

For some of us, though, it’s just another Sunday– the Sunday before our last week of school… ever.

(That would be me!)

So, I’ll be watching Korean dramas and trying to write and edit my final papers! My last year of law school is coming to a close, and I can’t wait to start working, traveling, and living. I might even get to see The Traveling Kimchi again sooner than either of us thought…

The Traveling Kimchi, take me with you!~

The Traveling Kimchi, please take me with you!~

My Favorite Korean Food

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

There’s so much to love about Korean culture, from the people to the language to the history nightlife; but, I also have to talk about my love for Korean food.

As much as I love Korean BBQ, it’s not my favorite. I love soups and stews filled with spice, meat, and flavor

So, my favorite Korean food is kimchi jjigae.

My friends and I are regulars at the Korean bar here in Austin, and it has my second favorite kimchi jjigae. My absolute favorite is at this Korean restaurant in Dallas that my friend and I stumbled on while we were there.

(Last summer I dated three different Korean guys who worked there, and one of them STILL works there and STILL likes me, but I do my best to act like I don’t know him and never went on a date with him– a date that made me realize some people know absolutely nothing about dating, especially what to do and what NOT to do on a first date.)

 Anyway, we only order two things off of the menu: Korean BBQ or kimchi jjigae.

Kimchi jjigae~

Kimchi jjigae~

Kimchi, Korean green peppers, green onions, tofu, pork cuts, and so much more make this my favorite Korean food!^^

What’s your favorite Korean food or a Korean food that you want to try but haven’t yet?

P.S.: I finally remembered to take a picture of my favorite Korean food last Friday even though we go to the Korean bar almost once every two weeks– if not almost once every week!

My friend and I– just the two of us, did work last Friday:

My bowl and our side dishes~

My bowl and our side dishes~

All that remains~

All that remained~

10 Korean Drinking Games

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

Soju~

Soju~

Koreans love to drink…

And, they love to play games, too!

So, here are 10 Korean drinking games. Yes– I’ve played them all! But, some of these games are really easy, and some of them are really hard, so I’ll go through the easy ones first and save the best hardest for last!

Korean Drinking Games

Most of these games are played while sitting in a circle, and if that matters I’ll try to mention it.

1. Image Game

(이미지 게임, or image game)

Level: Easy

When it’s your turn, say any image that you want and ask who best fits that image.

“Who is the person who looks like they have had the most boyfriends or girlfriends?”

Then, everyone (including you) will point to that person, and they have to drink. It’s a great way to get to know the people you are drinking with, so it’s almost always used as an icebreaker and is usually one of the first games that gets played.

(This is also known as Chopsticks since you can play with chopsticks and use them to point instead of your finger.)

2. Baskin Robbins 31

(베스킨 라빈스 31, or Baskin Robbins 31)

Level: Easy

Everyone can count up to three numbers. The first person starts with one, and they can stop counting at one, two, or three. Then, the next person will count up to three numbers starting where the first person left off.

Person 1: “One, two.”

Person 2: “Three, four, five.”

Whoever makes a mistake and counts more than three numbers has to drink. However, whoever says 31 also has to drink, so be careful of how low or high you count!

(This game is easy and fun but can get confusing if someone playing doesn’t know how to count in English or if someone playing doesn’t know how to count in Korean, which definitely happened when I was playing before!)

3. 3-6-9

(삼-육-구, or sam-yook-gu)

Level: Easy

This is another counting game, but everyone can only say one number. Every time a number with three, six, or nine comes up, then the person saying it must clap instead. We clap once for 3 and 30, but clap twice for 33, 36, 39, etc.– if we get there!

Whoever says one of those numbers on accident instead of clapping or forgets to clap twice if needed has to drink.

4. The Quick Wit Game

(눈치 게임, or nunchi game)

Level: Easy

This is another counting game, and you can only say one number, too. Everyone sits in a circle, and someone has to start by saying one and standing up at the same time. The next person has to say two and stand up, and so on.

If more than one person says a number and stands up at the same time then they have to drink. However, the person who is last also has to drink, so be quick and be “witty!”

5. I Love You

(사랑해, or saranghae)

Level: Easy

Everyone sits in a circle. The first person can turn to the person on the left or the person on the right and say, “I love you.” Then, the person being told I love you can accept it, turn to the next person, and say I love you; or, they can reject it and say, “꺼져,” or kkeojyo, which means get lost.

If either person laughs then they have to drink, so keep a straight face and try to stay sober!

(I played this during a group sogaeting and my match told me to get lost. He ended up dating another girl who was also on the group date, and I think they are still together!)

6. Son Byung Ho Game

(손병호 게임, or Son Byung Ho game)

Level: Easy

This game became famous in Korea after Son Byung Ho played it together with the MCs and guests on Happy Together, one of my favorite Korean variety shows.

You might know it as the OPPOSITE of “Never Have I Ever.” You hold out five fingers and say something that you’ve actually done and that other people might have done, too. If someone else has done it, then they have to fold a finger down.

Like SNSD, you can also say, “Fold if you’re married,” or, “Fold if you like sweet potatoes.”

Then, whoever has no fingers left first has to drink.

7. King Game

(왕 게임, or wang game)

Level: Easy

You need at least three people and a deck of cards, and it helps to sit in a circle, but don’t let anyone see your card!

Everyone picks a card, and the person who picks the King gets to decide who and what. Usually, the King can pick one or two numbers who have to do whatever he says from dancing to kissing to stripping– well, by the time this game gets played, people are usually drunk and dirty!

Don’t want to do what the King says? Then, you have to drink.

(This game can also be played with cigarettes or paper, but you have to mark them up with numbers and draw a king.)

8. Soju

(소주, or soju)

Level: Easy

For this game you will need a bottle of soju! Take the cap off and twist the end part. Then, take turns trying to flick it off with your finger.

The person who’s turn is next when it finally comes off has to drink; or, whoever flicks it off can make everyone else drink!

9. 007

(007, or gong-gong-chil)

Level: Medium

Everyone sits in a circle. The first person says gong and points to someone else. That person says gong and points to someone else. That person says chil and points to someone else. Then, that person says bang.

The game stops, and the people on both sides of the person who said bang have to raise their hands. If they don’t, then they have to drink.

10.   Name Game

(네임 게임, or name game)

Level: Hard

This is another icebreaker, but it’s MUCH harder than the one from before. It’s also known as frying pan, but we’ll call it the name game. First, everyone sits in a circle and sings a song, “DING-dingdingding, DANG-dangdangdang, DINGDING, DANGDANG, the name game!”

Then, everyone claps.

Clap 1: Slap your thighs.

Clap 2: Clap your hands.

Then, point to the right with one thumb.

Then, point to the left with one thumb.

Then, slap your thighs again, and so on.

The first person will say someone’s name along with a number from one to four. That person has to immediately say their name that many times to the beat while clapping or pointing, and then pick someone else.

 (A lot of Korean drinking games start with songs, like the “Random Game” song that picks someone to pick a random game. There is also a “Baskin Robbins 31 song, and the “jjook jjook” song to encourage someone to drink if they are having a hard time!)

So, have you played any Korean drinking games?

And, here is the “jjook jjook” song!^^

“술이 들어간다 쭉쭉쭉!,” or “sooli deureoganda, jjook, jjook, jjook!”

It means the liquor is going down (your throat), followed by a very nice onomatopoeia for the sound.

 

Daniel Cooper: Western Boy, Eastern World

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

The WGEB community just got a little bigger, and I’d like to introduce you all to my first guest blogger!^^

Daniel Cooper

Mr. Cooper~

Cheesing~

Daniel Cooper is 21 years old, and as an African-American student at a historically black university– Lincoln University, he took on the challenge of introducing his black peers to Asia.

Along the way, he founded The Chinese Club at Lincoln and managed to study abroad in China twice. In the end, he accomplished a lot:

“Yes, I turned what was thought to be a small time, soon-to-disappear language on a black campus into a thriving program that I hope can be taken seriously, and it will be.”

But, while in China Daniel felt the strong push and pull of the Korean Wave, and he’s here to share his funny and heartfelt stories about his first experiences with Korean culture from the good to the bad to the ugly.

Western Boy, Eastern World

Hello everyone! My name is Daniel (丹尼尔) Cooper, and you can visit me at my blog, Voyage To Asia.

Korean Culture– the Korean wave, is so powerful. Even in China I was dominated by it, and even when you think you know Korean culture the wave from that massive ocean proves deep indeed. So, here are just a few flashes of my good, bad, and ugly experiences with the Korean wave after a few months in China!

(I’ll be talking about my experiences with my Korean friends Kyunghan, Kim, Genie, and Lin, and they also starred in my blog post on My Korean Influences.)

Choi Kyunghan

Kyunghan and I~

Kyunghan and I~

Always the leader, and he also had a knack for leading people to new experiences. According to him, “Offering octopus is a sign of friendship in Korean culture.” Well, I did not know that! The subsequent action was to shove an octopus from a street vendor down my throat, because we’re good friends, right?

Kim Minjung aka Kim noona

Kim noona and I~

Kim noona and I~

Nice and caring but not nearly as innocent as you might think since I thought Kim noona could easily find a job as a spy. She’s good at gathering intelligence. Between me, Lin, and Kyunghan, there were no secrets from her. She was also a hookup person, and toiled to introduce me to every Korean girl she knew. She even pushed me to go on some of those group dates that are so popular in Korean culture, but I’ll talk about that later!

Lin

Lin~

Lin~

Hanging out with Lin was the most comfortable since he was a lover of the night life… and also got the girls!

LOL

He’s not nearly as traditional as Kyunghan or Kim noona but still interesting in that respect. Lin actually loves black people more than I do, and since he liked a black girl in my program group, he wanted to learn some Ebonics from me– real thug. But, Lin was also real hospitable, and I realized this after meeting his family in which I was adopted after just two days. His mom told me to call her “mom,” and his sister was another noona…!

(I can never meet someone young enough that I’m oppa.)

Genie

Genie~

Genie~

Genie was a friend of a friend, and since that’s a perfect way to meet people in Korean culture, Genie and I actually dated for awhile. And man, she knew all the spots! One thing I learned from Korean girls: Better have that fashion.

She had money and intended to spend it. We went dating in Korean town in Shanghai where we hit up some Korean BBQ, went to a bar, went to get some snacks, then went to another restaurant (she can eat), and we finally ended with that KDrama style walk and talk in a nicely lit road with no people near the park.

Now, between the three of them I ended up getting hurt, sick, traditional, and downright embarrassed!

Getting Hurt

Let’s start with the hurt– not hurt as in dumped by Genie, or hurt as in getting beat by Kyunghan or Lin (they are both built), but hurt as in my pride. Nothing serious of course, but I must say that I’m a pretty good badminton player– just not at their levels yet!

Getting Sick

I’ve been to China twice before meeting them, and it was not a big issue. I have good food tolerance, but… — and that’s a long but, they got me sick somehow.

I’m a chicken, beef, pork, and shrimp kind of guy, and I’ve never had octopus or any of those indescribable, unknown foods that they had me eat. Kyunghan Hyung always picked up the tab, or Kim noona (but hyung’s money), and they never let me pay. I like this part of the culture, but eating free means that you eat what’s given to you. And, in my case, it’s squirming octopus and fire buring cold kimchi.

The amount of spice in these dishes was unheard of! I used to think that if you’re turning red, then maybe that’s enough. But to them, that means eat more.

So, I think I got sick AND gained weight, too.

Getting Traditional

I knew that Koreans usually bowed to each other as a sign of respect, but I never really saw it in practice until I met Kyunghan! He bowed to someone else, another Hyung!

:O

I thought, “Oh… wait, what?” Well, I can do that to, so the next day I saw Lin and bowed, but that didn’t work. Then, I saw Kim noona, and I got a bow back and a cute laugh, but noona is always like that. Then, when I saw Kyunghan hyung I bowed, and I finally got the, “Daniel! Not bad!” And, that’s how I impressed Kyunghan hyung, and even to this day I bow to maybe 70 percent of the new Koreans that I meet.

It makes everything so much easier, but it’s safe to say that Kyunghan hyung is the most traditional!

Getting Embarrassed

And, the embarrassment. This is a blog post in and of itself, but I’ll keep it short for now.

Kim noona gave me the most chances to embarrass myself, but in a cute way as they describe: Group dates. One or two in awhile is fine to me, but every other day is kind of… Well, people thought that I was a playboy since I was getting setup so much, and I didn’t even do anything!

LOL

 More over, when we play those drinking games like 007, or gong-gong-chil, people point their fingers at who they think should drink, so guess who got picked: Usually me or Lin. Well, once I get a little alcohol and some music, I turn up. But, Koreans can turn up, too! So, we start dancing.

Now, I dance freestyle, and that alone makes them parade me around in clubs, but it’s fun, especially seeing them copy me. Oh, and Kyunghan hyung has really got moves! Last thing in the embarrassment section is seeing the girls of this group date, or when I have to fend off some outsiders who try to dance with us in the clubs.

Protective much? Yes, but only because I love them.

It’s me again, westerngirleasternboy, but I hope you enjoyed reading about Daniel’s adventures with his Korean friends and with Korean culture. It’s crazy to think that this all took place in China, but then again it’s not so crazy when I think about my own adventures with my Korean friends and with Korean culture that take place here in Austin, Texas.

Yes, the Korean wave has probably hit us all no matter where we are!

Daniel, you have to come back!

So, stay tuned for more guest blogging from Daniel along with a blog post by yours truly about some of my favorite Korean drinking games!

P.S.: Want more of Daniel? Be sure to check out his blog and my favorite blog post, Black in Asia…?.

^^

Korean BBQ

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

If you’ve never had Korean BBQ, then you’re definitely missing out on what is one of the most delicious ways to eat meat in the world and what is a BIG part of culture in Korea.

It’s not just about slapping a bunch of special BBQ sauce on pounds of meat sitting on a grill outside, chopping it up, and sticking it right in your mouth or in between two slices of bread before eating it like here in Texas.

(But, damn, that tastes good, too!)

It’s about grilling the meat to perfection, dipping the meat in your favorite sauce– ssamjang or sesame, placing it carefully on lettuce or a sesame leaf before decorating it with your favorite side dishes from kimchi to bean sprouts to garlic, and then wrapping it all up before devouring a bite of food that looks like it might break your jaw but definitely won’t.

Unfortunately, it definitely will break your heart when it’s all finally gone.

Don’t watch this video on an empty stomach, but yes, it’s what samgyubsal, my favorite type of Korean BBQ second only to galbi, or ribs, is all about!

Over SXSW, my friend and her boyfriend hosted a wonderful Korean BBQ with samgyubsal and so much more (like gyeran mari, or egg rolls, and doenjjang jjigae, or fermented bean stew) at their home, and it’s something you should try, too!

Barbecuing~

Barbecuing~

But that's not all!~

But that’s not all!~

Desert~

Desert~

And hookah~

And hookah~

We also had everything from bokbunja, or raspberry fruit wine, to tequila to white peach sake.

Good food, good drinks, and most importantly– good friends!^^

This was another awesome part of my spring break, which is– of course, over now…

>.<

What Not to Do in Seoul, South Korea

fi

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

I’ve been to South Korea– just Seoul, twice now. Once for law school and an internship for three months in the summer of 2012 and once for vacation for two weeks in the winter of 2013. Of course, I drank– I danced– I devoured Korean boys and men like a box of fine chocolates dated, but there were some things that I just didn’t do…

Or, at least learned NOT to do.

So, here it is– all the dirty laundry that I’ve been meaning to air out, but no– it’s not mine.

(At least not all of it.)

1. Don’t pick up Korean guys at clubs.

By picking up Korean guys at clubs, I mean taking them home– not drinking, dancing, or a little more with them AT clubs. Now, taking them home might mean taking them to YOUR home, but it might also mean going with them to a hotel, love motel, or– of all places, a DVD room, all of which I’ve talked about in THIS post on Sex in Korea and THIS post on clubs, nights, and “spas” in Korea.

(I’m only mentioning DVD rooms because an American girl one of my best friends went to school with in Korea slept with a few Korean guys in DVD rooms. I don’t know if she met them at clubs, but DVD rooms?! Imagine Blockbuster with porn and private theater rooms in the back, but try not to imagine anything more than that! Thankfully, not ALL DVD rooms are so “dirty,” literally.)

In addition to having talked a little bit about DVD rooms in Korea, I’ve also talked a lot about clubs in Korea:

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.”

Why?

Well…

Whoo~

Whooo~

Whooo~

(Okay, not everyone who goes clubbing in Korea has this much fun or takes pictures that make it seem like they’re having this much fun…)

I’m not talking about clubs in Hongdae, although Cocoon and NB2 might be relevant to this conversation. Mainly, I’m talking about clubs like Ellui and NB in Gangnam where the crowd is older, hotter, and wilder.

Club Ellui in Seoul:

However, in Korea it’s definitely easier to be approached by Korean guys and also easier to approach Korean guys at clubs– especially if you don’t speak Korean, which might be why so many girls try to meet Korean guys at clubs!

For that reason (or whatever reason), I hear this from girls ALL the time, whether I’m in Korea or on my blog:

“I go to clubs and meet Korean guys, but they never like me or I never see them again even though I thought they liked me. What should I do? I really want to go on dates with them, too.”

Sure, if they “like” you, then it always starts out sweetly. After all, the most commonly used pick-up line by Korean guys (who may or may not speak good English) at clubs when they talk to foreign girls is the following:

“Where are you from?”

He’s cute, or maybe you’re too drunk to know if he’s cute or not, so you smile, and you tell him where you’re from. He buys you a drink. You drink together. Then, you dance together– usually known as 부비부비, or boobie boobie.

Boobie boobie in Korean dramas~

... And boobie boobie in Korean clubs~

… And boobie boobie in Korean clubs~

But, in Korea, you don’t NEED to go to clubs to meet let alone pick up Korean guys, and unless all you want is a casual relationship, then I don’t think you should. In Korea, it’s common enough for guys to approach girls they like on the street or in cafes– wherever they see you, so just “dress up” when you go out, make eye contact, and smile.

Then, wait and let the magic happen!^^

P.S.: I think that casual relationships have their time and place– even in Korea, so THIS what not to do is for the girls who are expecting what starts as a casual relationship with a Korean guy at a club to turn into something more.

(This isn’t impossible, it’s just RARE, especially when language and culture barriers can get in the way.)

In addition, I think that most Korean guys prefer to do the chasing rather than being chased, so I really do mean wait. This doesn’t mean do nothing. It means do everything to get his attention and keep it without “making the first move”; or, if you’re a professional, then make him THINK that he’s making the first move.

(Making the first move could be anything from approaching him first to texting him first to other “firsts,” but I’m not trying to give you girls dating advice, because my own friends can barely learn what I try to teach them.)

Thankfully, it’s okay to be awkward and very “unprofessional,” because a guy– including a Korean guy, should like you for who you are and NOT who you are trying to be. However, if you make a bad first impression on any guy because you ARE awkward or “unprofessional,” then he’s highly unlikely to forget about it…

*Sigh*

2. Don’t drink (a lot).

Where I’m from, it’s a tradition to drink a lot and pass out or black out every now and then, which is NOT what my friends and I do when we go out, but we all know who to call in case that happens: 911.

But, I’ve seen American girls– they were a group of teachers, leave their drunk, passed out friend on the street outside of Monkey Beach in Apgujeong. No one knew who to call OR what to do, and no– I never hung out with those girls again.

At the same club, I met another teacher from America– really sweet girl but a little strange, who got really drunk and disappeared with two Korean guys that I introduced her to (oops), much to the dismay of her friends, and when I told them exactly who she disappeared with they said:

“She’s not that kind of girl.”

Yes, she was, as I found out the next time that I met her.

Why do girls make bad decisions?

(She admitted that it was a bad decision.)

Blame it on the alcohol.

*Plays “Blame It” by Jamie Foxx*

Apart from Goose, Patron, vodka, and Henney (which is the name of a Korean guy that I just met), there’s something called soju. If you’ve never had soju, then drink it MIXED with beer and lemon, fruit, or yogurt– if you drink it at all.

Here’s some advice from an oppa that I met while in Korea for the first time:

“Don’t drink a lot or say that you can drink well. It’s not pretty, and some Korean guys will hear that and think you are “open” and try to take advantage of you.”

This is exactly what happened to an American girl that I spoke with recently. She was with some Korean guys who “fed” her alcohol, and then– of course, afterwards they didn’t bother contacting her again.

Death in a bottle~

Another cultural difference that makes it seem like all Korean guys are judgmental of or don’t like girls who like to drink? I wouldn’t say ALL, but I would say a lot, especially if they just met you (at school or at a club for example) and don’t know you very well.

Now, I only REALLY drink soju with my close friends– usually my 오빠들, or older Korean “brothers.” By REALLY drink I mean not just a few shots but a bottle or two.

Anyway, I don’t drink a lot in Korea, because I don’t know who to call or what to do in case of an emergency, and I don’t think you should either UNLESS you know that someone will be there to take care of you and make sure you get home safely.

(Someone like Mr. Kang.)

3. Don’t be a tourist.

Korea has a lot more to offer than palaces and famous landmarks, but the only way you’ll ever experience Korea is to go out on your own and wander around OR to meet someone who can take you to all the cool places that only Koreans ever seem to know about.

I don’t have anything else to say about this, because there’s really nothing wrong with being a tourist, but it seems like such a waste to travel to a country and never experience what it’s really like.

What did you learn?

Hopefully, you learned that MANY girls go to Korea with stars in their eyes because of Kpop and Korean dramas, and in the end they face disappointment, disillusionment, and disaster because of cultural differences, especially when it comes to relationships.

Hopefully, you also learned that your safety is important, and it’s not worth putting ANYTHING above that– be it ignorance about Korean culture or indifference to meeting good or bad Korean guys or the idea that you are invincible and nothing bad will happen to you in Korea.

Honestly, there are a lot of other things that you really shouldn’t do in Korea, and I think the biggest one is assume that it’s okay to dress and behave in Korea the same way you dress and behave in your own country.

Be yourself, but try to “blend in” by learning about and adapting to Korean culture, too.

As an ahjusshi said about Americans in particular:

Americans are very honest and innocent. They can say that they’ve done something wrong and people will forgive them. It’s not like that in Korea, so Americans come here, and when they make mistakes– especially because the two cultures are so different, they get in trouble– they get hurt.”

So, no matter where you’re from, when you go to Korea, DO have fun, but DON’T put having fun first. You’re still in a foreign country, and you always need to remember that, and remember this:

Safety, first!^^

This blog post sponsored by Smokey the Bear:

Smokey The Bear~

“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.

P.S.: THIS:

Me and my husband So Ji Sub~

Me and my husband So Ji Sub~

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…

1426571_379823385453420_1172512070_n

“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.

My Biggest Korean Culture Shock

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

So, I’m Nigerian-American– that’s Nigerian-American just in case you can’t see all of the letters.

What could my culture possibly have in common with Korean culture?

Well, a lot– like an emphasis on education and family as the most important things in life; and, that’s why I was initially drawn to Korean culture.  Its definitely NOT because of Kpop, but it definitely is ALSO because of my Korean best friend (and first love) from college, Korean dramasKorean movies, and Korean music.

Anyway, Nigerians eat spicy stews and sweet bread, too, with lots of bitter vegetables and yummy(?) meats. Of course, I won’t go much further than that in comparing Nigerian food to Korean food, but I’ll be sure to write about Korean food soon!^^

Well, what else?

We respect our elders, too, from giving big greetings to doing small chores to obeying general commands, like the following:

“Bring me my shoes, Jenny.” — My Aunt.

Do what you’re told.

“Wash the dishes, Jenny. Now!” — My Mom.

Do what you’re told when you’re told.

“Jenny… Jenny… JENNY!!!” — My Dad.

And, come when you’re called, even if you’re upstairs in your room trying to watch your shows.

*Comes out of shock*

Of course, when I say, “elders,” I don’t just mean “old people.” For example, out of respect, when I was a kid and even now I always greet people who are older than me first.

And, little children are kept separate from older ones out of respect for age differences and the wisdom wrinkles that come along with being older. For example, my older cousin ordered my younger cousin to sit on the floor so she could sit on the couch.

We even separate the house (living room, TV Room, upstairs) based on age: The adults get the living room, we girls get the TV room, and the boys (and kids) get the upstairs.

Like Koreans, Nigerians also have traditional clothing along with traditional ceremonies and even traditional weddings.

So, apart from the language, the singing in front of people in small rooms, and the living and showering in even smaller rooms, I was never really shocked by Korean culture.

Well, until I started watching Korean variety shows…

I’m writing this post right after watching the latest episode of Mamma Mia. What I’m about to tell you happens all the time, but this time– I just HAD to write about it.

On this episode, moms and their famous daughters were featured. Most of the daughters were also moms, too, so after awhile childbirth came up, and the women talked about how long it took for them to give birth.

That’s normal enough.

However, SUDDENLY, they started talking about the following:

Literally the main female host said, “tightening your anus”  to explain 케겔 운동” or Kegel exercises, which one woman did in order to promote better health after birth.

(You should have seen Kyuhyun of Super Junior’s face– he’s a main host on the show, too, when they told him what “케겔 운동 ” meant.)

Then, my favorite comedian and Busan boy Heo Kyunghwan chimed in and asked the woman:

“Oh, are you doing that right now?”

Surely enough, she was. Her face got redder and the veins in her neck became more pronounced as she counted to ten.

Of course, everyone joined in– even the camera men.

To wrap things up, Heo Kyunghwan mentioned that Kegel exercises are also good for male stamina.

Then, the conversation strayed back to that same woman, who said she “enjoyed eating her husband’s love.”

(Uhm, surely she’s not eating what I think she’s eating nor talking about it on national TV?!)

Anyway, they also talked about premarital pregnancy, something one male guest’s wife and one female guest had gone through (and how to break it to the parents) along with taking showers and using the bathroom together with their spouses.

They decided that while taking showers together seems romantic, its not.

Lesson of the day:

“결혼은 현실이다.”

“Marriage is reality.”

So, I suddenly realized that everything that I know about sex, dating, and marriage I learned from romance novels, my Korean ex-boyfriend, independent films (mostly Korean but some Italian and French), and Korean Variety Shows, because its just not something that my Nigerian family talked about, AND its not something that I ever wanted to learn from American politics or American society…

or American Porn.

BUT, whenever I hear Koreans talk SO openly about birth, stamina, and sex– on TV of all places, I’m always shocked by how open their culture is with each other about those issues. Keep in mind, though, this is sex in terms of FAMILY, not anything like what Hyuna and what’s his name are doing– those two “Troublemakers.”

So, what’s YOUR biggest Korean culture shock?

>.<

So… Are Koreans Really Racist?

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

Stanley, a guy from Kenya, recently went on a Korean variety show called Talk Show Hello. There, he talked about his hardships in Korea because of his dark skin color– and really, because of his race.

And, you can watch the episode with English subtitles right here:

Stanley’s kind face and warm heart along with his willingness to be a part of the change Korea does need to see earned him much sympathy, admiration, and respect from the cast and audience; and, hopefully, from anyone in Korea who happened to be watching.

Stanley and Jaejoong~

Stanley and Jaejoong~

Stanley met Jaejoong at the cafe in APgujeong where he is currently working~

Stanley met Jaejoong at a cafe in Apgujeong where he was (and might still be) working~

However, since meeting Stanley through this program, I’ve been thinking:

Are Koreans really racist?

As a black girl who has been friends with Koreans of all ages and even dated someone who is Korean, this is a hard question for me to answer, but I’m going to answer it based on what I’ve seen and heard while here in America and while over there in Korea.

-

Recently, Chayeol from EXO was called both racist and colorist, because he was making fun of his group member Kai, who is darker. This is exactly what happened to Stanley, except that Stanley is not Korean. He’s Kenyan!

And, a member of the cast when Stanley came out, it was said that Chanyeol “didn’t care” about what Stanley went through based on the way he treated Kai in the past.

However, I like THIS comment, and I also like what my friend Chelsea had to say:

“Often Asians, like Chanyeol, will tease another Asian about his or her skin color, but they won’t immediately or necessarily subject someone who is not Asian to the same treatment.”

Now, on the same episode and show that Stanley appeared on, which addresses the worries of people in Korea, a Korean boy who was born with blonde hair also talked about his experiences being different in Korea. This is what he grew up hearing from other Koreans because of his blonde hair:

“Why were you born?”

“Are you an alien?”

“Gross!”

I want to share this with you all so you understand that Stanley was not treated the way he was JUST because he was black– necessarily, but because he was different: Darker. The blonde Korean was also treated the way he was JUST because he was different: Blonder. After all, he was still Korean, like Kai.

Finally, a little Korean girl with blue eyes that she got from her mother came on the same show in the past, because she was called a “monster.” In America, this would NEVER happen. She would get SO many compliments.

(For pictures and more on her story, go HERE.)

So, what’s really going on?

To answer that question, you need to know (at least a little bit) about the history of Korea.

The History of Korea

Koreans, as a result of their 한 or oneness– the very name that makes their country hankguk, 한(one)국(country), are against deviating from the norm, which is dark hair, dark eyes, and pale skin. They don’t like what we love: Diversity.

They like homogeneity

Why?

Korea was left alone for centuries, and then suddenly invaded by Japan and other foreign countries like America. The culmination of this culture clash came in 1950– the beginning of the Korean War, which wasn’t that long ago. This is why xenophobia is still a part of Korean culture, especially the older generations who can still remember the terrible things that happened to Korean people before and during the war.

(Okay, history lesson over!)

A Closer Look at Homogeneity in Korea

Having been to Korea, I will speak from personal experience when I say that everyone “looks the same,” be it faces, hairstyles, or clothing. Sure, each neighborhood or city has a different style, but in Korea, it is SO easy to recognize someone based on the way they look– be they students,  chaebolsHongdae kids, Gangnam girls, ahjummas, etc.

In Korea, everyone even gets the same surgeries. Have you seen THIS?

And, my unni (“big sister”) was told to lose weight so she could “get married to a Korean guy.”

(Well, her boyfriend is Nigerian, and they’re getting married soon.)

Even Korean guys tend to all have the same type, but of course we all know that men’s thoughts and ideals can easily be broken by lust, beauty, and of course love.

White Foreigners

Koreans might be more accepting of white foreigners, especially Europeans, because they are closer to their own physical and cultural norms, at least superficially.

Korea is also filled with media that depicts white foreigners in a much more positive light than black foreigners, who– until recently, were always shown shooting someone in America or starving in Africa.

In addition, studies have shown that we become more accepting of what we see in the media and even begin to take what we see in the media for granted. This is especially true when it comes to both stereotypes and standards of beauty. For example, some Koreans even want to look more “western,” which is why they get double eyelid surgery.

However, white or black, there are some places in Korea– like a notorious club in Busan, that are still “Korean Only.” This has a lot to do with the long history and continued presence of American military in Korea, but I’ll have to save that for next time.

So, are Koreans really racist?

Well, we all need to stop and think more about the ways we define racism. Taken out of context, a cultural norm in Asia, such as preferring light skin over dark skin as a standard of beauty, becomes racism to someone– like a black fan of Kpop in America, where a preference for white skin over black skin meant histories of abuse, prejudice, discrimination– and yes, racism.

Everything varies across countries and cultures, communities and individuals– including racism. You might meet some Koreans who are racist, but don’t assume that all of them are.

Finally, here is some advice for everyone who loves Korea but is afraid to go because of the racism they can and probably will encounter there:

It is important to realize that your experiences are often defined by your expectations. So, give yourself a chance to have good experiences with Korean people by having good expectations of Korean people. Don’t expect to find racism in Korea, because you’ll probably find it…

Even when its not really there.

<3

My Korean Wave

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

“The Korean wave” swept me away in 2008, and I’ve been happily swimming in Korean stuff since then. Here are just a few of my favorite Korean movies, dramas, artists– and of course, foods.

(This is NOT your typical list, so be sure to check it out!)

Korean Movies

Korean movies are hard to find, but they’re worth looking for and watching!

3 Iron (빈집) — By my favorite director, Kim Ki-duk. I’m excited for his new movie featuring Lee Joon. Joonie mentioned wanting to work with Kim Ki-duk on Strong Heart last year, so I’m glad it worked out! I’ve been wanting to see them work together– Joonie is  perfect for a Kim Ki-duk film.

My Heart Beats (심장이 뛰네) — A thirty-seven year old woman quits her job as a teacher to become a porn star, and she finds herself (and love) in the process.

A Good Day For The Wind To Blow (바람 불어 좋은날) — A wonderful romantic comedy that will leave you in laughing and crying.

Mother Is A Whore (엄마는 창녀다) — A dark, gritty independent film about a man who is born HIV+, because his mother is a whore.

Green Chair (녹색 의자) — The best romance EVER about a teacher who falls in love with her student.

Honorable Mentions:

Old Boy (올드보이), M (엠), and A Bittersweet Life (달콤한 인생).

Everyone’s Favorite:

The Man From Nowhere (아저씨)

Korean Dramas

Be sure to watch your Korean dramas on DramaFever!

Soulmate (소울메이트) — My first Korean drama, and its still my number one. It’s sexy, sweet, and most of all– unforgettable.

School 2013 (학교 2013) — A bromance between Lee Jong Suk and Kim Woo Bin. Enough said.

A Second Proposal (두번째 프러포즈) — This drama swept me away; it portrayed a strong woman who went through a divorce, had to work hard to get her children back, and fell in love again along the way.

BTS: My friend’s mom (my friend is an exchange student from Korea that I met last year) wrote this drama. We were BOTH so surprised to find out about this connection after I told her its one of my favorite Korean dramas.

Biscuit Teacher and Star Candy (건빵선생과 별사탕) — Another romantic comedy about a teacher and student romance featuring Gong Yoo and Gong Hyo Jin.

Queen Inhyun’s Man (인현왕후의 남자) — Yoo In-na. Enough said; no, the story, soundtrack, and cinematography are worth mentioning, too. Was anyone else NOT surprised when he confessed to her, and they started dating in real life?

Honorable Mentions:

Who Are You? (누구세요?), Crazy for You (사랑에 미치다), and Baker King, Kim Tak Gu (제빵왕 김탁구)

Everyone’s Favorite:

Coffee Prince (커피프린스 1호점)

Korean Artists

I love Kpop, but…!

Bluedawn (푸른새벽) — Kindie.

Kim Kwang Seok (김광석) — Kfolk.

Leessang (리쌍) — Khiphop.

E.VIA (이비아) — Krap.

EXO (엑소) — Kpop.

Honorable Mentions:

Clazziquai (클래지콰이), Neon Bunny (야광토끼), and Verbal Jint (버벌진트)

Everyone’s Favorite:

Girl’s Generation (소녀시대)

Korean Food

Korean food is also so delicious!

Yangnyum Chicken (양념 치킨) — Excellent with beer.

Kimchi Jjigae (김치찌개) — Perfect with friends.

Samgyupsal (삼겹살) — A must have at every Korean house party.

Dwaeji Bulgogi (돼지불고기) — If it doesn’t melt in your mouth, go somewhere else– because it should

Shin Ramyun (신라면) — Because I can’t cook, and sometimes I just want Korean food.

Honorable Mentions:

Yangnyum galbi (양념갈비), kkot gae tang (꽃게탕), and odeng tang (오댕탕)

Everyone’s Favorite:

Ddeokbokki (떡볶이)

Stay tuned for the last chapter of My Summer in Korea, Part 3: Dating!

I’ll talk about my best and worst dates, as well as where and how I met my dates.

I’d like to do a Q & A at the end, so hopefully you can send me your questions about dating in Korea at westerngirlxeasternboy@gmail.com or to my tumblr.