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Michael Breen On His New Book, “The New Koreans”

Koreabridge - Mon, 2017-06-12 13:38
Michael Breen On His New Book, “The New Koreans”

Michael Breen is a writer & consultant who first came to South Korea as a correspondent in 1982. He’s covered North & South Korea for several newspapers, including the Guardian, The Times & the Washington Times. Few are more knowledgeable about Korea than Michael Breen, a trained journalist who’s lived here for many years & whose connections go right to the very heart of the country. His new book, The New Koreansexplains the history, the business & the culture of South Korea, as well as where its future lies.

Michael Breen recently discussed his new book at a public event hosted by Barry Welsh of the Seoul Book & Culture Club. In this two part episode, Breen first talks with Korea FM reporter Chance Dorland about The New Koreans, followed by a Q&A with those in attendance at the event hosted by Barry Welsh.

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Kimchi juice, raccoon cafes, and more in This Week in Korea

Koreabridge - Sun, 2017-06-11 07:00
Kimchi juice, raccoon cafes, and more in This Week in Korea

 When I came to Busan in 2000, there were a few small chicken joints in my neighborhood with quirky names like Goopy Chicken, Chicken Syndrome, and my personal favorite, Smoper, which presented a rare case of a foreign word – “smurf” – being transliterated into Hangeul (스머프), which was then used as the basis of its transliteration back 

into the Roman alphabet. All of them were more or less interchangeable in what they offered, and they sat pretty much right on top of another. I often wondered how they stayed in business.

The answer of course is that they didn’t. According to statistics from the Fair Trade Commission reported by the Chosun Ilbo, though over 41,000 chicken restaurants opened last year, 24,000 thousand went out of business. In other words, a chicken restaurant fails every 22 minutes, while the market inches even further beyond saturation.

While some point to a copycat mentality in explaining the proliferation of chicken places, others have pointed out that the explosion has its roots in the 1997 Asian economic crisis, when many out-of-work salarymen were attracted to the business by its low entry fee and operating costs.

I got a chuckle out of this short video by NPR reporter Elise Hu, who recently visited a few of Seoul’s animal cafes. As Hu notes, animal cafes have been popping up in many Asian cities, and are often popular because they provide a way for people who can’t have pets to get their regular fix of animal interaction. While she quickly takes a shine to the dog cafe, the raccoon cafe is another story.

I also came across this piece on kimchi juice, which is not referring to the liquid that pools at the bottom of your kimchi container, but a bottled “100% organic kimchi juice” that the manufacturer describes as “fresh, raw, and alive” and is selling for $16.99 per 32 ounce bottle.

It has an Amazon rating of 4.2 stars, but some of the reviews seem a bit, shall we say, overenthusiastic. One reviewer called it “the nectar of the gods”, while another had this to say:

My kids used to argue about who got the juice from the Kim Chi jar, now they can drink to their hearts content.

While I don’t see myself fighting my kids over who gets to guzzle the last drop, I will say

Kimchi cocktails are another possibility

that I have found one use for kimchi juice – the old-fashioned, bottom-of-the-tub kind, that is: I drizzle it into my kimchi bokkeumbap to give it a bit of added moisture and flavor.

One of the other takeaways from the article is that the product contains a microbe that is named after kimchi: a species of lactobacillus called lactobacillus kimchii that was proposed as a distinct species in 2000 by JH Yoon et. al. Time will tell if the proposed classification holds up to peer review, but for now, our wide and wonderful world contains a living organism named for kimchi.



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5 Experiences You Absolutely Must Have in Nami Island

Koreabridge - Fri, 2017-06-09 09:01
5 Experiences You Absolutely Must Have in Nami Island

Located near Seoul, Nami Island is one of the most popular destinations for tourists to Korea, offering a variety of natural and cultural attractions.

As there are so many ways to experience the magic of Nami Island, we have come up with five experiences you absolutely must have on your trip to Nami Island.

As you read, use our map below to find the spots featured in this blog post.

Book our shuttle bus package here to go to Nami Island hassle-free.1. Step into nature| Tree-lined paths

Among the beautiful tree-lined paths in Nami Island, below are the three most popular paths you should definitely take:

  1. The Central Korean Pine Tree Lane 


    A main pine tree-lined path that leads to the center of the island.
  2.  Ginkgo Tree LaneA tree lane that comes into its full glory in autumn.


    During autumn, Ginkgo Tree Lane offers a splendor of the vivid yellow ginkgo leaves.
  3. Metasequoia Lane
A magnificent redwood-lined path.| Woods & Riverside Paths

Take a stroll along the scenic riverside paths in the southern part of Nami Island.

As soon as you walk out of Lovers’ Wood (refer to the map above), you can find wooden walks for strolls around the water’s edge.

Lovers’ Wood, a romantic path to walk through with your other half.
2. Navigate on fun transport

For those who want to navigate the island easily and conveniently, there are various modes of transport available in Nami Island.

If you are not a walker, we recommend you to get a bicycle or hop on an electric tour car!

For more info on transport options available on Nami Island click here.

3. Follow in the footsteps of Winter Sonata

While Nami Island is one of the popular shooting locations for Korean dramas and variety shows, including My Love from the StarSecret Garden and Running Man, it is most famous for being featured in the 2002 hit drama, Winter Sonata, starred by Bae Yong-joon and Choi Ji-woo.

On the island, you can find a statue of the main characters and a special photo zone for visitors to take pictures.

A statue of the main characters from Winter Sonata in Gongsaengwon Garden.

There are also replicas of snowmen from the iconic kissing scene in Winter Sonata, or also known as the “Snowmen Kiss”, where the male lead character builds two snowmen, makes them kiss and then steals a kiss from the female lead character. Try and recreate this scene with your other half while in Nami Island!

A replica of mini snowmen statue from the kissing scene in Winter Sonata.Want to visit more K-Drama spots? Book our tour to Nami Island and Petite France.4. Take photos with Nami Island’s superstar ostrich

Don’t be surprised when you see an ostrich on the loose in Nami Island.

They are one of the animals you can find on the island and sometimes they get out of the pen and roam around. Don’t be afraid and try taking photos with them (but don’t get too close)!

You will find ostrich pen on your left when walking along the Central Korean Pine Tree Lane.

Nami Island’s superstar ostrich, “Gganta.”5. Buy a souvenir to cherish your memories of Nami Island

Drop by a gift shop near the entrance or around the center of the island before you leave (refer to the map above).

  • Artshop Snowman: Near the Maple Lane of True Love
  • Artshop Imagine Nami: Near Baplex

You can find a variety of accessories including rings, bracelets, bookmarks, key chains and many more, all of which are designed with the iconic “snowman”.

These umbrellas with designs of the best natural attractions of Nami Island below can be great keepsakes as well. Costs 35,000 KRW for each.

Are there any other experiences in Nami Island you would love to share? Let us know in the comments below.

Are you traveling to Nami Island? Check out more of our guides and tips:

While visiting South Korea, don’t forget to check out Trazy.comKorea’s #1 Travel Shop, for more ideas on your trip!

Photo Credits
Peter Kim/PMP, 남이섬 단풍 2009 via photopin (license)
Peter Kim/PMP, 남이섬 단풍 2009 via photopin (license)
golbenge (골뱅이) Bicycle (자전거) via photopin (license)
golbenge (골뱅이) DSC07608 via photopin (license)
a service for travelers to easily share and discover the latest hip & hot travel spots from all over the world. 
We are currently focusing on Korea as our destination and plan to expand to other countries gradually. 

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Korea This Week (May 28 – June 3)

Koreabridge - Sat, 2017-06-03 04:52
Korea This Week (May 28 – June 3)

A selection of this week’s news and commentary on Korean culture

Is K-Pop a genre?

With the appearance of the all-American, self-proclaimed “K-Pop” group EXP Edition, the opening of K-pop cram schools in New York, and Jaden Smith announcing his intention to “drop a K-Pop single“, it was probably inevitable that fans and critics of K-Pop would eventually weigh in on the question

EXP Edition

of what exactly K-Pop is; specifically, whether it is by definition a thing made only by Koreans, or whether it is a genre (like rock, hip hop, jazz, and many others) that has escaped the boundaries of its birthplace and is now open to any performer anywhere to borrow, imitate, or appropriate.

Last week, two K-blog heavyweights weighed in on the issue. “The Korean”, of the popular Ask a Korean blog argued that K-Pop is not a genre, and that the term refers to any form of popular music that is a product of Korea (read his full take on the subject here). Roboseyo, writing on his long-running, eponymous blog, argues that K-Pop is in fact a genre, and notes that the label is not used to refer to all music out of Korea. Whatever the case, if you find the question interesting, these are two considered opinions very much worth reading in their entirety.

Siesta, Korean style

Koreans are one of the most-sleep deprived groups of people in the world, clocking fewer hours of sleep than any other OECD country. Because of this, it’s still common to see commuters dozing on trains and buses, students nodding at their desks, and office workers consuming much more caffeine than was the case even a few years ago.

Since 2014, sleep-deprived office workers in Seoul have had another option to remedy their lack of shut-eye: the opportunity to get some quality downtime in a “sleep café”, which are places where visitors can pay a small fee and crash for a while before heading back to work. Personally I am cheering for these places to take off – many times have a wished there were a place to crash other than my office chair or local Starbucks sofa.

On the appeal of K-dramas in Malaysia

Though some Westerners these days are tuning into Korean dramas, many others (like myself) often find it hard to understand the appeal. Apparently this is true of a lot of Asian observers as well, like the staff at Cilisos, a Malaysian news magazine, who recently asked Malaysian fans of K-dramas what they liked about them. The resulting comments were interesting and touched on everything from the lack of

Kissing tends to come late in the season, and is thus a bigger deal.

lighthearted fare from Hollywood, the focus on emotional rather physical intimacy, and the fact that Korean dramas often end after one season (which makes committing to a K-drama seem a lot less daunting than diving into an American serial drama).

Though I occasionally tune into whatever current drama my wife and kids are watching at home, I still don’t know if I’m sold, but it’s good to keep in mind that much of that stuff wasn’t made with middle-aged American guys in mind. To paraphrase Bill Clinton’s campaign manager James Carville, “It’s the Asian market, stupid!”

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US-South Korea Alliance Survived Presidential Partisan Differences Before

Koreabridge - Sat, 2017-06-03 01:08
US-South Korea Alliance Survived Presidential Differences Before

This is a local re-post of an op-ed I wrote this month for The National Interest. There’s been a minor freak-out on the right since Moon Jae In got elected. He’s a communist; he’s gonna sell out SK to Pyongyang; the alliance with America might break. Good grief. Enough with the hyperventilating. Even if he was a communist at heart, he couldn’t govern that way because he only won 41% of the vote. He doesn’t have the political space to govern as some far lefty. And realistically, he’s just a social democrat: he wants to raises taxes, expand the public sector labor force, and clean up the air. That’s hardly a marxist revolution.

I do think that there is a possibility of a real split at the top though. It is easy to see Trump and Moon loathing one another. So this essay notes how previous US and SK presidents of different political beliefs stumbled through. The short version is that there is a lot of depth to the US-SK alliance. So much actually, that it almost makes presidential changes irrelevant, which is not exactly democratic if you think about it. But the point is, that the alliance will likely survive.

The full essay follows the jump:



This week’s South Korean presidential election has ignited concern about the US-South Korean alliance. A liberal, Moon Jae-In, has won the South Korean presidency. President Moon has a long track-record advocating engagement with North Korea. US President Donald Trump – to the extant that he has a fixed North Korea policy – is a hawk. He has used far more belligerent language to address the North than previous American administrations. And there is general ideological gap between them. Moon is a social democrat, while Trump appears to be jettisoning his populism in favor of traditional Reaganism.

Moon and Trump are also quite different characters. Moon is a buttoned-up, serious policy wonk with a long history of political engagement. His views are broadly known and fairly stable. Trump, by contrast, is flamboyant, amateurish, and prone to dramatically policy swings. It is easy to see these two falling out, indeed perhaps, loathing one another. In character and policy, they are about as far apart as one can be within the realm of democratic politics.

There is precedent, however, for this wide diversion between the allies’ heads of state. South Korea’s last liberal president, Roh Moo-Hyun governed at the same time as US Republican President George W. Bush. There were persistent rumors that the two disliked each other, and that Roh particularly disdained Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Then too, personality and ideological cleavages overlapped, making summitry and alliance management challenging. In the late 1970s, military dictator Park Chung-Hee clashed badly with President Jimmy Carter and his early emphasis on human rights. At that time, there were widely shared stories that Carter hated Park.

Bureaucratic Depth


Alliance proponents retort that the US-South Korea alliance goes beyond such personality distinctions. It has decades of history behind it, including a shared military conflict (the original Korean War). The US and South Korea militaries are deeply interwoven (rather than stove-piped, as in Japan). There is a strong consensus in the government bureaucracies of both partners in favor of alignment too. Military and diplomatic officials from both routinely fly into each other’s capitals and talk about the strength of the alliance, its depth and reach, its shared values, and so on. There is also a cottage industry of think-tanks, study centers, NGOs, and so on providing extensive track 1.5 and 2 support for the relationship.

Indeed so deep and liquid is the sub-elected level of the relationship that it almost neuters democratic control. Both Trump and Moon were elected. Both have expressed dissatisfaction with the alliance’ character. Trump has suggested that South Korea is free-riding and should pay for US missile defense in-country. Moon has talked of a ‘Korea which can say no’ to the United States. But both would likely encounter massive bureaucratic resistance if they push these themes hard. As decades of previous ups-and-downs have suggested, the alliance is actually quite durable in the face of policy-maker variation.

Moon vs Trump?


So it is an easy prediction that the alliance will pull through. Its roots are deep. Moon is a garden-variety social democrat, hardly the communist subversive conservatives are making him out to be. And Trump is increasingly discounted. He may talk and behave outlandishly, but world leaders are learning to simply ignore his antics. Still, there remain two immediately divisive alliance issues. While known-quantity Moon is unlikely to surprise on them, Trump’s penchant for erratic Twitter outbursts might well ignite one of these otherwise manageable concerns:

1. Missile Defense: The US THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missile defense system is now in Korea. The US pushed hard for its installation, and South Korean conservatives supported deployment. Moon has prevaricated over this. His dovish party dislikes it; they claim it pointlessly provokes North Korea and China, and is unnecessary. Moon personally would probably like to remove the system, but as I have argued in these pages before, THAAD has now acquired a political symbolism which exceeds its military function. China has publicly bullied South Korea over THAAD, demanding that it be withdrawn. For South Korea to expel THAAD now, under Chinese threat, would suggest that China has a veto over South Korean national security decisions. No president, not even on the left, can afford the perception of knuckling under to China. Moon will therefore likely retain THAAD – unless Trump continues to insist on…

2. Free-Riding: Trump has brought the issue of allied burden-sharing from the fringe of the US alliance debate to its heart. On THAAD, he has suggested that South Korea pay for it, even though the original agreement charges the US with that. The system is pricey – one billion USD – and South Koreans claim it is firstly intended to shield US forces in-country, so they should not have to pay for it. On the other hand, South Korea only spends 2.6% of GDP on defense, even though without the US alliance it would likely spend three times that. There is a case for US allies, including South Korea, to do more. But if Trump frames THAAD as a zero-sum fight over dollars spent – as he apparently did with Angela Merkel – rather than as positive-sum cooperation to improve interoperability and alliance depth, he may well energize the South Korean left’s nationalism enough to eject THAAD.

Other medium-term issues will inevitably arise. If Moon’s government take a hard line with Japan over historical questions, it will roll back nearly a decade of progress and infuriate the US side, which has sought to contain these issues for a long time. Similarly, if Moon actually goes to Pyongyang, as he threatened to do so in his very first public speech as president, he will meet a wall of resistance from the American diplomatic side where there is now a consensus that North Korea is global public menace which will not honor its contracts.

In short, tensions are there but manageable. The alliance has seen heads of state with widely varying preferences before. Perhaps the greatest wildcard this time is Trump himself. His penchant for norm-breaking and theatrical shenanigans could magnify otherwise controllable issues into a nasty breach. This is still unlikely to end the alliance, but perhaps the few remaining US forces in Korea would be withdrawn as a result. Nevertheless, if Trump can keep his tweeting and outbursts under control, the coming rough patch should be manageable.

Filed under: Alliances, Foreign Policy, Korea (South), Moon Jae In, Trump, United States

Robert E Kelly
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science & Diplomacy
Pusan National University



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Educational Technology and Education Conferences for June to December 2017, Edition #37

EdTechTalk - Sat, 2017-06-03 00:37

Educational Technology and Education Conferences

for June to December 2017, Edition #37

Prepared by Clayton R. Wright, crwr77 at, May 11, 2017

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What We Eat in Korea: Lettuce Soup

Koreabridge - Fri, 2017-06-02 03:10
What We Eat in Korea: Lettuce Soup

Admit it, lettuce soup sounds gross. Why though? I admit I instinctively felt the same way, despite having it and enjoying it immensely eight years ago. Oh well, better late than never to throw old biases out the window.

Reading the headline above, it almost sounds like we’re in abject poverty over here. “Lettuce soup?! Are you doing OK over there? Do you need me to send you some money? Are you wasting away, subsisting on nothing but a few wilted greens? The horror!!”

Truth is, I’m doing pretty well here in humble Busan. I make a comfortable living, especially since paying off the outstanding debts that had been hounding me for nearly 20 years. My girlfriend and I live in a comfortable apartment. I really enjoy my job (no, not blogging. Considering how inconsistently I post, if I were to be paid for output, I might very well be poor). She enjoys hers. We enjoy simple pleasures, like good coffee, good wine (when it’s not exorbitantly jacked up in price, either from import fees or because importers can get away with it) and good food, very often cooked at home.

As we continued to eat more and more of our meals at home, we became even more aware than we already were in how much we were wasting. I don’t think anyone sets out to be wasteful, but it’s a lot more noticeable when you’re the one dealing with the clean up, and the imminent throwing away of rotten food.

And yet, even as we improved, finding more and more recipes that utilized what we already had in our pantry and fridge, there were still certain items we found we were always sending up to the food waste bag stashed in the freezer until it was time to dump it out in the massive, disgusting food waste bin at our apartment building’s entrance.

One of them was often lettuce.

Lettuce is pretty fragile. Unlike other leafy companions like cabbage and chard (or kale, which, in Korea, is really collared greens. I have no idea why it’s called “캐일” here, but would appreciate it if someone else knew and wanted to clear that up. Either way, both are heartier than lettuce), even a little bit of excess moisture and time can ruin a perfectly decent batch. Really, there are plenty of disgusting ways food can start to rot, but holy crap, when green leaves begin to get that slimy, slick residue, it’s about as appetizing as trying to clean your hands with a particularly old soap stick here that looks like you’re jerking it off when using it.

“Reach out and touch me.”

My father instilled in me an appreciation for value. On occasion, that has veered into cheapness, but often it has resulted in finding really good deals at the supermarket. Maybe I am buying cheaper items, but anytime I hear an expat complain about how expensive vegetables are in Korea, I wonder how much of it is going into the food waste bin, or if they’re only buying those small containers of Brussels sprouts I’ve seen at Kim’s Club for 4,000 won and have never once looked at the discount racks or taken a stroll through one of the traditional markets.

Jangnim Traditional Market: Where Love Begins

Here in Busan, we are super fortunate this year to have Busan Organic Vegetables, a humble start up providing clean and fresh seasonal produce. But, unlike your local super mega massive market, the earth will at different times provide plenty, or sparsely. Recently, it provided an assload of lettuce.

Arugula? Or, “Rocket! Yeah!” Depends on which country you’re from.

The two containers above were what remained after over a week. We had exhausted the spinach and loose leaf lettuce, leaving us with decidedly Romaine-esque arugula (or rocket, depending on where you lay your head). I could probably look up whether this leaf loses its trademark bite the more mature it gets, but I assume that’s what happens since these big leaves were a lot less bitter than what I would expect. Which, made it a perfect candidate for soup.

My first exposure to lettuce soup was in 2009 when, recently laid off from a managing editor position at a local New Jersey newspaper company, I decided to sign up for a friend’s 40-day cleanse. No caffeine, no meat, no dairy, no alcohol, no tobacco (particularly challenging as I still smoked at the time), no fried foods, no probably something else I can’t remember at the moment. A group of us would meet weekly to discuss our progress, offer advice, and cook. One of the participants, a Princeton University grad student, invited us to her apartment, gassed up her stove, chopped up some slightly-wilted lettuce and called it dinner.

And, it was delicious.

So, why did it take eight years to try again? Call it stubborn ingrained bias. Despite having seen the green light, despite realizing that lettuce wasn’t just for salads and sandwiches, it rarely if ever occurred to me to soup it up, even as a batch of the leafy stuff was withering away, getting slimy and then going into the food waste, again.

Perhaps this time it didn’t happen because of the source. This wasn’t lettuce we’d gotten on discount from Home plus, which had been picked from who-knows-where at who-knows-what time, having been sprayed with god-knows-what kind of chemicals? This was lettuce that I knew had been picked the morning I picked it up from the farmer, who grows his produce without any chemical aids. Maybe knowing your food and where it comes from and how it’s made brings you closer. There’s more care when ignorance is no longer there.

So, we didn’t want to waste our food, or our money. There was a bunch of greens left. Lettuce soup. Of course, why the hell did it take so long to think of this?

Here we go.

The recipe, like a lot of what we’re cooking these days, came from Serious Eats. I recommend you head over there and see what sounds tasty (spoiler: a lot of it).


  • 2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion (about 8 ounces; 225g), diced (see note above)
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 cups (475ml) homemade chicken or vegetable stock, or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth, plus more if needed
  • 8 ounces (225g) lettuce, core and root ends trimmed, leaves torn if large (what kinds? As Daniel Gritzer in the linked article notes, “From romaine to arugula, Boston to Bibb, oak leaf to cress, set them to simmer and they’ll be great.”)
  • 1/4 cup (1 small handful) loosely packed parsley leaves (I am sure this adds a nice dimension of flavor, but we didn’t have any. You can leave it out, too, as the end result was still tasty)
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • Thinly sliced radish and pea shoots, tossed in extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish (we left this step out as, like the parsley, we didn’t have any at the time)
Buy garlic when it’s on sale and freeze it, instead of letting it rot.We used red onion, as it was what was in the fridge at the time.

Cut, cut, cut, cook, cook, cook, all in one pot. If you want it to be vegan, I am sure swapping out the butter for olive oil would be fine. We used butter, because butter.

Once the onions and garlic had softened, we added some stock (the same mushroom powder miracle that was used in the last recipe I covered here), in went the greens, which quickly wilted, as lettuce is wont to do. As it is in this present state, it didn’t look terribly appealing. Just wait.


The hand blender is one of the, if not the best item to have in your Korean kitchen. Convenience is important in maintaining a regular cooking practice. If it’s annoying and inconvenient, kimchi jjigae at Gimbap Chungook or McDelivery will begin to sound better and better. This thing blends up fast and the blending part is all that needs to be washed, which is a cinch. You owe it to yourself to investigate some of the larger supermarkets and acquire one if you have not already.

I mean, c’mon.

Check for salt (this didn’t need any more since the mushroom powder had plenty), add fresh lemon juice for a extra flavor (not necessary but certainly recommended), ladle up and serve.

What I don’t recommend is serving it alongside watermelon curry, which is tasty in its own right, but not exactly compatible with the flavors going on in Lettuce Soup, which, if we’re being honest, isn’t too far removed from what a particularly tasty creamed spinach recipe might accomplish. Yes, lettuce and spinach are pretty darn close in flavor, especially in soupy form. So, why the hell don’t we use it more in soup instead of wasting it? Silly us.

While we had leftovers of the watermelon curry for a couple days, this lettuce soup was consumed that night. It was that delicious. Smooth, creamy, simple but luxurious, with an inviting pine forest green color. It would pair very well with crusty bread. Maybe crusty bread with some toasted cheese. It’s comforting, it’s cheap and easy to make and it’s a great way to make sure your frozen food waste bag isn’t quite as full as it could be. Give it a try and let me know how it went.

JPDdoesROK is a former news editor/writer in New Jersey, USA, who served a one-year tour of duty in Dadaepo/Jangnim, Saha-gu, Busan from February 2013 to February 2014. He is now a teacher in Gimhae.

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Young South Koreans Turning Away From Religion

Koreabridge - Thu, 2017-06-01 15:03
Young South Koreans Turning Away From Religion

Seoul-based reporter Steven Borowiec recently wrote an article for Aljazeera English titled “Why young South Koreans are turning away from religion”. Borowiec spoke with Korea FM reporter Chance Dorland to discuss the personal stories & data from his research, as well as the educational & job pressures that appear to be behind the trend. Read more about the issue in Steven Borowiec’s article at

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Sprout Seoul: Natural Healthy Whole Food Service Korea

Koreabridge - Wed, 2017-05-31 03:11
Sprout Seoul: Natural Healthy Whole Food Service Korea Sprout Seoul: Natural Healthy Whole Food Service

Last year, I thought my life in Seoul was pretty busy.  At the end of May 2016 I had finished a couple of months at a new job in the big city and was still struggling to make time to meal prep and hit the gym.  All I wanted to do was go home and sleep after work!  This year, my hours are longer and I’ve added a 45 minute commute each way.  When I started my new contract I made time to meal prep every Monday night, but my diet got a bit boring.  Sprout Seoul Natural Healthy Whole Food Service reached out to me about a week ago to partner up.  My crock-pot’s been dying for a break, so I thought I’d switch things up and go veggie for a few days!

About Sprout Seoul

Sprout Seoul claims to provide “ready-made, affordable, freshly prepared alternatives of some of the foods you may already love. We’re offering a tasty variety of sugar-free, additive-free, plant-based wholefoods for your palette.”  They have a store-front atop a hill in HBC, making it easy for me to walk from my little spot in Itaewon to pick up my food.

How to Order from Sprout Seoul

Head over to Sprout Seoul’s Order Form.  I had a 3-day package inclusive of daily breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack or dessert.  You can buy individual meals and snacks as well.  If you’re not keen on going totally vegan (or are trying to save money) you could do the 3 day plan.  You could split each entree into 2 meals and just add a chicken breast to lunch and dinner.  Dedicating myself to a vegetarian diet was something I didn’t think I could do.  Surprise!  I’ll  be continuing with the 5-day plan moving forward.  I can be flexitarian on weekends, right?

Be sure to mention *The Toronto Seoulcialite* when you order to get a free snack!

Meal Plan Options
3 days, 12 items: 75,000 (Save 6,000!)
5 days, 20 items: 115,000 (Save 20,000!)
7 days, 28 items: 150,000 (Save 39,000!)

Directions: Sprout Seoul Food Pick-Up & Delivery

Pick up is available on Sunday and Monday from 3pm-8pm.  We took the plunge and walked up HBC hill on a hot and sunny Sunday afternoon.  Sprout Seoul wasn’t too hard to find.  You can take the #2 little, green shuttle bus or you can walk!  If you’re taking the subway to Sprout Seoul, take Exit 2 of Noksapyeong Station and walk straight veering left at the kimchi pots and up the hill.  Stay on that main HBC street (Sinheung-ro) following as it continues to veer left.  At the plateau, turn left and walk down about half a block until you see their storefront on the main floor.

Delivery is once per week on Mondays.  Express Bike delivery is available in Seoul and is delivered either Monday afternoons or evenings.  Taekbae is delivered on Tuesdays in most areas.

  • Monday Afternoon Bike Delivery: 2pm-6pm to Yongsan-Gu (KRW 4,000) and other areas in Seoul (KRW 20,000).
  • Monday Evening Bike Delivery: between 6pm-10pm to Yongsan-Gu (KRW 4,000) and other areas in Seoul (KRW 20,000).
  • Taekbae delivers all across Korea on Tuesdays or Wednesdays (KRW 8,500).
  • Group Delivery: in Seoul area only as it’s not available for Taekbae.  Delivery fee is based on number of orders.
How Does the Food Taste?

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as I had had previous, less thrilling, experiences with food subscription services in Seoul.  The food from Sprout Seoul is extremely filling.  It’s loaded with power foods like kale, chickpeas, chia seeds, lentils, and beans.  You will slow down and actually take your time enjoying the food.  Each meal/ snack has its own international flavour and flair.  In my first 3 days I had meals influenced by Mexican, Indian, Greek, Middle Eastern, and Singaporean cuisines.  The food was so good (and surprisingly saucy!) that I’ll be continuing with Sprout Seoul to lose my last 10 challenging pounds.  Follow my progress through diary entries on The Toronto Seoulcialite’s evil twin sister site That Girl Cartier.

Does Sprout Seoul Live up to the Hype?

My Food and Fitness posts tend to be the most popular.  Everyone seems to expect they’ll lose weight in Korea.  Not only that, they seem to expect that they’ll move, indulge in sugary, salty Korean BBQ and the weight will just fall off.  That’s not the case!  I lost 50 lbs in Korea, but it certainly hasn’t been easy.  I do tend to indulge on the weekends, but it’s all about balance.  I’m very strict throughout the week, hit the gym frequently, and aim to know the nutritional content of all of my food.  Sprout Seoul doesn’t currently advertise their nutritional information (calories/ macros), but it’s in the works and will be published soon.  I was a little wary to follow a vegan meal plan as my diet throughout the week is typically low in carbohydrates and high in animal protein (meat and dairy).  I think that any change someone makes to their lifestyle will encourage a change within the body, but I was surprised at how my body has reacted already!

Claim 1:
  • Improve overall health and well being by eating natural whole foods, free of over-processed ingredients, chemicals and additives.

I tend to shop around the outside of the grocery store in an effort to take the processed out of my progress.  I was skeptical about whether my health and well-being would improve.  It was scary to add so many carbs to my everyday diet.  With Sprout Seoul I actually feel like I’m nourishing my body.  I eat each meal really slowly because they’re so filling.  This means I’m eating 8 small meals a day rather than 3 squares and a snack.  I have more energy, so I’ve cut my coffee intake from 2 cups to 1.  I’ve been able to peel myself outta bed in the morning and run 3 km or more as my warm up instead of my usual 1 and done pre-weightlifting.

Claim 2:
  • Convenient ready to eat meals, packaged to-go.

The packaging is super convenient.  I can stack each day in my fridge then grab and go for work.  It’s really handy not having to think about what to eat at 6 AM when I’m winding my way to the gym.  The hot meals even come in their own microwave-safe containers!

Claim 3:
  • Lose weight / improve BMI.

Any change in your diet will lead to a change in the makeup of your body.  I was very surprised, however, to weigh myself on Day 3 of Sprout Seoul to find that I lost 3 kg!  I’m sure that my change in energy levels has contributed to more effective workouts.  I don’t crave junk food so I haven’t hit up the convenience story for any sweet “If it Fits Your Macros” treats.  I did share some bingsu with a friend one night, but haven’t had any of my normal cravings.  Ps. if you’re a once-a-day kind of person you may be a little more “regular” than normal on this diet!

Claim 4:
  • Contribute to a sustainable eco-friendly Earth.

This is definitely a nice bonus, but on the whole I’m pretty responsible with regards to sustainability (you know, beyond the fact that I eat meat/ animal products).  I’m not well-educated on this point, but

Claim 5:
  • Enjoy delicious meals with international flavours.

It’s a food subscription service, so of course they’re going to claim to provide delicious meals.  Thankfully, Sprout actually does live up to the hype.  I haven’t been disappointed with a single meal.  The international flavour claim ups the ante as no two dishes have tasted the same.

Want to know exactly what I ate?  Stay tuned for links to diary entries and reviews of each Sprout Seoul dish I ordered!  Thanks to Sprout Natural Healthy Whole Food Service for keeping The Toronto Seoulcialite fit, nourished, and healthy!  While this article has been written in partnership, all reviews are honest and opinions are my own.

The post Sprout Seoul: Natural Healthy Whole Food Service Korea appeared first on The Toronto Seoulcialite.

The Toronto Socialite
       That Girl Cartier


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DE POCO UN TODO. 23 Mayo de 2017. Taller de radio ViaRadio. Colegio Sta. Mª del Naranco Alter Via. Oviedo. Asturias. España

Puentes al Mundo - Mon, 2017-05-29 00:16

29:35 minutes (27.08 MB)

Programa Magacín de 30 minutos.Con Ismael Alba, Cassandra Fernández, Iván Rubio, María Suárez y Daniel Calleja y la coordinación de Nacho Matías.

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Korea This Week (May 21-27)

Koreabridge - Sat, 2017-05-27 12:22
Korea This Week (May 21-27) A distillation of select news from the peninsula

Tourism promotion has always been tricky business in Korea. In this writer’s humble opinion, one of the main stumbling blocks has been a problem of perspective, specifically, a tendency of Korean tourism promoters to consistently overrate the appeal of traditional Korean culture to international tourists.

People travel for a variety of reasons – experience, entertainment, relaxation, enrichment – but rather than consider what kinds of things tourists would like to see, do, or experience, tourism officials more often seem to promote Korea the way they would like people to experience it. As a result, their offerings and suggested itineraries often end up sounding less like an exciting holiday package and more like a high school class trip.

With the exception of Chinese and Japanese tourists ( who can pop over for weekend if they want), people from most anywhere else have to travel a long distance to get here, and the reason for doing so has to be something a bit more compelling than making kimchi, watching a mask dance, taking a pottery class, or visiting a museum dedicated to the history of the song Arirang (I’m not making that up). In short, Korea is a cool place to

All together now!

visit, but you wouldn’t always know that from reading the official tourism literature.

In other news, last Sunday, the band BTS won Billboard’s Best Social Artist prize, and in doing so became the first K-Pop group to win a Billboard award. I’m not a K-Pop fan (mainly because I’m a 46-year old male), but you have to give credit where it is due: winning at an American awards ceremony despite having no songs in English and only one band member who is fluent in the language is a remarkable achievement.

Some were quick to point out that we shouldn’t read too much into it however, because it was a fan-voted prize. Anyone who recalls 2011, when the K-pop singer Rain won Time Magazine‘s poll for “The World’s Most Influential Person” (beating out Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and a comically incredulous Stephen Colbert), knows very well that you never – ever – challenge a Korean entertainer to an online poll. You will lose. Badly.

BTS also sold out a 5-show arena tour in the US earlier this year, which has fired dreams of bigger success in the North American music market, something that has so far eluded Hallyu stars (who, to be fair, have mainly focused their energies elsewhere). If the current South Korean / Chinese spat over the THAAD missile system deployment drags on, cracking into the US and other markets could become a bigger priority for K-Pop acts. Stay tuned…


Sweet Pickles & CornSPAC ON FACEBOOK


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Korea’s Healthily Bland Presidential Race

Koreabridge - Wed, 2017-05-24 01:56
Korea’s Healthily Bland Presidential Race

This is a re-post of my pre-election prediction piece for the Lowy Institute a few weeks ago.

It’s dated now of course, so you should probably read something else. But, I think I broadly got things right: Korea is a stalemated society. Neither right, left, nor center has a majority. So even though Moon won, he won’t govern far too the left. He does not have the political space to do it. He will be a social democrat, not a socialist.

The left won, but its combined total, 47%, is the same as Moon’s 2012 total. So the left missed a huge chance to cross 50%. Choi-gate was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for the left to prove it could win a national majority, which it has never done, and it failed. This is practically a smoking gun that the left cannot win a majority here, that South Korea is a center-right society.

The right ducked a huge bullet by coming in second. Had Ahn beaten the Liberty Korea party, LK might have faded into a largish third party as the People’s Party assumed the role of the head of the opposition. For much of the race, polling suggested this. Hong got very lucky, given the SK right is now a national embarrassment. They stuck with Park way too long into Choi-gate, and then Hong, in wild desperation, started calling himself the ‘Donald Trump of Korea,’ whatever the hell that means. Ech. The SK right’s time in the wilderness is well-deserved.

The center flopped. Ahn has been saying for 7 years that he could be president, and when he finally got the chance, he imploded. His debate performances proved how soft his support was. When he flamed out on TV, his voters fled. The question now is whether Ahn has a future at all in SK politics after such a dismal showing after all the hype. The answer is probably no.

The full essay follows the break:



After months of turmoil and confusion, South Korea will finally have a proper president next week. The South Korean presidential election will occur on May 9, and the legal inauguration will happen next day. At last, a legitimate leader can begin tackling the many issues of “South Korea’s dangerous drift.”

The impeachment of former President Park Geun-Hye means South Korea now only has an ‘acting president.’ The ‘Choi-gate’ scandal which brought her down has rolled on since October, paralyzing the government for months and necessitating this special election. Hence the rushed next-day inauguration, even if there is some later public ceremony: South Korea needs a fully empowered president as soon as possible.

Thankfully, the presidential campaign has been reassuringly bland and normal. There has been no last-minute constitutional tinkering, nor efforts by Park dead-enders to sabotage this in the name of the ‘real president.’ Park’s own party has accepted her impeachment and is running a candidate. As I argued last month in The Interpreter, for all the ‘crisis’ talk about South Korea’s recent troubles, it has weathered Choi-gate about as well as any democracy could reasonably expect. This election has should produce a properly legitimated president, and things should revert to normal in short order.

With a week to go in the campaign, the specific challenges to each major partisan current – right, left, and center – are increasingly clear:

The Right

The Korean right has all but collapsed. The Park-era conservative party desperately re-named itself and then factionalized over Park’s legacy. The two conservative candidacies refuse to merge, and their combined polling is around 20%. This is a partisan wipe-out worse than the post-Watergate routs of the Republicans in the US in 1974 and 1976.

This is not surprisingly. Park has badly discredited Korea’s traditional conservatives. Conservative voters have flirted with the centrist candidate, Ahn Chul-Soo, to block a liberal victory. But he imploded after several poor debate performances. Conservative voters now seem to be drifting all over the place. Some back to the right; some cleaving to Ahn; others staying at home. The liberal candidate and likely victor, Moon Jae-In, has even made a play for these dissatisfied conservatives by publicly denouncing homosexuality (which in turn has helped push up the far-left’s numbers as leftist voters have bolted).

All in all, a disaster for the right, which has led to a desperation move: the primary right-wing candidate is now calling himself the ‘Donald Trump of Korea.’ This suggests, along with Marine LePen’s advance into the French presidential election’s second round, that Trump is a possible model for new political entrepreneurs in democracies. Is this the route by which the post-Park South Korean right will reconstruct itself? Traditionally the right’s planks have been anti-communism and business friendliness. In practice, this has often meant mccarthyism and corruption. It is hard to imagine that a trumpified right is an improvement.

The Left


Moon, the overwhelming favorite now, will be a minoritarian president with a final total around 40%. This will likely constrain him from governing too far to the left on North Korea and Japan, which is probably the greatest anxiety of foreign observers of the election. Moon has prevaricated on the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense debate. He has hinted that he may re-open the Kaesong Industrial Complex. He was also a major architect of the Sunshine Policy under South Korea’s last liberal president. And he has criticized the ‘comfort women’ deal between Park and Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, as well as an intelligence sharing deal with Japan.

Moon’s instincts may be to push all these issues hard, but he will meet a wall of resistance, which his liberal predecessors did not. In 1998, when the Sunshine Policy was untested, it was worth a try. Today, given North Korea’s continual recalcitrance and norm-breaking – nuclearization, missilization, criminality, blatant provocations such as the sinking of the Southern warship Cheonan in 2010 or the use of VX, a weapon of mass destruction, in an airport, and so on – Moon will have to explain why North Korea is not the frightening global menace many now see it as. Why is Kaesong, which came to be widely understood as subsidizing dictatorship, suddenly no longer that? Why, if North Korea is building missiles, should South Korea not have missile defense?

Regarding Japan, Moon will likely be tougher on ‘history’ issues than Park. But here too, he will face a lot of resistance if he tries to undo the progress of the last few years. The easiest thing to do politically is attack Park’s Japan deals as conservative perfidy but leave them in place. Otherwise, his presidency will be hijacked by a return, yet again, of the Japan-Korea dispute. That was so bad a few years ago that it required direct intervention by the US president to tamp down. Moon can throw the leftist-nationalist NGOs the concession of not moving the comfort women statues in front the Japanese Seoul embassy or Busan consulate. But he likely has many other plans – chaebol reform, intelligence reform, air quality improvement, social services, North Korea – he would rather pursue than re-open the permanently stalemated stand-off with Japan.

The Center

Ahn Chul-Soo will probably lose, and he was always an unlikely candidate. A quirky celebrity businessman seeking office along the lines of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s run for the Californian governorship, Ahn briefly closed the gap with Moon as conservative voters abandoned the conservative parties. But he did not deeply appeal to them, because he markets himself as a modernizing reformer. Once he stumbled in the debates, they left him, and the gap with Moon re-opened.

If Ahn goes down in defeat, the big follow-on question is whether his centrist People’s Party will survive. It has always been, more or less, a vehicle for Ahn to run for the presidency, with only scant evidence of institution-building toward a genuine or durable party.


South Korea now has a far-left, center-left, centrist, and two center-right parties. Yet its electoral law is (mostly) first-past-the-post. Duverger’s Law tells us that this strongly incentives bipartism, unlike the multipartism South Korea has now. After next Tuesday, the two conservative parties will likely re-merge, as is already happening, and the People’s Party, with its not-so-charismatic-after-all leader in defeat, will likely dissipate over time. This would return South to a 2.5 party system (big-tent right, big-tent left, & small far-left parties). This would be yet more blandness in Korean politics – multipartism is always more exciting and interesting – but after months of confusion, some political boringness would likely be a good thing.

Filed under: Domestic Politics, Elections, Korea (South), Lowy Institute

Robert E Kelly
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science & Diplomacy
Pusan National University



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White Koreans: The Drink ‘The Dude’ Would Have Drank If He Lived Here

Koreabridge - Fri, 2017-05-19 08:21
White Koreans: The Drink ‘The Dude’ Would Have Drank If He Lived Here

You’re in Korea. You love White Russians. But, damn, 33,000 won for a small bottle of Absolut at GS25? Get the GTFO out of here, good shopkeeper.

Fortunately, there’s another liquor that might get you sicker quicker, but at least it’s cheaper.

Photo hijacked from Wikimedia Commons.

Your average green-tinted bottle of soju costs about 1,500 won, give or take a Korean penny, which comes out to about $1.50, give or take an American dime. With an alcohol content between 14 (for those weak-ass flavored sojus that were pretty popular about two years ago but seem to have died down) to the punchy 21 percent your finest haraboji were shotgunning when they were young whippersnappers (and probably still drink today). They’re alcoholic enough to get you where you want to go (if where you want to go is on the floor in front of some dirty public toilet) without being strong enough to feel like you’re breathing in fire after having a shot. In short, soju is a perfect enabler for alcoholism.

Except for the fact that it kind of tastes like shit. So, let’s take care of that by adding some coffee liqueur and milk!

Using regular milk instead of cream. #healthychoices

But, since I’m so fancy, I opted for the Andong Soju they had at my local mart. It’s not 1,500 won. But, at 8,000 won, it was still far cheaper than Absolut (even if the bottle is small, shut up). And look at that ABV. There also was a 21% version for 5,000 won. But, this is probably the closest thing you’re going to get to vodka without, you know, vodka.

I took a sip of the stuff before mixing it, which could have been a mistake (but, it wasn’t!). Soju might be lazily (by me) described as kind of a watered-down vodka, but it’s really not. And 40% ABV soju is even less like watered-down vodka than the adjosshi backwash we knock back when we’re trying to stretch our hagwon paychecks through to the end of the month. Was this experiment going to work? Could I call it a “fusion recipe” and get away with it?

Let’s make a drink!


INGREDIENTS and AMOUNTS per serving:

*Fill a glass with ice. I think an old fashioned glass would be the preferred choice, but I’m already too fancy. Use what you have on hand.

*1 shot soju (don’t get one of those nasty, artificially-flavored ones. Step up your game and open that wallet just a little wider and pick up something halfway decent like the above libation)

*1 shot coffee liqueur (I bought Kahlua, which seems really expensive here in Korea at about 16,000 won for a 375ml bottle at Home plus. I have no idea how much it costs in the U.S. Everyone knows it, everyone who likes coffee liqueur seems to enjoy it. It’s like getting crappy coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts or a great, hand-stimulated drip from some independent place. It all will taste the same when it’s mixed with sugar and milk)

*Finish with milk (didn’t The Dude powdered Coffeemate? That’s disgusting! To each their own. I think really fancy White Russian drinkers would use cream, but I only had milk when I thought of this half-assed recipe)

Posted only as an excuse to show off my Icelandic Phallological Museum shot glass.

So, how was it? How did it compare to the White Russians we made too many of last year when my girlfriend and I were taking advantage of our Costco membership by buying massive 1.75-liter bottles of Kirkland vodka?

Even Dunkin’ Donuts coffee doesn’t taste like Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (read: terrible) when it’s full of sugar and milk. And, this coffee-esque flavored drink was. Not terrible. And, it didn’t taste like soju. It tasted like coffee liqueur and milk. It pretty much tasted like what we were making last year with that Kirkland vodka. Hell, maybe even “The Dude” would approve.

Insert post-ironic Big Lebowski quote here. Something about rugs, abiding or telling Donny to shut up.

If that’s something that sounds tasty to you, I recommend you give this humble recipe a try. And, if you do decide to go cheap and get a green bottle, let me know how it turns out. I assume it, too, will taste like coffee liqueur and milk.


JPDdoesROK is a former news editor/writer in New Jersey, USA, who served a one-year tour of duty in Dadaepo/Jangnim, Saha-gu, Busan from February 2013 to February 2014. He is now a teacher in Gimhae.

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My New York Times Op-Ed: A North Korea “Agenda for SK’s New Leader”

Koreabridge - Wed, 2017-05-17 01:42
A North Korea “Agenda for SK’s New Leader”

This is a local re-post of an op-ed I wrote last week for The New York Times.

Basically it is four suggestions to President Moon on dealing with North Korea. They are (mildly) hawkish arguments of the sort I routinely make here, including all my favorite hobby horses – talks are a shell game, move the capital, spend more on defense, bang away at China to cut off North Korea, and start treating Japan like a liberal democratic ally instead of a potential imperialist. Naturally a dovish liberal like Moon will adopt all these. Hooray! I anticipate a Blue House call any day now…

Regular readers have seen all this before, but it’s still pretty cool to get into The New York Times though. I figure this will be the most read thing I ever write, so I rolled out arguments I know well rather than something really new. The full essay follows the jump.



South Koreans elected Moon Jae-in as their new president on Tuesday against a backdrop of heightened United States-North Korean tensions. Yet North Korea did not dominate the campaign. South Korean voters were focused on the economy, corruption and other domestic issues like air quality. Before the voting, only 23 percent of voters said that international security was the most important issue to them.

Mr. Moon, a center-left human rights lawyer who will take office as soon as this week following the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye in a corruption scandal, is a dove inclined to start negotiations with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. His candidacy was most likely bolstered by President Trump’s tough talk against the North Korean regime, which is widely seen here as dangerous bluster.

South Korean equanimity toward the North’s threats surprises Westerners, but the South Koreans have lived for decades with Pyongyang’s provocations and, more recently, the nuclear program. Young South Koreans increasingly consider the North Korean menace a fact of life. South Korea’s vulnerability to a devastating attack from the North — Seoul’s northernmost suburbs begin just 20 miles from the demilitarized zone — adds to the sense here that the South should do everything it can to avoid war.

An overture from the incoming Moon administration to start talks with Pyongyang should be made with caution. Engagement with North Korea has a mixed, if not poor, record, and new talks would be more effective if started from a position of strength. It is vital that Mr. Moon pursue policies to decrease his country’s vulnerability to attack, while dangling the possibility of talks. Beijing and Washington are key to any deal with North Korea, but Seoul can do a lot on its own.

South Korea spends only 2.6 percent of its gross domestic product on defense. To strengthen Seoul’s negotiating position, Mr. Moon could indicate he will spend more on military preparedness. Civil defense (preparation of the civilian population for North Korean urban strikes), improved pay for conscripts, more intelligence, homegrown missile defense and stronger cyberdefense would help make up for Seoul’s military vulnerabilities.

South Korea and Japan could work together much more to show a united front. Such coordination is undercut by persistent tension over the history of Japanese colonialism in Korea. South Korea’s historical concerns with Japan have legitimate roots, but there is too much exaggeration — such as routine suggestions in the media that Japan is remilitarizing with designs on Asia — and not enough recognition that modern Japan is a liberal democracy and a potential ally against the North.

Seoul and Tokyo should agree to avoid separate deals with the North and reject Pyongyang’s efforts to play them against each other. Mr. Moon and his left-wing base are hostile to a recently signed South Korea-Japan intelligence-sharing pact, but he should consider that South Korea benefits from it more than Japan. Military cooperation in adjoining air and sea spaces would be ideal.

To further improve South Korea’s position, Seoul and Washington need to persuade Beijing to reduce trade with North Korea. Pyongyang is dependent on China for resources and access to the world economy. Cutting off North Korea would slow the nuclear and missile programs, and a reduction in luxury imports would put pressure on the regime elite.

Beijing is already obligated to enforce the existing sanctions against Pyongyang but does so haphazardly because it fears a North Korean implosion. Mr. Moon should work with Beijing to reassure its anxieties over a post-North Korean order, including the possibility of United States forces on the Chinese border, which prompted Chinese intervention in the original Korean conflict in 1950.

Given Seoul’s vulnerability to attack, Mr. Moon should also do much more to encourage the decentralization of the country away from the Seoul area. Fifty percent of South Korea’s population lives in the Seoul-Gyeonggi-Incheon corridor — 26 million people in a space roughly the size of Connecticut, directly abutting the border. The South Korean presidential residence is only some 23 miles from the demilitarized zone. It is long overdue for the government to start halting Seoul’s uncontrolled growth.

Previous efforts to move the capital have failed. President Roh Moo-hyun tried unsuccessfully to move it 75 miles south to Sejong City — though some government ministries and administrative departments have relocated there since 2004, showing decentralization is possible. There are also tax and regulatory incentives in place for South Korea’s conglomerates, like Samsung and Hyundai, to relocate out of Seoul, but many remain centered in, or directly adjacent to, the city.

The South Korean government already intervenes heavily in the economy. Why not do so to encourage more dispersed settlement?

South Koreans have seen it all from the boy who cried wolf to the North and know what to expect from a third iteration of the Kim dynasty. What no one knows is what Mr. Trump will tweet next. South Koreans don’t know whether Mr. Trump realizes just how vulnerable their country is to attack. But despite their differences, Mr. Trump and Mr. Moon now have a chance to build on their countries’ decades-long alliance.

Filed under: Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, Korea (North), Korea (South), Media, Moon Jae-In, North Korea & the Left, Nuclear Weapons

Robert E Kelly
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science & Diplomacy
Pusan National University



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The 6 Best Online Courses for Learning Korean

Koreabridge - Mon, 2017-05-15 14:40
The 6 Best Online Courses for Learning Korean

If you’re in the process of learning the Korean language, you’ve probably already considered all of the obvious ways that knowing Korean will enrich your life, like the fact that you’ll be able to watch Korean dramas without subtitles, or listen to your favorite k-pop songs and know the meaning! Plus if you choose to visit South Korea you won’t need a dictionary or phrase book to get around.

After learning Korean, they have no trouble finding their way

Learning Korean will ultimately open a door into another culture for you to experience — suddenly you’ll have access to a whole new world of movies, books, and conversations that you didn’t have access to before!

Although these reasons make learning Korean worth it, the learning process can sometimes feel frustrating if you run into an issue with understanding a word or phrase. Luckily, these days learning a language doesn’t have to be difficult — nowadays, with online courses at your fingertips language learning resources are extremely accessible to learners at all levels. And many aspects of Korean are very easy to learn from your home, like the Korean alphabet. With the click of a mouse and a couple of keystrokes, you have access to hundreds of websites and blogs whose express purpose is to make your learning journey a piece of cake!

Learning has never been so convenient and easy!

There’s no need to visit Seoul right off the bat to learn the language — help is everywhere. With the hundreds of resources on the internet, it can be difficult to determine which resources will be a good fit for you, especially because everyone’s learning style is different.

*Ready to learn Korean yet? Click here to learn about our 90 Day Korean learning program!

Read on for a list of our favorite Korean learning courses available, and be sure to let us know if we are forgetting any in the comments below!

** Please note: these courses are in no particular order! We love them all equally. **

Online Course #1: FluentU

Some of the most successful language learning resources focus on real life material rather than material recorded expressly for the purpose of teaching a language — by exposing learners to movies, songs, and TV show clips right off of the bat, learning stays interesting to the viewer (and gives them a chance to use their new language skills right away). FluentU uses this method, and it’s no wonder that they’re so popular!

FluentU is comprised of multiple mini language lessons that highlight present day media to teach the Korean language. This can help keep their audience from getting burnt out — as soon as you feel like tuning out and taking a break, an interesting Korean drama clip or movie trailer will pop up and make the lesson exciting.

FluentU is accessible to all levels of Korean learners — they have beginner lessons that will teach you the absolute basics and get you introduced to the language, and then as you progress they have a wide selection of intermediate and advanced lessons that will follow. FluentU also keeps track of your interests as you go along and will show you clips that match those interests, so it’s a truly personalized learning approach.

There’s a FluentU iPhone app, so your learning doesn’t have to stop when it’s time to put your computer away. Check out FluentU for a fun, accessible Korean learning method that everyone is talking about!

Online Course #2: Udemy

If you’re just getting started with learning Korean and you need a solid overview of the basics of the Korean language, Udemy has a course called “Learn Korean! Start speaking now!” that is a great foundation to the ins and outs of Korean.

The intro course spans five hours, but it’s approachable because it’s segmented into over sixty mini lectures that teach you a couple of words or grammatical rules at a time. This is perfect if you’re the type of learner that needs to take breaks throughout a study session — because the lectures are so short, you won’t need to pause anything and worry about picking up where you left off later. You can just take a break in between lectures and get started on a new topic when you’re feeling ready!

Check out Udemy if you’re not a big fan of learning Korean from books and prefer a video interface. The site itself is very easy to navigate, and the content of the mini lectures will build the foundation that you’ll use throughout your learning journey.

Online Course #3: Seoul National Education Center

If you’re learning Korean, today is your lucky day — Seoul National University, one of the best universities in South Korea, has its very own Korean learning course that you can begin today!

This online course is a great supplement to any language classes you happen to be taking. The courses are well structured and cover topics ranging from vocabulary to syntax to conversation, so there really is a little bit of everything and all of the basics will be thoroughly covered.

The course itself consists 20 free courses that will help you cultivate your basic understanding of the Korean language. One of the best parts of the course is the follow-up questions that pop up after each part of the course is completed — when you’re able to check your knowledge and understanding at the end of each segment, it’s less likely that you’ll forget material or progress to the next course until you are confident in what you’ve learned.

Check out Seoul National Education Center’s course if you’re interested in learning Korean from a prestigious university. You can even download the audio clips to review whenever you’re on the go, so there are truly no excuses for not keeping up with your studies!

Online Course #4: Loecsen

If you’re more interested in learning phrases and basic conversation than you are learning about Korean language structure, Loecsen is the online course for you! Loecsen is perfect for anyone who needs some familiarity with the Korean language for a quick trip but isn’t looking to commit the hours required to become fluent in the language.

Unlike some of the courses on this list, Loecsen only has 15 lessons (which may come as a relief!) that cover the basics required for Korean conversation. While you’re going through the 15 lessons, you’ll cover everything from ordering at a bar, what to do if you injure yourself and need to talk about medical information, and how to tell a taxi driver where to take you. All of the lessons are extremely pertinent to day to day conversations. To help you remember vocabulary words, Loecsen will ask you to match audio clips of words to their written form and a picture that represents the meaning. Pretty cool, huh?

If you’re planning a trip to Korea sometime in the near future and you need a crash course to help you navigate the country and enjoy your trip, consider checking out Loecsen to help make you comfortable with speaking basic conversational Korean. The site even has quizzes you can print out to make sure you don’t forget anything!

Online Course #5: Sogang Online

If you’re searching for an intensive course that will help you dive into the nitty gritty aspects of the Korean language, Sogang is the course for you! Whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been studying Korean for a while, Sogang will have lessons available for you in their vast database.

Sogang courses are challenging but extremely rewarding — the courses use media ranging from audio to fun animations to keep learning exciting for you. Keep in mind, because these courses are more intensive than many Korean learning courses out there, you should be prepared to give them your full attention. These definitely aren’t courses that work well playing in the background as you’re multi-tasking — because they pack so much information into such a brief time, it’s best to take notes!

Check out Sogang if you’re interested in eventually becoming fluent in Korean. These courses will help you achieve that goal quickly!

Online Course #6: 90DayKorean

90DayKorean is a course specifically designed to get you speaking, reading, and writing Korean as soon as possible with no previous experience required. We make sure that we figure out what your personal goals are as you get started with our program, and you have a personal coach that checks in with you and sees where you’re at in relation to those goals as you progress through the program.

At 90DayKorean, we’re big fans of the “learn at your own pace” philosophy — if a course is moving too slowly, you’ll get bored, and if it’s moving too quickly, you’ll feel overwhelmed. Both of these outcomes mean you’ll be less likely to stay committed to your learning method. We’ll send you weekly lessons, but you can move through them at a pace that’s right for you. If life gets too busy to commit hours a week to learning, it’s not a problem! You can wait until you’re less busy and then pick right up where you left off and keep moving through the material.

Obviously we love our course and have great things to say about it, but we are firm believers that you should do some research and decide what course best fits your needs before diving into the learning process. If you find a course that’s a good fit, you’re way more likely to see it through to the end and get the most out of it!

Have you started learning Korean online? What are some courses you really enjoyed? Share with us in the comments below!

Learn to read Korean and be having simple conversations, taking taxis and ordering in Korean within a week with our FREE Hangeul Hacks series:

Korean lessons   *  Korean Phrases    *    Korean Vocabulary *   Learn Korean   *    Learn Korean alphabet   *   Learn Korean fast   *  Motivation    *   Study Korean  


Please share, help Korean spread! 



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My New Fiction Book!!

Koreabridge - Sun, 2017-05-14 09:52
My New Fiction Book!!

Hello Again Everyone!!

I’m extremely to announce, once more, the publication of an all new book. This time, it’s my first attempt at fiction with The Lonely Saint.

In The Lonely Saint, and unbeknownst to Sean, his life has mirrored an ancient set of Zen Buddhist murals. Since graduating from university with an English degree and a suffocating amount of debt, Sean Masters decides that he wants to teach and travel abroad; however, his life seems to be anything but ordinary as he negotiates the culture and seamier sides of living and teaching in South Korea. It’s only through his loss of everything, including his wife to a horrible accident, that Sean is able to find peace in the most unlikely of places. In the end, it’s with the Zen Ox-Herding murals as a guide that Sean Masters is finally able to go from a life of ignorance to that of enlightenment.

You can order The Lonely Saint through either in hard copy or as an e-book.

You can order the hard copy here.

And you can order the e-book here.

If you’d like a signed copy for $20 dollars (plus shipping and handling) of my book, please contact me at:   We can discuss the details.

Please support this free website by ordering your copy today!


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It’s Easy (and Cheap!) to Cook at Home in Korea

Koreabridge - Fri, 2017-05-12 02:06

Food is a connection to culture.

Whether it’s for comfort or simply sustenance, food is essential. Of course, eating for survival is important, but isn’t it better when it’s more than just a way to stay alive? Food’s fun. To make. To talk about. To write about, for sure. But, mostly to eat.

For people living in a new country, a familiar food can help get them over the initial growing pains that usually come before, during and/or after the Honeymoon Phase phases out. Until there was one in pretty much every neighborhood, news of a new Subway restaurant opening in Busan was met with praise far outsized compared to how people respond when another one opens in a strip mall in New Jersey.  Likewise, when people leave Korea, many will give themselves a nostalgia injection with a trip to a Korean restaurant, or a Korean supermarket if they’re lucky to live near one, to have a taste of something that is connected to a very specific place and point in their lives.

When I first arrived in Jinju in 2005, my diet was mostly things served at my hagwon or the few things I could recognize at the nearby Top Mart. Spaghetti, bananas, cereal, the sushi wastefully wrapped in individual plastic sheets. Cigarettes.

In 2010, I expanded slightly, to orange juice and dried squid. Once I came back for a long haul in 2013, I still had to deal with the initial growing pains that seemed to crop up no matter how many times I’d moved back here. My comfort foods became those I had ordered enough that I didn’t feel like a fool when I would try to order them in the nearby restaurants. Kimchi Jjigae. Chamchi Gimbap. Dwaeji Gukbap (a soup so satisfying, they wrote a song about it).

Most of my meals were enjoyed outside of my home. Why? Partially because I lived alone and was too lazy to put any effort into making a meal for one. Maybe I didn’t always know where to go to buy what I wanted to make. But a lot of it was fear of looking like I didn’t know what I was doing. It resulted in lots of convenience store meals and, when I did decide to cook at home, a lot of microwave rice bowls and fried eggs. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Last year, my girlfriend and I moved in together. With it, a world of cooking at home expanded. Sure, I’d cooked some meals at home before. But, with an audience, the stakes got higher. I wanted to impress her with my expertise at not burning the water. I wanted a meal good enough I might eventually want to tell others about it.

We have cooked many meals together. With it, we’re creating our own subculture, separate but inspired by our mutual American roots, our Korean influences, and our mutual love of exploring the world through food. It’s uniquely ours.

In this ongoing series (the second time attempting such a thing, sort of), I am going to be posting some lovely photos of meals we’ve made and how we made them (the recipes we used, the places we procured the stuff needed to make them). “Best,” of course, is subjective. Sometimes “best” is exactly what you expect it to be: the highest quality something or another. But, sometimes “best” simply means the foods that helped get us over our growing pains.

TL;DR Here’s what we eat in Korea. Cooking at home doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, it can be an outlet for great joy, and it does not have to cost a fortune.

Creamy Mushroom Soup
(Adapted from this recipe on Serious Eats)

For this creamy mushroom soup, a blend of various mushrooms such as button, cremini and shitake is called for in the original recipe. However, we used two bags of shitake mushrooms (called “pyo-go-boh-seot,” 표고버섯) on discount (about 2,500 won a bag) from the Emart discount rack.

Discount racks are an excellent source of cheap vegetables that are still good, and definitely still good for a soup that will be blended like this. Shitake mushrooms can be particularly earthy, but it worked out well for this soup. If you want it a little milder, make sure to hold out for some discount button mushrooms, as well.

Other alterations to the original recipe included using about a tablespoon of dried thyme instead of fresh (I have never seen fresh thyme sold in Korea. If you’ve seen it, especially in Busan, please let me know where in the comments. Or, I could just try to grow it). White wine was used (some chardonnay from Chile that was at Kim’s Club for 13,000 won. Tres Palacionaois, or something like that. It’s fine, nothing special, not terrible). We minced five garlic cloves instead of four (because garlic), and our stock was a combination of a mushroom seasoning powder that can be found at any Korean mart or supermarket, as well as some old homemade vegetable stock that had been taking up space in the freezer for a couple months. Everything else was pretty much according to the recipe and can be easily found in most Korean marts and supermarkets.

THE ORIGINAL RECIPE, courtesy of Serious Eats:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (50g)

  • 2 pounds mixed mushrooms such as button, cremini, portabello, or shiitake (1kg), sliced

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 8 ounces; 225g)

  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 tablespoons flour (45g)

  • 1 cup dry sherry or white wine (235ml)

  • 1 cup milk (235ml)

  • 5 cups (1.2L) homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock, or water

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme

  • Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)

  • Minced fresh herbs such as parsley, chervil, tarragon, and chives for serving.

  • Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil, for serving

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are well-browned, about 12 minutes total. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add flour and stir to combine.
  2. Add sherry or wine and cook until reduced by about half, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add milk, chicken stock, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs and stir to combine. Bring to a bare simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Using tongs, remove bay leaves and thyme. Blend soup with an immersion blender or in batches using a countertop blender. Season to taste with more salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice (if desired). Serve immediately, garnished with minced herbs and olive oil.

Definitely buy an immersion blender if you see one at, say, Home plus, Emart, Mega Mart or somewhere else (you can also try GMarket). Or, if you happen to see some expat on their way out selling theirs. It is indispensable in the home kitchen. Here’s a good article from Bon Appetit on why an immersion blender should be in your kitchen.

We enjoyed this for dinner with a hearty salad, with lots of veggies grown locally (Busan Organic Vegetables, check them out!). We were stuffed and satisfied.

Here’s the finished product, one more time:

I hope you give this a try soon. It’s easy to make, with ingredients easily procured in pretty much any part of South Korea. And, it’s sure a lot healthier than McDonald’s delivery. The best part was the tons of leftovers that will be for lunch or dinner for the next several days, and the two bowls that are now frozen and ready for a dinner sometime in the future. And everything cost about 7,000 to 8,000 won.

Enjoy, and let me know how yours turned out! And, be sure to check out Serious Eats for this and other great recipes and kitchen tips.

JPDdoesROK is a former news editor/writer in New Jersey, USA, who served a one-year tour of duty in Dadaepo/Jangnim, Saha-gu, Busan from February 2013 to February 2014. He is now a teacher in Gimhae.

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President Moon

Koreabridge - Wed, 2017-05-10 02:05
President Moon Good morning, Moon Jae-in of the liberal Democratic Party was elected as Korea’s 19th president with 41.1% of the votes in a snap election following President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment in March, beating a conservative runner-up with 24.0%.  Moon’s election is expected to make a dramatic shift from government polices formed in the past 9 year under conservative Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye leadership.  Born in 1953 to parents who had fled from North Korea to South Korea during the Korean War in 1950, Moon fought against dictatorship as a law student in the 70's, against Park’s own father, and worked as a human rights lawyer in Busan in the 80’s.   He served as a chief of staff under ex-president Roh Moo-hyun who killed himself in a scandal in retirement in 2009.  Moon ran for presidency in 2012, but was narrowly defeated by Park Geun-hye.  From his ideology and political path, it is likely Moon will show his warm heart to North Korea, and reveal sharp teeth towards the U.S. and Japan.   While many South Koreans are happy to see beaming Moon shine in dark nights, Korean business communities are not.  Moon is sympathetic to union, but hostile against conglomerates. Moon wants to lower unemployment rate by hiring more government workers, and  spend big money on social welfare programs, but plans to fund the money through raising corporate taxes and income tax.  Just hope Moon doesn't go too extreme, otherwise  South Koreans will be soon riding on Moon's bullet train to Venezuela.    Regards,H.S.
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North Korea Embraces Changing Economy: Choson Exchange in the DPRK

Koreabridge - Mon, 2017-05-08 18:51
North Korea Embraces Changing Economy: Choson Exchange in the DPRK

Listen to "North Korea Embraces Changing Economy: Choson Exchange in the DPRK" on Spreaker.

Choson Exchange is bringing capitalism to the DPRK. 

Since 2009, the Singapore-based non-profit has facilitated training workshops for everyday North Koreans in Economics, Entrepreneurship and Urban Planning in metropolitan Pyongyang and elsewhere around the country.

In this conversation, Choson Exchange Associate Director of Research Dr. Andray Abrahamian discusses how the introduction of some aspects of a free market economy under the Kim Jong-eun regime is changing the way North Koreans look at capitalism. We’ll also talk about the prospects for further change in North Korean society and discuss how initiatives like Chosun Exchange could impact how the United States, South Korea and other countries approach North Korea policy. 

Also: how can political leadership in the United States and the Koreas move past saber-rattling and militaristic rhetoric? How will South Korean policy towards the North change in the post-Park Geun-hye era? And what's it like to fly Air Koryo?

Music on this episode is 'Great Comrade Kim Jong-eun, We Know Nobody But You' from KCTV State Television:

This episode was produced in collaboration with the University of Michigan’s Nam Center for Korean Studies. 

To see Andray Abrahamian’s full Nam Center Undergraduate Fellows lecture, look for “Social Changes You See When Working in North Korea” on Youtube. Subscribe to Nam Center lecture series at 'umichncks'.

    The Korea File

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President Trump “Seriously Undermining” South Korea-U.S. Alliance

Koreabridge - Mon, 2017-05-08 11:47
President Trump “Seriously Undermining” South Korea-U.S. Alliance

column recently appeared on that directly made light of how US President Donald Trump has influenced what’s going on here on the Korean Peninsula, & it didn’t paint the new president in a very good light. Under the title “How Donald Trump is seriously undermining the South Korea-U.S. alliance”, the article begins with a description of how things generally operate here regarding North Korea, noting that “As long as North Korea is able to make life a living hell for whoever attempts to engage in regime change or regime collapse… it will always have that assurance that they will not be pushed too hard,” & for that reasons, “the United States & South Korea (& Japan to a certain extent) have coordinated closely over the years to deter North Korea as much as possible.” However, the article is quick to note that things have now changed, & that after Donald Trump’s electoral victory, it has been “nothing but one bumbling fiasco after another.”

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