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An Open Letter to Newbie Myeonuris on Seollal

Thu, 2018-02-15 12:13
An Open Letter to Newbie Myeonuris on Seollal Read more at http://kore


Dear Newbie Myeonuri,

               You must be feeling nervous, uncertain of what tomorrow is going to be like. You’ve probably heard from other myeonuris what a pain in the arse Chuseok and Seollal are for us married women in Korea. I’ve been a myeonuri for eight years now, and let me confirm what you’ve heard from the others… sorry to break it to you, but you’re not going to have a ball tomorrow. You’re going to wish you had the ability to teleport, so you could be somewhere else… not in the kitchen, enslaved by incessant housework a.k.a. myeonuri duties. I’ve been there, and I survived it.

I don’t loathe Chuseok and Seollal as much as I used to. You’ll survive it, too. Just think of it as another gloomy day of your life that shall soon pass. You might feel like you’re wasting a decade of your existence every time piles of dishes are being brought to the sink, but there will be an end to it. Your hands might go numb from cooking jeon and preheating food from breakfast until dinnertime, but don’t you worry, the numbness will fade away with some mentholatum lotion that you can purchase from any drugstore. You’d better buy it now, and remind your husband not to get too drunk on Seollal, so he can give you a well-deserved massage when all the work is over. You might sulk over the bogus machismo you’ll witness and question why men get to enjoy the day while women do all the work, but remember… every country has its own culture. You married into this culture when you married your man.

You might not like tomorrow’s experience at all, but believe me, you’ll get used to it. As time goes by, your workload will be lessened. Just pray that a new myeonuri will come and that she won’t be your senior. No matter how overworked (and annoyed) you are tomorrow, keep smiling. You’re not alone in this battle. If you can, be nice… be polite to everyone… even to your husband’s most annoying family member.

Don’t throw your wrath at your husband for letting you toil the whole day. Talk to him today, and urge him to help you when work seems too much. When Seollal is over, do something for yourself. Take a rest, go shopping, treat yourself to the spa… make it your day! ^^

Good luck! Myeonuri, fighting!

Lots of hugs,

From a fellow myeonuri


Note from the author:

Before this letter gets negative reactions from myeonuris who claim that they have an awesome life and are not subjected to any distressing housework on Chuseok and Seollal, let me reiterate what I have mentioned in my previous posts (one in particular that was shared in an expat group without my permission and wasn’t received well by other readers: Things You Should Never ever Say or Do When Your Korean Parents-in-law Are Around)… not all myeonuris go through the experiences I have described in this letter. Not all families in Korea follow the antediluvian tradition of enslaving women to housework during family gatherings. Nowadays, more and more families practice equality in their households. Many younger Korean men help around the house. My husband and my brothers-in-law are some of them… but my husband’s older family members and a number of families I know still have a long way to go.


From Korea with Love



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Ilbe and the Alt-Right: Fascism and Conservative Politics in South Korea

Mon, 2018-02-05 15:06
Ilbe and the Alt-Right: Fascism and Conservative Politics in South Kor

Listen to "Ilbe and the Alt-Right: Fascism and Conservative Politics in South Korea" on Spreaker.


On this episode of The Korea File podcast, host Andre Goulet and blogger Ask A Korean unpack the spy-ops and psy-ops that have informed more than a decade of alt-Right agitation in South Korea. Plus:

* a look into the anti-democratic overreach of the National Intelligence Service 
* a deep dive into the origins of Ilbe, Korea’s nihilistic proto-Reddit web forum and Breitbart predecessor
* an analysis of the diminished status of South Korea’s political right-wing today

And: three fundamental questions that establish first principles when talking about North Korea: 
1) May the North Korean state continue to exist? 
2) May the Kim Jong-un regime remain in power? 
3) Is war acceptable on the Korean peninsula?

Ask A Korean’s answer to all three questions is an emphatic ‘No’.

Support this show at patreon.com/thekoreafile to receive access to exclusive interviews and bonus content!

Original Post

    The Korea File

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Favorite Winter Olympic Events

Mon, 2018-02-05 12:48
Alpine Skiing Bobsled/Luge Curling Figure Skating Hockey Ski Jumping Snowboarding Speed Skating
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Why Korean Machine Translation is TERRIBLE | Google vs. Bing vs. Naver

Fri, 2018-01-26 17:37
Why Korean Machine Translation is TERRIBLE | Google vs. Bing vs. Naver

There are several web sites that you can use for free to instantly translate to and from Korean. The top 3 are currently Google Translate, Bing Translate, and Naver Translate (also known as Papago Translate).

I've had a lot of people ask me which is the best to use, and I've always responded with "none of them." But if I'm going to give a proper reason, I figured I should make a video to explain why.

If you need to translate something that's important, avoid machine translation wherever possible. Find out in this video why it might be a bad idea to use any of them, and learn about the problems with current machine translation.

The post Why Korean Machine Translation is TERRIBLE | Google vs. Bing vs. Naver appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.





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North Korea’s Goals are Limited: It couldn’t Absorb S Korea even if it Won a War

Fri, 2018-01-19 22:30
North Korea’s Goals are Limited

This is a local re-posting of an article I wrote for The National Interest last week.

Basically, I am continuing to bush back on all this insane talk that we are on the verge of a conflict, can’t live with a nuclear North Korea, and are imminently threatened with a North Korean nuclear strike. None of that is true, and all the alarmism from the bomb-them-now ultras is just making this all worse.

So to keep the wingers happy, here is a worst case scenario, in which North Korea somehow levers the US out of the region AND defeats South Korea on the battlefield. This is already so unlikely that the ultras should be somewhat embarrassed we have to game this out, but fine, whatevs. And what happens after the supposedly long-sought unification under the Kims? The implosion of North Korea, because there is no way it could manage a hugely expensive, widely resisted, easily corrupted occupation even bigger than US post-Civil War Reconstruction. So forget it. Unification would blow-up the North’s extremely unique and rigid system. They don’t want it. (What they do want is a pseudo-confederation that gets South Korea paying their bills semi-permanently without actually having to change politically, but that’s for another column.)

The essay follows the jump…



As the possibility of conflict with North Korea sharpens in 2018, there has been much discussion of North Korea’s ultimate aims. I have argued elsewhere that it is highly unlikely that North Korea actually wants to absorb South Korea – or more specifically, that North Korea is prepared to carry any serious costs in order to pursue that goal. But there is a continuing, very hawkish interpretation that North Korea really does seeks final unification, so it is worth gaming out how the might happen – and why absorbing South Korea would likely overwhelm North Korea.

The ultras’ interpretation takes seriously what North Korea says. And indeed, North Korean elites routinely pronounce their interest in unification. Kim Jong Un mentioned this topic around a dozen times in this month’s New Year’s address. Yet this has never struck me as serious ‘evidence’ of North Korean goals:

First, South Korean elites say this all the time too. That both sides of an artificially divided nation would seek unity is hardly a surprise. Yet no one talks about South Korea recklessly pursuing unification and risking regional stability for that goal. So why is North Korean rhetoric, from a state which routinely lies, taken so seriously? And if we believe them when they talk of unity, why not believe them when they say their nuclear weapons are intended for deterrence and defense?

Second, talk is cheap. The two Koreas are locked in a zero-sum contest over national legitimacy. Both want to speak for the minjok (the Korean race), so both claim unification as their goal. This is written into their constitutions, and their elites evince that goal routinely in their public commentary. Naturally then, they will both talk about unification a lot. But the acid test is whether side is carrying any real costs for that outcome. Are they engaging in what social science calls ‘costly signaling’ or taking serious chances that put their regimes at risk to pursue this goal? Is North Korea, for example, building up offensive weapons which would allow it to overrun a South Korea abandoned by the United States? And no, nuclear weapons are not evidence of such signaling, as nukes’ primary utility is defensive.

Third, the North Koreans lie relentlessly. Rhetoric is easy, especially for North Korea. It should be very obvious at this point that the North Koreans will say anything, so why is their talk given much credence? If there was ever a country where we should look at what they do, not what they say, it is North Korea. And there is little evidence that North Korea is planning some kind of serious unification bid.

In short, is North Korea actually carrying real costs and risks to pursue the goal of coerced unification? Talk supporting that goal is not really evidence, besides which there is no obvious Mein Kampf-style text which lays out some grand, forceful unification plan. (No, this is not it.) Sure, all other things being equal, the North would like to control the South. In the fever dreams of the Kims, they presumably lead the Koreas together into a promised land of unity and socialism. But maximal hopes are not really evidence. The ideal preferences of the North Korean elite hardly suggest that they will act on them. Instead, as always, North Korean elite behavior suggests that they: a) are dead-set on survival, and b) want to enjoy a gangsterish good-life.

Even if all this is incorrect, consider just how difficult coerced unification would be:

1. The US alliance with South Korea would have to collapse.

No North Korean military action against the South could take place as long as the South remains allied to the United States. That alliance is almost seventy years old. It has endured all sorts of ups-and-downs before. Sure, all other things being equal, the North would like it ended, but again, are they carrying any real costs to pursue that goal? That the North wants the US out is not in itself evidence that it will take real risks for that end. No North Korean leader since the 1970s has actually considered the use of force against the Americans in South Korea.

2. South Korea would have to be defeated on the battlefield.

Per the ultras, assume that the US was pushed out (de-coupling). A coerced, Northern-led unification would still have to overcome the South Korean military. Yet it is widely understood that the South Korean military is a vastly better fighting force: better trained, with far greater resources, in better health, with far superior technology, less corrupt, better lead, and so on. The South Korean defense budget is expanding and will soon be the size of North Korea’s entire economy. South Korea’s population is more than twice North Korea’s, and its GDP almost forty times North Korea’s. This is surely not a fair fight. Without the US, the fight would be harder, but in ten years of going to conferences in South Korea, I have never heard anyone say that North Korea would win a conventional inter-Korean conflict. Nuclear weapons use might change the battlefield characteristics, but that obviates the point of winning – who wants to conquer irradiated blast-zones in widespread social chaos? The point is to take South Korea reasonably intact, otherwise it is yet another burden.

3. Occupying South Korea would be a catastrophe for the North.

Per the ultras, assume yet further, that the North somehow won anyway. The war would practically bankrupt it, and its occupation of the South would be far more like American post-Civil War Reconstruction – with massive social resistance leading the occupier to basically give up out of exhaustion after awhile – than the peaceful absorption of German unification in 1990. If nukes were used to win, the occupation would be that much worse; can anyone imagine the North Korean military operating sustainably in an irradiated occupation environment? It gets worse:

North Korea would immediately cut off South Korea from the global economy, which would promptly impoverish it. The wealth the North wants from the South requires the South’s connection to globalization, which the North could not tolerate.

South Korean citizens, accustomed for decades, to the freedoms of liberal democracy would resist. Given the huge size of the South’s population compared to the North Korean military, the occupation force would be overwhelmed. There would be guerilla actions everywhere.

The cost of occupying a hostile population would be staggering, especially for an economy as small as the North’s, which had just been badly stressed by the war. Looting South Korea might pay for that briefly, but that is not sustainable and would make the medium-term problem of subduing and integrating South Korea even harder.

The North Korean military is not trained at all for what the US military calls ‘phase IV’ operations – counter-insurgency, occupation, transition, and so on. If you thought US military botched this effort in Iraq, try to imagine it from a badly trained, corrupt, under-funded totalitarian military.

The blowback into North Korea itself from all this would be massively destabilizing too. North Korea is highly stylized society with very unique, highly refined rules, most obviously the songbun system. The North is very rigid, and not designed at all for integrating outsiders or immigrants. Grafting its framework onto 53 million resentful people would be a nearly impossible task and almost certainly overwhelm the corrupt, rickety, dysfunctional administration in Pyongyang. North Korea soldiers in the South would come home with outlandish tales of Southern wealth. North Korean commanders in the South would be sorely tempted to free-lance in this wealthy environment. Ideological indoctrination of all these conquered people would gargantuan task facing enormous resistance. The hugely complex administrative burden of managing the South would likely lead to state breakdown in the North.

The best analogies for such an administrative disaster and the massive pressures it would place on the occupier are US Reconstruction, or, as a contemporary example, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. I cannot imagine the Northern leadership willing to take such risks.

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



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Podcast: 2018 a Year of Possibility with Inter-Korean Talks and the Pyeongchang Olympics

Fri, 2018-01-12 14:38
2018 a Year of Possibility with Inter-Korean Talks and the Olympics

As the Koreas begin high level diplomatic talks, host Andre Goulet is joined by photojournalist Jules Tomi for a wide-ranging conversation on the upcoming Pyeongchang Olympic Games and the confluence of factors, including chaotic American political leadership, that may be leading to an easing of tensions on the peninsula. 

Plus: critiquing voyeuristic journalism, apocalyptic diplomacy by Twitter and debating the perilous potential of possible reunification. This conversation was recorded on January 4th.

Music on this episode is Kim Gwan-suk's ‘Buchiji Anheun Pyunji #1 (Geudae Jal-gala)'

Photo credit: Spencer Cameron w/ Getty Images 

Support The Korea File podcast at patreon.com/thekoreafile

Listen to "2018 a Year of Possibility: Inter-Korean Talks and the Pyeongchang Olympics" on Spreaker.


    The Korea File

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Imjin River Classic Commemorates Korean War Hockey

Fri, 2018-01-12 02:39
Imjin River Classic Commemorates Korean War Hockey

In the bitter winter of 1952, Canadian soldiers stationed near the frozen Imjin River did what Canadians do whenever they have lots of ice and a little free time.

They played hockey, eh.

Soldiers from the the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, and the Royal 22nd Regiment (the Vandoos) fought side by side on the front, but during breaks from the fighting, faced off against each other in friendly hockey games, to put the war behind them for a while by enjoying the great Canadian pasttime.

On Friday, January 19th, the Canadian Embassy and the City of Paju, in cooperation with the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic Games, are hosting a commemorative hockey game near the site of the original games.

Team Canada, composed of active members of the PPCLI, the Vandoos, and Korea’s Canadian residents will face off against Team Corea, a mix of players from Korea University and Yonsei University.

Guests of honor include Korean War veterans Claude Charland of the Vandoos, and Dennis Moore and John Bishop of the PPCLI. Charland and Moore played in the original games during the war.

The game and related events will run from noon to 4:30 on January 19th at Yulgok Wetland Park, Paju. See the Canadian Embassy website for more information.

Individual soldiers form the boards for the rink, while spectators cheer on their regimental comrades from the riverbank.


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North Korea 2017: What Did We Learn?

Sat, 2018-01-06 06:06
North Korea 2017: What Did We Learn?

Sorry for the long hiatus. The holidays were pretty busy and exhausting.

This is a local re-post of something I wrote The National Interest late last year. I like these end-of-the-year retrospectives and predictions. So here is a look back at all the craziness around North Korea in 2017.

The most obvious new element is an American president talking to the world’s most dangerous state like a petulant man-child. Honestly, Trump just made everything worse, and his rhetoric almost certainly convinced the Kimist elite that going for nukes was wise.

The other big thing I think is how the debate over responding to North Korea is increasingly cutting out the doves. North Korea with nuclear weapons is such a scary prospect that it is side-lining engagers and powering the hawks in the debate. Increasingly the debate is an intra-mural one among the hawks, between moderates (where I’d put myself), who are wary of strikes and at least open to talks even though we know the Norks will gimmick them, and ultras like Trump or Nikki Haley who genuinely seem to want to strike. The real question in the US debate now is whether the moderate hawks, with an assist from the doves, can restrain the ultras from attacking North Korea this year.

The full essay follows the jump…

This was an extraordinary year for North Korea. It finally achieved a regime dream going back decades: establishing direct nuclear deterrence with the United States. Despite months of tough rhetoric and war threats from US President Donald Trump, the North pushed on and became the first rogue state to acquire a functional nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile.

Negotiating with North Korea will become that much harder from now on. The resources devoted to these weapons are rumored to represent perhaps as much as 5% of GDP. For a state as small and poor as North Korea, they are an enormous sacrifice. Hence, Northern leader Kim Jong Un will almost certainly not trade them away, or the concessions he will demand will be tremendous. But some kind of negotiations with the North are almost inevitable now. North Korea with nuclear weapon and no outside supervision at all – no participation in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT0 or International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – is so frightening, that pressure for the US to talk to Pyongyang will grow dramatically. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent free-lancing on negotiations suggests this.

Here then are a few of 2017’s North Korean ‘highlights’:

1. Pyongyang is hell-bent on acquiring these weapons.

Probably the most important lesson we learned this year is that North Korea is going to have these weapons no matter what the rest of the world says or does and is prepared to carry heavy costs for them. Since the collapse of the Six Party Talks, North Korea has been increasingly sanctioned and isolated. Previous South Korean President Park Geun Hye (now-impeached) sought to worsen that isolation by trimming away at the North’s diplomatic relationships, especially in the global South. China too has slowly stepped up sanctions and broadly concurs with the Americans on a denuclearized North. Despite all this, the North persisted. In the face of global rejection, it nonetheless tests bombs and missiles relentlessly under the leadership of this newest Kim (Jong Un).

That the North clawed its way into these weapons despite decades of hassle, global isolation, and sprawling multilateral efforts to prevent them should serve as a warning. Any rogue state with sufficient resources and ruthlessness can now likely acquire these weapons. If the North can do it against all odds, then many other troublesome states might well be considering this too.

2. Bluster will not stop them.

Trump’s harsh language on North Korea was arguably an experiment. No US president had ever talked to the North this way; perhaps it would intimidate the North Koreans? Trump talked as the North does. Pyongyang has threatened for years, for example, to turn Seoul into a ‘sea of fire.’ Trump turned such incendiary rhetoric back on the North, threatening to send an ‘armada,’ to ‘totally destroy North Korea,’ and use ‘fire and fury’ to do so.

Unsurprisingly though, the schoolyard taunting did not work. The North, predictably, refused to bend, rather matching Trump insult for insult. In the end, even Trump seemed to realize that his large threats were leading nowhere, given how risky the strike options are. After the most recent missile test on November 29, Trump restrained himself, saying only, ‘we’ll take care of it.’

3. Safety is a looming issue.

As North Korea nuclearizes outside the NPT-IAEA framework, questions about safety are growing. We have little technical information about the state of Northern reactors, their safety protocols, waste disposal practices, maintenance, and so on. A tunnel at North Korea’s primary testing facility collapsed this fall, and the North Koreans said nothing. A Japanese newspaper broke the story several months later, and South Korean scientists are now predicting that continued testing at Punggye-ri may actually bring down the mountain and release radioactivity in the manner of Chernobyl.

When talks do eventually resume, this will provide a curious form of leverage to the North. Its nuclear program is now well-established and growing; Kim has spoken of making North Korea ‘the world’s strongest nuclear power.’ Outsiders will be increasingly desperate to get into the North to inspect its facilities, at minimum to insure it is not proliferating or on the cusp of a meltdown. This problem will worsen significantly in coming years.

4. Hawks are dominating the debate over North Korea.

It is an irony that just as the North’s overt nuclearization is forcing talks back to prominence, hawks seem to be ascendant in the debate over responding to the North. Major western outlets like CNN, Fox, TNI, The Economist, The Atlantic, and the big American papers are dominated now by hawkish pundits on North Korea. Even the left in South Korea, which took the presidency earlier this year, has felt compelled by North Korea’s extreme intransigence, to sign up for Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ approach. South Korean President Moon Jae-In, an earlier architect of outreach to North Korea and no hawk, has followed Trump’s lead on pressuring the North. China too inched further and further along the path of yet more pressure.

This shrinkage of the debate to a one between moderate and ultras among the hawks is cutting out dovish voices encouraging engagement. Now, the debate seems to be more about more sanctions and isolation (the moderates) or airstrikes (the ultras). North Korea’s adamant refusal to talk has encouraged this, and it raises the likelihood of eventually exasperation and a willingness to risk strikes.

These four 2017 trends are unlikely to change much next year. North Korea will not likely rein in its program, thereby increasing marginalizing doves in the debate over what to do. As the program grows apace, safety anxieties will worsen which may incidentally help push the US, South Korea, and Japan back toward talks. But if Trump did teach us anything this year, it is that the North Koreans will not get brow-beaten into giving up their program. It is here to stay.

Filed under: Engagement, Korea (North), Nuclear Weapons, Strategy, The National Interest, Trump, United States

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



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Welcome 2018, Goodbye 2017

Tue, 2018-01-02 15:05
Welcome 2018, Goodbye 2017

It is the evening of January 2nd as I write this and I have had a slow but productive weekend. In many ways it was reflective of the past year.  I would say that 2017 was a defining year for myself and my photography. It went by unusually fast but had its share of ups and downs. Without boring you too much, I will go through them as best that I can.

At the beginning of the year, I took the blog in a new direction and focussed more on learning than I did in the past. The purpose was to give the blog a stronger focus and align it more to my learn.jasonteale.com page that is designed to actually help people learn photography and editing. I dialed in a number of ideas about the theory and business of photography as well as the travel side of things. Little did I know that 2017 was to become one of the hardest years of my photography career.

At the beginning of the year, I launched a new course on lightroom that pushed me to focus more on the marketing side of things. I had no idea that after spending over a decade taking photos and teaching that it would lead up to a lot of criticism from numerous professionals in the industry. More on that later, but basically I had to learn how to market myself more than just posting ads on instagram.

The biggest success came with the inclusion in the 5DayDeal. This was an amazing experience and I have to thank Griffin, Valerie and Corwin for taking a chance on me. Being a part of this event helped solidify what I really wanted to be doing. I also have to thank Griffin for always being there and offering some solid advice.

March had some ups and downs. I was part of the Hyundai Hotel Global Supporters program and that was amazing. It gave me a much needed break from juggling my photography, teaching full-time, and completing my masters. I stayed at some of the best hotels in county and got to focus on what I love to do.  It was a great feeling to be a part of the Global Supporters team and to say in such luxurious accomodations simply to take photos and blog about them. The feeling was short-lived as my Grandmother passed away on my birthday directly following one of the assignments.

This had a great impact on my wife and I as we firmly decided to leave Korea and return home to Canada within the next 2 years. Meaning that my photography will play a greater role in my future than I had originally planned. After losing my best friend to cancer a few years ago and then my Grandmother and not having the ability to drop everything and fly home, makes you start to reconsider your career path.


March also had the first round of critiques on photography as well. The first was from pro photographer Jared Polin from Fro Knows Photo  who offered some advice on how to cut through the noise. It was a tough pill to swallow but I took his advice and started a youtube channel. I never realized how hard it was to put out content in the form of a vlog or weekly tutorial. I decided to start thinking more about how I could get my name out there. I later found out that this is a double-edged sword to say the least.

This was one of my most popular photos on National Geographic’s Your Shot site. It earned me an editor’s note.

I later focussed on capturing the spring as one does in Korea. That means cherry blossoms and Buddha’s birthday. During this time,  I managed to get some good shots from Samgwangsa which earned a note from a National Geographic editor. However, it was the lantern parade at Tongdosa that really blew me away. I guess because I really hadn’t planned on seeing something like that and just went out there on a whim. I was rewarded with some of the most beautiful memories of this celebration in all my 15 or so years here in Korea.

2017 was also a surprisingly critical one as I took a solid look at my work and my site. I managed to have my stuff reviewed by yet another famous photographer this time, Chase Jarvis. The 10-minute review was one that cut to the bone and really opened my eyes. Chases peeled back the layers picking through a number of different issues with my approach, my photography and my aspirations. It also set the stage for some other reviews like this one from DIY photography. The episode and critiques made it right up to places like SLR Lounge and even F-Stoppers. Some of which had me questioning myself and wondering if it was really all worth it. It really makes you want to give up when you have a professional like Kishore Sawh who is the editor-in-chief of SLR Lounge telling you that “it’s a bit naive – as it is for many –  to think that an affection for something or experience with it means you can charge for it, or that you’re at all currently relevant.” This is a polite way of saying “Dude you suck and nobody is going to pay you to teach them how to make shitty photos” and that is what I mulled over for quite some time.

Image courtesy of Leigh MacArthur

Bouncing off from that, I was later chosen to be a part of a National Geographic Photography workshop with pro photographer David Guttenfelder. It was another eye-open experience. I got to hear stories of his adventures in North Korea as well as being a conflict photographer. It was an amazing experience as it really shed some light on what it means to be a photographer for National Geographic. Not to mention that David was the real deal. He was patient and took the time to really show us what makes a National Geographic worthy photo.

The year ended off with the building of some stronger partnerships with sponsors like Flixel. They have been instrumental in facilitating some key moments in the next few months. The biggest being a contract to work with a top sponsor during the Olympics as well as a possible webinar with 500px. Also I have built a stronger relationship with photographers like Pete DeMarco, Justin Balog, Dave Seeram, and Brent Mail thanks to a weekly photo mastermind group call.

These chats have set my head straight on a number of issues and kept me from giving it all up at times. For that, I just have to thank those gentlemen and I hope that we all will get up to bigger and better things in 2018.

So with that being said, I am hoping that 2018 will be a good one for us all. The blog will continue to focus on learning and tutorials and I am hoping to stay on track with weekly posts…. please hold me to that. I will continue you improve my posts, photography and everything in between. 2017 was a hard year and I learned a lot from it. Thank you for being a part of it and I hope that you will continue to do so in 2018.

The post Welcome 2018, Goodbye 2017 appeared first on The Sajin.


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The 31st Polar Bear Swim Festival - Free Tickets Registration

Tue, 2017-12-26 01:47

The Polar Bear Swim Festival is back again in Busan!

Maybe this is your first time hearing about it, or maybe you've always wanted to try but always have been too scared of getting cold. Well you know what, it's cold on land anyway so why don't we all just jump in the water together and celebrate new year? I know, I know, it's freezing, but I promise you're gonna have tons of fun!!

What's even better is that this year, Royal Butler Korea together with Busan Metropolitan City are giving away FREE TICKETS (worth 20,000 KRW) for you adventurous expats in Busan!
Each ticket comes with a t-shirt, a swimming cap, a bath towel and a wrist tag (wrist tags will be checked prior going in the water).

All you have to do is fill out the online form right here:

12:30 ~ 13:10 PM - Opening Ceremony
13:10 ~ 14:50 PM - Stage Performances (local bands&musical act)
14:50 PM ~ - Event information

08:00 ~ 10:00 AM - Polar Bear Swim
10:00 ~ 12:30 PM - Stage Performances (KPop concerts, DJs, and more)
12:30 ~ 13:30 PM - Closing

Still not sure?
Just sign up, it's free, who cares.

** Please note that we have a limited number of tickets, so they will be given on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Official website: http://bear.busan.com/en/
For more information please contact:
010-6602-1906 / gabrielleatmajaya@gmail.com (Gabrielle)

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Korea 2017 Year in Review: The Presidential Impeachment was Actually the Biggest Story

Fri, 2017-12-08 11:00
Korea 2017 Year in Review: The Presidential Impeachment was Actually t

This is a local rep-post of a piece I just wrote for the Lowy Institute. I like these sort of retrospective, end-of-the-year pieces.

Basically I argue that the impeachment of former President Park Geun Hye was the biggest story of the year. Yes, Trump sucks up all the oxygen in the room, but who even knows if he means all his threats? But completing a full impeachment cycle is a pretty rare event in the history of democracy. And the Koreans did it with no violence or civic rupture. That is pretty impressive. But yes, I did then list North Korea and Trump as otherwise the big stories of the year.

The full essay follows the jump:

2017 was a rollercoaster year on the Korean peninsula. The South Koreans impeached their president. The North Koreans tested dozens of rockets, including intercontinental ballistic missiles. The American president threatened war repeatedly, possible nuclear war, against the North. And some random dorky foreigner in Korea got famous, because his cute little kids wandered into the frame while he was on TV. Honestly, why didn’t they fire that guy? It was quite a year.

For all the bluster and threats of war, I would nonetheless rate the impeachment of the South Korean president as the most important event. North Korean war scares are, as disturbing as it is to say it, pretty common, while a completed democratic impeachment is actually quite rare.

1. The Impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-Hye

With several months of distance from the upheaval of the winter protests against Park, the impeachment trial, the new election, and all the attendant drama, it is now pretty clear that Park Geun-Hye’s circle was grossly corrupt, and that she, by extension, did not really deserve to remain in office. There are diehards who are convinced it was a ‘communist’ conspiracy. The South Korean right is disturbingly comfortable with mccarthyite attacks on liberal opponents, and there is an Alex Jones-style conspiracy fringe here. But it is otherwise pretty widely accepted that Park’s confidant, Choi Soon-Sil, grossly abused her access to the president and had far too much influence over Park.

Choi was often compared to Rasputin. Choi’s father had a quasi-religious influence over Park since her youth, and Choi seemed to ‘inherit’ that. Choi in turn abused it, particularly on Park’s ascension to the presidency, enriching both herself and her cronies. It was undeniable sleazy and embarrassing, and as more and more details came out, Park’s approval rating fell to an astonishing 6% at one point. Has any chief executive in a modern democracy ever fallen that low?

There is much debate about whether Park herself knew about all the corruption. But like Ronald Reagan’s ignorance defense during the Iran-Contra affair, this too represents a gross dereliction of duty. President Park was either blithely unaware of what was happening right under her nose among her closest companions and staff, or covered it up, Nixon-style.

Eight months out now from all the controversy, my own sense is the former, while most of the Koreans I know seem to think the former. Park, it strikes me, was more incompetent than dastardly. Her behavior throughout her presidency suggested she was constantly overwhelmed by the scope of her office. On missile defense, North Korea policy, or the sinking of the Sewol ferry, she was adrift, and the rumors from her staff regarding her (low) intelligence were harsh. We will likely never know.

2. North Korean Missile Tests.

North Korea conducted twenty separate missile provocations in 2017, involving dozens of missiles, from short-range Scud-style launches to full-blown ICBMs designed to strike the continental United States. This was the fastest test tempo ever. For all Donald Trump’s pettiness, his ‘rocket man’ nickname for Kim Jong Un is not wrong.

One of these tests overflew Japan, prompting the commencement of civil air defense drills. (Although in a society whose median age is 47, they likely will not work well given the 8 minute warning time the Japanese will have.) Others have sought to demonstrate a capability to strike the United States. November 29’s test seems to have been accepted as that breakthrough.

Much of the debate over the weapons turns on whether the North intends to use them offensively. It is widely accepted that nuclear weapons give North Korea a potent shield against US-led regime-change against Pyongyang. After the Western removals of Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, and Moammar Kadaffi, that is an understandable goal, however regrettable for us. There is a defense and deterrence logic here which all can grasp.

We may dislike it, but it is in fact quite rational for a state like North Korea to pursue these weapons. It is poor and backward. It is loathed by much of the world as a freakish cold war relic. It is surrounded by enemies, or frenemies like China eager to exploit it instrumentally, but it has no real friends. When international relations theorist Ken Waltz spoke of ‘internal balancing,’ North Korean nuking up against such a tough neighborhood despite its poverty is exactly what he had in mind. Friendless, encircled, dysfunctional, and poor, North Korea is, in Victor Cha’s words, the ‘impossible state.’ In such circumstances, nuclear weapons are in fact an excellent choice. Not only for security, but they can be proliferated for cash and used as gangsterish shake-down instruments as well.

Hawkish fears of North Korean aggression in the vein of the old saw that ‘nuclear weapons make the world safe for World War II’ strike me as over-wrought. Even if North Korea could successfully ‘de-couple’ the US from South Korea, it could likely still not defeat South Korea. The terrible health of that recent defector, who was a relatively privileged border card, is suggestive. And even if the North somehow managed to win, it would struggle enormously to occupy and integrate a modern state of free people twice its size into its ossified framework.

3. Trump’s Fire and Fury

Throughout the year, Trump’s erratic and explosive commentary raised tension in ways not seen before. No previous American president had ever threatened to ‘totally destroy North Korea’ or threw around casual war threats – the ‘armada, ‘fire and fury.’ Trump, in his impatience to distinguish himself from his predecessor, claimed ‘strategic patience’ to be over. All this created a momentum to strike North Korea – enough that South Korean President Moon Jae-In felt it necessary to publicly declare to the National Assembly, just days before Trump’s arrival, that no war could take place against North Korea with the South’s assent.

And curiously, Trump blinked. When he also spoke to the National Assembly, he forsook the best chance he had to lay out a case for war to the South Korean government and public. Instead he fell back on bromides about South Korea’s self-evident moral superiority and the need for ‘maximum pressure.’ In fact, there is little difference between that and strategic patience – alliances, deterrence and defense, missile defense, sanctions, etc. Similarly, after the November 29 ICBM test in which North Korea triumphantly declared it could strike the US, Trump said little more than ‘we’ll take care of it,’ likely because he know realizes that no one believes his bizarre threats anymore and that war in the region would be a catastrophe laid at his feet.

South Korea came through these multiple challenges remarkably well. It completed a full impeachment cycle without violence or civil upheaval. Few democracies have ever done that. It similarly held the line on the North’s bullying despite a new liberal president whom conservatives relentlessly criticize as too dovish. And for all the anxiety about Donald Trump’s warmongering – or it just reality TV star blather? – the US president finally seems to have realized what South Koreans and the analyst community have known for years: There is no obvious solution to North Korea; if there were, it would have been tried long ago; and war is a terrible option. Now if only they could find a way get rid of that hack BBC Dad guy…

Filed under: Korea (North), Korea (South), Lowy Institute, Nuclear Weapons, Trump

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



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Cya Later, Seoul: Things I’ll Miss About Korea

Tue, 2017-11-28 04:52
Cya Later, Seoul: Things I’ll Miss About Korea Read more at http://kor  

So Long, Korea!My life here has been incredible, but even in Neverland you’ll find you have your ups and downs.  Last week, to the dismay of many on Facebook, I wrote about the things I hate about living as a foreigner (expat) in Korea.  This week, on a more positive note, I’m sharing just a handful of things (okay, two or three handfuls) I’ll miss about living in Korea.  I had always planned on either staying 1 year or 3 years (for the Olympics).  As someone already commented, 3 years does not a Korea OG make.  This is not a comprehensive list, it’s just the musings of a basic bitch.  It’s much tougher to write sarcastically when talking about things you’ll miss.  So, set your cynicism aside and read on from most obvious to more detailed.  Here are just a few things I’ll miss about life in Korea. Photo by Jakub KapusnakThe Food

There’s a big Korean population in my home city of Toronto.  I had been for AYCE Korean BBQ with friends and for quick bibimbap lunches, but there’s so much more to discover about Korean cuisine.  In Toronto, Korean BBQ just comes with kimchi and rice.  I’m definitely going to miss all the delicious side dishes (반찬) that accompany the meat in Korea.

I had tried Soju back home, but Makgeolli was a game changer.  When we visited Singapore, the bottles which cost KRW 3,500 here were going for $18.  I can’t imagine how pricy it will be back home in Canada!  I’ll miss Hotteok (호떡) on a cold winter day.  I can go for spicy chicken called Dak Galbi (닭갈비) any day of the week (with cheese, of course!)  One of my favourite snacks is a steaming hot King Size Dumpling (왕만두).  You certainly don’t see those on every corner back home.  In fact, most of the street food is pretty boring.  We have food trucks galore, but stalls were limited to hot dogs.  Has anything changed?

 A Massive Subway System

The subway systems in Busan and in Seoul are very convenient.  With 9 subway lines and buses connecting the dots, the Seoul subway system blows Toronto’s measly 3-lines out of the water.  I’m not looking forward to going back to packed streetcars skipping skipping stops due to crowding.

Cheap Taxis

While fares are hiked up at night after the subway closes, a taxi in Korea will still be way cheaper than a fare back home.  It used to cost me $10 to get across downtown.  Now I can get halfway across the city for that amount.  Let’s not get started on rent prices in Toronto.  I’m terrified.

Skincare Everywhere

If Korea has taught me anything, it’s how to take care of my skin.  I used to wash my face with soap before bed and any kind of moisturizer was a faraway thought.  Now I run ThatGirlCartier which focuses on K-Beauty and Dating.  I’ve had the opportunity to try a number of amazing facials, cosmetic procedures, and skincare lines while living in Korea.  I’ve found a personal favourite brand and I’ll have to stock up before leaving.  I’m definitely going to miss the convenience of all the Skincare Shops in any given neighbourhood.  Shout out to the gazillions of cosmetic and plastic surgery clinics in Korea.  How am I going to afford botox now?

Concept Shops/ Stores with More

I’ve already written about the Style Nanda Pink Hotel/ Pink Pool Cafe and Skinfood’s Cafe.  Since there are so many shops in competition, you’ve gotta have a gimmick to stay alive.  For example, Espoir has opened up a Make-Up Pub with customized cosmetics.  Do retailers get this creative back home these days or is it “one night only” done up by PR firms for influencers?  This shop in Hongdae is a permanent fixture!

rawpixel.comWifi Everywhere

There’s wifi on the subway and in practically every restaurant, cafe, gym, and doctor’s office.  While I still use up my 3 gigs of data before the month is up, I could totally get by on wifi alone.

Photographer: Christine RoyNot Tipping

I read a friend’s Facebook status about tipping lately and it got me thinking.  She mentioned that she took herself out for dinner and sat at the bar.  The bartender was neglectful – she had to ask another server for water and yet another for a status update on her meal which had taken an eternity to arrive.  After tax, the meal came to $30.  The people commenting still said they would tip 18%.  I felt a little uncomfortable not tipping when I first came to Korea, but now that I’m used to it the idea of paying an additional 18% for crappy service boggles my mind.

Bing Bong

I used to feel so uncomfortable pressing a button to get my server’s attention, and I still cringe a little yelling out “저기요”.  As a server, I always felt a little awkward disrupting someone’s conversation to take an order, quality check, or wrap things up and deliver the cheque.  With the touch of a button, we can let our server know exactly when we want something.  It’s not exactly a step of service, but it takes the guesswork out of it all.  I’m a fan.


Everything is easy here once you know a little bit of Korean.  The bus system is pretty straightforward and the subways are in multiple languages.  Everything is done online.  You can order food whenever and to wherever, and there are convenience stores situated in every nook and cranny of this city.  If you need or want something it’s not tough to get, and usually all you’ll have to do is lift a finger.

Photographer: Rashid Khreiss

Drinking in the Streets

Convenience store socials are an essential part of the Korean experience.  Sharing soju on a mountain with Korean aunties and uncles happy to see you enjoying views of their country is unparalleled joy.  Going on a Mak-about (a walk-about with Makgeolli) can be sheer bliss.  Fried chicken and beer by the Han River? Simple decadence.  I’ll definitely miss the punk in drublic vibe of Korea.

Photographer: Mark MingleNo Shame in the Selfie Game

I used to feel so embarrassed snapping a selfie.  As a solo traveler (for the most part) it’s tough to get a sly picture of yourself at tourist attractions.  Not in Korea!  I know most people want you to shove that selfie stick where the sun don’t shine, but here you’re welcome to snap a selfie (or a dozen) almost anywhere you please.

Instagrammable everything

While it might not always taste great, Korea is awesome at making adorable edible treats.  Some are better than others, but you can count on at least one moment in your day lighting up your insta-story.

Quirky Corners and Street Art

If you follow me on instagram you’ll know I have a great love for street art.  In Korea, you can find awesome murals and graffiti through Itaewon, Hongdae, Sangsu, Seongsu, and in the alleys of Gangnam.  I know I can find street art lots of places (and we found plenty in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore) but I feel like in Korea I noticed street art through brand new eyes.

Incheon International Airport

Getting from the desk to the gate might be a headache, but Korea as the gateway to Asia is something I’ll never take for granted.  I’ve traveled to China, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Singapore and am not done yet.  I’ve fallen in love with people, places, and plenty of plates in Korea and beyond.  Getting to the side of the planet that many times would have been impossible from Canada.

Photographer: Mathew SchwartzThe History of Korea

All over Korea you can visit temples, tea houses, mountains, and palaces.  Any day of the week you can don a hanbok and step into the past.  While Korea and Canada are both relatively “new” countries, Korea is rich in tumultuous history.  There’s plenty to learn about culture and heritage in Korea.  I’ll never be able to learn enough!

 Bright Neon Lights

It’s totally cheesy, but I love walking through areas like Jamsilsaenae (RIP Sincheon) or Hongdae and seeing all the flashing lights day and night.  I love walking home and seeing Seoul N Tower (Namsan Tower) all aglow.  The more I write this the lamer it feels.  Sure, I’m going to miss alot of “stuff” in Korea, but more than that I’ll miss the people and the opportunities.

 Opportunities for Foreigners

As much as there’s systemic racism in this homogeneous society, there’s also a ridiculous amount of opportunity for people who don’t “look Asian”.  Even if you haven’t dedicated yourself to the arts, you can get gigs as an extra here and there on dramas and in movies.  A lot of hagwons just want a singing/ dancing monkey equivalent who will look and sound as different as possible to his or her students.  It’s not always fair, but the odds are ever in our favour if you’ve got a Bachelor’s degree from a certain set of countries.  When I go home will I be relevant in my industry anymore or will I have to start from the bottom…

Expat Expectations

I think there’s an understanding among most of us foreigners in Korea.  It’s not easy to be away from your family and the way people cycle through Korea it can be tough to maintain friendships.  This one is a bit of a double-edged sword, but I find most people here genuinely want to be open about forging new friendships.  If you’re open to adventure or even have even just a smidge of curiosity, you’ll find new pals with common interests.  These are people you may never have met back home, but aren’t you glad you’re giving one another a chance?

Chosen Family

Having close friends from around the globe makes leaving Korea extra tough.  I know that when I go home I’ll have the opposite problems.  Instead of missing a wedding back home, I’ll now be missing weddings and other important events all around the world.  More than any one thing I’ll miss about my life in Korea is the cheesiest answer of all.  I’m going to miss you.  I’m going to miss being able to call you up to go to trivia on…well…any given night of the week.  I’ll miss bumping into you at Fountain when it overflows.  I’ll miss the simple routines like coffee after lunch and a stroll around the park.  I’ll miss being mistaken for that other blonde blogger who loves to eat.  I’ll miss discovering new and exciting things since Seoul is ever-changing.  I’ll miss you.  All of you.  I’ll miss you most of all when I leave Korea.

The post Cya Later, Seoul: Things I’ll Miss About Korea appeared first on The Toronto Seoulcialite.

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Fall Colours of Korea

Sun, 2017-11-26 05:31
Fall Colours of Korea

If you talk to any Korean over the age of 40, they will no doubt tell you about the “4 seasons of Korea” and look a bit astonished when they realize that places like Canada also have four seasons as well. This concept comes up in a lot of older textbooks and even my Korean language books as well. While it may seem strange, Korea does not disappoint when it comes to the seasons and fall is one of my favourite seasons here and that is why I can see why so many people are proud of them.

The beauty of fall is that there is a vibrant burst of colour before the long grey period of winter. I love the colours of fall, especially at the Buddhist temples around Korea. The trick to capturing great colours is to really make good use of the light. I find that you can stretch the shooting times out a lot more on the clear days. Not to mention that the bright mid-morning light often works best for these shots.

The 3 C’s: Contrast, Colour, and Creativity

I find that beginner photographers often are overwhlemed by the scenes that they see. They end up just “documenting” the scene rather than really diving in and exploring it. That is why I try and stick to the 3 C’s when I go out. This keeps me from just “spraying and praying” when I go out. When you are looking for certain concepts or ideas, you will produce better images in the end. You will find yourself looking for shots rather than hoping that you “something” at the end of the day.


Look for areas of light and dark to really make the scene pop. You can enhance the contrast in Lightroom after, but try and find the contrast on your own to train your eye. This is where harsher light may actually help you. Use the leaves to hold back some of that light and see what the shadows do.


This can be over done at times and I am no stranger to this at all. However, do not let that stop you from seeking out the colours that attract us all to this great time of the year. The best way that I find is to either hit the peak season or combine the 3’s like I mention in this article. Try choosing a single colour to focus on and see where that takes you.


I love seeing what people come up with during this time of year. Do just try and document what you see but try to express your vision. Basically, use your imagination and create images that express something more than “I was here” and you will be off to a great start. Look for new angles or try different apertures to isolate images. Think about what the scene is really saying to you and try to capture an image that show that.

The Bottom Line

Fall is a great time of year and you should try your best to show your version of it. You don’t have to be on the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia to capture a remarkable autumn shot. You just have to explore your world as I have done here in Korea. Think about what this season means to you and what tools and techniques you can use to express that vision.

The post Fall Colours of Korea appeared first on The Sajin.


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Solar and human powered trike project stranded in Busan

Wed, 2017-11-22 15:06
Solar and human powered trike project stranded in Busan

As some may still remember of the Swiss Solar Impulse 2 which flew around the world using only solar power, the Solatrike-Project of another Swiss guy head off about the same time. Since July 2015 the Solatrike of David Brandenberger is on the road from Europe to South Korea. The solar and human powered recumbent Trike passed on this way 17 countries and filled 22’000km so far.

The Swiss traveller was looking for something to transport a load of luggage in a sportive and environmental saving way. He chose a bike because of the slow travelling speed and to get in contact with locals, but his luggage was too heavy to pull it all. That’s why he thought about a motor as an assist and solar panels to charge the battery independent of energy sources. He found the Czech recumbent Trike fabrication AZUB, which did a race with something similar. They provided him with experience and a custom built recumbent Trike and trailer. Knowing only a little of electricity, solar power and bike repair, David Brandenberger head off to his adventure in direction Asia. His skills getting better in these things on the way, but the focus are still on photography and doing sketches.

He spent rainy nights with Uzbek construction workers in a worn out house in Kazakhstan, got interviewed by many reporters in Turkey, Bulgaria and Greece, survived a narrow construction road passing huge trucks in the dust in China or a night in a desert storm holding his tent against the fierce wind inside the Gobi desert. There are a lot of stories he could tell of his tour from the heat in Azerbaijan and the freezing cold in Kyrgyzstan, but the most he likes to tell about the friendliness of the people he encountered along the way. Some provided him with food along the way, invited him for a night to sleep, helped at repairs on the Trike or to find the right direction and others organized to find a company which could build a new trailer in Uzbekistan.

His goal is to travel with his Solatrike as far as he can and as long as it’s possible. If he could cycle around the world he will be more than glad. The half of the length around the Equator he already cycled and he is still in good mood to continue to South East Asia. Unfortunately he is stranded here in Busan for more than one and a half month now, trying in vain to ship his Solatrike to South East Asia. Crossing boarders by land with his bike was never a problem, but shipping it to another Country seems to be impossible. Every Country finds another reason to deny this travel to be continued. David hopes to find a good way out of this situation that he can continuing on his mission to promote solar and other alternative power like Solar Impulse 2 with his Solatrike-Project.





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Jen Sotham Memorial Hootenanny at Ol' 55

Wed, 2017-11-22 13:18

As many of you know, Jen Sotham, a beloved part of our Busan family, recently passed away after a heroic battle with cancer. We will be celebrating her life and the impact she had on our community this Saturday at 7:30 P.M. at Ol' 55, which will be specially opened for this memorial.

Please join us if you were in any way touched by Jen's generous soul or soaring spirit.

The bar at Ol '55 will not be operational, so please bring any refreshments you wish to consume.

-Chris Tharp

Jen Sotham Memorial Hootenanny at Ol' 55 Read more at http://koreabrid
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Busan Traditional Market Festival

Tue, 2017-11-21 09:16
Busan Traditional Market Festival

2017 Traditional Market Festival

(2017 ChungmuDong  Saebyeok Haean Golmok Traditional Market Festival)

In Korea, in all cities you can find at least one Traditional Market which is called Shijang시장 in Korean. You can find almost all the things you need in daily life, such as fruits, vegetables, cloths, accessories, etc. They are also a popular attraction for tourists who visit Korea, to see Korean traditional shops, souvenirs and get familiar with the atmosphere of a Korean traditional market. These markets are also so popular for having cheap items as well as variety of things based on your taste. Some of these markets are well known for some special items such as fish market, cloths market, etc.

One of the most famous traditional markets in Korea is Jagalchi market in Busan. The famous fish and seafood market which is located in the Nampo Dong district in Busan. Jagalchi market is very well known among tourists as well as locals and people do daily shopping, eating at the restaurants and also enjoy watching all those creatures taken from the sea!

But out of those who know Jagalchi well, how many know that there are actually many small traditional markets near Jagalchi? Yes, it is quite interesting that there are some hidden small but crowded markets near that area. The Saebyeok Traditional Market (새벽 시장) and Haean Traditional Market (해안 시장) are two of them, which are located in Nampo dong, very close to Jagalchi market.

In these two traditional markets, you can find sea food, as well as fruits, vegetables, plants, even sleepers! But what makes these two markets more important is the festival that is held every year there. Every year a festival called “Traditional Market Festival” is held at Saebyeok Traditional Market (새벽 시장) and Haean Traditional Market (해안 시장). I had the chance to participate this festival this year and cover the news as a reporter of the festival.

The festival this year was held on Friday and Saturday, November 4th and 5th. Some contents of the festival were same on both days and some were different. You could see little shops were selling their products like fish, seafood or even street food, besides some tables with special services such as nurses who offers medical emergency or some others who were doing some traditional treatment. On the other side of the market, there also table for some fun activities such as making postcards and handicrafts or fortune telling! There you could make your own fish with your style or choose a sentence in Korean and the artist woman made you a lovely postcard. All for free!

As an official part of the festival, there was a small stage which celebrated another year of Traditional Market Festival. The festival on Friday started with a marching band performance and followed up by the festival mayor speech, as well as some other staff; followed by the very fun part of the festival which was the performers who sang traditional songs that had the older men and women dancing in the street. Traditional Korean music is something I personally really enjoy. I feel so happy when I see older people enjoying themselves and are so excited to see a performance that they start dancing and clapping. One part of Korean culture that I love is that older people actually have their own style of fun and they start dancing just by hearing their generation’s song being performed.

You could also win a fish! A raw fish to take with you and cook at home. That’s quite interesting! To get that, you just needed to collect 3 stamps from all around the markets.

This is not a big festival in Busan but you really should visit. It is held every year by Busan City at Saebyeok and Haean Traditional Market in Nampo dong. Don’t miss it next year!

2017 Photos Below

Pusanweb Photo Flashback of Chagalchi Festival 2001



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Saying ‘Hello’ to Korean Food, Saying ‘Goodbye’ to Korea (for the Night)

Thu, 2017-11-16 01:53
Saying Hello to Korean Food, Saying ‘Goodbye’ to Korea (for the Night)

As a foreigner here in South Korea, I can sometimes feel like I am in a bubble. Sometimes without my participation in the process, sometimes willingly. At work, I am often left out of discussions about matters that might affect me until the last possible moment, or until the actual matter takes place and I am just kind of thrust into it. Often, at night, either Jen or I will ask the other if it’s time to “say goodbye to Korea,” code for closing the curtains on the outside world and cozying up to our insulated world of two inhabitants. That latter example does not necessarily reflect a poor opinion of Korea, but rather an opinion of the world at large and whether or not it’s sometimes therapeutic to escape it and all its associated bullshit; someday, far from today we might play out a similar scene where one of us asks if it’s time to “say goodbye to Middletown, New Jersey” or “Walla Walla, Washington.” But, I am not holding my breath: houses are too damn expensive in Middletown.

Still, we are in South Korea. Jen has occupied the country for going on about seven years while I am at about five years (if you count the first two attempts in 2005 and 2010). There are things about the country and culture we love, things about it we love less, and things about it we love less than that. Just like in Middletown (great parks, too many strip malls, those damn expensive houses).

One of the things we love about Korea pretty consistently is its food. Sure, the basis for most of the recipes are strikingly similar when you actually make them–soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seed, gochugaru (red pepper flakes), gochujang (red pepper paste), repeat for the next dish. And yet, years and years on we still crave them. There remains a comfort to them, to these combinations of flavors, paired with things like kimchi, pork, various vegetables, tofu and more. A plethora of side dishes (banchan) to accompany a hearty bowl of stew and hot, sticky rice is one of my world’s least guilty pleasures.

Kimchi jjigae, with tofu and “moksal” pork. Recipe: http://banchancomic.tumblr.com/post/97910719044/kimchijjigae-is-probably-1-comfort-food-koreans

Perhaps some of the reason for this continued love affair, however, is just how rarely we participate in it at home. A look at a sample menu of the week in our household reveals very little in the form of Korean, excepting that most of the ingredients were purchased in Korea. More often will we cook things of Indian, Thai (sort of) or good old “American (whatever that means)” origins. Jen’s school has a complete (usually pretty decent) Korean lunch buffet every day, while I consume gimbap and sweet, sweet Dwaeji Gukbap pretty regularly when dining out. When we get home and want to “say goodbye to Korea,” we often want to say “hello” to a culinary culture far removed from our current location.

But, sometimes, our curtains might be closed to Korea for the night but our stomachs remain open. With the assistance of great resources like the popular Maangchi YouTube channel and less well-known but also helpful Aeri’s Kitchenthe incredibly fun and entertaining Cook Korean! illustrated Korean cookbook by Robin Ha, as well as great local resources like the woman at Geumnyeonsan Market whom I purchased our kimchi jjigae’s kimchi, a delicious, completely homemade Korean meal was on our tables and going into our bellies in about two hours (if you include things like sweating the zucchini and such).

If this was what we ate all day, every day, for decades on decades, I could see the possibility of having very little thought for it other than sustenance. And, for us, there can often be plenty of time between times we choose to make rather than buy our banchan. But, when the mood hits, there’s nothing better than a steaming hot bowl of kimchi jjigae between my hands as the temperature drops. And when something that seems so exotic and impossible to replicate like banchan is complete and consumed with my own hands and mouth, I feel like a Korean Titan with a full, happy gut.

How often do you make your Korean food? What are some of your favorites? Share and make us hungry in the comments.

A delicious Korean meal, all made at home.


Kimchi jjigae: http://banchancomic.tumblr.com/post/97910719044/kimchijjigae-is-probably-1-comfort-food-koreans

Kongnamul muchim: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWfhIq_MiiU

Spinach banchan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4JgJec4QQI&t=189s

Fried zucchini banchan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voVMhqW5Hj8

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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Remembering Jen

Sat, 2017-11-11 13:05
Remembering Jen


Jen Sotham was a vibrant part of the Busan community.  She was a vibrant part of any community she encountered.  Jen wrote. Jen sang. Jen danced. Jen filmed.  Jen taught. Jen laughed. Jen spoke from the heart and listened from there as well.  Jen touched so many lives. Jen died this week after a long, amazingly shared battle life with cancer.  Those of us who knew her already knew that she was awesome.  I don't think we realized how much she was going to teach us (and so many others) after she left.

Whether you're someone who got to know her in person or someone who will get to know her through the online and offline legacy she leaves behind, Jen's life is one worth celebrating. So, lift that glass a little higher, sing that song a little louder, and hug that person a little tighter.... To Jen!

- Jeff from:  lucywalkerfilm
Ineffably beautiful to be holding Jen’s hand & head as she peacefully died last night. Awe and privilege and radiance to witness. Too many too intense thoughts for here. Love and prayers to her wonderful family and friends. Even her doctors and nurses so touched by her and devastated. Gratitude and reverence for her peace and acceptance as she made her transition despite its fearsome challenges. Her grace was shocking even as it was tested to the core. Thanks too to @thewinsomebrown and @claudearp for emergency middle of the night spirits and quotings of Joyce and Hopkins. Worlds of wanwood leafmeal. The Dead. We are working on getting Jen’s TED talk from #tedxvenicebeach uploaded asap for those of you asking about that. And mostly and always and of course just love to my friend and inspiration and collaborator Jen Sotham all the way to her last breath and heartbeat and beyond 

We'd like to maintain an archive of Jen's stuff here.  Please comment or email any links or thoughts.

Jen Online

From Jen vs. Cancer

Creative Works

Social Media

Jen at TEDxVenice Beach

Jen @ Wordz Only #2 (Feb. 20, 2010)

Jen Sotham @ Wordz Only#6 (October 22, 2010)

Jen Sotham at The 2012 Acoustic Showdown

"Logistics" - A Romantic Short Film by Jen Sotham

Jen Sotham - "Logistics" Interview

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This Week: Cocktail Fest, Reopened Greenhouse, & More

Sat, 2017-11-11 02:35
This Week: Cocktail Fest, Reopened Greenhouse, & More

Alright. I’m a shit blogger. But as I mentioned in the last post, I am a really well-informed shit blogger these days, and while I’m trawling through countless articles to look for material for work, I’m constantly saving articles, too, that I have a personal interest in and mean to come back to at some point. That point is usually Sunday, when I should be getting work done to make the week run more smoothly. So I thought, while I’m at it, at least I can make myself useful (is that what this is?) and do a kind of round-up on Fridays/Saturdays in the weird witching hours between finishing one week’s work and starting the next week’s.

And what a week it has been my friends. I’m going to try to bring some order to the chaos, but this will probably be an evolving format for a while (or this will be the only time this kind of post ever happens — life is full of mystery).

In Korea

  • Trump came, blah blah blah. Let’s not talk about that. It’s over now, and there were no major international incidents, so let’s just move on.
  • Now, who could use a nice, stiff drink? The Cheongdam Cocktail Festival started last Thursday and will be going on until the 22nd. You can get up to 60% discounts on drinks and bar food at places like Mixology, Lupin and Alice. These are some of the best cocktails Korea has to offer, but they are pricey, so it’s a good chance to try some of these places out at a fraction of the normal price.
  • Also related, if you’re feeling like you’re living in a somewhat Lynchian world of late, there’s a film festival for that. Seoul Art Cinema will be showing David Lynch’s films from November 15 to November 26.
  • The Joongang Ilbo has published an interesting profile of literary critic and writer Hwang Hyun-san. He explains that growing up on a remote island meant that he learned a dialectical Korean that influenced his interest in words and language.
  • And of course, the new Michelin Seoul guide is out. There’s a lot of drama going on with this guide, but it’s not as unique to Korea as some people seem to think. Chefs have been giving back their stars for a while now, for a variety of reasons, and of course the guide is tied up in politics and nepotism all over the world. Why else would it have taken them this long to even get to Korea?
  • And finally, the Daeonsil Greenhouse has reopened at Changgyeonggung Palace. I didn’t know about the greenhouse until about a year ago, but it’s been closed for renovation for about 15 months. I’ll definitely be stopping in soon to check it out. One of my main goals in life is to be set up enough to have a greenhouse, and probably also someone to take care of the plants in said greenhouse, because despite my sharecropper roots, I kill most things left in my care (that don’t have four legs…. my zoo of pets are fine, don’t worry).

In the World

So there’s the world according to me for this week. Eventually I will quell the rising storm of work assignments and bake something or go somewhere. Until then.

The post This Week: November 6-12 appeared first on Follow the River North.

Follow the River North

Freelance writer and editor. American in Seoul. I write about Korean food. I blog about all food. Last year I wrote a monthly column about traveling to different places around the country to explore Korean ingredients and cuisine. This ignited my interest in local foods and cooking, which I blog about regularly now. I also blog restaurant and cafe recommendations, recipes and some background and history about Korean food.

Books & Stuff    Cafés & Shops     Korean Food & Ingredients      Personal     Recipes       Restaurants & Bars

Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

Top 5 Night Markets in Seoul

Tue, 2017-11-07 00:00
Top 5 Night Markets in Seoul

One thing you must have heard of Seoul by now is that it’s a city that operates around the clock, even if it’s public transportation doesn’t. Many people take this chance to stay out all night enjoying the various clubbing and drinking opportunities, but every once in awhile, it is also fun to check out a night market in Seoul.

Have you yet visited a Seoul night market? If not, here are a few night markets in Seoul highly recommended by us for you to check out!


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If your shopping buds are still tickling by the time the clock hits 10p.m, head on over to Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station, which boasts several tall buildings all there to serve your shopping needs. Floor after floor after floor you’ll find women’s clothes, men’s clothes, shoes, bags, other kinds of accessories, and even food. Be sure to brush up on asking “how much” in Korean. Then load up your wallet with cash and be prepared to haggle your way to cheaper prices! And that’s not even where it ends!

Outside, by Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station’s exit 4 and under the bright yellow tents, you can find different kinds of items ranging from clothes to leathery goods to accessories to satisfy your shopping itch. There are also wholesale options by exit 2 of Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station. Be sure to also take a break between your shopping expeditions to indulge in the tasty food options available!

Tucked away inside the area is also a theme park ride called Disco Pang-Pang, which we bet you’ll love too. Just be sure not to eat right before you ride!



This market is located conveniently in the middle of the city, open both day and night. From 10pm until 5am the next morning, you can browse around its night market, which is one of the most famous ones in Seoul. You can find just about anything your heart desires at this market, including amazing food to wash down with some drinks.

However, take into account that some vendors might operate on their own schedule, instead of the regular 10pm to 5am, and that a lot of shops close on Sundays. Also take into account that not all the shopping opportunities are located outdoors – there are also shopping centers such as the Sungyemun Imported Goods Shopping Centre from where you can find more goods to shop for.



Having been established in 1905, Gwangjang Market is Seoul’s oldest market. As it is located close by to Dongdaemun, you may even check out both of them in the same night!

This market is known for selling hanbok, the traditional Korean clothing, but its best part is perhaps the street level. Here, fabric shops and food stalls come together to offer you the best of both worlds in one fell swoop. If there’s one place where you’ll definitely want to explore all the Korean street food available, it’s right here! The best part is, it’s open all night!


#4 BAMDOKKAEBI NIGHT MARKET (밤도깨비 야시장, bamdokkaebi yasijang)

Although this night market was originally opened in just one location in Yeouido, it has since expanded to four locations around the city. On some Fridays and Saturdays, between March and October, you can find this market at one of its different locations: Yeouido, Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Mokdong Stadium and Cheonggye Plaza. And with a different location comes a different atmosphere and experience for the night market.

At Yeouido, you can find a traditional and cultural experience, with not only lots of food on offer, but traditional performances from different corners of the world to be enjoyed as well. You can also find Korean handicrafts for purchase.

In contrast, Dongdaemun Design Plaza’s night market is more modernly vibrant. You’ll find a great mix of food, handmade items, and even fashion and dance shows. The younger crowd especially loves visiting this night market.

If you visit the one at Mokdong Stadium, you’ll find a very sports themed night market. Here locals can buy and sell different kinds of sports equipment, and even get their broken sports items repaired. In addition, you can view showings of extreme sports, all the while munching on healthy and tasty food.

Lastly, Cheonggye Plaza’s market is offered in May, July and September, all of which offer a different season of foods, handicrafts, and performances. It is especially great if you’re going with your family.



While not a traditional night market, as in it is open in the evening rather than at night, checking out Myeongdong is definitely worth the trip. Not only are the two biggest department stores – Lotte and Shinsegae – located right by the area, the streets are filled with clothing stores, ranging from small Korean shops to big international brands such as H&M and Forever21.

And what if you get hungry? No problem! There are several food stalls spread across the streets of Myeongdong to get your tummy full of yummy. In addition to the food vendors, there are also tons of restaurants in the area to soothe your dining needs, even after the shops have already closed for the night.

Next time you’re planning a night out, you just might want to add a night market in Seoul to your plan as well. If you are feeling inspired by all this talk of Korea to test your Korean language skills, you can try our 90 Minute Korean Alphabet Challenge!


What’s your favorite night market in Seoul? Any great food stall or souvenir recommendations? Please share with us in the comments below!


Photo Credit: BigStockPhoto

The post Top 5 Night Markets in Seoul appeared first on 90 Day Korean.

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Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed