Junho

*Short Stories*

(Junho is an auto-biographical short story that I wrote the night after I met my first boyfriend, Junho, on January 23, 2011. I’ve always wanted to share this story with you all, and now I’m finally ready.)

Junho

Did I fall asleep that night, the night we first met?

I remember the sound of teeth on teeth as you ground yours in your sleep. Lying in a stranger’s bed, I should have been afraid. The large tattoo of a winged angel on your back, its head bent down, your head bent down…

Your smile, your broken English.

And later, the way you hugged me as I slept, saying, “미안해,” over and over again when you finally realized I was a virgin. In the morning, I put on your shirt, and it fit perfectly. You walked around in your underwear, drinking cans of coke and smoking Korean cigarettes.

Flashes of the night before, when we had met, always come back to me.

I had been dancing on top of two speakers with my friend, S-, when I saw you. Another friend of mine, P-, had been rubbing my legs as I moved to the music. Later, you would tell me that I had looked funny. Our eyes had met, and I had liked your leather jacket and tight fitting jeans, your Italian shoes that were made in Korea. I went to you, looked from you to your friend, and asked you to dance. Later, we went to the bar for drinks. That was when I began to slur in Korean.

I had to leave to meet more friends, so I told you to come with me and to bring your friend. We left, hand in hand, and I was as dead on the inside as I had been since I realized my first love was not my true love, that my true love was somewhere far away across the ocean. You were going to be just another boy who would hold me for the night, who would keep me from falling apart. We danced more, and when the club closed, I asked you to go to 노래방. Outside, you met some of my friends, and as we were walking you said that you wanted to date me. I laughed, because no one had ever said those words to me before, and I didn’t believe you, then.

I still have a picture of you, the first picture we took together. Its from that night.

Your friend dropped us off at your place and left feeling lonely. Your roommate left the room to us. It was right before we slipped underneath the sheets of your twin bed, drunk. In that picture, you’re in the middle of brushing your teeth and a bit of toothpaste is stuck to the corner of your mouth. I’m there beside you, smiling. You always told me to delete it because of that little bit of toothpaste.

In the morning, did we brush our teeth together?

I know that you cooked and that we hugged and that you kissed me sweetly and that you put your head in my lap and talked to me, listened to me, showed me pictures of your family. You spent six months in America with no one to talk to until you met me. I spent twenty-one years in America, with no one to talk to until I met you.

Traditional, my family is from Nigeria, Africa. They grew up in a small village where there were no strangers. Then, they came here to America. They tried to raise us– three of us, my brother and my sister and I, the way they had been raised, but we were surrounded by strangers. I always felt as if I was an alien. The first day of kindergarten: Why do I still remember the way my sister teased me in front of her friends. My father, who called me stupid. My mother, who didn’t know how to do my hair or dress me. The kids, who all teased me. My teacher, Mrs. Tools, who taught me how to read and write, to escape into books and dreams…

Later, I would learn how to cry. Discipline, love. Absence. My father is absent from many of my memories, but I remember the first time I told him I loved him after I stopped kissing him goodnight. My mother is absent, too, but I remember how she used to swing us around and around in the backyard near the huge magnolia tree. I remember different grades and different teachers. I don’t remember the names of many of my friends. They were only strangers, passing in and out of my life. For me, growing up meant forgetting the meaning of love.

I was loved, once, when I was child and before I knew the world. In other memories, my sister lets me crawl into her bed after I wake up from a nightmare, my brother lets me read his comics and play his video games, my mother is singing to me, my father is telling me stories, and my friends surround me as I fall asleep.

I remember a song, a song that I thought was written for me.

Simon and Garfunkel came on, singing, “I am a rock, I am an island. I have no need of friendship, friendship causes pain, it’s laughter and its something I disdain.” Those lyrics: Full of depression and loneliness, resigned to hate instead of love. From then on, I lived that way. I don’t remember what made me decide to live that way, what made me think I could live that way…

I liked a boy for five years once, A-. I wanted to marry him, even though we had never really met. He played soccer, like me, and he had the most beautiful smile. I asked him out, which was harder than the time I asked out M-, another boy I had liked. I didn’t know that boys should ask out girls. He said yes, though, and then he stood me up. Later, he would look me in the eyes and lie to me, making an excuse like his mother had when I had called him and she had answered instead. Looking back, I never loved him.

I didn’t even know who he was.

I think I just wanted to be like everyone else. I was only pretending to be like everyone else, because it was what everyone wanted. What did I want? I wanted to be liked, to be loved…

My first love: I loved him, but I did not belong in his world, so I left him. I was always leaving him, but there he would be, again, by my side. We have always been somewhere in between strangers and friends and lovers. I think he was the first person I ever really knew.

You are the first person to know all of me, parts of me that I could never show to anyone else. I asked you once, if you could love me. You didn’t look me in the eyes as you said yes, but I like to think that you meant what you said. One day, you told me in a song. Later, you told me…

There were many ways that I knew you loved me.

You’ll return someday– to your mother and your father, to your home…

Did I fall asleep the night we first met? Since then, my life has been like a dream I once had.

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Ghana’s Sam Okyere Is A Korean TV Star

the-radio-star-ep-383

*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

My Kpop CD Collection

*Kpop, Korean Idols, &More*

By now my Kpop CD collection is pretty big but only because I am obsessed with EXO and BTS. When I liked Kpop before, it wasn’t enough to buy CDs, posters, and other merch…

Well, things change!

I’m even going to KCON, the ultimate Kpop event– in America at least, where I will get to see some of my favorite boy and girl groups like CNBLUE, BTS, and SNSD! I’m also really looking forward to seeing IU…

I just LOVE concerts!

My Kpop CD Collection~

My Kpop CD Collection~

My first Kpop CD (2PM) was from a friend. He bought it for me while he was in Korea back in 2009 or 2010. Then, I bought GD &TOP’s CD, but it was kind of a disappointment since the songs weren’t that good…

So, I stopped buying Kpop CDs since most of them aren’t worth buying. They aren’t FULL like an album, you know? However, recently I’ve been going crazy and buying all of EXO’s CDs and BTS’ CDs, which are much more like albums. There are more than a few songs, and there are more than a few good songs, too.

I also have some Khiphop and Kindie CDs from some of my favorite Korean artists like LeeSsang, 10CM, and LADY CUBE.

^^

So, what’s in your Kpop CD collection?

If you’d like to get it started or add to it, then be sure to check out Hallyu X Holic’s Kpop Pop-Up-Shop, coming soon!

P.S.: I’ll be doing two blog posts on my favorite Kindie artists, so stay tuned!

The Road to KCON 2014, Part 1

*Diary*

OMG…

KCON 2014~

KCON 2014~

So, this– me going to KCON 2014, is actually happening!

I am buying my plane ticket on Tuesday, and unni will be buying our KCON tickets (P2, so please God let her click fast!) on Friday since I will be at work when tickets go on sale.

We’ve both already booked our hotel (we both got suites) and planned our outfits, so here’s a sneak peek at what’s in store!

A Sneak Peek at my KCON, “Kpop Idol” Look

Lots of pink, mint, and black… and some well-placed bunny ears.

Look #1

Pink Me, Please~

Pink Me, Please~

I got this in mint as well, and I will probably bring both when I go to KCON just because I am obsessed with sets right now.

Look #2

This! The above shirt will be worn open over this dress or tied around my waist when I wear this dress~

The “boy beater,” white ribbed tank dress~

Denim button down shirt~

A simple but fun denim button down shirt~

This shirt will be worn open and over my “boy beater,” white ribbed tank dress– minus all the red bandannas and chunky gold jewelry of course, or tied around my waist when it gets too hot.

Hmm, I will probably wear this outfit when I fly into L.A., just because it is super cute and SUPER cozy and will allow me to adjust from hot to cold to hot again.

Look #3

Black open back dress~

A black, open-back dress~

For a night out, or a dressy day out, too!

There are more looks to come, of course, but I’ll save those for later since I haven’t planned more than three looks yet.

Of course, no outfit is complete without some kicks and a match-y bag!

Broken Glasses &Blood Kicks~

I call these my “Broken Glasses, Broken Bones, &Busted Lip” Kicks~

I’m only bringing one pair of shoes, and these are it!

… Yes, I travel LIGHT.

After much hunting, I am totally satisfied. These are the bomb, and they even come with a lilac heart-shaped adjuster over the laces that can’t be seen in this picture.

It took me awhile to find a bag, and I wasn’t sure if I should do silver, holographic, or black, but I LOVE this one and think it will look perfect with my outfits and kicks– it’s a good size, too:

Quilted Bunny Ear Bag~

A Super Cute Quilted Bunny Ear Bag~

Kyaaa~

Kyaaa~

As for unni, she will look fabulous as always. She is planning some 40′s vintage looks to wear to KCON 2014, and I can’t wait to see them. I still remember when she told me about a girl she tried to travel with who wouldn’t let her wear what she wanted to wear since they wouldn’t match or compliment each other…

Yeah, we’re not worried about that.

It feels like I’ve known her for much longer even though we first met in South Korea last winter– what a trip with so many ups and downs!, and haven’t even seen each other since then.

I am SO lucky that she lives in L.A. and that she actually wanted to go to KCON with me, too. We started talking again once I graduated from law school (and had more time to just BREATHE), but I didn’t think I would get to see her again so soon!

^^

But, the road to KCON 2014 in L.A. also includes a pit stop in Houston for Kpop Star 4 auditions!

Am I auditioning?

No, I’m just tagging along with one of my best friends.

Like me, she’s already had her 1 second of fame, but this will be a fun trip and quite the adventure for both us before she leaves to go back home to China.

My parents live near Houston, but we will probably be staying at our best friend’s house, which is actually IN Houston. I’m also getting a dog, and I need to figure out where he will stay since I’ll be traveling– in America and not South Korea or Africa, for once!

P.S.: Girls and women, don’t be afraid to work hard, make your own money, and spend it HOWEVER the hell you want.

<3

My “Must-Watch” Classic Korean Variety Shows

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

Whenever I disappear for long short periods of time, it’s usually because I’m watching my shows… and can’t stop watching my shows.

Now that I’m no longer in law school I don’t have homework or finals to keep me from my precious, beloved shows, but working at a law firm is (how surprising) even more exhausting!

Well, at least I’m getting paid, and I’m currently saving up for KCON, too. I’ve booked a Junior King Suite at J.W. Marriott Los Angeles, L.A. Live and will be buying my plane ticket and KCON ticket later this week. Remember unni? She lives in L.A., and we are going to KCON together!

Anyway, when I finally DO get off work (at 4:00 P.M.) and have time to watch my shows (until as late at , that’s all I’ve been doing, especially since I went home for Father’s Day this past weekend and am behind.

I am over Korean dramas for the time being and am definitely back to binging on Korean variety shows. I even started watching We Got Married (again), and I am SO in love with two of the new couples: Wooyoung and Park Se Young couple and Namgoong Min and Hong Jin Young couple!

God, I forgot the power of the Busan satoori

>.<

It’s also weird and gratifying to see Wooyoung ALL grown up. I was a 2PM fan girl back when they debuted in 2008 or 2009. I even got to see them perform live in Dallas at the House of Blues! However, when the Jay Park thing happened, I became a little distant from 2PM (and Kpop), but like I’ve said before (somewhere), EXO brought me back into Kpop fan girlism, and now I can’t stop that, either!

Anyway, here are some of my must-watch classic Korean variety shows that, like the first few seasons of We Got Married featuring my favorite couple Hwang Bo and Kim Hyun Joong, you don’t want to miss.

1. X-Man (2003)

X-Man~

X-Man~

Various celebrities are divided into two teams. One team is led by Kang Ho Dong and the other team is led by Yoo Jae Suk!

At the start of each episode, one celebrity is chosen by the producer to be the X-man, whose main mission is to disrupt teamwork in his or her team and purposely throw challenges while keeping his or her identity a secret.

Kim Jong Kook and Yoon Eun Hye had a famous love-line in X-Man, as well.

2. Ya Shim Man Man (2003)

Ya Shim Man Man~

Ya Shim Man Man~

In this show, guests have to answer fun questions about family, love, and more. If their answer is not in the Top 5, then they gets blown by very strong air that actually hurts and ruins their hair!

Like this, the audience and fans get an opportunity to get to know some of their favorite celebrities like, Bi, Yoon Kye Sang, and Shin Mi Na a little more, because they offer their opinions gained from their own personal experiences.

3. Heroine 6 (2004)

Heroine 6~

Heroine 6~

A school theme keeps this show fun and fabulous! Male celebrity guests like SS501 (Kim Hyun Joong’s boy group) stop by the classroom. They try to get picked by the heroine of their choice, usually through dancing or a special performance.

Should more than one male choose the same heroine, then they battle it out to win their girl! They will have to do the most bizarre things, like role playing, singing, etc.

Afterwards, they play two very original games: Catch the Mouse and Dibidibidip.

4. Love Letter (2004)

Love Letter~

Love Letter~

 This show featured male and female contestants competing for “each other” in romance games. For example guests have to dance in order to impress the person they are after. Contestants were artists, actors, models, comedians, and MCs of the South Korean entertainment industry.

5. Family Outing (2008)

Family Outing~

Family Outing~

This show had a celebrity family travel to different parts of South Korea, taking care of the house of an elderly family who would be sent on an awesome, once-in-a-lifetime vacation.

So, have you watched any of these classic Korean variety shows?

Along with We Got Married (2008), Happy Together (2001) is a must-watch classic Korean variety show that is actually still on air!

P.S.: Feeding Your KDrama Addiction will be back next week, on Monday as always. I will also be back (soon), so stay tuned for some cool blog posts this weekend.

<3

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

Flirty Korean Lesson #2: 노래방에서

*Flirty Korean Lessons*

I don’t know what kind of Korean you’ve been learning up until now, but I do know that when I first started learning Korean five or six years ago, the Korean that I learned from textbooks was pretty useless when it came to not only flirting with Korean boys but actually having a conversation with Korean people.

You know what I mean!

Lessons on asking for directions or how to make a phone call aren’t exactly topics of conversation in real life– at least not all the time, and everything that I did learn from textbooks ended SUPER formally, which was also awkward since super formal endings in Korean are often used exclusively in the Korean military or when speaking with a Korean 할모니 or Korean 할아버지.

Yeah, that was rare…

So, I wrote Flirty Korean Lesson #1 ages ago, and it was a little dirty but (hopefully) very funny and extremely educational; and, after going to 노래방 this past weekend, I realized that it was time for Flirty Korean Lesson #2!

And remember, you should be using Naver Dictionary– not Google, to help you translate back and forth between English and Korean.

^^

Flirty Korean Lesson #2: 노래방에서

So, you’re finally at 노래방– that’s no-rae-bang, or “song room” … aka karaoke!

NRB~

NRB~

Wait, you’re not there yet?

노래방 같이 갈래요? (no-rae-bang ka-chi- kallae-yo?) – Do you want to go to noraebang together?

Okay, now that you’re there, here are some common words and phrases that will come in handy whether you’re with non-Korean friends, Korean friends, or your crush– who just so happens to be Korean for the sake of this blog post, even though he definitely doesn’t look like your favorite Korean idol or actor…

>.<

But, he’s still cute!

내 옆에 앉으세요~ (nae yeop-e an-ju-se-yo~) – Sit next to me~

I’m using the “~” to indicate a polite “please.” Really, “~” means you should use your 애교 목소리- that’s ae-gyo mok-so-ri, or cute voice…

If you have one. 

노래 해주세요~ (no-rae hae-ju-se-yo) – Sing for me~

It doesn’t really mean “for me,” but ideally you don’t have to ask other people in the room to sing– just your crush, and of course he should sing for you!

… I hate going to sing with people who hesitate to grab that mike. Don’t be shy!

노래 못해요! (no-rae mot-hae-yo!) – I can’t sing well!

I can’t sing well, but I’m not shy. Sometimes I feel bad for the people who have to listen to me sing, though.

노래 잘해요! (no-rae jal-hae-yo!) – I can sing well!

랩 잘해요. (rap jal-hae-yo!) – I can rap well.

Since I can’t sing well I stick to rapping most of the time.

소맥만~ (so-maek man~) – Only somaek~

Somaek is soju  and beer. You should ALWAYS– especially if you are drinking with Korean guys, mix your soju with beer or yogurt or Sprite or whatever. Just be careful, because upping your ratio in the wrong direction– like more soju, can REALLY ruin your entire night.

Sometimes, it can give you a hangover that ruins your entire next day!

노 스킨십! (no skinship!) – Don’t touch me!

Literally, this means no physical affection, or physical contact if the “affection” is lacking but the “physical” is still there.

I went to 노래방 last weekend on Saturday night– the inspiration behind this entire blog post, and my crush was there, but he was being a little too friendly so I told him this.

Of course, he’s cute and nice, so he immediately let me go…

And then started telling me how great his best friend is, so I had to go through the whole process of sitting next to a Korean guy who’s sitting too close to me all over again, but I just kept my mouth shut. After all, what’s a little cuddling at 노래방 while you’re being serenaded… by a really drunk but decent looking dude with NO game?

*Sigh*

괜찮아요?! (kwaen-chan-a-yo?!) – Are you okay?!

By the way, I went with one of my best friends (white and Japanese) and her boyfriend (Korean), but when I opened the door they were in a room FULL of Korean guys. There were like six or seven of them!

You can imagine how much drinking and singing was going on, but after awhile my crush started dancing and stripping– yes, he’s six-pack ready, but…

토해하지마요~ (toe-hae-ha-ji-ma-yo~) – Don’t throw up~

… Then he started throwing up on his hands and on the floor, so his hyung– a really nice and incredibly buff judo athlete, brought a trash can for him to basically put his head in.

*Rolls eyes*

취했어? (chwi-haess-eo?) — Are you drunk?

갔어? (kass-eo?) – Are you wasted?

This is slang, but it’s still good to know.

집에 가자… (jib-e ka-ja…) – Let’s go home…

Or so my best friend said once she saw that the best friend was trying a little too hard to be more than MY friend.

Yeah, party’s over…!

다음에 뵈요~ (da-um-e bae-yo) – See you next time~

조심히 가요~(jo-shim-hi ka-yo) – Get home safely~

Literally, this means go safely or carefully.

Okay, but what about the stuff on that strange-looking, over-sized remote control with way too many buttons that you probably didn’t use unless you are a 노래방 pro?

THIS thing~

THIS thing~

(gok) — Song

You can search for a song by country and then by title or singer.

국가 (guk-ka) – Country

제목 (je-mok) — Title

가수 (ga-su) – Singer

예약 (ye-yak) — Reservation

This is the big yellow button that you push to reserve your song.

시작 (shi-jak) – Start

This is the medium sized green button that you push to start your song.

일시 정지 (il-shi jeong-ji) – Pause, or pause button

Koreans almost never use this button, though, at least not the ones that I go with. They will cancel your song if you leave to go to the bathroom or get some chips!

취소 (chwi-so) – Cancel

This is the medium sized red button that you push to cancel your song if you don’t feel like singing it– or torturing people, anymore.

점수 (jeom-su) – Points

박수 (bak-su) — Applause

I hope you enjoyed learning some flirty Korean!

If you’ve been in a situation where you wish you had known some flirty Korean, then let me know in the comments. It might make a great Flirty Korean Lesson for me to write in the future, but that’s all for now!

P.S.: What happens at 노래방, STAYS at 노래방…

<3

HANGOVER by PSY feat. Snoop Dogg: Everything You Need to Know to Understand The Music Video

*Kpop, Korean Idols, &More*

The Most Epic Collaboration Ever~

The Most Epic Collaboration Ever~

PSY just released his new song HANGOVER featuring the legendary Snoop Dogg. From Champion (2002)– a noraebang favorite for many of my Korean guy friends, to Gangnam Style (2012) to Gentleman (2013), PSY has had the same  fun, free-spirited style for more than a decade.

However, I was never really his fan– until now.

In HANGOVER he’s cute, wacky, and someone I definitely want to party with the next time I go to Ktown or South Korea. In fact, I better put “Party with PSY” on my bucket list!

^^

You can watch HANGOVER right here:

And, here’s what you need to know to understand the music video– scene by scene, because it’s packed with tons of Korean pop (and party) culture that you don’t want to miss!

분노의 양치질 (Teeth-brushing of Fury)

A scene from a famous drama starring Cha In Pyo that has been parodied over and over again by everyone from Korean comedians to Korean actors and actresses~

A famous scene from a drama starring Cha In Pyo~

This scene has been parodied by so many Korean comedians and Korean actors (and even actresses) that Cha In Pyo finally told Koreans how annoyed he was by the people who made fun of his acting.

I know it’s hard to believe, but here are just a few of the parodies that have pissed off the man who started it all:

Korean actress Sung Yu Ri~

Korean actress Sung Yu Ri’s Teeth-brushing of Fury~

Korean Actress Yoo In Na~

Korean Actress Yoo In Na’s Teeth-brushing of Fury~

Even the Nation’s MC, Yoo Jae Suk, has parodied this scene!

The Nation's MC (and Comedian) Yoo Jae Suk~

The Nation’s MC (and Comedian) Yoo Jae Suk~

You can find more of this phenomenal parody online, featuring everyone from Korean kids to Korean idols to a cat owned by a Korean lady.

폭탄주 (Bomb Drink)

Poktanju~

Poktanju~

Poktanju is another crazy creation that came about as a result of the love that Korean’s have for drinking.

You can learn how to make your own, too, but I bet it won’t be as stacked as the one in HANGOVER!

However, someone should accept HANGOVER’s Domino Poktanju challenge…

Just not me!

>.<

편의점에서 먹기 (Eating at a Convenience Store)

Your very own restaurant serving millions of things you don't really want to eat, except ramyun!

Your very own restaurant serving millions of things you don’t really want to eat, except ramyun!

In America it’s really unheard of, but in South Korea it’s everywhere…

Eating at a convenience store!

Maybe it’s because Koreans like to do everything quickly (빨리 빨리!), but it sure is nice to be able to buy food, heat it up (if needed), and eat it just seconds later– especially if you really are hungover and on your way home at night!

When hunger strikes~

When hunger strikes~

And, what Snoop Dogg is eating– 삼각 김밥, or triangle-shaped kim and rice, actually tastes pretty good and comes in tons of different flavors:

Yummy~

Yummy~

The yummy stuff is on the inside!

낮술 (Daytime Drinking)

"Daytime drinking is welcome"~

“Daytime drinking is welcome”~

In the music video PSY and Snoop Dogg start drinking during the day, which is common in South Korea. If you haven’t done it, you should try it– no matter where you are.

In addition, you can even see some Korean drinking etiquette as PSY only uses one hand to pour some soju for Snoop Dogg. The cheek roll is also a very Korean thing to do, and as far as I know only Koreans do it, but maybe that will change after this video.

It’s while drinking during the day that PSY and Snoop Dogg meet the ahjummas, or older women, and then the REAL fun starts…

미용실 (Hair Salon)

Hair salon~

Hair salon~

But first, PSY has to go to the hair salon, or 미영실, to get his hair done.

There are hair salons everywhere in South Korea, but especially in high end red light districts like Nonhyun-dong where the girls not only need it but can afford it on a daily basis.

노래방 (Noraebang, or Korean-style Private Karaoke)

Luxury~

Luxury Noraebang~

Finally, they’re at noraebang!

Noraebang is all about overly decorated rooms with cheesy wall-paper, flashing disco lights, and a set of tambourines ready for That Person who’s too turned up.

Noraebanging~

Noraebanging~

And of course, it’s also about singing songs and drinking drinks until not only do you sound good but the girls (or boys) you came with look good!

But first, you need to figure out how to use this stuff:

Huh?~

Huh?~

G-Dragon and CL

g1

G-Dragon &CL~

These are PSY’s Korean labelmates who both make a cameo in HANGOVER. Their company is called YG, and if you’re into Kpop then you already know about YG and these two Korean artists.

If you’re not, then it’s about time you found out about ‘em both!

G-Dragon of Big Bang

CL of 2NE1

Love their music and style!

Recently, CL was even compared to Rihanna by Dazed, but they really are two very different artists even though they are both fiercely feminine. 

디스코팡팡 (Disco Pang Pang)

It looks safe enough...~

It looks safe enough…~

Until you get on and the ride starts!~

Until you get on and the ride starts!~

Okay, this is a crazy Korean ride that I would actually go on if I felt like puking up one of my meals, or dislocating my shoulder.

Yeah, no thanks!

사구 (Korean, No-Pocket Billiards)

Sagu~

Sagu~

Four Ball, or 사구– that’s sagu (sa means four), is an interesting game that I’ve never played before but have heard about from my Korean guy friends.

Of course, there’s also martial arts and jjajangmyun, Chinese black bean noodles, in HANGOVER. Those noodles were definitely delivered, which is a common way to get some grub wherever you happen to be whenever you’re in South Korea.

술 대결 (Drinking Battle)

A drinking battle between a couple in a Korean drama~

A drinking battle between a couple in a Korean drama~

This is not just a Korean guy thing to do, or just a guy thing really!

Obviously, the goal is to see who can drink more, but when soju is involved things definitely get a little more dangerous…

Things also get dangerous at the end of HANGOVER thanks to one well tossed spoon!

Well, I hope you love PSY and HANGOVER as much as I do, especially now that you (hopefully) understand the Korean culture behind the crazy, cant-stop-watching scenes in the music video.

<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!

^^

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!

Just in Time for Summer: 15 More “Must-Watch” Korean Movies

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

It’s almost summer, and that means it’s the perfect time to beat the heat and stay inside with a good movie– and some popcorn!

With that said, this is my third Korean movie list, and it’s even better than before. From more of my favorite Korean independent films to some action-packed Korean block busters to a few Korean romantic comedies and even some creepy, cult Korean classics, this list has something for everyone whether you’re new to Korean movies… or not.

After all, you may have already gone through my first and second must-watch Korean movie lists and been (patiently) waiting for another one!

^^

1. Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday~

Maundy Thursday~

A woman visits prisoners on death row every Thursday; and, one day she falls in love with a man who has been sentenced to death in what becomes a classic Korean melodrama.

(This is one of the first Korean movies that I watched, and because of it I quickly learned to have a box of tissue nearby!)

Watch HERE, English subbed, on Youtube!

2. My Dear Enemy

My Dear Enemy~

My Dear Enemy~

What do you do when your ex-boyfriend owes you money? You hunt him down and force him to pay you back. In what becomes a haunting, unforgettable road trip down some of South Korea’s darkest alleys, you’ll find yourself taking a trip down memory lane right along with the two characters.

And, where they finally end up is unexpected– and unbelievably heartwarming.

Watch HERE, English subbed, on Amazon!

3. Thirst

Thirst~

A priest turned vampire falls in love with a psychotic, obsessive woman in this black comedy.

Watch HERE, English subbed, on Amazon!

4. Spellbound

Spellbound~

Spellbound~

Falling in love with a lonely woman who sees ghosts has never been so scary sweet in this Korean romantic comedy.

Watch HERE, English subbed, on Hulu!

5. Boys of Tomorrow

Boys of Tomorrow~

Boys of Tomorrow~

Two brothers grew up on the wrong side of town, but which one of them will make it out even if things are never made right?

(This coming of age story starring Yoo Ah In was the first Korean independent film that I watched, and after watching it you’ll know why I was hooked!)

Watch HERE, English subbed, on Veoh!

6. Mother is A Whore

Mother Is A Whore~

Mother is A Whore~

This is another extremely disturbing Korean movie about a boy born with AIDS because his mother is a whore; however, the story takes place when he’s already much older.

It’s also difficult to find, so here’s the trailer– with English subs, if you’re ready to find out what this independent film that holds nothing back when it comes to forced incest, brutal rape, and subtle attacks on religion is all about:

7. Rough Cut

Rough Cut~

Rough Cut~

Is a movie really just a movie? An actor hires a thug to film an action movie when his costar drops out, but slowly the lines between fact and fiction become blurred.

Watch HERE, English subbed, on Viki!

8. Poongsan

Poongsan~

In this political satire, a messenger crosses the border between North and South Korea to bring separated families back together and falls in love along the way– but don’t expect a happy ending here.

Watch HERE, subbed, on Amazon!

9. A Frozen Flower

File:A Frozen Flower film poster.jpg

A Frozen Flower~

A King falls in love with one of the palace guards, but his love turns into an obsession that plunges them both into madness and despair.

Warning: If you don’t like to see men kissing (or doing more than that), then this movie MIGHT not be for you. However, I believe that love is love, and this IS a love story– it just happens to be between two men.

Watch HERE, English subbed, on Youtube!

10. The Good, The Bad, The Weird

The Good, The Bad, The Weird~

Some of Korea’s top actors– Jung Woo Sung, Lee Byung Hun, and Song Kang Ho, got together for this action-packed, East-meets-West western.

Watch HERE, English subbed, on Amazon!

11. Psychics, or Haunters

Haunters~

Haunters~

This action-packed blockbuster starring Kang Dong Won and Go Soo is full of super powers, friends, and the birth of both a hero and a villain, but who will win in the end?

(Best use of super powers and foreigners in a Korean film!)

Watch HERE, unsubbed, on Youtube!

12. The Thieves

The Thieves~

Yes! This is the Korean version of Ocean’s 11. It’s also the film where Kim Soo Hyun and Jeon Ji Hyun first met and garnered attention for their amazing on-screen chemistry.

However, it’s really just a love story in the end– a story about making wrongs right, even after a long time.

Watch HERE, English subbed, on Dailymotion!

13. Penny Pinchers

Penny Pinchers~

This is the best Korean romantic comedy that I have ever seen. It’s not tedious or confusing. It’s fast, fun, and surprisingly heartwarming and touching.

Watch HERE, English subbed, on Dailymotion!

14. Always Only You

Always Only You~

Always Only You~

This is a romantic melodrama starring So Ji Sub. He plays a boxer who falls in love with a woman who is blind; and, because of her he suddenly starts to see the world in a different light.

(So Ji Sub at his FINEST!)

Watch HERE, English subbed, on Youtube!

15. Beautiful

Beautiful~

Horror stories are perfect for summer, and this is one Korea movie that’s part horror, part satire as one beautiful woman slowly comes undone.

Watch the trailer below, and try to find download links online:

As for me, it’s officially summer– for forever!

To celebrate summer and graduating again– this time with my doctorate in law, I started out by watching an independent Korean film, Penny Pinchers, starring Song Joong Ki

And, I somehow ended up going on a gigantic movie-watching spree featuring Christian Bale. By now, I’ve watched almost all of his movies. Ryan Gosling is next– along with a few Japanese movies!

P.S.: I updated both of my must-watch Korean movie lists with new links where needed, so be sure to check them out even if you already have before!

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!~

The Way to My Heart is Through Your Credit Card

*Diary*

What happened three years ago (and what happened last night) has absolutely nothing to do with money and everything to do with trust and love.

So, this is one story that has to start with my ex-boyfriend…

My ex-boyfriend left his very nice home in Apgujeong at the age of 16 and started working at the Samsung in Suwon. Like a good Korean son, he gave his first, very big paycheck to his mom and continued to spoil her after that. He had the heart of an angel… and the tattoo of a crucified angel on his back.

(Although some of you might not know it, having a tattoo in Korea can mean certain things, and he was definitely a “bad boy.” He loved bikes and owned a gorgeous Harley Davidson… or two. He would also tell me stories about growing up in Korea– stories that made me laugh and cry, but those aren’t meant to be shared.)

After losing his sister in a terrible accident, he decided to leave Korea and ended up working at the Samsung here in Austin, Texas. After six months of being here, he got into a fight while at a club downtown and decided to go to a different club– the club where we first met. Young, drunk, and having fallen in love with him at first sight, I followed my heart, and my feet led me off the stage where I was dancing and right by his side.

After drinking and dancing the night away, we walked to his car. On the way, he gave me his jacket since it was cold, held my hand, and asked me to be his girlfriend.

Of course I said yes.

He was my first boyfriend, and he spoiled me with Betsey Johnson, fancy dinners, and yes, his credit card, but he also spoiled me with couple toothbrushes, daily phone calls, and a broad shoulder to cry on. I was 21, Nigerian-American, and inexperienced. He was 27, Korean, and experienced. Despite our differences– no, because he was patient, understanding, kind, and saw beyond our differences, we stayed together and– as crazy as it sounds now, almost got married.

(He proposed to me the night before he left for Korea with an 18K gold ring that his mother had given him. It fit perfectly on my ring finger, and I wore it off and on for the next two years even after we broke up, but– like many things, I learned to let it go.)

Sometimes, I wonder what would have happened and who I would have become had we not met, but then I can’t imagine not knowing him and not being who I am today because of him.

As for him, he broke up with his girlfriend (again) and recently bought a new apartment… and a new Lamborghini. As for his credit card, I found it buried underneath my old ones a few days after I moved into my new apartment last year. It reminded me of how much he did for me– how much he trusted me– how much he loved me.

It wasn’t about his credit card, and it wasn’t about being spoiled by him. It was about the amount of trust that it took for him to give me his credit card, and it was about being someone that he wanted to share everything he had with…

It’s strange, but a credit card– what was just a sad souvenir from three years ago, brought a smile to my face this weekend.

Friday Night

I went to my internship in the morning, and (as one of my friends already knows) I was anxious and worried all day. Would I really get to see Tao 2, or would he end up going swing dancing on Valentine’s Day with another girl after all?

Well, my friend told me to think positively, and I did. I got my hopes up– not too high, and I definitely wasn’t disappointed despite the drama that was about to unfold!

My friend and her boyfriend, aka Mr. Awkward, came over to my apartment around 11:00 to pre-game, which is when you drink BEFORE you go out.

Pre-gaming~

Pre-gaming~

We got ALL dressed up, but if you don’t have anything nice to say about either of our outfits, then please– don’t say anything at all.

Garter socks~

Garter socks~

She's my best unni~

She’s my best unni~

Us~

Friends (and sisters) forever~

Surprisingly, everything went as planned– at first.

As “planned,” even though I was supposed to text Tao 2 first, he texted me first, and he met up with us downtown as soon as he got off of work.

(As I found out later that night, he’s a sushi chef and a part-time student. He works to support himself, and he just bought a new car, which is impressive since he’s only 22!)

We got some drinks at the bar and started dancing, but it didn’t take long for my friend and her boyfriend to start fighting (again)– this time for real.

(He’s a flirt.)

By the end of the night, Tao 2 and I were with his friends, and we were all outside of my favorite club– just talking, when he suddenly wished me a Happy Valentine’s day and gave me a hug. Since my friend and her boyfriend were still fighting, this was the perfect chance to ask him to take me home!

Anyway, I haven’t been that excited about being in the passenger seat of a car for awhile, and we had a short but sweet car ride together. I definitely ended up liking him even more after we talked, and we made plans to hang out again on Saturday night.

Saturday Night

On Friday night when we were all outside, I made plans with one of his friends that I immediately clicked with, and she and I pregamed at my place before going downtown. Soon after, one of my best friends from high school, college, and now law school met us downtown once she was done studying; and, Tao 2 met us downtown once he was done working.

(Nothing can tear my best unni and I apart– not even her crazy boyfriend, so of course they met us downtown, too– just later on in the night.)

Anyway, the four of us were at the bar in one of my favorite clubs when Tao 2 Epic Failed at ordering drinks– his expression was sooo cute, so I said that I would buy a round instead. I was standing there ordering our drinks with my friend standing in between us when he reached across her and handed me his credit card…!

*Sigh*

Of course, only my friend (who knows literally everything about me AND my ex-boyfriend) and I knew what had just happened, and we smiled at each other secretly.

There was something about the way they both gave me that little piece of plastic that really touched me– maybe it was the look of trust in their eyes, or maybe it was the surety with which they didn’t hesitate to hand me something that is so hard to share. After all, it’s one thing to share your “crayons,” but it’s another thing to share your credit card!

(Think about whether or not you would give your credit card to someone else– for a minute or for a lifetime.)

Anyway, there were SO many unexpected and amazing things that made last night special, like when my new friend and I bonded over drinks, discovered our mutual love for Korea (and Kpop), and blasted EXO in my car on the way downtown… like when Tao 2 was doing his Dance Dance Revolution dance and a “fanboy” ran over and told him how “dope” it was… like when Tao 2 stepped on my shoe and grabbed me (Korean drama style) and said after I mildly seriously freaked out about my ($200.00) Stylenanda shoes getting stepped on, “I was just worried about you, not your shoes!”

… Like when I was in a circle of my new and old friends– just drinking or dancing, all of us having fun and happy together.

^^

Tao 2 has tentatively agreed to let me take him shopping, so if he lets me dress him then I will definitely share that here!

This Tuesday, though, my new friend and Tao 2 will definitely go get Korean food (my idea) before going to his place to hang out and play video games (his idea). I have no idea if she likes video games, but I do!

All in all, I had a great weekend, and I am ready to get back to school and my internship, which is going REALLY well. I’m also waiting to hear back about a “dream job” here in Austin that I applied for– international business transactions and access to higher education for international students, so wish me luck!^^

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~

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~

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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:

2013-12-10 13.44.40

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.

My Etude House Haul

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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

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

>.<

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

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

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

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

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

Missing U Black Charcoal Chin Pack 

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

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

Masks

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

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

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

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

Baking Powder Pore Cleansing Foam

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

Good Bye Trouble BB Magic Mist

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

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

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

 &  &  &

Uhm, the make-up is also fabulous.

Color My Brows #3 Red Brown

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

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

Oh My Eye Line AD no.1 Black

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

 Lash Perm All Shockcara

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

 Dear Darling Neon Tint #1 Neon Orange

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

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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

So, that was my Etude House Haul!

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

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

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

*The “Preparing for Life in Korea” Series*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seoul National University

Yonsei University

Korea University

Pohang University of Science and Technology

Ewha Women’s University

Sungkyunkwan University

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology

Pusan National University

Hanyang University

Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

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

No, because…

2. The sooner you study abroad, the better!

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Check out the HISS application HERE.)

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

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

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

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

*Off Topic*

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

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

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

Navigation!

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

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

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

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

More Food For Thought

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

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

Finals.

*Sigh*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last but not least:

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

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

*Sigh*

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

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

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

A Quick Vocabulary Lesson:

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

The Good: Clubs in Korea

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

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

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

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

Speaking of girls…

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“Gangnam girls” at Octagon on Halloween Night~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bad: Nights in Korea

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ugly: “Spas” in Korea

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

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

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

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

(Funny, I know.)

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

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

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

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

Heirs (Again)

*Korean Drama Reviews, Recaps, &More*

*This post is spoiler-free, and you can watch Heirs HERE*

If you haven’t started watching Heirs, then you need to start catching up with the rest of us– words I never thought I would say! Now that we are more than halfway through, it just keeps getting better and better– and it was already pretty damn good.

The first three episodes are just the background in a much bigger picture. Mainly, they introduce us to the characters and set up the love-line between Kim Tan and Cha Eun Sang.

The next seven episodes start “filling in” the bigger picture. Although nothing really happens, we get to know the characters– and boy, are there a lot of characters! From the kids in high school to their friends and enemies at high school to their rich (and sometimes poor) parents– and one big brother, everyone seems to have a story to tell, and they’re all worth watching!

(One of my favorite stories in Heirs– apart from Choi Young Do’s, is Lee Hyo Shin’s!)  

When all of us were tired of holding our breath, not only do the characters start to grow and develop in Episode 10, but they do so in realistic ways, winning us over again and again just when we thought we were ready to throw them all away…

Except for Choi Young Do, of course.

He’s just…

Sigh.

Anyway, by the time we get to Episode 13 and Episode 14, things are just nail-biting, heart-racing, pause-the-screen AWESOME. I’m practically racing home just to watch this damn Korean drama!

What I’m really taking away from this story and why I think its SO good:

The new generation ISN’T going to make the same mistakes as the old one– and when it comes to Korea, that’s an incredibly powerful message, especially for a Korean drama to tell.

I wasn’t expecting anything from Heirs, but now I am. I’m expecting a lot, in fact, and not just amazing new episodes for THIS season but also a Season 2

A Korean Variety Show for Everyone

*Korean Drama Reviews, Recaps, &More*

Recently, I talked about watching Korean variety shows in Preparing for Life in Korea, Part 1: Learning Korean. ISo You Want To Be a Kpop Idol, a Kpop Star?, I also talked about foreigners who are pursuing their dreams in Korea, like Sam Hammington– an Australian guy… and well, Sam “oh-chil-ee– a guy from Ghana.

Well, I just discovered this entertaining AND heartwarming Korean variety show where four foreigners, including our two Sams, go to a 섬마을, or “seom maul”– island village, to teach English to the students living there. They also live with and become close to the families there.

The four teachers are a diverse bunch!

The Teachers, or "쌤들"~

The Teachers, or “쌤들”~

From left to right: Sam Hammington is Australian. He is a famous comedian, and he recently got married to his Korean girlfriend of seven(?) years.  Sam is Ghanaian. He has been on a lot of Korean variety shows already, and he is a student who is looking to follow in Sam Hammington’s footsteps by becoming a famous comedian, too. Brad is American. He is in a famous Korean band called Busker Busker. Abigail is from Paraguay, but this is my first time seeing her even though she was on a Korean variety show before.

The show looks like a lot of fun, too!

Cute~

Cute~

So, go here to On Demand Korea to start watching the first episode and to find more episodes.

Finally, for those who might not know it, seeing foreigners on Korean variety shows is a BIG deal. In 2008, it was almost impossible for Nickhun, the Thai member of 2PM, to go on Korean variety shows, even though later it’s what he became famous for. Five years later, and foreigners– Asian and non-Asian, are actually guests and even hosts on many of them.

Things, people, places– they all change, and they can all change for the better, including Korea.

For more on the change, go here.

So, what are some of YOUR favorite Korean variety shows?

I watch (almost all of) these Korean variety shows every week, and you can find even some of them on Dramafever too: Talk Show Hello!, Mamma Mia, Happy Together, Kim Byungman’s Laws of the Jungle,  Infinity Challenge, The Human Condition, Running Man, and Gag Concert! I used to watch more, but I do need to have a life outside of Korean TV.

Preparing for Life in Korea, Part 1: Learning Korean

*The “Preparing for Life in Korea” Series*

Introduction

Learning Korean is the first part in a three-part series on “Preparing for Life in Korea,” because it is the most important part of preparing for life in Korea.

Even though in most countries around the world you are likely to encounter people who speak English, in Asian countries like Korea and China, you are not likely to encounter people who speak English; although, I’m not sure people realize that until they actually go to Korea!

(I asked my best friend, who is Chinese, about whether or not people in China speak English. She said, “Not really,” which is exactly what I said about whether or not people in Korea speak English.) 

Being able to at least speak Korean– even though I can read and write Korean, helped me talk to everyone from realtors to taxi drivers to shop owners.  I got to meet people in Korea– like everyone else, but because I spoke Korean, I also got to make friends with them and network with them, too, which is a big part of living in Korea and not just living in a small bubble in Korea, one filled with the few foreigners and Koreans who DO speak English.

Once YOU learn Korean, you can communicate– talk tomeetmake friends, and network, with people in Korea. You can even apply to schools and for internships and jobs that most foreigners don’t know about or have access to because they don’t speak Korean.

So, in “Preparing for Life in Korea,” I’ll also talk about Studying Abroad in Korea, where I’ll talk about how to find the study abroad program in Korea that’s right for you, and Finding a Job in Korea, where I’ll talk about how to get the internship or job in Korea that’s right for you.

(Speaking Korean is also a valuable skill both on and off of your resume; for example, if you want to date a Korean boy– or girl, while you are in Korea, then it definitely helps to speak Korean!^^)

Learning Korean

Learning Korean~

Learning Korean~

Learning Korean is a lot easier than learning Japanese or Chinese, but once you actually learn the alphabet, which is similar enough to English’s alphabet in its use of consonants and vowels, then you suddenly hit a really big (red) brick wall called “Grammar.”

English is a Subject-Verb-Object language based on syntax, or word order:

“I-like-EXO.”

In English, you can never say anything but “I” followed by “like” followed by “EXO,” because word order defines meaning.

However, Korean is a Subject-Object-Verb language based on morphology, or word structure:

I-EXO-like, or “나는-EXO를-좋아하다.”

In Korean, you CAN say “나는 좋아해, EXO를,” because the word structure defines meaning. For example, 는- is a “marker” for the subject, “를” is a “marker” for the object, and “하다, 해요, 해, etc.” marks the verb.

(There are so many verb endings in Korean…) 

Warning:

좋아하다 (to like) needs an object marker: EXO.

However, don’t confuse this with 좋다 (to be good), which needs a subject marker: EXO.

Okay, I barely scratched the surface of the Korean alphabet and Korean grammar, but you might already be confused! So, let’s talk about what you need to do AND what you’re probably doing wrong.

Learning Korean… The Right Way?

1. Learn the Korean Alphabet!

(http://www.howtostudykorean.com/unit0/unit0lesson1/)

I started out by learning the Korean alphabet– NOT the romanization of Korean words and phrases. I don’t suggest learning the romanization of Korean words and phrases, either, which– now that I think about it,  is what most people do.

Why?

Well, you won’t be able to make the transition from learning letters, words, and even phrases (basic vocabulary can be understood through romanization) to being able to put letters together to build words, phrases, and sentences (complex grammar can not).

2. Learn How to “Stack” Korean Characters Together to Build Words!

(http://www.howtostudykorean.com/unit0/unit0lesson1/)

I was always (and still am) amazed by how Korean characters turned into words– almost like Legos or something:

ㄴ+ㅏ= 나 (I, or “na“)

ㄴ + ㅏ + ㅁ = 남 (stranger, or “nam“)

ㄴ+ㅏ+ㅁ+ㅈ+ㅏ= 남자 (man, or “namja“)

3.  Learn How To Make Simple Sentences!

(http://www.howtostudykorean.com/unit1/unit-1-lessons-1-8/)

Remember when you learned your first language? Okay, maybe you don’t, but AFTER learning the alphabet and how to make words using letters (or characters), then you were finally ready to make simple sentences with a subject, verb, and object (or subject, object, and verb.)

Learning Korean is no different. Just because you are older that doesn’t mean you get to skip steps– it just means you can– hopefully, get through them a little faster!

4. Listen to Korean!

The most important part of learning a language is being able to “hear” it, or turn sounds coming into your ear into words once they “land” in your head.

I took Italian for two years, but I could never “hear” it. I started being able to “hear” Korean very quickly, because I spent so much time listening to Korean music and watching Korean shows.

So, the more you listen to Korean, the more you’ll “hear” Korean.

5. Read and Speak Korean!

The best funnest and easiest way to learn how to read and speak Korean is to sing it. If you can’t go to Karaoke (노래방, or “noraebang”), then just get on Youtube at home, turn on your favorite song with 한글, or “hangul,” and start singing along!

(One of the first songs my friends and I learned!)

6. Converse in Korean!

(http://www.talktomeinkorean.com/)

I also spent a lot of time talking to my first love, K.H.S., and my ex-boyfriend in Korean. I still speak Korean a lot, too, especially with the owner of the Korean bar and my Korean friends.

7. Make Korean friends!

(http://mykoreanfriends.com/xe/)

Because, Korean friends will help you learn Korean!

8. Watch Korean Variety Shows!

Finally, along with switching your time spent learning Korean romanization to time spent learning the Korean alphabet, you should also make sure to get your eyes out of a textbook– from time to time, which has what I call “bad” Korean, and onto a Korean variety show. Why?

Well, textbook Korean tends to be very formal and stiff. Let’s take the word 당신, or “dangshin,” for an example. 

Please, do NOT use 당신 as the casual pronoun “you.” It’s much closer to meaning “darling,” but it’s ALSO often used when the person you are speaking to is being rude. Be careful using “너,” or “neo,”which means “you,” too. It’s okay to use if you are close with the person you are speaking to AND if he or she is younger than you, or at least the same age as you. If you are not close with the person you are speaking to, then use his or her name + “씨” if they are similar in age and status to you. If they are older or higher in status– say, a teacher, then use his or her name + “님.”

For more on what the Korean words you are using really mean, go to Naver’s Dictionary; and, if you really want to learn the words that Koreans use, as well as how they put them together into phrases and sentences, then don’t forget to watch a Korean variety show!

(That’s how I learn new vocabulary along with popular Korean speech patterns, like acronyms; and, Running Man is one of the best Korean variety shows, so be sure to check it out HERE.)

So, learning Korean is the first step in preparing for life in Korea, and it’s a big one!

Do you have any tips on learning Korean? Do you know any other great Korean language websites?

If so, then leave them in the comments to share with everyone else.