한여름의 일기장

*Diary*

In the summer of 2012, I kept a diary while I was in Korea for the first time; and, it felt natural to write in Korean while I was there. It was also something that I had wanted to do ever since I read 딩구는 돌은 언제 잠깨는가 (When Does a Rolling Stone Awaken) by 이성복 (Lee Seong Beok); and, my diary chronicled the time I spent in Korea– the time when I, a rolling stone, was awaken.

6/17/12, 술집에서 생긴 일

깊은 밤속에, 술과 사람 사이에 뭔가를 태어나겠다. 오늘의 꿨던 꿈은 아직도 우리 몸속에 숨을 쉬고 있었고 그 꿈은 말로 표현할 수 없어서 서로에게 한 번의 깨지기 쉬운 웃음이 잠깐동안 나타났다. 술은 입으로부터 내려갔고 꿈은 마음속으로부터 올라왔다. 토해 하고 싶었다. 우리 몸에 있는 술을 말고, 우리 마음속에 있는 꿈을.

나는 한 편의 영화처럼 내 살아왔던 시간을 보고 있었고 그는 담배를 피고 있었다. 그는 이 담배연기에 내 한숨을 보인다고 말했다. 나는 그 담배연기에 그의 삶을 보았다:

천천히 내뱉는 것–
무겁게 하늘위로 올라가는 것–
외롭게 흩어지면서 사라지는 것.

그는 담배를 끊겠다고 말했다. 나는 네 삶도 끊겠다고 대답하지 못 했다. 또 내 옛 남자친구와 똑 같은 담배를 피고 있었다. 그 담배를 보고 나는 사랑에 실패했다고 생각을 했다. 나는 사랑먼지에 내 한심한 한숨을 보았다. 그 밤에, 그 술집에서 그는 담배를 끊었고 나는 사랑을 끊었다.

밤만 다시 태어났고 우리는 취한 걸음으로 길을 나섰다. 비틀비틀 클럽까지, 집까지. 뒤돌아 보면 길을 잃어버린 적도 많았고 서로에게 기대했던 적도 많았다.

이상한 하늘 밑에서 항상 어지러웠지만 내 조국을 보고 싶지 못 했다.

6/18/12, 텅 빈 우주

오늘 기다렸다. 그남자를 기다리면서 실망 느끼지 않은 방법은 처음부터 기대하지 않은 것을 알아냈다. 그래도 소용이 없었다.

이미 늦었다고 생각했다.

내 옛 남자친구가 나를 떠난 순간부터, 나는 이 텅 빈 우주에 어떻게 살겠다고 생각을 했다. 그 순간부터 어떻게 여기까지 왔을까?

기억에 없어야하는 일들이 있어서, 기억에 잊어야 하지만 잊지 못 한 남자 하나가 있어서…
꿈은 꿈일뿐이란 것도 알아냈다.

6/19/12, 아프지 않은 아픔을

몸부터 마음까지…
다 아팠다.

6/21/12, 기다림

기다렸다. 기다리다가 잠을 잤다. 꿈속에서도 기다렸다. 누구를, 내 꿈을 기다렸다. 깼다. 보낸 메일의 답장이 없었다. 그남자가 오늘도 오지 않았다. 아무것도 없었다. 쓸데 없는 시간 속에서 내가 누군지를 깜빡했고 내 의지와 상관 없는 인생을 살 고 있다고 생각을 했다. 그래서 더 이상 기다리지 않은 내가…
내일도 기다리겠다.

“그 사람들은 다 괜찮겠다고 말을 했지만 그 사람들은 거짓말을 했다. 그 사람들은 아파도 아픔을 느끼지 못한다.”

내 말은 오늘 아무 일도 없었다.

6/??/12

같은 하늘밑에 있어도
다가가지 않은 우리 발 걸음

머물러 있지 못 했고 떠나간 사랑을
불러고 불러도
끝없는 하늘밑에서 벽같은 사람을, 벽 같은 시간을
미리지 못한다

나는 울지도 못한다.
사랑은 떠나면 다시 돌아와야한다.

가벼운 마음으로
이별

7/02/12, 심장이 뛰네

세상을 바뀌는 순간, 살면서 그 순간을 항상 기다리고 있었다.

그 여자는 밥상위에 자기 꿈을 토해 했다.

“To love, to be loved, to be a loved.”

나도 언젠가 그런 생각으로, 그런 마음으로 살고 싶었다. 그 남자를 잊지 못 했지만 그 생각을, 그 마음을 잊었다. 그 여자는 그말로 내 세상을 한번더 바꿨다. 사랑은 뭔지를 잊은 내가 그여자의 눈과 웃음사이에 사랑을 한번더 보았다. 사랑을 한번더 느꼈다.
부족하지 않고 얼마나 소중한 사랑…

그 남자는 웃었다.
눈과 웃음 사이에 어떤 매력을, 어떤 잃어버린 꿈을 보았다. 그 남자의 손을, 내 잃어버린 꿈을 잡고 싶었다. 내 힘과 희망이 없는 손은 천천히 내밀하면서 내 마음속에서 힘과 희망의 씨를 뿌렸다.

내 심장은 아직도 뛰고 있었다.
그 남자를 잡을 수 없어도 그 사실만으로…
나는 행복했다.

7/07/12

헤어진 후, 일년동안 그남자에게 아무말도 하지 않았다.
근데 그남자를 잊지 못했다. 잊은 척. 사랑하지 않은 척. 행복한 척.
솔직히…
매일 그 남자 추억과 함께 살았다.

그래서 잠 이 안 오는 밤에서 옛남자친구에게 편지를 보냈다.

“뭐 해요?
잘 지내요?
시간 많이 지나갔는데 아직도 네 생각 많이 하고 때론 울고 때론 웃어요. 너에게 대해 고민을 많이 해요. 다리는요? 일은요? 좋은 여자를 잘 만나고 있을까요?
뒤돌아 보니까 나는 여자친구로서 많이 부족했어요. 그래도 아직도 너를 보고 싶고 네가 행복했으면 좋겠어요. 너와 같은 하늘 밑에서 네가 살고 있는 세상을 보고 힘과 희망이 돼요. 네 말처럼 많이 늦지만 네 말처럼 너를 잊지 못 해요. 너에게 많은 것을 배웠기때문이요. 사랑, 배려.
항상 미안하고 고마워요.
나를 만나지 않을 것 같아서 그냥…
또 다시 이별하기 전에 어느 날밤 내 사랑하는 옛남친에게 혼잣말 같은 이야기일뿐이에요!^^
잘 자요~
이제 나도 잘게요.”

두시간 동안 자고 있었다.
잠든 사이에 그 남자에게 연락이 왔고 나를 깼었는데 모든 것이 꿈 같았다.
그 남자의 목소리만으로 그의웃음을 느낄 수 있었다.
오랫만에…

복잡한 내 마음, 그 남자를 다시 잡고 싶었다.

7/17/12

어제는 내 심장이 멈췄다. 그 순간에 나는 왜 죽지 않았을까?

7/22/12

처음 왔을 때 아무 것도 없었다. 빈 마음으로, 맨 손으로 왔는데 내 지친 몸, 내 죽은 마음 뭔가를 다시 느끼기 시작했다. 와로움. 그리움. 아픔. 슬픔. 눈물 속에서 웃음도 나왔다.
만족. 행복. 희망.
또 사랑.
그리고 사람.

세상에서 살고 있었고 세상에서 소중한 사람과 사랑은 제일 중요한 것을 다시 느꼈다. 포기 하지 말고 아직도 죽지 않았다. 마음은 따듯해 졌고 웃음 속에서 잠을 잤다.

7/25/12

네가 나를 흔들렸다.
어지럽다.
어디로 가야하나?
너에게 다가가야할 발걸음은 갑자기 멈춘다.

8/05/12

그남자랑 취소된 약속. 이제 혼자 먹을거다.

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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.

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!

From Austin to Ktown to South Korea!

*Diary*

I’ve been busy here in Austin, Texas!

I partied for almost a week with friends AND family after I finished my last final on Tuesday the 13th, graduated from law school on Saturday the 17th, and started working at a nonprofit law firm on Monday the 20th!

Yes, I like my job and the people I work with, although I am definitely still “learning the ropes.” And, when I come home from work, which is an amazing feeling now that I’ve redecorated my apartment home, I have so much free time that I just don’t know what to do with it– except relax and do absolutely nothing…

Nothing other than watch my shows and hang out with my friends.

After all, it is summer!

Anyway, I am waiting to start my third job as a proofreader. My second job (I’ve had it for a year or two now) is writing for various clients that I receive through my agent.

Both are remote, so I just work at home.

^^

Work hard…

Play harder!

For me, “play” includes everything from partying (usually with my friends– not my family) to watching my shows to blogging, so stay tuned for more from The “Feeding Your KDrama Addiction” Series along with The Top 6 Reasons People REALLY Go To South Korea and Preparing for Life in Korea: Working in Korea.

In the meantime, HERE is something different to watch, a hilarious web series about life in Ktown for one Korean-American who’s brand spankin’ new to L.A.:

When John Kim (Lanny Joon) relocates from the comforts of his picket-fence, WASP neighborhood of Richmond, Virginia to the alluring city of Ktown Los Angeles, the land of sultry women, Booking Clubs, and late night taco trucks, his arrival immediately sparks the most epic night of his life. His cousin, Jason (Shane Yoon) introduces John to his audacious crew (Peter Jae, Danny Cho, Sunn Wee, and Bobby Big Phony Choy) who teach John the basic yet inventive ways on how to survive the perfect Friday night in Ktown.”

Honestly, we’ve got late night taco trucks here in Austin, Texas, too. In fact, ours are all day! Other than that little fact I have to add that I LOVED this show because it shows a different side of Korean culture– the (very) American side!

And, my friend and fellow blogger The Traveling Kimchi, who is currently in South Korea, is having an awesome giveaway, so be sure to watch and listen to what she has to say:

As for me…

"I'll be back."~

P.S.: I’m working on an Ask Your Unni  thing– just your typical advice column, so start asking me any questions you have about life and love in South Korea on my Ask Your Unni tumblr blog HERE.

^^

Like Santa Claus, Dream Jobs Just Aren’t Real

*Diary*

I’m currently watching a Korean drama, The Queen of Office, that delves deep into what it means to graduate and struggle to get a job, to get a job and struggle to keep it, to lose a job and struggle to remember the true meaning of work and life when you finally find a new one– even if it’s just at an office.

What I’ve learned:

You might end up with a job instead of a career– with coworkers who aren’t peers, but work in and of itself isn’t what makes us happy and fulfills us. Despite what we’ve been told, it’s the people we work with and the people we work for– be it for ourselves, for our family and friends, or for others, that make us happy and fulfill us.

As one of my best friends, who is also in law school, said:

“Change your perspective instead waiting for something that won’t come. Ultimately, your ‘dream job’ is something you create or work your way up to.”

If you don’t believe that my friend or a Korean drama could ever be so profound, then take it from the words of Mike Rowe from the hit show Dirty Jobs right HERE!

Or, you could just take it from me…

I’m finally graduating from law school in less than two weeks. It’s been a rough and tumble, three-year long ride with many bumps along the way, but I’ve enjoyed getting the chance to make my dream of helping others– no, of helping the undeserved and underrepresented get access to justice come true.

From studying abroad at the Sungkyunkwan School of Law in South Korea to completing a human rights internship in South Korea to completing a legal internship at my school, The University of Texas at Austin, where I helped undergraduate and graduate students instead of North Korean refugees– I’ve found out that the reason I set out on this path is also the reason why I have stayed on it.

Like many others, I had a dream. Mine was simple: To help others. I knew that being a lawyer would help make my dream come true, but there was a difference between the dream that I wanted and the dream that I needed– between the lawyer that I wanted to be and the lawyer that I needed to be.

Yes, being a public service lawyer working in the nonprofit sector is my dream, but it was a dream that I didn’t know I had until I started and almost finished a ride that left me banged up and bruised, severely stressed and often depressed.

It was my family, friends, and a few professors who kept me from jumping out of a fast moving vehicle. They told me to keep my eyes on the road, to look ahead. They helped me remember my dream and to envision a future in which my dream was a reality– if I could just get there, with them.

Along the way I learned more life lessons than I have in my entire life– but of course, not all of them. Most importantly, I learned that dreams, like many things, are often what we want but not what we need.

No, it wasn’t and won’t be easy, but I’m slowly coming to terms with my dream as it meets reality. And, if you don’t want your dream to die, then you have to give it the shape, the structure, and the strength for it to fit into the world. Because, it’s easy to say that you want to be something– that you want to do something, but the world and the people in it don’t care unless you’re capable of being something, of doing something.

In the end, which is really only the beginning, I learned how to articulate my dream, and I just have, but only after it had already come true…

Come true?

I’m about to accept a job offer– not for my dream job, but for the job that will help me continue to make my dream of helping others come true.

We all have dreams, but until we’re ready to be who we need to be and not who we want to be– until we’re ready to do what we need to do and not what we want to do, then our dreams will stay dreams.

Finally, for my readers who dream of living and working in South Korea

Working in South Korea is very different from working in North America. In fact, even working with South Koreans– or any other culture of people, in North America is different from working with other Americans.

(Everything is always at the last minute, and once everything is said and done– wait, it never is, then you can finally relax and go out together where you’re definitely bound to eat, and drink… and drink… and drink… and sing…!)

When you can understand South Koreans’ occasional prejudice against and often total misunderstanding of foreigners, their eternal sense of hierarchy and never ending emphasis on social status– be it rich or poor, oppa or dongsaeng, sunbae or hoobae, and their love for life, liquor, and noraebang, then you might be ready to live and work in South Korea.

If you have no idea what I mean, then stay tuned for the long awaited and perhaps forgotten third part of The “Preparing for Life in Korea” Series, Working in Korea. Be sure to click the link to check out parts one and two along with a special post about when I was scouted by OnStyle Korea!

P.S.: Feeding Your KDrama Addiction will be back soon, maybe by tonight if not by tomorrow! I’m sure you’re hungry, but I’ve been too busy feeding my own KDrama addiction…

>.<

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!~

Secret Love Affair: Scenes and Statements from Episodes One and Two

*Korean Drama Reviews, Recaps, &More*

By now I’ve watched over 50 Korean dramas– if I only include the ones that I’ve watched from start to finish, filmed from 2004 until 2014; but, I’ve never watched a Korean drama quite like Secret Love Affair!

So, here are my favorite scenes and statements from Episodes One and Two, and be sure to follow along with me as I watch Secret Love Affair!

Episode One

Scene One

No skirt?~

No skirt?~

No problem!~

No problem!~

I instantly fell in love with Oh Hye Won after this scene, and I also admire the way that she uses her hands, face, and whole body to act out every scene.

In addition, there isn’t much that will shake Oh Hye Won– not even forgetting to put on her skirt in the middle of winter, and we get to find that out from the very beginning, which just makes me more curious about what– or who, inevitably does.

Scene Two

"What's real love, bitch? Is the reason that you don't cheat on YOUR husband because you're in 'real love'?!"~

The look in her eyes…~

Oh Hye Won just accused Seo Young Woo of cheating on her husband without actually being in love– in real love, and this is Seo Young Woo’s cutting reply (also accompanied by a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it slap):

“What’s real love, bitch? Is the reason that you don’t cheat on YOUR husband because you’re in ‘real love’?” 

At this moment we know that Seo Young Woo is not just playing around. She’s lonely and willing to both latch on to and lash out at the people around her. She’s volatile. She’s crazy. She’s honest about being all of the above– and even honest about being broken.

(I saw this actress in I Do, I Do but didn’t have a good impression of her or any impression of her beyond her flippant attitude and swollen, post-op face. I’m loving her here, though! She’s edgy.)

Two women who have more in common than either one would like to admit~

Two women who have more in common than either one of them would like to admit~

Here, I felt as if Oh Hye Won’s own conscience was speaking to her through Seo Young Woo, and– of course, she ignored her conscience even when it literally hit her in the face a few moments before.

“I know that your husband is useless. What’s really yours? The house where you live, your car, and even your house-keeper– it all belongs to us.”

“Us” being the company Seo Young Woo partially owns and that Oh Hye Won works at.

As for Oh Hye Won, she’s going to stick to her principles for as long as she can until something– or someone, forces her to let them go and hold onto what very well might slip right through her fingers and leave her falling over the edge and into the abyss known as the unknown.

Scene Three

...

Step-mom and step-daughter~

Don’t mess with Han Seong Sook!

In the moments before she actually grabbed her step-daughter’s hair, there was this look of complete and utter insanity in her eyes, as if she would (and could) destroy her…

...

Well, if this isn’t utter destruction, then I don’t know what is!~

...

Only her husband’s voice calling out to her wakes her up from her rage~

None of the women in this drama are weak, helpless, or looking for their Knight in Shining Armor to rescue them. They are the princesses who escaped from the Dungeon and slayed the dragon on their own…

They are The Queens.

In addition, the calm and quiet before this scene just made it all the more compelling. Behind their elegance, which isn’t feigned, is something primal and something… ugly.

 This small, secretive glimpse into their private life is reflected in the cinematography as well, and it made me look forward to more of their interactions in a way that I usually don’t. There’s an unusual depth to the drama that just unfolded, and it’s deep enough to drown in!

Scene Four

The boy who was always on the outside, looking in...~

The boy who was always on the outside, looking in…~

The way Lee Seon Jae– a seemingly ordinary but less than average delivery boy, stands there gazing at the piano and the piano players from far away lets us know how passionate he is about the  piano and how envious he is of the people who get to not only play but touch it.

His love for piano and music is more than a passion– it’s an obsession, one we see that will soon be projected onto his first piano teacher (and perhaps first love) Oh Hye Won.

Until he met HER, but will she become a part of his world, or will he become a part of hers? Maybe, they'll just destroy both worlds, or each other...~

… Until he met HER, but will she become a part of his world, or will he become a part of hers? Maybe, they’ll just destroy both worlds and each other…~

I watched this episode again, and I noticed that he really looks at her; and, some of you who have been in love (and maybe those of you who haven’t) will know what I mean. It’s subtle, but after watching the next few episodes the way he looks AND feels about her is definitely not as subtle.

Episode Two

Scene One

To play...~

To play…~

Or not to play?~

… Or not to play?~

Here, I love how the focus switches from Lee Seon Jae to Oh Hye Won in another delicate, subtle use of cinematography that really adds something simple and special to each scene.

That is the question.~

To play!~

Lee Seon Jae plays the piano so well that Oh Hye Won is immobile, listening with her body and her soul~

And never stop playing…

Lee Seon Jae plays the piano so well that Oh Hye Won is immobile, listening with her body and her soul. As we’ll soon see, their intimacy is spiritual… musical, and this is not going to be the typical love affair that we all expect.

Scene Two

Like a little puppy, Lee Seon Jae is eager to keep "playing catch"~

Like a little puppy, Lee Seon Jae is eager to keep “playing catch”~

His hands might never stop stroking those keys~

His hands might never stop stroking those keys~

And, their movement makes her angry~

And, their movement makes her angry~

And joyful~

And joyful~

And sad~

And sad~

But, Oh Hye Won wipes away her sudden tears~

But, Oh Hye Won just wipes away her sudden tears~

And smiles~

And smiles~

Soon, they're moving...

Soon, they’re moving…

Moving as one~

… Moving as one~

I LOVE this scene. It’s subtly sexual as many of the piano scenes are, but it’s like their first time: Unexpected, surprising, and incredibly emotional.

Neither one of them wants to end what just begun.

Scene Three

Seo Young Woo barges in on their intimate moment~

Seo Young Woo barges in on their intimate moment~

Oh Hye Won immediately rises and hushes her sternly~

Oh Hye Won immediately rises and hushes her sternly~

She pulls her outside as well~

She pulls her outside as well~

And stands in her way, defiantly protecting the boy inside~

And stands in her way, defiantly protecting the boy inside~

Here, Oh Hye Won tells Seo Young Woo the following:

“You’re right, I’m resting. I haven’t been this happy in a long time, and my ears are happy, too.”

This is the first time that we see Oh Hye Won relaxed, expressive, and happy. She’s always on the phone and running errands and taking care of everyone else around her. She never has any time to herself, especially to enjoy what she loves: Music.

Lee Seon Jae will become an escape for her, but one that she might never be able to escape from…

Scene Four

For a moment she's somewhere else~

For a moment she’s somewhere else~

Somewhere only she knows~

Somewhere only she knows~

And, he is, too~

And, he is, too~

Here, they are oblivious to the political machinations going on around them– shown to us through scenes that cuts back and forth as the day goes on, and only aware of the music as night begins to fall.

Scene Five

Seo Young Woo accuses the professor of betraying her and tries to pressure him into joining her side~

Seo Young Woo accuses the professor of betraying her and tries to pressure him into joining her side~

Seo Young Woo says:

“What did you say when you married Hye Won? You said that she was an empty shell, an empty fucking shell!”

Later, Oh Hye Won will hear a recording of their conversation, but her “shell” doesn’t crack when she does.

Scene Six

Oh Hye Won turns to leave but hesitates when she sees Lee Seon Jae standing, waiting~

Oh Hye Won turns to leave but hesitates when she sees Lee Seon Jae standing, waiting~

She goes to him and asks him if he knows how good he is at playing the piano~

She goes to him and asks him if he knows how good he is at playing the piano~

For the first time, he gets to talk to someone about his passion, and she is a good listener~

For the first time, he gets to talk to someone about his passion, and she is a good listener~

Lee Seon Jae tells her:

“I starting playing the piano because when my mom went to work she would close and lock the door… a piano that the person who used to live in our house threw away and left there.”

Here, we see how lonely his childhood must have been, but he’s still bright and boyish– still childish.

He looks lost when the conversation finally ends~

He looks lost when the conversation finally ends~

She paces, asking him what he wants to hear since she already told him how good he is at playing the piano~

She paces, asking him what he wants to hear since she has already told him how good he is at playing the piano~

She's surprised when he asks her if he can play one more song~

She’s surprised when he asks her if he can play one more song~

He's nervous and anxious but trusting~

He’s nervous and anxious~

So, they play the piano together– strangers and friends at the same time, a teacher and a student, a woman and a boy.

Scene Seven

Afterwards, he runs home, at times smiling and at time crying ~

Afterwards, he runs home, at times smiling and at times crying~

Afterwards, she sits and smiles to herself~

Afterwards, she sits and smiles to herself~

He stops and smiles at a bridge somewhere~

He stops and smiles at a bridge somewhere~

And, he pretends to play the piano~

And, he pretends to play the piano~

Sometimes thinking of the day they spent together, sometimes imagining her by his side~

Sometimes thinking of the day they spent together, sometimes imagining her by his side~

Together, but forever?~

Together, but forever?~

What would it be like, he wonders?

What would it be like, he wonders?

Before he falls asleep~

He thinks about her before he finally falls asleep~

She thinks about him, too~

She thinks about him, too~

Before finally falling asleep~

Before finally falling asleep~

Scene Eight

.

Wait…~

.

She’s married, and this is the face that he makes when he finally finds out after she comes to his house together with the professor~

.

To make matters worse, she’s excited to hear him play until she accidentally steps on a super-sticky mouse trap!~

.

Not to worry, our hero will save the day~

.

Again, he makes her laugh and cry~

Here, her husband leaves her to fend for herself since he’s afraid of mice, which Lee Seon Jae claims his apartment is full of. Oh Hye Won once again takes everything in stride and with a smile.

I hope you’re enjoying these scenes and statements from Secret Love Affair!

The first two episodes are full of scenes and statements that are simple on the surface but hold so much meaning underneath. By the end of them, we start to see that the relationships between Oh Hye Won and her husband, Oh Hye Won and Seo Young Woo, and Oh Hye Won and Lee Seon Jae all show signs of failure, but will any of them flower and flourish when she finally opens her heart?

And, don’t forget to stay tuned for Secret Love Affair Scenes and Statements: Episodes Three and Four.

Daniel Cooper: Western Boy, Eastern World

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

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

Daniel Cooper

Mr. Cooper~

Cheesing~

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

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

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

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

Western Boy, Eastern World

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

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

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

Choi Kyunghan

Kyunghan and I~

Kyunghan and I~

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

Kim Minjung aka Kim noona

Kim noona and I~

Kim noona and I~

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

Lin

Lin~

Lin~

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

LOL

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

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

Genie

Genie~

Genie~

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

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

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

Getting Hurt

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

Getting Sick

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

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

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

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

Getting Traditional

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

:O

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

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

Getting Embarrassed

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

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

LOL

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel, you have to come back!

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

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

^^

Skin Art Temporary Tattoos

*The “Beauty Tips and Tricks” Series*

I don’t wear any jewelry and always keep my makeup to a minimum, so I love to accessorize my outfits with my fingernails and toenails.

Now, I also love to accessorize my outfits with Skin Art Temporary Tattoos!^^

Yes, I’m afraid of commitment– and not just when it comes to relationships. I wanted to get some star tattoos, but how much would they cost? Would I like them a few years, months, or even days from now?

Would they even look good? 

So, I went online shopping and found these adult and artistic temporary tattoos:

One~

One~

Two~

Two~

Three~

Three~

Four~

Four~

I put my first one on last night, and it was super easy! I loved it immediately, and since it’s not supposed to last for more than five days, I can also get rid of it later.

Free~

Free~

No commitment, no problem.

But, last night I also had an amazing reunion with a girl that I met in Korea in the summer of 2012! I had contacted her this past winter and found out that she was no longer in Korea but in law school at Baylor, which is in Waco, Texas– just an hour away from me!

We missed each other over SXSW but finally met up last night at the Korean bar and connected over samgyubsal and soju before going back to my apartment for more drinks, but we also connected over my SHOES once she got into my closet.

I did a quick wardrobe change and picked a nice outfit with her help. Even though I wore this top last night, it was what went best with my shorts!

Ootn~

Ootn~

She also asked me about my “tattoo,” and when she found out that it was temporary– and that I had a lot more, she asked for one, too.

Sparkles and a sparrow~

Sparkles and a sparrow~

We had a great night getting dinner and then going downtown with all of my friends.

(She also gave me wise advice about Tao 2, wise advice that my friend and older sister Maria Edwards has echoed so well.)

So, what are some of your favorite accessories?

I, personally, can’t wait to try on more of these temporary tattoos!

My Favorite Real Life Korean Bromances

*The “My Favorite Korean Boys” Series*

Some of my favorite Korean boys and men are already taken in Drama Land AND in real life. But, they’re not always taken by a wife.

Sometimes, they’re taken by a best friend…

>.<

So, get ready for these sometimes cute, sometimes cringeworthy couples!^^

Jung Woo Sung (1973) <3 Lee Jung Jae (1973)

The Classic Couple~

The “Classic” Couple~

This couple has been together since they filmed City of The Rising Sun together back in 1998, but rumor has it they still speak to each other using honorifics out of respect (and love).

Song Seung Heon (1976) <3 So Ji Sub (1977) <3 Park Yong Ha (1977)

The Bad Boy Couple~

The “Bad Boy” Couple~

 During a guerilla date  So Ji Sub, one of my favorite Korean “boys,” said that the only person he would ever be able to borrow money from is his best friend, Song Seung Heon. But, I guess he forgot about me.

However, this wasn’t always a couple– it was a threesome!

Unfortunately, Park Yong Ha passed away after committing suicide, and the following is a brave, beautiful, and heartbreaking moment that you shouldn’t watch without a box of tissue by your side:

Cha Tae Hyun (1976) <3 Kim Jong Kook (1976) <3 Jang Hyuk (1976)

The (Kind of) Cool Guys Couple~

The “(Kind of) Cool Guy” Threesome~

1976 must have been a year made for awesome threesomes, and here is one more!

I first found out about this threesome while watching Family Outing, and I have grown to love each and every one of them (almost) equally.

Gong Yoo (1979) <3 Jo In Sung (1981)

The BFF Couple~

The “BFF” Couple~

These two talented goofballs will definitely be friends forever, but nothing more than that, which is great, because Gong Yoo is another one of my favorite Korean (and Busan) boys!

Won Bin (1977) <3 Kang Dong Won (1981)

The Mystery Couple~

The “Mystery” Couple~

There’s not much that anyone knows about these two, but they definitely look good together; and, Kang Dong Won even introduced Won Bin to his current girlfriend and future wife(?), Lee Na Young.

Park Ji Sung (1981) <3 Patrice Evra (1981)

The Bumblebee (Black and Yellow) Couple~

The “Bumblebee (Black and Yellow)” Couple~

Park Ji Sung left his home in South Korea to play soccer in England for Manchester United, and while there he met and became fast friends with Patrice Evra.

(I love the last question!)

Later, Park Ji Sung even brought his best friend back home to star on one of their favorite shows that they always watched together: Running Man!

(This was such a great moment in Korean variety show history!)

Yasiel Puig (1990) <3 Ryu Hyun Jin (1987)

The "Still Kids at Heart" Couple~

The “Rookie” Couple~

Still kids at heart~

Still kids at heart~

Just really BIG kids!~

Just really BIG kids!~

Here’s another couple that met while playing sports, but this time it’s baseball! Ryu Hyun Jin and Yasiel Puig are both rookies at the Los Angeles Dodgers; and, their bromance is always making headline news.

But, here’s a sneak peek! Just fast forward to 2:25 to see them battle it out in English, do their “secret” handshake, and even say hi to mom.

Kim Woo Bin (1989) <3 Lee Jong Suk (1989)

So handsome~

The “Schoolboy” Couple~

But really~

BTS!~

Last but definitely NOT least, here’s a couple that we all know and love– my favorite couple, in fact. After all, Kim Woo Bin is also one of my favorite Korean boys!

(And, I’m also an ’89er.)

Anyway, these two became famous– and a famous couple, after filming the big hit high school drama School 2013!

They even appeared on Running Man together.

So, I hope that they tease and tantalize us more on the big screen soon, but here’s some couple spam until then– sorry if you don’t speak Korean, but here’s one more reason to learn!

(And, just sayin’: G Dragon, back off and butt out!)

So, which couple is your favorite real life Korean bromance?

I could be jealous of so many of these guys, but I won’t waste my time, and you shouldn’t either. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the bromance.

Bring YOUR Favorite Korean Artists to YOUR Country

fi1

*Kpop, Korean Idols, &More*

SXSW is almost over, but that doesn’t mean that I have to wait until next year to see some of my favorite Korean artists again! In fact, YOU might not have to wait for SXSW or until next year before getting to see YOUR favorite Korean artists from Korean idols to Korean bands to Korean singers right in YOUR country.

Recently, I volunteered at the SXSW trade show with one of my best friends. Together, we volunteered for an awesome, up and coming Korean startup called MyMusicTaste, the builders of an app that allows artists to go where their fans are.

Even Lady Gaga came to the MyMusicTaste booth~

Even Lady Gaga came to the MyMusicTaste booth~

(Not just Korean artists by the way!)

With MyMusicTaste, LUNAFLY, a popular Korean indie rock band, was able to go all the way to South America for a “Made By You” tour.

Can you imagine finally getting to see YOUR favorite Korean artists in YOUR country? I bet you can and definitely have before; but, don’t stop there, because you can finally make it happen.

Stop wishing, start making– that’s all you need to do!

Download the MyMusicTaste app on your phone and start “making” tours for your favorite Korean artists. Then, share the app and the tours that you’ve made with your family, friends, and fellow fans to help bring your favorite Korean artist to your country.

(It’s easy to use, and you will know why after you check it out, download it, and use it!)

As for me, I’d like to bring the wonderful ladies of LADY CUBE back to Austin, Texas. Their sweet features and simple style are accompanied by smooth, sexy, and soulful vocals that go perfectly over their homemade electronic beats.

Maddie and Kayle of LADY CUBE~

Maddie and Kayle of LADY CUBE~

These two ladies aren’t just great singers and songwriters.

They’re great DJs, too.

And, my favorite, “Just The Way You Are”– but be warned, it’s artistic and NSFW:

 This video is 3D and can be watched with the special 3D glasses found in this cool (specially signed for me) box that puts records and CDs to shame:

LADY CUBE~

LADY CUBE~

From Maddie~

From Maddie~

From Kayle~

From Kayle~

What’s inside in addition to the 3D glasses? A 3D poster and a USB with all of their addicting tracks.

One~

One~

Two~

Two~

I’m jamming out to them now, of course.

I’m so thankful for getting the chance to work with and become friends with the MyMusicTaste team and the ladies of LADY CUBE!^^

It’s been an awesome spring break thanks to them (and that one best friend).

P.S.: Yoon Do Hyun of Yoon Do Hyun Band is also in town, and I ran into him last night while I was downtown! We spoke in Korean and hugged before I ran away. It was just so surreal to not only see him standing outside of a bar after the clubs had closed but to actually hear his voice in person after hearing him sing and narrate one of my favorite Korean variety shows.

Last night's outfit~

Last night’s outfit~

Last night's nails~

Last night’s nails~

Last night's shoes~

Last night’s shoes~

I might be going out again tonight, but I’ve been going out every night since Tuesday night…

>.<

It’s my last Spring Break EVER, so I’m definitely going to do it right– even it it means over doing it!

The Return

*Short Stories*

(The Return is a story about love, loss, and self-discovery, and it can be found in Seoul Shorts: “Disturbing yet riveting, these short stories will take you to a place you’ve never been before.”)

The Return

His crimson robe covered pale white skin. His head was shaved, and as he bowed in front of me he held a string of wooden beads or something in steady, folded hands. Mine were shaking. He was beautiful, and our eyes met as he rose. He looked young. I wondered what he was.

The voice of the gods would have called out to me once– in a moment like this one, but I had stopped listening to them when I turned 16.

I turned away from him and entered the temple. I stayed in there for hours. I had been raised Catholic, but the thick, suffocating smell of incense was the same.

I had fallen asleep bent in half. I straightened awkwardly and rose, suddenly awake again. The steady sound of falling rain slowly reached my ears. Feeling numb, I walked stiffly to the temple doors. I looked outside, but as I looked outside I looked inside of myself. The road had disappeared. It was buried in water. The path to my childish dreams had disappeared. It was buried in tears.

A voice called out to me in accented English, soft and tranquil: “There is a boat. I take you to land?”

It was the boy, but all I could see of him from where I stood in the doorway were his feet dangling gently in the air. I could sense his calm as he sat on the rooftop and touched the sky with his limbs. Was he looking inside of himself as he looked out at the world around him?

What was it that he saw?

I was shaking and felt sick and feverish as feeling suddenly returned to my limbs. I ignored him and put on my shoes, and I had to tie the laces of my high-heeled boots tight before I stepped out of the temple completely. The rain soaked my black hair, and it fell like ink onto my skin. I pushed it out of my eyes and stumbled into the rain, into the gray world around me. The water was almost over my head now, but I could barely see the brown, earth-filled waves in front me.

Was this a dream?

I would never be able to dream, at least not here. I would never be able to drown, at least not in someone else. The rain kept falling, and the water kept rising, but I stood still and stared at the gray sky. I felt as if I would float somewhere far, far away as the water pushed and pulled against my body, but I knew that the rain would stop– that the roads would reappear– that I would have to return.

Even though there was no one waiting for me, I would have to return.

“Save me.”

Those two words were whispers passing from my chapped, dry lips. I needed to find my belief, because I had lost it somewhere. The man I had left behind…

If I closed my eyes I saw his face and felt his breath and hands against my skin. Had he been real? I had never been able to believe in him.

The boy began to pray as I spoke those words again and again.

Had it been yesterday: The departure, the rain, the return? But, no, I could smell incense, and as I opened my eyes I saw him again: The boy. I had thought that he, too, was leaving. I remembered his limbs as they had touched the sky and his feet as they had dangled in the air above me when I had passed beneath him.

His voice pulled me from my thoughts as he said, “I saw you from far away as I sat on the roof and prayed. I prayed that you would return on your own, but you kept walking into the water. I did not save you. I only carried your body here once the rain stopped, and then I prayed that you would live.”

I coughed and coughed again. My chest hurt. My shirt was stained a faint brown, and my jeans were muddy. My feet, my face, and my hands were clean, though. He bathed me with a soft cloth that smelled faintly of lavender. Cool water rushed over the skin of my forehead.

He had changed into a different robe. It was gray and plain. His head was freshly shaved. I wondered, and then I asked, “How many days have passed?”

“Only a few hours,” he replied, and then began to pray again. His voice melted over me, rhythmic and strong.

“Stop,” I said harshly, and then more softly, “…Stop.”

He faltered, and his eyes suddenly opened wide, and his mouth suddenly opened wide, too. It hung there open and voiceless as his lower lip trembled over his angled, youthful jaw. I laughed, because he hadn’t tried to save me. I laughed, because he hadn’t tried to stop me, but soon I was lost in the sound of silence that fell over us as I stopped laughing.

My thoughts pushed me back into the water.

One toothbrush… One toothbrush… I kept staring at my toothbrush… My toothbrush without his, my life without him. I had forgotten what it felt like to be alone, although once I had told him I felt as if he didn’t exist. Unanswered phone calls, smiles that only sometimes reached his eyes, and all the times that he had never looked back to see me as I drove away had made me feel as if he didn’t exist.

I would like to take all those words back. I would like to bring him back.

I closed my eyes and turned away from the boy who hovered over me. He was silent and still as he watched me. I knew that I had shaken him from his thoughts, his prayers, and his life. I knew that I did not belong here, but I could not leave…

Not yet.

As I lay there, I thought of all the times I had woken up next to him and felt as if I was completely alone. He had dreamed nameless dreams beside me– dreams I would never know– dreams he would never tell me; and, I had felt as if he would never wake up– as if he would always be dreaming– as if he would always be somewhere else…

Somewhere far from me.

When had he begun to sleep with his back to me?

It must have been in those moments that he began to turn away from me, to leave.

“I’m leaving,” he had whispered as my face crumbled in on itself, folding and wrinkling. He had looked so different, and I had splintered into one thousand pieces that I would never be able to put back together.

I had looked for those pieces, though, days after as regret ate away my flesh and muscle to the bone: Regret that he had left me, or regret that I had let him, or regret that I had loved him?

Regret… Regret made me remember everything that I had tried to wash away with tears, to drown away in rain.

He had left the country but stayed in my heart and taken all of those pieces of myself with him. Months had passed, but one day I had looked at my lonely toothbrush, my lonely towel, my lonely pillow, and my lonely plate. Everything had seemed to be missing, and I realized there was nothing.

I was nothing without him.

I had booked a flight and packed my bags. I had walked the path he had walked. It took me out the door, to the airport, and I landed somewhere in Seoul. I had no way to find him, but I had woken up from my dreams quickly when he had appeared in front me and walked past me as if he did not know me, as if he did not have all those pieces and parts of me that I needed to keep living. 

My heart had died as his shoulders had hunched and pushed past mine in the middle of a crowded street. I had stood utterly still, knowing it was him but unable to look back, because he had seen me– because he had walked past me– because he had turned away from me and left me again.

I had wandered and taken a wrong turn after taking the wrong bus and found myself in some beautiful countryside that had been filled with the sound of wind rustling through trees. It was a wind that had blown the tears off of my cheeks. The temple had appeared as I had walked away, knowing I would never be able to find myself– to leave him– to return.

The boy pushed me, pulling me away from my thoughts and back into the world. He had prepared some semblance of a meal. I refused it, feeling unable to eat.

The day passed away.

Delirium pushed me into a sweaty nightmare, and the boy who hadn’t saved me and the man I had once loved– who also hadn’t saved me, began to blend together. Someone began to pray– softly, so that I would not hear, but I heard him– the boy, and his rhythmic, powerful voice pulled me from my nightmare and into a deep, black sleep.

I woke up, surrounded by folds of crimson cloth on my naked skin. I looked at the boy as he hovered over me. He blushed and looked away.

“You were fevered, so I took you to the river and bathed you. This was the only clothing I had.”

“You saved me,” I whispered in a hoarse, tired voice.

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“Because… Because you are the first visitor to this temple in years, and I have been alone for all those years, and I… I do not like being alone.”

His voice shook and broke, losing its rhythm and strength. His tears fell softly, and since there was no wind I wiped them away. I held him for awhile, because he had not turned away from me, because he had not left me.

We stepped out into the sunlight as morning’s dawn came. It was the only promise left unbroken. We ate on the temple steps. His robe was gray. Mine was crimson. They soon overlapped, becoming one as the sun faded– cloth that echoed with the sound of tears and laughter, cloth that hung loosely on our limbs even as we clung tightly to life.

I left the temple, my steps as I made my return were rhythmic, strong. No one would save me, but when would I stop destroying myself?

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~

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

*The “My Winter in Korea” Series*

Day 12:

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

My last ootd-- jk, I changed later~

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

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

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

Chicken Avocado Panini~

Chicken Avocado Panini~

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

(His family had fallen in love with it!)

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

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

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

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

Anticlimactic, but “The End”!^^

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Misunderstandings and Myeongdong Madness

*The “My Winter in Korea” Series*

Day 7:

zZzZz…

Day 8:

Today unni and I went out during the day for the first time. Of course, the thrill of shopping helped us both get up bright and early, and we met at 11:00 in the morning.

You may know unni as Girl 2, but what you may not know is that SHE did not actually fight with Girl 1 over some (smokin’ hot) Korean guy at a club. Girl 1 was just trying to take what she already had, fighting over the same guy, which is why I said:

“Look, girls, when you go out, don’t try to take what someone else already has. In a club FULL of guys, is it really necessary to ‘fight’ over the same one?”

Unni just told me that she was back-stabbing bitch, because she had actually bought Girl 1– a girl that she had just met, drinks all night and paid for her to get into the club, which was definitely not cheap! However, that was ALL she did, because she was busy with her guy, and he was busy with her, and I was busy getting booked…

-.-

Later on today I even found out that Girl 1 had tried to get his number behind unni’s back, and it was her guy who told her about it! He also told her not to hang out with girls like that again.

(He’s a keeper.)

Seriously, though, who does that?!

Oh, want to know a secret? I met Girl 1 through Craigslist Seoul

>.<

In other, really good news, unni and her guy are doing well, and we are both having a wonderful, drama free time together after surviving that drama filled first night, which is how things should be– and would have been without Girl 1.

BUT, because of Girl 1, what she did to unni, and the fact that I could see her panties (in the front!) all night, I am going to write a post titled What Not to Do in Seoul, South Korea. There, I will talk about all the crazy things I’ve seen here, which will be shocking, fantastic, and fun!^^

Anyway, this morning unni and I got fresh fruit and coffee bread for breakfast, and then we took the subway– we usually take taxis, and somehow made it all the way to Myeongdong, one of the places that you HAVE to go to when you are in Seoul.

So Ji Sub and I in Myeongdong together~

My husband So Ji Sub and I in Myeongdong together~

We did our shopping at Tony Moly and Etude House, and later on we found out while eating at Burger King that the Korean ladies working at Tony Moly– they LOVED us both but I didn’t buy anything there, had given her a $110.00 pack of two Snail Cream Fillers– for FREE.

We also received “service,” which is what they call it when you get something for free in Korea, and samples at the other places that we went to like Etude House.

But, I wasn’t shopping JUST for myself, and here are some of the gifts that I was able to buy today!^^

For my "little sister" and fellow blogger at mindheartandseoul~

For my “little sister” and fellow blogger at mindheartandseoul~

For the winners of my giveaway, but I still need to find one more CD~

For the winners of my giveaway, but I still need to find one more CD!~

I just got a few things for myself. Everything is so much cheaper here, and I also don’t have to pay extra for shipping.

My husband + my Etude House mini-haul~

My husband + my Etude House mini-haul~

As recommended by my fellow blogger at My K-pop Love~

BTS’ album as recommended by my fellow blogger at My K-pop Love~

We also went to Stylenanda. It’s on the second floor of Lotte Plaza, but I didn’t buy anything there. Unni just wanted to get her 3CE (3 Concept Eyes) make-up from there.

As I said, we ate at Burger King– mostly because I was CRAVING it after having some at the LAX airport.

My whopper~

My whopper~

After we ate, we walked around and admired all of the the drop dead good looking Korean boys and men before catching a taxi and heading back to Gangnam where we both live.

Unni~

Unni and the sunset over Han River on the way home~

We will be going out for dinner and drinks tonight, but I better take a power nap before then!

I am amazed at how a simple blog could allow me to meet so many amazing people, and I admire unni so much because she packed up her bags and traveled halfway across the world to meet me– a total stranger, and make her dream of going to Seoul come true SUPER last minute; and, it’s a dream I know that we all share, so I hope to see many of you in Seoul someday.

(I have been making big changes in my future plans after coming back to Seoul, so stay tuned for some big things.)

Anyway, unni is truly like a big sister to me, and after six or seven years of Crazies, I know that a little drama is what tears you apart OR brings you even closer together. Thankfully, for us it was the latter, and I know that if I meet many of you we will also be able to get closer as we travel together through this crazystupidlove kind of city called Seoul, too!^^