Last(?) Goodbyes, Lost Luggage, and… Law School

*The “My Winter in Korea” Series*

Day 12:

I woke up somewhat early. After all, it was my last day in Seoul, South Korea. And, it snowed– although just a little. So, I definitely got the “white winter” that I was hoping for!^^

My last ootd-- jk, I changed later~

My last ootd– JK, I changed later before going out!~

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet my “little sister” and go to ANY entertainment companies, but I did get to go back to Myeongdong for a little shopping with unni; and, on the way to pick up unni from her hotel, I met another funny and friendly taxi driver who started singing trot songs to me and talking about his past as a musical actor.

After some light serious shopping, I met my best friend for dinner at my favorite restaurant, The Flying Pan Blue, in Itaewon. We had some DELICIOUS food, and I already can’t wait to go back!

Chicken Avocado Panini~

Chicken Avocado Panini~

Then, I met Mr. Kang for (another) dinner– this time in Yoido. We chatted, and before I left I gave him some more chin chin, a Nigerian snack that my mom made. 

(His family had fallen in love with it!)

Finally, I was on my way to Bunker in Apgujeong where I met up with unni and one of my friends. No, I didn’t take a picture with my crush, but I did talk to him. I also let the bartender who always gave me free drinks know that I would be back “next time.” The girls and I drank and danced– drama free, and I got home at 5:00 in the morning as planned.

I slept for three hours, and then I showered, got ready, and packed my bags before meeting up with my best friend at 10:00 in the morning. We took the subway together before saying our goodbyes at the airport.

I ended up having a wonderful trip and a cozy flight. I slept the ENTIRE time. However, when I arrived to San Francisco almost 12 hours later, my luggage did not arrive with me…

Thankfully, it only took two (agonizing) days for them to find it, and I should get it today or tomorrow.

Anticlimactic, but “The End”!^^

… So, “two weeks” in Seoul was too short, but this short and sweet winter vacation made me fall in love with Seoul, South Korea all over again, and it also gave the the strength I need to keep dreaming, to keep living a life where I wake up everyday with the determination to make my dreams a reality.

There was just something different about this trip– maybe because I went for different reasons, with a different heart and a different mind, but I met so many wonderful people and made so many wonderful memories that I will never forget.

But, I realized that I don’t want Seoul to be just a memory.

I have a lot of work to do and a long way to go, but someday I will call Seoul “home.”

For now, I started my last semester of law school on Monday. Looking back, I am amazed at how far I’ve come– there truly is a light at the end of the tunnel, but you have to open your eyes and your heart to see it. Although this is my last semester of law school, after this amazing, blessed trip I am considering applying for my Master of Law in Business if I don’t find a job at a law firm in Seoul

There is an indescribable feeling that the city gives me– the often crowded but sometimes quiet streets, the bright neon lights and even brighter morning sun, the view of the Han River as I stand on the subway or sit in a taxi, staring out…

When I’m in Seoul, I don’t want to be anywhere else, so I know that I have to go back.

Finally, thanks for your excitement and patience as I spent (almost) two weeks in Seoul!

And, stay tuned for more blog posts on the following: What Not to Do in Seoul, South KoreaPreparing for Life in Korea, My Favorite Korean Boys, and more.

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Finding So Ji Sub

*The “My Winter in Korea” Series*

Day 10:

In case you haven’t noticed, I am in love with So Ji Sub.

So Ji Sub and I in Myeongdong together~

Remember THIS picture?~

So, I decided to visit his home at the UN Village in Hannamdong, Itaewon. No, I don’t actually know where he lives, but I hopped into a taxi when I was finally ready for the day and headed for the UN Village anyway.

The taxi driver was amazed that I was going all the way to Itaewon just to take some pictures of the UN Village, and he happily (but mistakenly) assumed that I was a model looking for a place to live.

(The cheapest villas in the UN Village are $2,500 a month. Most are $4,000 to $5,000 a month but some are well over $6,000 a month!)

We chatted in Korean, and I got to hear an earful about a lot of different things, once again expanding my vocabulary! Anyway, I was excited but a little embarrassed once I arrived. After all, I was there under false pretenses, so I just took these photos while he waited for me– I had to be at Itaewon Exit 1 in a few minutes, and he had agreed to take me there.

The UN Village entrance~

The UN Village entrance~

The UN Village entrance~

The UN Village entrance~

I like to think that I stepped on the same ground as So Ji Sub, but I probably didn’t since I only stood in a few spots and then ran to find my taxi– no parking allowed here!

Afterwards, we chatted some more as he took me to Itaewon Exit 1 where Mr. Kang and I had agreed to meet up for beer, which almost didn’t happen since his “Auntie” was in town. But, we met up, and we headed to a place called Riley’s.

We chatted for a few hours, and I had two AMAZING beers.

Beer 1~

Beer 1, a little cocoa and cherry thing~

Beer 2~

Beer 2, a little vanilla thing~

Then, unni met up with us, and she had one beer before we headed to Prost– also in Itaewon. There, we got some food and unni got some more drinks.

Nachos and calamari~

Spicy nachos and spicy calamari~

After eating– it tasted better than it looks, we headed to Glam again, which was right next door. We got a few more drinks, but unni had to leave early since she wasn’t feeling well. So, Mr. Kang and I also left, but we were headed for Round 4 in my old neighborhood, Nonhyun.

We found a warm, cozy-looking place to settle in– it was freezing by now, and got some more food and drinks.

The best odaengtang ever!~

The best odaengtang ever!~

We ate most of this and also finished a huge bottle of Sake, but I made him drink most of it before finally heading home.

Day 11:

zZzZz…

By now it’s 1:00 in the afternoon on my last day in Seoul! I have so much to do– SM, Myeongdong, dinner with my best friend, a late dinner with Mr. Kang, and my Bunker/Ellui combo, so I will be back again with an update once I am in Austin.

In addition, I hope you all enjoyed reading about my winter vacation here in Seoul almost as much as I enjoyed having it, and please wish me a safe flight as I head home tomorrow morning!^^

Itaewon Magic

*The “My Winter in Korea” Series*

Day 6:

Omg, is it already day 6? I know I said two weeks of Seoul, but it’s not actually two weeks– more like 12 days!

>.<

So, when I drink everything except for Vodka, I don’t need sleep. In fact, I can’t sleep. So, after drinking and dancing at Bunker and Ellui until 5 or 6 in the morning, I actually woke up at 11 in the morning. I thought that I was meeting Mr. Kang at 1:00 in the afternoon, but it was actually 2:00 in the afternoon. Either way, I started getting ready, and I wore this annoying midi black dress that I forgot to take a picture of!

(Maybe next time, but no– there won’t be a next time for that dress.)

Anyway, Mr. Kang took me to Samcheongdong, which is like Insadong plus Sinsadong– traditional, modern, and also trendy. Some palaces and things are there, but we are both Foodies, so we ate and ate and ate…

They have the best chicken skewers here~

They have the best (and only) chicken skewers that I have ever had here~

We took off our shoes and sat down on the floor to eat this amazing ddeokgalbi... and so much more than that~

We took off our shoes and sat down on the floor Korean Style to eat this amazing ddeokgalbi~

After our late lunch, we walked around and tried to go to a museum, but it was too crowded.

(I was totally fine missing out on that!)

Then, we went to the real Sinsadong for drinks!

My strawberry "margarita"~

My strawberry “margarita”~

Suddenly, it was 7:30 P.M., and I was supposed to meet Girl 2, or my unni as I call her now, at 8:30 P.M. for dinner. I raced home– no, I mean I took a taxi home and got stuck in traffic, so we pushed dinner back to 9:00 P.M.

I went to her place on time, but she took some more time to get ready since she had a date later that night with the Korean guy (who is incredibly good looking) that she met at Ellui last night. We finally left around 10:00 P.M., and we both decided to skip dinner and go straight to drinkinggg.

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Keeping it casual in my CC Fake sweater and leather shorts~

We took a taxi to Itaewon– the place where many foreigners live, work, and of course play, and went to Glam, a very trendy lounge that I have been wanting to go to for awhile now!

Glam~

Well, I had barely set foot in Glam when a bouncer(?) told me that Glam has a dress code and that I need to take off my “hat.” I was so shocked about being out of dress code that I ran to the bathroom without telling unni where I was going. Thankfully, when I came back she was still at the bar and our shots of tequila– Jose Cuervo Anejo, had arrived.

(Wow, now that is TEQUILA!)

It was SO crowded, and we walked around for awhile before sitting at a table with some Korean guys who wanted to drink with us. Thankfully, Mr. Kang found us right when it was time for us to go walk around and drink some more, so we were able to make a graceful exit without hurting their feelings.

I had some more shots of tequila, which is never a bad thing, but I also had some really strange Sex on The Beach and a Sangria that I decided not to finish.

More importantly, I swear– and you have to believe me because I was perfectly sober at this point, that there were drop dead gorgeous good looking guys every where I looked.

For example, I saw “So Ji Sub” and “Luhan,” putting that in quotes because obviously they were just look-a-likes!

So Ji Sub~

One Korean guy was tall, well-built, and had that So Ji Sub face– eyes, eyebrows, cheek bones, and jawline. So Ji Sub is my ideal type, so I was really checking this guy out! He was also smoking, which I do love but do not do myself.

(The smell of Marlboros on a man’s skin will always be better than any cologne, and yes– you can go ahead and call me crazy but not in the comments!)

Luhan~

“Luhan” was shorter than “So Ji Sub,” but I am calling him Luhan because they had the EXACT same face and smile.

Okay, unfortunately I was with Mr. Kang, so although a girl with Skrillex hair (the side of her head was shaved) who smiled at me came over and talked to me, “Luhan” only smiled at me. I noticed that “Luhan” and his friend were staring at me, so I caught his eye and we smiled at each other a good three or four times, but yes– that was it.

I should have gone over and talked to him, but I was having such a good time drinking with Mr. Kang and didn’t even think about it more until this morning!

-.-

(In addition, I like to think that “So Ji Sub” was staring at me from across the room, but I can’t be too sure about that; and, if he was, it could have just been because I was checking him out too hard, and he could feel my eyes stripping him.)

Apart from “Skrillex,” I also met a gorgeous Korean transgender woman and a few other Korean women at the bar AND some Korean girls in the bathroom and on the dance floor.

Anyway, unni left for her date, so Mr. Kang and I drank more and then went to go dance. Somehow he knows everyone there even though he’s only been going for two weeks, so we got into the club next door for free! We went back and forth from the lounge to the club for awhile but ended up leaving around 3:00 A.M. On the way out, we stopped at one of those places that you ALWAYS see in Korean dramas– a 포장마차, “pojangmacha” or tent bar, for some food!

The famous “tent bar”~

There, I met a very sweet boy from Africa who was studying in Korea and working at the tent bar in order to learn Korean. I also met these two tall, beautiful Russian girls who were sitting at the table next to us. We started speaking Korean to each other and sharing our food, and they even poured me some soju– TOO much soju. The boy they were with who was also Russian even went and bought all the girls candy!^^

(Sorry Mr. Kang!)

Okay, but by now I was getting really drunk, so we can just end this post here…

But, not really, because there is always more to tell!

I got home safely around 6:00 in the morning, but I can’t be sure that it was actually 6:00 in the morning. I am sure that I woke up super early (again) at 9:00 in the morning. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m so tired, but I can’t sleep. I’ll probably pass out once I’m done talking about Itaewon Magic!^^

So, it’s day 7!

I might see my Korean unni today and give her and her Nigerian husband some Nigerian food that my mom made and I brought with me. Unni and I will also talk more later as soon as she wakes up, but I do know that she had a good time on her date last night.

I don’t have any plans for tonight, but I’m sure I’ll be getting into some more treasures and trouble soon enough, so stay tuned!

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!

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.

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.

The Cheongdam-dong Guest House

*The “My Winter in Korea” Series*

My sister, a doctor, got engaged to her boyfriend. He is also Nigerian, and apparently he flew her out to New York to propose!

I got my security deposit back plus what they had overcharged me when I moved in– that’s 242 much needed dollars! I also went on a job interview this morning, and I’m excited about finally making the BIG decision to pursue my career in health law.

And, more importantly, I’m that much closer to having a white winter in Cheongdam-dong!

I decided to stay in Cheongdam-dong– not Itaewon or Sinsa-dong, because it was the cheapest option. It was also one of the most convenient options, since it is close to Itaewon, Sinsa-dong, Apgujeong-dong, and a few other places I would like to go, like Ellui, SM, and the Han River.

Once I found out I could use the apartment, which has two beds, all by myself– and even have an extra bed for a friend to crash, I went All In and booked it on Wimdu!

So, HERE is the Cheongdam-dong Guest House, which can also be found on AirBnB.

It’s SO lovely, and my host, Dohyun, is SO nice.

There was a problem, because the website was showing a $339.00 discount– one that appeared a few weeks AFTER I booked my room. I contacted him, and he immediately contacted Wimdu and even spoke with my mom. The discount was definitely a mistake, and everything was taken care of in a few days. What’s more, he was never annoyed or angry with me or my mom for asking him so many questions and sending him so many messages.

He was just patient, kind, and understanding.

So, I am really excited to meet him, too!

If YOU are looking for a place to stay while you are in Gangnam or Seoul, choose the Cheongdam-dong Guest House!

The location alone is the best, because you are in the heart of Gangnam, right next to famous Kpop stars and Korean celebrities, delicious restaurants, cute cafes, and popular clubs! And, coming home to this cheap but cozy and clean apartment with everything you need will also be the best.

… Seriously, is it December yet?!

I can’t wait to see my best friend Jennie, J-, D.H., unni and her family, all of my Korean friends, AND all of my friends from Korean class who are living and working in Korea PLUS, I also can’t wait to go to my favorite restaurants and clubs, Namsan Tower, and even Busan!

It’s going to be Two Weeks in (freezing) paradise.

Where Should I Stay in Korea, A Giveaway, and What’s Up and Coming

*Off Topic*

I took my final this morning, but my professor put ONE essay question on the entire 2 hour exam.

(Thankfully, I knew the answer.)

Anyway, there are a few things that I want to ask, let you know, and do, so here goes!^^

Where Should I Stay in Korea?

Now that I have my ticket and winter clothes, I am looking for a place to stay while I am in Korea!

Itaewon

https://www.wimdu.co.kr/offers/C0PC4WQE

My unni is pregnant (another shotgun wedding), and I am SO excited to see her baby! She is living in Itaewon, so it will be nice to be close to her and also close to my favorite restaurants and one of my favorite clubs, B1.

(This is my favorite option because it comes with airport pickup, a phone rental, and free breakfast. However, it is also my least favorite option, because it has the least amount of privacy and personal space.)

Sinsa-dong

https://www.wimdu.com/offers/A0B5EN7A

Sinsadong is where the famous Garuso-gil is located. I’ve been there once, and its very lovely– very airy and very comfortable. I like this location, because its young, modern, and close to everything. It’s right next to Apgujeong and just a few (or more) stops away from Itaewon, Cheongdam-dong, and Hongdae!

Cheongdam-dong

I LOVE Cheongdam-dong. I have been to SM already, but now that EXO will be there…

*Stars in my eyes*

I also love Ellui, and I will  definitely be visiting Ellui AND Answer this time around!

For Cheongdam-dong, I would like to stay HERE, because its the cheapest option.  There is also an extra(?) bed for a friend, but I don’t know if I will just end up sharing the room with some stranger! So, I am waiting for the manager to get back to me about that.

So, where should I stay? Where would YOU stay, and why?

(And, if you are planning a trip to Korea or anywhere else around the world, then be sure to use Wimdu! For Korea,  I also suggest checking Craigslist Seoul. Also, if you would like to make Korean friends and have your trip to Korea sponsored, then check out MyKoreanFriends.com.)

A Giveaway

So, in honor of several upcoming post on Kpop, I would like to do a Kpop CD giveaway! I’ve given away a Kpop concert ticket and two Kpop CDs on my tumblr blog (Black Girls Love Kpop, Too) already, so I am excited to do something similar here.

I want to know how one (or more) of my blog posts has changed you AND changed the way you think about the WORLD. It doesn’t have to be specific to Korea, but it can be.

Please answer BOTH parts of the question, and email your submission to westerngirlxeasternboy@gmail.com.

(I will probably leave the giveaway open for two to three weeks.)

Up & Coming

The next post will probably be Black Girls: A Guide to Korean Boys. I will be going home this weekend, so I will  have time to relax and get a lot of writing done instead of my usual dinner, drinking, and dancing then puking on the streets.

I will also be writing several posts on Kpop: My Favorite Korean Boys: EXO and BTS and Kpop: Disillusionment and Disappointment?.

I may also finish Dirty/Clean and post that next, too, though…

It all depends on my mood.

Anyway, I hope you all have a great day, but I’m going back to bed!

I Can Hardly Wait

*The “My Winter in Korea” Series*

Okay, I’m so excited about going to Korea!

I’ve been shopping for winter clothes (got an awesome coat from Barcelona + more) and planning my trip down to what I will do each day.

I even started blogging on Naver in Korean again:

http://blog.naver.com/becomingnina

(Nina or 니나 is my Korean name.)

I also got in touch with my friends in Korea!

I can’t wait to see my best friend again. She’s teaching in Korea, and I’ll be there just in time for New Year’s Eve! This year she was my midnight kiss, but hopefully this year I get to kiss someone else.

(But, I’ve had such a good year after kissing her! Anyway, I don’t want to make her girlfriend jealous, and I would like to kiss a cute Korean boy even though they don’t do the whole midnight kiss on New Year’s thing and think its weird.) 

I also can’t wait to see my unni, the one from the shoe store in Apgujeong. I got in touch with her yesterday, and she told me that she married her Nigerian boyfriend! I am SO sad to have missed her wedding, but they are living happily in Itaewon.

(I might stay in Itaewon, too– for the food, the fun, and the subway line that takes me to my favorite neighborhoods.)

My dongsaeng was so surprised and happy to hear from me, too. He finally finished military service and is going to start working at my favorite club– Ellui, in October! I can’t wait to see him again, because he really made my first trip to Seoul special by showing me around my old neighborhood in Nonhyundong. We had so many adventures, and we have a lot of catching up to do!

I am also trying to get in touch with two other friends through email. One is my dongsaeng, and she also made my trip special– so special that I missed my flight home in the morning and almost gave my parents a heart attack. The other is my oppa, and I REALLY miss him and want to see him, because he was the best friend that I had while I was there, so hopefully I get to meet them both again.

I really hope that all of you get to travel, be it to Korea or wherever your heart and feet take you!

If you are interested in planning a trip to Korea for now or for later, then just let me know, and I will be more than happy to help.

^^

The “Black Girl in Korea” Beauty Tutorial

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

You might have come here looking for tips to lighten your skin or lose weight. Well, I suggest you leave now, because that’s not what this beauty tutorial is about. Still here? Grab a drink and a snack– it’s going to be a long one.

Why?

Well, I’m going to answer the following question:

Is “black” beautiful in Korea?

Black is beautiful~

Black is beautiful!~

True Beauty

Riding on the plane to Korea, I– a size two, felt like a giant as I sat next to the very tiny Korean girl who had been lucky enough to get the window seat. Her legs were the size of my arms, and when I finally landed in Korea, I– at 5 feet 5 inches, was taller and bigger than almost everyone else.

At that time, I had long, black hair and dark(er) skin. I speak Korean, so I knew when people were staring at me AND talking about me, which was ALL THE TIME.

What did I do?

I stared right back, and sometimes, I smiled and struck up a conversation. Once, I was even in a staring match with an ahjusshi for at least two minutes as he walked past me, turned around, and then stopped to stare at me. Neither of us cracked a smile, but was I bothered?

No.

I am confident and comfortable in my skin, but more than that, I know that I might be the FIRST black girl that many people in Korea had ever seen– at least in person. Furthermore, staring and even talking about someone right in front of them is something that is not considered rude in Korea. Korean people are very close to one another while also being distant with one another, so they are also very straightforward, like family. They will tell strangers, including you, what’s on their mind be it with a look, a gesture, or a word.

So, how did I feel in Korea with the hard, long stares, the loud “whispers,” and the noticeable differences between me and everyone else?

I felt beautiful, because I was accepted.

People were kind, helpful, and genuinely interested in me– they wanted to know why I was in Korea, what I liked about Korea, whether or not I would ever marry a Korean man. Because, what began with a stare would often turn into a smile and a conversation once I realized that people were staring at me because they were curious, interested.  While in Korea, I had so many conversations with Koreans that broke down the barriers between us and made me open up to the people that I met on streets, in stores, in taxis, at clubs, and at school.

Life Lesson 1: When we are confident and comfortable in our own skin that is when people truly see us as beautiful– not a shallow, superficial beauty, but one that radiates from the inside and makes someone’s day brighter and better with eye-contact and a genuine smile.

Life Lesson 2: As women, we should focus more on our inner beauty– our passions, our dreams, our sisterhood and motherhood, being at the same time more supportive of one another and less judgmental of our own “flaws,” flaws that oftentimes, only we are aware of.

However, outer beauty matters, and it matters a lot more than any of us want it to, both to ourselves and to others. I have spent as much time as anyone else struggling to feel beautiful, and it took a lot of time and a little change before I could look in the mirror and be happy with what I saw– because, I wanted people to see me, not my flaws.

Give yourself the time and the change you need, too, but be honest with yourself.

Who is the time and change for?

It better be for yourself, not someone else.

Your Beauty

In Korea, less is more: Less make-up, less skin, but more style, more superficiality.

Image is everything, so make your image more glamorous, more stylish.

Be fashionable.

Wear your natural hair, keep your curves, and cherish your own, individual beauty– which I know can be hard to do when you are surrounded by people who, for the most part, look and dress the same and a media that definitely idealizes pale, white skin and S-lines.

But, just be fashionable.

Asians, especially Koreans, are obsessed with fashion and style. If you are dressed to perfection– no matter what size, then the way people respond to you will change. I know, because I experienced it. So, leave the low cut shirts and sweats at home– don’t even think about bringing them to Korea.

And, if it’s boys over flowers, then it’s also heels over flip-flops.

So, style, fashion, clothes, and of course…

size, Size, and SIZE.

In Korea, the average size that women wear is a two, which is the size that the “one size fits all” clothing comes in. I saw the occasional Korean who was probably a six or eight, but that was rare.

What does this mean for you?

Not much, except that if you are an L or XL you might have a hard time finding clothing in your size. Just go to Dongdaemun, Myungdong, or Itaewon in Korea, OR shop at ASOS online. They have the BEST clothes that flatter every body type from petite to average to plus.

However, if you do want to lose weight, then here’s how you can lose weight while still having a balanced, healthy diet: Special K and milk for breakfast and dinner and bananas, hard boiled eggs, and V8 fruit and veggie drinks in between as snacks throughout the day. Nevertheless, I don’t suggest making any drastic changes to your body before going to Korea, but if you just want to reach your own ideal– not Korea’s, then give it a try!

More than being an outward manifestation, beauty is a mentality; and, if you are tall, dark, and curvy, then you will need to have a strong mind and a strong sense of true beauty and your own in order to survive and thrive in Korea.

(After all, I don’t want anyone to have the experiences THIS girl had; and, if you haven’t yet, read the comments. They are AMAZING.)

Beauty: The Tips and The Tricks

Along with being confident and comfortable in your skin, here’s how you should take care of it and everything else while in Korea to look and feel your best.

First, I strongly suggest buying your beauty products in America and bringing enough of them with you. I can’t tell you where to go to find our beauty products in Korea, but if you are close to it, then Itaewon is a good start.

Eyes

I LOVE circle lenses, and I suggest you try them, too! Check out GEO circle lenses, and get them in your prescription if needed.

Nails

I swear by these nails and couldn’t live without them, because I am too OCD for chips and too low maintenance for nail salons.

(But, my sister just curses them, because they always fall off. She’s doing something wrong.)

These are stick-on nails, and they are amazing. Place them close to the cuticle for a natural look.  It’s not about pressing down hard, but about having a clean nail, so wipe your nails with alcohol or nail polish remover before starting to stick ‘em on.

Skin

If you’re not already using BB Cream because you either don’t know about it or can’t find it in your skin color, then try Kiss New York Aqua BB Cream. It was made for our skin.

It’s a rich cream with lots of color and coverage, but none of that oily residue that most make-ups leave behind. It’s also made in Korea, which matters, and it’s inexpensive. You also get a lot, so try it out along with a cream to powder from the same brand for a flawless finish.

(I have terrible skin with lots of blemishes, and these two together cover everything up!)

Hair

I prefer to wear lace front wigs, but feel free to do your hair however you like. Koreans actually expect you to have your natural hair, and they were always surprised and curious about my “straight and silky” hair. I think they would love the long, rope braids that a lot of black girls wear now, too.

As for me, I wear a 22″ “yaki straight” lace front wig with a silk top in color #4. I love the texture, it looks much more natural. I wear wigs because I like to be as low maintenance as possible. I also like having long hair, which I could never really have in this lifetime. It suits my face more than short hair.

So, if you are interested in lace front wigs and other hair tricks, then check out the hair stuff here.

Body

We talked about diets, but there is also shape-wear if you just want to have a smoother line underneath the tight clothing that we all love to wear.

But, my favorite body trick is this one: Going two cups up– without surgery.

Girls always hesitate to try this, because, well, what will a guy think when he finds out?

Who cares. He shouldn’t be with you for your boob size, anyway. I know I’ve always wanted bigger boobs to get the S-line that I want.

So, check out these ultra cheap, durable, comfortable, and natural looking bras that do more than “push-up.” I found them at Target years ago for $16.00, so be sure to check out your local Target before you buy them online. Trying them on in the store first is also a good idea, because they WILL make your boobs BIGGER.

Putting Your Beauty to Good Use

Well, what’s all the fuss about beauty for?

Ourselves?

No, not really: Boys– or men, if you believe that men aren’t just bigger, older boys with better, more expensive toys.

I think if you want to go on dates in Korea, then you don’t have to do anything except dress up, look good, and notice when men are looking at you in a good way. I think most girls are terrible at doing this: Its about your walk and posture, his prolonged glance, then you smile, and he smiles back. Conversation (hopefully in English) ensues.

So, look around and pay attention to people. Don’t just speed walk through streets or stand on the subway feeling different and awkward. Go out by yourself. Slow down, look around, and remember to smile at strangers– even if they’re giving you that hard, long stare.

(For more on beauty in Korea, be sure to check out Shocking Life – Beauty, a gritty, stunning, and shocking documentary series on DramaFever.)

If you really want to feel beautiful in Korea, don’t pay attention to what Koreans think. You are not Korean. Don’t hold yourself to their standards. Stick to your own, and stay true to who you are.

Because, beauty is relative, beauty is subjective, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, which means someone, somewhere– even in Korea, thinks you’re beautiful just the way you are.