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Pyeongchang Trout Festival (Dec 23~Jan 30)

Wed, 2016-12-07 03:13
Pyeongchang Trout Festival (Dec 23~Jan 30)

Looking for something fun to do this winter in South Korea? Well, this winter festival is definitely something that you don’t want to miss out on!

The 10th annual Pyeongchang Trout Festival is a famous winter festival in South Korea that takes place in the town of Jinbu-myeon in the Pyeongchang-gun district, which is about 2.5 hours away from Seoul. Visitors can enjoy ice fishing as well as many other fun winter activities! Pyeongchang is an alpine county that is a haven for winter sports as it receives an abundance of snowfall every year. Here, you can enjoy ice fishing as well as many other fun winter activities like sledding, bobsleigh riding, ice skating and more! The main attraction at the festival is ice fishing, where you can attempt to catch fresh trout from a hole drilled into the ice. You can choose between open-ice fishing (pictured above) or tent fishing (these tend to sell out very quickly).

A fishing rod can be purchased which differs in price depending on the type of artificial bait attached on the line.

Be prepared to sit idly by the hole as you bob your rod up and down, waiting for a trout to bite onto the bait. Bring your own foldable chair or purchase one on-site for comfort!

*Ice fishing is only available depending on the ice conditions. If it is not cold enough, it may not be available as the ice will be too thin, causing it to break easily. If you’re feeling super brave, why not try your hand at fishing for trout with your bare hands? Brrrr… aren’t you shivering just thinking about it? You, along with many other brave souls, will enter a large pool full of trout in just a t-shirt and shorts and attempt to catch grab as many of them with your bare hands.

The best part? You get to feast on what you’ve caught afterward! Choose to enjoy your fish processed raw as sashimi or get it grilled the traditional way over firewood by chefs on standby. Don’t worry if you don’t catch any fish as you can buy them!

If you’re looking for something else to enjoy besides ice fishing, look no further as there’s plenty of recreational activities to do! Choose from snow tubing, ice skating, snow rafting, ice cycling, sledding, spinning rail cars or an ATV (four-wheel motorcycle)! There are even rides like bumper cars and disco pang pang, which is a circular ride that spins around and bounces up and down, accompanied by entertaining comments from the announcer controlling it. Ice sculptures are also scattered around the area for you to take photos with. This festival is something you must check out this winter season as it’s fun for people of all ages. This Shuttle Bus Package offers round-trip transportation for convenience and you’ll also be able to enjoy ice fishing and the activities! Make sure you also check out Yongpyong Ski Resort which is located nearby! With 28 slopes, it’s great for skiers of all levels and features Asia’s longest gondola course spanning 7.4 km!
Alpensia Ski Resort is another great choice with 6 slopes, top-notch leisure facilities and 5-star accommodation. You can enjoy both the ice fishing festivaland skiing at the resorts with our packages! Browse more of our awesome winter tours and ski packages on Trazy.com, Korea’s #1 Travel Shop and plan your trip with us this winter 2016-17!

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Is the Park Geun Hye Scandal is Paralyzing Government in South Korea?

Fri, 2016-12-02 00:46
Is the Park Geun Hye Scandal is Paralyzing Government in South Korea?

This is the English-language version of an article I published with Newsweek Japan last week.

Is anyone else, among readers living in Korea, amazed at how the coverage of this is now essentially non-stop? If you turn on any of the cable news stations here now, it’s Park Geun Hye all day all the time.

My big concern is that she stays on, perhaps surviving an impeachment vote or somehow or other lurching on into the spring next year, while facing regular demonstrations. How much longer will those protests say so peaceful? To date, they have been remarkably non-violent. But civil unrest is not hard to imagine if a hugely unpopular president stays in office for months and months with an approval rating around 4%. Even Park seemed to realize this when she gave that kinda-sorta resignation speech last Wednesday.

And the answer to the post title question is yes, in case you haven’t figure that out yet. Let’s just hope the Norks don’t pull some hijink while the ROKG is frozen like this. God forbid we have some executive-vs-legislative battle over who leads the response.

My previous writing on this scandal is here.

The full essay follows the jump.



he scandal around South Korean president Park Geun Hye and her disgraced confidante is spinning out of control. Park is unlikely to step down, and the barriers to impeachment in South Korea are high, so she is likely to hang grimly onto her office. But her obstinance in the face of massive social resistance is paralyzing government in Seoul. Should she stay for the remaining fifteen months of her term, South Korea may well become ungovernable. It will be unclear who will wield legitimate authority when the president is so widely loathed, and if the street protests and opposition resistance continue, as is expected. The constant threat of North Korean provocation means a long period of stasis presents a strategic risk as well.


The Choi Soon Sil Scandal


The president’s close associate, Choi Soon Sil, has been a family friend for decades. Choi’s father apparently convinced an impressionable young Park that he could commune with her dead mother. When Choi the father died, it appears that his daughter, Soon Sil, stepped into his emerging role as spiritual advisor to Park. The influence of the Chois over Park has been widely likened to Rasputin’s influence over the last czar of Russia. Park herself has not disclosed the details of the relationship, but we do know now that she granted Choi extraordinarily wide reach within her administration, even though Choi had no relevant training or experience in politics. Choi then traded on this influence to amass wealth and favors for herself.

So bizarre is this and so wide was Choi’s reach, that the scandal has provoked the largest, most sustained street demonstrations in Korea since the democratization protests of the 1980s. More than one million South Koreans protested on Saturday November 12, a staggering 2% of the entire national population on the streets at one time. Choi apparently influenced areas as wide-ranging as the presidential wardrobe, presidential staffing choices, and North Korea policy. All this was conducted in secret, which much bureaucratic infighting as some staff sought to limit Choi’s power. Apparently the president even took action against those staffers, replacing them with others who would not challenge Choi. When all this broke, local media portrayed Park as a string puppet; the international press picked-up this interpretation as well. Park’s approval rating crashed to below 5%. The opposition parties abjured all cooperation with the administration, while Park’s party wants her to exit the party and govern as an independent. Should the National Assembly choose to impeach Park, much would defend on how these former party supporters would vote.

What if Park Stays?


Park almost certainly will not resign. She has not responded to the protests, and she has opened her administration to an independent prosecutor to placate public opinion. An old associate of her father’s (he was also president), Kim Jong Pil, said in a widely covered interview that she is too stubborn to step aside. Impeachment is possible, but the opposition must muster a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly (200 out of 300 MPs), on top of which the Korean high court, the Constitutional Court must also concur with a two-thirds majority (six of nine justices). This latter requirement blocked the impeachment of a previous president in 2004.

But with public opinion so strongly against her, plus the opposition parties and some of Park’s own party members, the real question is, can she govern if she stays? The National Assembly will almost certainly reject any meaningful cooperation on legislation. Street protests, endless media coverage, and rolling investigations that seems to uncover more with each passing week, will distract the administration so much, that little presidential or staff time will remain for the affairs of state. As American president Richard Nixon sought to fight off the Watergate investigation, it consumed so much of the White House staff’s time, that the administration was effectively paralyzed. One could easily foresee the same thing happening here.

Park has suggested conceding power over domestic policy to the prime minister. But the opposition, sensing blood in the water and keen to win next year’s presidential election, has dragged its feet on this. This would also probably generate major policy confusion, as the Korean prime minister’s role to date has been to be a president-in-waiting, like the American vice president, rather than to guide policy. It is easy to predict that this newly empowered PM would clash with the sitting president creating gridlock, as is frequently the case in countries with both a powerful president and PM. There is no Korean precedent or constitutional direction for such a prime ministership. This would be uncharted waters.

This Will End

The good news is that South Korea is scheduled to have a presidential election on December 20, 2017, with the inauguration on February 25, 2018. That at least puts a time limit on the chaos. A scandal of this magnitude, the greatest in South Korean democratic history, could have been disastrous in Park’s early years. But fifteen months is still a long time for a democratic government to be effectively paralyzed like this. Except for Watergate, I am hard-pressed to think of any other modern democracy frozen in crisis for such a long time.

If Park stays, her administration will nonetheless be neutered. She will be a care-taker, riding out the reminder of her term. The parliament will give her nothing. A technocratic PM may be able to make small decisions, but were any major issues or crises to arise, it is simply unclear who would rule. This would be a dangerous time for any democracy. Rabble rousers and troublemakers might arise. Civil unrest is even possible if Park insists on her full presidential privileges in the face of a nearly united rejection of her presidency. And of course, always lurking in the background is North Korea, ever-ready to take advantage of trouble and disarray in the South.

International Ramifications


The greatest risk, should South Korea descend into ungovernable stasis next year, is indecisiveness in the face of a North Korean provocation. North Korea is notorious for its efforts to intervene and disrupt South Korean life. Many analysts believe North Korea times its provocations, such as missile launches, to influence South Korean political decisions and elections. Even were Park’s popularity very high, North Korean action next year around events such as US-South Korean military drills is entirely predictable.

The international fallout could expand beyond North Korean opportunism should the crisis grind on. To date, the major states in Korea’s foreign relations have remained quiet. All have their own scandals too, and even in her troubles, Park Geun Hye compares favorably to the tyrants of the Chinese Communist Party or irresponsible populist Donald Trump. Nonetheless three problems will arise in the coming months as serious foreign policy decisions can no longer be put off:

First, can Park’s administration convincingly negotiate the trade deals which are the life-blood of Korea’s export economy? A Central American Free Trade Agreement with a bloc of small Latin American states is nearing completion. In normal circumstances, this would be non-controversial, but now it is unclear if the opposition will ratify the deal. To schedule a vote on the deal and support it would signal business as usual, a return to normalcy with Park submitting legislation to the assembly, and MPs voting on it as required. Yet the assembly’s majority has declared her unfit for office. To work with her would undercut that position and ‘normalize’ her continuation in office.

Second, can Park push the South Korean public toward unpopular foreign agreements such as intelligence sharing with Japan on North Korea, or American THAAD missile defense in the region? Traditionally, presidents (or prime ministers) in democracies can use the ‘bully pulpit’ to persuade and cajole the public to endorse policies which otherwise might be controversial. Park has done so in the past regarding outreach to China on North Korea, and THAAD. But public support for THAAD is fragile, and for intelligence sharing it is low (around 30%). A functional Park administration could move those public numbers by launching a concerted national campaign of persuasion and discussion in the media, parliament, and presidential addresses. That is all but impossible now, because the scandal is becoming all-consuming and her approval rating is historically low. Intelligence sharing with Japan will likely fail this year, as it did four years ago, and the left is unlikely to give up on THAAD now that the president is in so much trouble. THAAD is scheduled for deployment next year; the scandal opens renewed opportunities to fight it.

Finally, as Park shows herself unable to deliver the Korean public support for important foreign policy decisions, foreign leaders will increasingly ignore her. If Shinzo Abe, for example, figures her approval rating is so poor that she cannot deliver intelligence sharing, why even try to pursue it now? Why not simply wait for her successor? As Park flails on foreign policy issues such as THAAD, simply due to scandal gridlock, foreign leaders will treat her as a lame-duck and forestall Korean deals until spring 2018.

Hence the obvious strategic vulnerability of ongoing chaos at the highest levels in Seoul. This is a gift to North Korea, precisely the sort of episode it uses to tell its people that South Korea is corrupt and decadent, precisely the sort of disruption it could worsen with even more disruption. Indeed, I would not be at all surprised if, somewhere in Pyongyang’s backrooms, there was not active discussion of how to take advantage of this mess. Were North Korea to lash out, who could authoritatively shape the South Korean response? Can Park, if she is facing months of street and parliamentary obstruction? Would the left, which has traditionally been somewhat sympathetic to North Korea, support a president whom it demands should be impeached? The potential for trouble is extraordinary.

Filed under: Domestic Politics, Korea (South), Media, Newsweek, Park Geun Hye

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


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Seomyeon Area Coffee Shop Round-up

Thu, 2016-11-24 05:24
Seomyeon Area Coffee Shop Round-up

I have had a bunch of coffee shops sitting in my email cache for a while and thought I would just clear them out. As always, if I end up going to one of these places in the future, I will expand on their comments. If it’s good enough, I will create a separate post. For now, bask in the mass of coffee options in the Jeonpo/Seomyeon area of Busan, South Korea!

135. 1 Liter Coffee (Seomyeon): Remember in a previous post when I posted about “The Liter” coffee shop? You would be forgiven if you were thinking, “Coffee Man, why are you posting about that same place a second time?” Oh, but I am not, grasshopper. This is “1 Liter Coffee.” Ignore that the fonts, color scheme and theme (a shot of espresso and huge-ass cups filled with hot water to give the impression you’re getting a seriously big-ass coffee) are exactly the same, and you might be able to tell them apart. This is not the first time this has happened in Korea, and it’s likely not the last. I did get a cup of coffee here (aforementioned “big-ass” size), with an extra shot of espresso (for 500 won more, still not bad price at all) and it was fine. Unnecessarily large, but fine.136. Bricks Coffee (Seomyeon): A very cute coffee shop in a bustling section of downtown Seomyeon. A friend of mine regularly hosts Thursday night board game nights here.137. Ethiopia (Seomyeon): On the main road that separates Seomyeon with adjacent Jeonpo, the owner of this indie coffee shop at one time came out to my table to give us samples of a cold brew of his. A Korean friend was able to tell us that he was asking us to let the coffee settle on the back of our tongues before we swallowed, and this was a coffee to be enjoyed instead of chugged. Nice place, decent coffee.138. Coffee Salon (Jeonpo): The word “salon” appears to be used improperly on a number of coffee shops. Or, I just never knew it could be used in this way. Anyway, I went here once and their ordering system has you ringing a bell (a freakin’ bell!) and the coffee man comes to your table to take your order. Unnecessarily posh for any of us.139. Corcovado (Jeonpo): Located near the too-post Coffee Salon. This place was fine. But, in the Korean coffee game, “just fine” means, “I’ll never be back.”140. Cafe Drink B (Jeonpo): On a second floor near numbers 138 and 139. When I first moved to this area earlier this year, I thought this place was closed as it was, indeed, closed all the time. In the past several months, it has been open normal business hours. Never been inside, though.141. Cafe J. Mi (Jeonpo): In Korea, 재미 (jae-mi) means to be fun, to be enjoyable. So–and I cannot confirm this–it appears this cafe is playing up on the Korean words for “to be fun.” Maybe? The interior looks cold and far less fun than I’d care to experience, however.142. Speedjobs with cafe (Seomyeon): The name of this place just makes me giggle.143. Dundas (Jeonpo Cafe Street area): Oh, Korean coffee shop, why? Why didn’t you use spellchecker before you had the sign maker note your “spetialty”? Have yet to visit.144. Hafencity (Jeonpo Cafe Street area): “a Cup a day, a Book a month, a Journey a year.” Wise words that may or may not have been lifted from the Internet. This cafe and the remaining two following it are in a section of the popular “Jeonpo Cafe Street” area that still are industrial-majority (you can see as much in the window’s reflection). The whole area at some point was various welders, craftsman, repairman and the like, which have been over the past several years or so shut down and been replaced by restaurants, coffee shops and so on. I was enjoying an early Sunday morning ride when I stumbled upon these, on side roads one would have likely not assumed a coffee shop would exist. They do, because this is Korea. And Korea likes coffee.145. The Bridge Coffee Lab (Jeonpo Cafe Street area): Sounds like super secret experiments are taking place within.146. K’Cafe 835 (Jeonpo Cafe Street area): Peakaboo, I see you!

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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Trump Post-Mortem: 5 Take-Aways from Trump’s Surprise Victory

Thu, 2016-11-24 04:41
Trump Post-Mortem: 5 Take-Aways from Trump’s Surprise Victory



Thisis the English-language version of an article I just published with Newsweek Japan on Trump’s victory. I know there have been a million of these sorts of diagnostic analyses since he won, so this will be my only one. I will get back to East Asia politics next week.

I guess what worries me the most is how Trump toyed with proto-fascist themes, even if he himself doesn’t believe any of it. As I write in the main essay below: “He flirted heavily with race nationalism, illiberalism (attacking the media; winking to the alt-right), anti-democracy (refusal to recognize defeat; insisting the election system is ‘rigged’), and a cult of personality. That is awfully close to a fascist package.” Trump has now demonstrated that there is a constituency for hard-right strong man politics in the US. He ran as an openly misogynistic, racist, cultish candidate, and millions of Americans just didn’t care and voted for him anyway. This is the most important, and terrifying, revelation of the last 18 months. 

No, I am not in hysterics that America is about to collapse. We’ve survived a lot worse in 230 years. I am pretty sure we can survive the Trump administration. He and his family will be epically corrupt, but that won’t bring down the Constitution. There is far too much hyperventilating on the left right now.

But if Trump, or more likely Steven Bannon, can put his stamp on the GOP, the American political landscape will change forever. The Reaganite GOP is disappearing, and in its place will rise a National Front-like nationalist-populist party if Bannon has his way. The US has never seen a blood-and-soil European rightist party. We may look back on Trump as a right-wing turning point even greater than the Goldwater or Reagan presidential campaigns.

The full essay follows the jump.


Donald Trump’s victory is the greatest US presidential upset since Harry Truman won re-election in 1948 against similar predictions. This victory has acted as a lightning strike illuminating the American political landscape to issues traditional media and elites have missed. Here are five initial take-aways:

1. The dramatic outcome does not actually well reflect public opinion.

Trump won because of the unique American quirk of the Electoral College. He lost the popular vote by 1-2%, and the Republicans lost the popular vote in Senate too by an even larger margin. 49% of eligible Americans did not vote. Trump won only half of the rest, around 25% of all voters. The GOP has legally won power, but if it pushes the radical Ryan agenda, that will not reflect the preferences of many Americans.

Given that the same thing happened in 2000, it is probably time to abolish the Electoral College for a straight-up national vote. Were this election a national referendum, as in most democracies, we would be talking today about how poorly Clinton mobilized the Obama coalition, not the possible mainstreaming of Trumpian alt-right politics.

2. There is a potential for proto-fascist politics in the United States.

Trump is not Hitler, but he is closer to Mussolini than many want to admit. He flirted heavily with race nationalism, illiberalism, anti-democracy, and a cult of personality. That is awfully close to a fascist package. Trump traded on white racial paranoia as no major US political figure has ever done. He helped legitimize the alt-right by bringing Steve Bannon onto his campaign, appearing on Alex Jones’ TV show, re-tweeting white rightists, and so on. He promised to imprison his opponent, crack down on journalists, sue his critics, bring back torture, and so on.

Next, he questioned democratic procedure by reserving the right to reject the election outcome, insisting the process was ‘rigged,’ flirting with extra-parliamentary interference (Putin, Assange, rogue FBI agents), and even suggesting at one point that the election be cancelled and the presidency simply given to him. Finally, his campaign took on cultish characteristics, with Trump accurately asserting that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose votes. No matter what he said, his voters stood by him; he referred to his campaign as a ‘movement’ (another semi-fascist reference); Ann Coulter’s hagiography was entitled In Trump We Trust.

3. Racial ‘political correctness’ has broken out of universities to become a national issue.

Trump got tremendous mileage out of the cultural contempt between social liberals clustered in America’s cities and campuses, and rural nationalists who are clearly unnerved by the left-wing identity politics of race. One obvious way to read Trump’s victory is the mobilization of white identity politics on the right after 40 years of such ethnic politicking on the left in the US, especially at universities. Multiculturalism has long been ‘asymmetric’ in the United States, limited to non-whites, with ‘white pride’ understood as racism. Trump has now breached that wall. Balkan-style ethnic-bloc competition is emerging in the United States.

4. Trade continues to be woefully misunderstood.

Trump capitalized on the decline of manufacturing employment in the US and the perception that trade deals hurt American workers. American politicians continue to find it easier to argue for a bean-counting, zero-sum approach to trade, in which factory jobs in developing countries are a gain at America’s expense. These jobs can be ‘brought back’ through mercantilism.

This, and Trump’s entire trade message, is grossly inaccurate of course. Trade is almost always positive sum; most US manufacturing jobs were eliminated by technology in the same way bank tellers were eliminated by ATMs, or rotary phone makers were eliminated by cell phones. Jobs outsourced by trade cannot realistically be identified one-by-one (the research expense would be gargantuan) and brought back. Most have long since diffused into the global supply chain. Next, manufacturing is actually quite productive in the US. It floats between 10 and 20% of output. Its percentage of working class employment though has collapsed, because those plants are heavily automated now and require engineers and degreed employees. Non-college, high-paying working class jobs are not just not coming back, they are gone forever.

5. The white working class is easily conned.

Trump misled, if not lied, to the many disgruntled downscale whites who voted for him. The Mexican wall will be enormously expensive, hugely controversial, and may not even work. The Muslim ban has already been dropped from his website. No amount of alt-right white nationalism can now prevent the slippage of whites into demographic sub-majority status around mid-century.

Tariffs will not bring back jobs. They will only drive up prices for imports, a burden which will fall most heavily on the poor who benefit most from cheap prices brought on by competition from trade. If Trump’s white working class is the ‘Walmart demographic,’ Trumpism will double the prices of all those cheap Asian imports like blu-ray players, baby-clothes and so on. Middle class voters have the income to absorb these price hikes; Trump’s downscale voters do not.

Trump will almost certainly not abandon his class. He will support the massive Ryan tax cut for the wealthy which will worsen the inequality that fires Trumpism, not reduce it. He will likely support welfare state reductions (Medicaid most obviously) which help downscale voters like his own. He will roll back the post-Great Recession financial regulation (Dodd-Frank, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, the rule requiring financial advisors to follow their clients’ best interest) which protects people like Trump voters from the predatory practices that cost so many of them their homes in the Great Recession. Indeed, Trump already made clear what he thought of working class Americans by stiffing them for years as contractors on his worksites or scamming them at Trump University.

My big concern going forward is that the social cleavages Trump starkly revealed and widened, start to overlap into a Red and Blue America that neither understand nor empathize with each other: white, non-college, rural, nationalist, religious vs. diverse, college, urban, cosmopolitan, secular. That looks like Northern Ireland, where multiple cleavages broke the same way, exacerbating everything and raising the prospect of unrest. The future is bluer than Trump’s victory suggests, but in the near-term, we are frighteningly divided.

Filed under: Conservatism, Domestic Politics, Newsweek, Republican Party, Trump, United States

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


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Top 10 Beauty Products Under 5,000 Won From Daiso Korea

Fri, 2016-11-18 10:20
Top 10 Beauty Products Under 5,000 Won From Daiso Korea

Daiso is a shopper’s paradise. You’ll find stores all over in Korea in areas like HongdaeMyeongdongSinsa-dong and Coex Mall. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the store, it sells items for your home, bathroom, crafts, pets, makeup, hair…you name it!

Though it is originally a Japanese chain, Daiso Korea is no longer part of Daiso Japan due to political reasons and sells products completely different from them.

The prices range from 1,000 to 5,000 KRW so it’s the best place to stock up on necessities you may (or may not) need! I always find myself walking out with a lot more than I originally planned to buy because everything’s so inexpensive!

Today’s post is going to focus on their beauty products since that’s what I have a passion for! If you’re a fellow addict like me, these items are an absolute must in your collection!

1. Blending Puff: 2,000 KRW

This product was swept off the shelves the minute it was stocked when it first came out. It’s known in Korea as the “poop sponge” and went viral for its ability to provide a flawless makeup application with a glowy, dewy finish.

Simply wet the sponge until it’s completely saturated and squeeze out the excess water, which will double its size. Then bounce it along the skin with your foundation, blush or bb cream for an airbrushed finish. No more cakey or thick makeup!

You can even buy this adorable holder to store your sponge for 1,000 KRW.

2. Professional Powder Brush: 3,000 KRW

You may be skeptical since it’s so cheap, but this brush proves that you don’t need to shell out big bucks for high-quality brushes!

A lot of cheap brushes from drugstores or dollar stores that I’ve tried in the past have been super scratchy and shed like crazy, but this professional powder brush is amazing!

The bristles are insanely soft and it doesn’t shed no matter how many times I wash it. The best part is that I can easily buy another one even if I lose it since it’s so affordable!

3. Pore Cleansing Brush: 5,000 KRW

If you struggle with large pores, blackheads or dry skin, this item is a must-add to your skincare routine.

Pore cleansing brushes deeply cleanse the pores, helping to reduce the appearance of them and remove dead skin and blackheads that can easily still remain in the skin even after cleansing.

Though many stores sell them, Daiso’s one is much cheaper but of the same, if not better quality!

4. Shampoo Brush: 1,000 KRW

I’ve been using a shampoo brush for over 2 years now and let me tell you, it really makes a huge difference!

This bad boy helps detangle my bleached and damaged hair, soothes the scalp, evenly distributes the shampoo and helps improve overall hair health!

Simply massage the scalp in circular motions after lathering the hair to stimulate microcirculation, which is essential for healthy hair. If you have an itchy scalp, this will help with that!

5. Brush Cleaning Pad: 3,200 KRW

If you love makeup, you’ll know how much of a chore cleaning your brushes may be. It’s got to be done, though, and this tool makes the task easier and more fun! All you need to do is add water and cleaner (shampoo or facial cleanser does the trick) and swirl the brushes on the pad to remove all the makeup residue on them! Voila, squeaky clean brushes! You can even slide it onto your finger like a ring for comfort.

6. Mascara Guard: 1,200 KRW

Say goodbye to messy mascara smudges and clumpy lashes with this innovative mascara guard! This nifty tool isolates your lashline, protecting your freshly applied eye makeup from smudges and allowing you to grab onto every single lash as you apply mascara. It has shields for both the top and bottom lashes as well as a comb to get rid of any clumps for the perfect finish.

7. Manicure Holder Ring: 3,900 KRW

This is a ring made out of silicon that holds your bottle of nail polish securely so you can comfortably do your nails! It also helps to prevent instances where you accidently knock over your bottle of nail polish, making a mess everywhere. No worries even if you turn it upside down either as it won’t fall out! 

8. Metal Eyelash Tweezer: 1,700 KRW

Eyelashes can make your eyes look bigger and more inviting, but unfortunately, not all of us are blessed with long, luxurious lashes.

Applying them can be a difficult task especially for beginners, but this tool will make it a little easier. The center is curved for an easy grip, and all you have to do is grab the lashes by the center and line them up on your lashline. Then use the tip of the tweezers to gently press and secure them in place!

9. Silicon Face Mask: 2,000 KRW

At first glance, it may just look like a regular sheet mask. Well, prepare to be amazed because it’s much more than that.

With regular sheet masks, they tend to just sit on top of the skin which means it’s hard to move around a lot since the mask would come off.

This mask is one that you wear on top of your sheet mask to hold it in place so you can actively do other things as you wait instead of just sitting or lying around. It even has loops to put around your ears so you can even jump around and your mask won’t fall off!

10. Ponytail Hair Pack: 1,000 KRW

If you’ve got dry and damaged hair that’s in desperate need of some tender loving care, stock up on this product!

We all know that moisture is the key to maintaining smooth, glossy locks and hair treatments are the best for helping with that.

This hair treatment is different to other ones in that you don’t need to wash it out afterward, making it perfect to use on the go or right before you leave the house!

Simply wrap your hair in a ponytail and put it into the pack which resembles a pouch, leave it in for 15 to 30 minutes and you will notice your hair is smooth and soft. Every day will be a good hair day!

Don’t forget to stop by Trazy.com, Korea’s #1 Travel Shop for more fun and informative posts like this one! 


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The Different Dialects of Korean

Fri, 2016-11-18 08:10
The Different Dialects of Korean

Find out all about the six different dialects in South Korea~ 경기, 경상, 강원, 전라, 충청, and 제주.

The post The Different Dialects of Korean appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.





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The South Korean Presidential Scandal Unique for its Sheer Weirdness

Wed, 2016-11-16 07:47
The South Korean Presidential Scandal Unique for its Sheer Weirdness



This post is a local re-post of an article I wrote for The Diplomat earlier this month on the the Korean presidential scandal.

Honestly, the whole thing is so bizarre that I am at a loss for words. And the more information comes out, the weird it becomes. The only analogy I can think of for the extraordinary influence Choi Soon-Sil had over Park Geun Hye is Rasputin. I know that seems pretty extreme, but the more you read about it, the more that’s what it sounds like. Choi may have influenced areas as wide as Park’s North Korea policy and her wardrobe. There are even rumors that Choi’s gigilo was on the gravy train too. Yes, really; it’s that weird.

Anyway, Park’s presidency is now over, even if she manages to hang onto the office. She will get nothing ever again from the legislature. She will retain some authority of foreign and defense policy, but even that will be hemmed in. If she does anything controversial, she’ll be hammered for it. So good thing THAAD went through before this all exploded.

Can’t say I have a lot of sympathy for PGH. She ruled as an aloof aristocrat, and she treated the Korean media terribly. I think that’s why there is so little sympathy out there. If she had remembered she was a democratic president instead of a monarch, she might have had a reservoir of public good will to draw on. Alas, a lot Koreans think this is her come-uppance.

My full treatment of the scandal comes after the jump.



Park Geun Hye, the president of South Korea, has lately been engulfed by a scandal that may bring down her administration. Choi Soon Sil, a long-time friend and mentor of the president, allegedly used her relationship with Park to extort money from South Korea’s largest corporations (chaebol). Corruption scandals, abuse of power, kickbacks, embezzlement, and so on, are, unfortunately, established problems in South Korea, as they are in many democracies. ‘Choi-gate,’ as it has inevitably become named, attracts so much attention, however, because of the sheer oddity of Choi’s relationship to the president.

A Korean Rasputin?

Choi’s relationship with Park goes back to the 1970s, when Choi’s father befriended Park’s family in the wake of Park’s mother’s assassination. Choi the elder claimed he could speak to Park’s mother’s spirit, and he seems to have lead some kind of shamanistic cult leader. It is unclear how much Park was taken in by all this, but a US diplomatic cable leaked by Wikileaks noted long-standing rumors that the Choi family had ‘complete control over Park’s body and soul.’ The Chois’ influence on Park has repeatedly been likened to Rasputin’s influence over Russian Czar Nicholas II. Choi the younger was given all sorts of curious access to the Blue House (the South Korean equivalent of the White House) including oversight of the presidential wardrobe, staffing decisions (having Choi’s personal trainer hired, e.g.), and editorial input on Park’s speeches.

It is unclear at the moment if that relationship involved criminal activity. Park Geun Hye, like any politician, is entitled to personal friendships, and democratic office-holders have long sought the counsel of old friends who do not necessarily have rich topical expertise but whom are nonetheless deeply trusted. On assuming the American presidency, Harry Truman is rumored to have said ‘I need some Missouri around me,’ by which he meant long-time friends from his home state whom he trusted more than the experts around him from the Roosevelt administration. Nevertheless, the sheer oddness, utter lack of credentials, and wide influence Choi had is bizarre and disturbing; as one AFP journalist put it: “Why so much fury over Choi in Korea? Imagine if your head of state had a Gypsy palm reader as a key aide and let her handle cabinet formation/policy.”

Korean Presidential Scandals


Park’s defenders note that South Korean presidents regularly get in trouble for corruption and cronyism. Indeed, this is true. Every South Korean president since democratization has been investigated after he left office; some have gone to jail, and one even killed himself over the allegations. More generally, South Korea’s Transparency International score for corruption is a mediocre 56 out of 100 possible points. Corruption is so widespread that South Korea recently enacted an extremely tough anti-graft law. It is also true that Korean presidents routinely suffer crashing approval ratings.

In this sense Park is in good (bad) company. Just over the previous three presidencies:

Lee Myung Bak (POTROK, 2008-13) got entangled in a corruption scandal involving his family and political associates, mostly involving bribery. Lee, like Park, was forced to make a public apology. Lee was also questioned regarding stock manipulation, and his signature Four Rivers project was dogged by allegations that it was far too elaborate and olympian to reasonably succeed and really about kickbacks to cronies in the construction industry.

Roh Moo Hyun (POTROK, 2003-2008) was also pulled into a family corruption scandal involving bribery. He too felt compelled to apologize and committed suicide over the issue.

Kim Dae Jung (POTROK, 1998-2003), we now know, effectively bribed Kim Jong Il to participate in the ‘Sunshine’ process with a cash payment of $500 million. He too got sucked into a family bribery scandal.

What makes Park’s trouble unique in this otherwise depressing history of pay-to-play is the oddity of her scandal. This is not a typical or ‘understandable’ scandal. Scandals over money, political power, sex, or helping friends and family are comprehensible, if still deplorable, because we all suffer from those weaknesses. What sets Park’s troubles apart is that she went to such great lengths to help someone whom most of us would immediately have tagged as a grifter and a charlatan. When Richard Nixon paid off Howard Hunt during Watergate, both were sharp characters looking for a serious pay-off over a major issue. It was illegal but deadly serious.

By contrast, Park looks like a dilettante. What she ever saw in an obvious con-artist like Choi; what serious benefit Park ever got from the relationship; and why she allowed Choi to manipulate her so easily for so long baffles the entire country. Park comes out of this looking, not like a nixonian schemer, but a lightweight mark conned by a snake oil salesman. How does one ascend to the presidency of a major country while simultaneously being a marionette to some weirdo Rasputin character? South Koreans strike me as more mystified and unnerved, rather than dismayed, at their president. As one K-blogger put it, what is so strange is how utterly irrational Park’s downfall is compared to other Korean presidents’ ‘normal’ corruption.

The Future of Corruption in Korea


Park Geun Hye’s case is so bizarre that I doubt it will have lasting impact on the corruption debate here. Her presidency is probably fatally wounded, but Choi-gate does not touch on the sources of more normal corruption in Korea:

– A deeply rooted gift-giving culture: The giving of gifts is an important social bonding mechanism in Korea, which, when transferred to professional environments, can appear like bribery. Successive governments have struggled with this; it would be a shame if the healthy instinct of communitarian generosity inherent in gift-giving were criminalized. Nevertheless, the government is now taking a hardline with the new anti-graft law.

– A large, intrusive state: The South Korean developmentalist state is very active in the economy. It routinely directs resources toward favored sectors and companies (‘picking winners’), opening ample space for business and political elites to interact regarding money. The opportunities for graft are as obvious as they are extensive. These are the sorts of relationships that have repeatedly done in Korean political and chaebol elites. Until the state steps back from the economy, such scandals will continue.

The good news however is that corruption in South Korea is often uncovered and subject to scrutiny. Prosecutors pursue it, and the public gets incensed. All this sunlight should eventually improve the situation as future grifters and cheaters must reckon with the likelihood that they will be caught and punished. South Korea, for all its corruption, is not like Russia or many other states far down on the Transparency International index. Corruption is routinely revealed, and even top officials are punished for it. Cleaning out the dirt may ugly, but it is happening. It is not swept under the rug, as in so many other places.

As for Park, my own sense is that this is a friendship run badly amok. Park’s parents were both assassinated; she is estranged from her siblings; she never married; and she has few personal friends and a distant demeanor. It sounds a lot like she was lonely and lost sight of proper boundaries. Choi’s influence was likely inappropriate and unethical, but it is not obviously criminal. Barring some bombshell revelation, I doubt Park Geun Hye will step down.

Filed under: Corruption, Korea (South), Park Geun Hye, The Diplomat

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


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Travel Review & Tips: Fall Foliage Trip to Naejangsan National Park

Tue, 2016-11-15 06:45
Travel Review & Tips: Fall Foliage Trip to Naejangsan National Park

Greetings, travelers! I’m a member of Trazy Crew, back with a review, this time about my experience on my fall foliage trip to Naejangsan National Park!

Since South Korea is well known for the beautiful fall colors, I wanted to venture out. So last week, I signed up for our own tour package which was the ‘Korea Fall Foliage Small Group Tour‘.

What/Where is Naejangsan National Park?

In case this is your first time hearing about the park,  Naejangsan is a famous mountain located in Jeolla-do Province, which is not too far from Jeong-eup City.

It’s one of the best destinations for viewing a gorgeous color palette of autumn leaves (mainly maple leaves) and breathing in the fresh air in South Korea. Plus, there are also waterfalls and temples to explore.

Naejang means ‘many secrets’, implying that there are many beautiful things to discover in the park. Though fall is definitely the park’s peak season, it’s also gorgeous during the spring when azaleas and cherry blossoms bloom, summer when the mountain turns greener and in winter when the rock cliffs are blanketed in snow. 

The Best Way to Get to Naejangsan National Park

By Train: You can take the KTX from Yongsan Station to get to Jeong-eup Station, then take a local bus to get there. This method can be quite confusing for first-time travelers and the train ticket price may be a little bit expensive as it costs around 40,000 KRW (around 39 USD). And fall is a high season in Korea, which means the train tickets may run out real fast.

By car: It takes around 4 hours from Seoul, but during weekends or peak season, it may take even more. Also, during the peak season, access to the mountain can become quite difficult, especially if you arrive late. The parking lots fill up before noon and the roads get packed. It’s best to arrive early in the morning and leisurely explore.

For those who merely need a transport and do not want to go through the hassle, signing up for a tour package can be a great option as it provides a round-trip transportation and an admission fee.

Trazy’s fall foliage tour package also provides a round-trip transportation, which was a van along with a friendly tour staff member who spoke English. The admission fee is also included. I was picked up at Hongik University Station at 6:00am, but departure locations also include Myeongdong Station and Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station.

*Note that for a larger group of people, a bus may be used instead of a van. On the day of the tour, my tour group consisted of 6 people including myself.

By any means, if you would like to get there by yourself, click here for directions!

There was one rest stop halfway where we could use the bathroom and buy some food. We arrived at the park at around 10:30am ready to explore!

The Top 4 Hiking Trails We Recommend!

In Naejangsan National Park, there is a total of 10 hiking courses in the park. But here are the top 4 hiking trails and courses you should try.

1. Seoraebong Course – The most visited course that starts from the Hiking Information Center and passes through Seoraebong Peak (624m) and Bulchulbong Peak (622m) before ending at the Information Center again. It’s not too challenging, but there is a steep steel staircase that can be a little tiring to climb. 2. Nature Observation Course – Also an easy one composed of mainly gravel roads and dirt that’s great for families, children or the elderly. The entire course can be completed in about an hour and 20 minutes. 3. Baekyangsa Walking Trail  For those who want more of a challenge and really want to get in some exercise, these two trails are recommended. This trail contains several steep slopes and has lots of steps.

4. Ridge Hiking Course – The most challenging course as it passes through all eight peaks of Naejangsan Mountain.

Here’s How Trazy’s Fall Foliage Tour Goes…

We took one of the easier courses that involved barely any steep inclines or difficulty. From the parking lot, we took a free shuttle bus to the ticket area, which took less than 5 mins. By walking, it would take around 15~20 mins.There the tour staff member bought us tickets for the second shuttle to the entrance of the National Park. All courses start and finish from this entrance where the ticket booths are.

The bus fee is part of the tour so we didn’t need to pay but it is normally 1,000 KRW. The first shuttle was big, but this one was smaller and more cramped but it didn’t matter since the journey was short. We passed lots of hikers and tourists despite it only being 11am. On the way, you can find this sign in the picture below. If you are the left was the cable car, which people could ride at an additional cost. 0.5 km to the right was Naejangsa Temple, which was where we were headed and further ahead was Byeongnyeonam Temple.The walk to the temple takes around 5 minutes, and is so enthralling and beautiful that you’ll be stopping for photos constantly! There were also many restaurants and vendors selling vegetables, herbs, teas, kimchi, meat, makgeolli (rice-based alcohol) and acorn jelly as well as various trinkets.

3 Attractions You Should Not Miss!1. Naejangsa Temple

After a leisurely 5 minute walk from the entrance of the park, we arrived at Naejangsa Temple.The temples had people praying inside them and outside pretty much every spot was a photo zone. The trees and floor were coated with leaves and there was a pond with statues spurting out water.Korean temples also have wells called ‘Yaksuto.’ These wells pour out water that is fresh and drinkable, which you can do with the plastic cups provided. The highlight was hands down a singing performance by one of the monks. He was singing a pop song with a voice that you would expect to hear from someone like Pavarotti or Bocelli. He was amazing.

Recommended photo spots:

*Illjumun Gate: It is symbolic because it is the entrance to the Buddhist temple and is apparently good for taking group photos. *The lanterns: These were located in front of the temple. I LOVE the colors and found that they made the perfect background for a photo as they swayed gently in the wind. *The pagoda: It houses the purported remains of the Buddha and makes for the perfect photo with the backdrop of the foliage and blue sky.

*Resting area: This area was where a lot of people were sitting down to take a rest. There were stairs leading up to the top where many photos were being taken too. The photographer would stand there and point their camera down so that the foliage would be captured with the subject in the middle.

2. Uhwajeong Pavilion

The leisurely downhill walk from the temple back to the parking lot was about an hour and 40 minutes down a long path called ‘Five Colors Danpoong (Korean for autumn leaves) Path’.

As we walked down, we saw Uhwajeong Pavilion.

The name is derived from the legend that the pavilion once grew wings and ascended into the heavens. Various flowers, trees and foliage surrounding the pavilion created a view that looked almost fake. The water was also so clear that I could see fish swimming!

The one that stands today was built this year to replace the original one (pictured above) erected in 1965, which was criticized for failing to harmonize with its surroundings.

Recommended photo spots:

*Stone path: I noticed many people taking photos on the stone path leading to the pavilion. They would stand in a line and pop their heads out in alternative directions while flailing their arms, which made for a cute photo.

*From a distance: I also found that taking a photo from further away made the pavilion look like something out of a postcard. This was thanks to the foliage and trees appearing in the surroundings as well as the ray of sunlight! 

3. Sinsun Waterfall

Located further down from where Uhwajeong Pavilion is, Sinsun Waterfall is a historical river bank where Japanese and Korean soldiers fought. Since the river is old, natural stones were stacked in efforts to reconstruct it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get to see the water flowing out on the day of the tour, but when it does, it just looks amazing!

Recommended Photo Spot:

*Sinsun Waterfall and Uhwajeong Pavilion: Because Uhwajeong Pavilion is visible behind the waterfall, it makes for the perfect photo as you can see it in its miniature form in the background behind the cascading waterfall!

Trazy’s Survival Tips – Know Before You Go!

*Wear comfortable shoes! I wore a pair of combat boots that were relatively comfortable, but sneakers would be better. Wear hiking shoes if you plan on trekking along the more challenging courses.*Skip the cable car or be prepared to waste a good two or three hours waiting. It’s much better to explore the paths by walking in that time.

*Stick to bibimbap if you’re not into foods that have strong seasonings or taste. The tour staff told us one of the tourists ordered a bean paste soup, but it turned out to have such a strong taste that was like ‘cheonggukjang’, a fermented soybean paste that has a pungent scent).

*Avoid weekends. If you head to the park on a Friday, there may be an increased amount of traffic when you head back in the evening. This is normal, though.

Review on ‘Korea Fall Foliage Small Group Tour’

Overall, I had a really great time at the park. I was dreading it at first since I am by no means an outdoorsy person, but it wasn’t bad at all! The trail was nice and easy to walk along and the weather was amazing. I captured so many amazing photos and got some exercise too.

I do kind of wish that I had visited earlier since the foliage is in full bloom during early November. Plus it had rained heavily the day before, making lots of leaves fall to the ground.

So, if you are thinking of joining the tour next year, check the weather forecast regularly and book your trip during the month of October.

At any rate, the Fall Foliage Small Group Tour was excellent since I was driven to and from the park by the tour staff. Since the tour is not guided, we were also free to explore the area on our own and be back at the parking lot at a designated time.

For those of you who have never been to Naejangsan National Park or other national parks across South Korea during fall, check out Trazy’s fall foliage tournext year and book in advance if you want to save your seats during the peak season!

Found this post helpful? Don’t forget to check out Trazy.com, Korea’s #1 Travel Shop for more fun and exciting things to do in South Korea.

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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How do you feel about the U.S. Election Results?

Thu, 2016-11-10 10:12
Great News! MAGA! Cautiously Optimisitc No strong feelings either way Somewhat Concerned Shocked, Distressed and/or Scared Don't Care / What Election?
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Dear Korea #149: There is No Escape

Mon, 2016-11-07 15:01
Dear Korea #149: There is No Escape


Long time no see! It’s been a busy few months and some insane life changes have been happening on my side. To offer a clue, I currently live alone and I might be moving to Seoul in the near future. Big stuff, right? Anyways, despite all that’s been going on, it’s been impossible to go for more than a few hours before having political stuff shoved in my face. I assume it’s been the same for anyone else who uses social media. I do apologize to all the non-Americans who have had to deal with everything that’s been coming from our current election.

As much as American politics has taken over the news, it should be noted that some crazy stuff has been going down in South Korea as well. Sure, there’s usually a new scandal or tragedy that shakes things up on this side of the world, but for those who don’t know, things have been on another level. If you’re curious and have absolutely no idea what I’m hinting at, I highly recommend doing some research on President Park Geun-Hye and all the recent news that has been coming out about her. I live in Gwangju, which is already known for not trusting the government, so you can only imagine the stuff that’s been said down here.

No matter what ends up happening or how things go down, I think we can all agree that 2016 is not a great year for a lot of people. That being said, I hope we can all continue to grow and do better while not hurting too many people in the process.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Jen Lee's Dear Korea

This is Jen Lee. She likes to draw.
She also likes green tea.

Got any questions, comments, or maybe even some delicious cookies you want to send through the internet? Feel free to contact us at dearkoreacomic at gmail dot com.

You can also leave comments on the comic’s Facebook Page!


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Poetry Plus+44 @ Vinyl Undergound

Sat, 2016-11-05 06:36

From: https://www.facebook.com/events/192991277777123/

Poetry Plus returns for the second of its two 2016 shows on November 5th, at 7:30 p.m. at the Vinyl Underground in the Kyungsung University area. THE EVENT BEGINS ON TIME. At the last event in April, people started showing up quite early in order to secure the best seating and enviable standing spots. As always, in order to get the most fun out of Poetry Plus, it’s best to come early and stay late!

What is Poetry Plus? Poetry Plus is the longest running expatriate performance event in Busan, & perhaps in all of South Korea. The event grew out of a small community of teachers & fired up on November 11, 2000. Now, Poetry Plus has grown into a fully produced show which brings together a variety of art forms into a single night of fun twice a year.

For Poetry Plus+44, we are happy to introduce eighteen new contributors to the Poetry Plus forum to go along with fifteen veteran ones from a smattering of previous events. Kelvin Brassbridge II, from Busan’s the HAHA HOLE, and Busan’s multi-talented Rob Chrisman will be the hosts and ring leaders in the legendary cavern club. 

When you come to the event, think of it as a night at the theater. Settle in and be part of what's next. Slice of Life Pizza will be offering their pizza slices for sale at the event! Be ready to witness spoken word, short stories, poetry, stand up comedy, music, theater, improvisational performance, & mixed-genre mash ups. 

Furthermore, a slideshow of photographs, illustrations, drawings, & paintings will continually play on the monitors & projection screen throughout the night. So, audience members get the opportunity to take in a gallery exhibit as well as stage performances.

Also, there will be a Poetry Plus Concert Jam Session led by The Laura Palmer Band.

To get there: In Kyungsung (subway stop 212). Go up exit 3 and keep walking straight. Starbucks is on your right. Turn right at the first street and walk 2.5 blocks. On your right, a sign with the Warhol banana, head down the stairs and glide right in. 

Poetry Plus+44

7:30pm: Ikigai: Conor Doron, Courtney Renfroe, Sharlien Schwarz, Gordon Robert Bazsali, Jr.: "Songs with Guitar, Banjo, Ukulele, Cello, Trumpet"

*Kelvin Brassbridge II & Rob Chrisman: “Opening Ceremonies”
*Shannon Sawicki: “Short Story: Ecstatic”
*PJ Metz: “Spoken Word: My Desk Has No Windows”
*cinthesizer: “Theater: Voices Lost"
*Bob Perchan: “Two Poems: Mythic Instict”
*Anthony Velasquez, story, & Mike Dixon, guitar: “The Split”
*Kristian Hart: “Performance: The Primate Condition”
*Ryan Estrada & Hyun Sook Kim: “Performance: Guest Visit”
*Kenneth May, words, Conor Doron, Banjo, Gordon Robert Bazsali Jr.,trumpet, Courtney Renfroe, Cello: “Gondola. Wishbone”
*cinthesizer: “Theater: ...and..."
*Robert Coates: “Solo Guitar”

Intermission: Surprise Guest.

*John Bocskay: “Short Story: Come Again”
*Kristian Hart: “Performance: BABOONS"
*Stephan Simon: “Testimony”
*cinthesizer: “Theater: Found”
*Stephen Edward Hampson: “Stand up Comedy: No Longer in the Middle”
*Kristian Hart: “Performance: BABOONS AND ME”
*Danny & the Good Guys: Daniel Panozzo, guitar & voice, Donghyuk Heo, floor drum, Paul Soren, melodeon, Mike Ventola, bass: "River Run”
*Rob Chrisman & Kelvin Brassbridge II: “Closing Ceremony”

Poetry Plus Jam Session: The Laura Palmer Band: Mike Ventola, guitar, Paul Soren, guitar, Marike Kotze, voice, and other musical maestros!!

Visual Artists
Ben Weller: “Busan: 2010-2015” (Event Photo)
Mike Dixon:”Lost in Cambodia”
Peter DeMarco: “Mirror Mirror”
Michael Woods: “Impressions”
Michaela Amanda Strelec: “Inktober Trails: Traveling Tales”
Niall J. Ruddy: “Stuff & Things”
Richarquis de Sade: “Wanderings”
Courtney Askins Wong: “Sharp Ink”
Jarod Timmerman: “Hawaii Pntngs”

Poetry Plus Staff
Organizer & Instigator: Kenneth May
Visual Art Coordinator: Antony Jackson
Sound Master: Robert Coates
Technical Assistant: Ade Yusuf
Valuable Hands: Ronnie Wilson
Venue Cooperatives: DongHa Kim & Happy Won
Videographer: Cheyenne Lynn

*Poetry Plus is a listening event with periodic crowd participation. 
*Please be respectful of the artists and other audience members. 
*Slice of Life Pizza will be offering a variety of pizza slices for sale at the event.
*Poetry Plus+45 will be back in the spring of 2017.

*This event is dedicated to Megan Heffernan, a Busan expatriate community member, and Busan residents Moon Eun-Young and Moon Eun-Jung, who all lost their lives in the October 12, 2002, Bali bombing. And also dedicated to Patrick Cole, longtime friend of the Busan art scene who passed away two years ago and is sorely missed by many.

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The Top 10 Things You’ll Only Find in Korea

Thu, 2016-10-27 11:02
The Top 10 Things You’ll Only Find in Korea

From soju to noraebangs to K-Pop blaring out on the streets, Korea is a fascinating country that’s always bustling with activity. Thousands of tourists visit every single year and expats settling down in Korea are on the rise.

There are a lot of interesting customs, trends, products and facilities that may seem so normal to Koreans but are fascinating and new to those from abroad. Thus, we present you with ‘the top 10 things you’ll only find in Korea’!

1. Coin Noraebangs

If you love belting out songs, you must visit a noraebang (‘norae’ meaning song and ‘bang’ meaning room) at least once. People go there to sing while drunk (and almost blast other people’s eardrums thinking they can reach that high note), after a break-up (queue a whole round of depressing love songs) or simply to practice their singing!

They’re all over the country on most street corners. Typical noraebangs usually accommodate over 4 people and cost at least 10,000 to 15,000 KRW per hour.

Coin noraebangs, however, are different in that you pay according to the number of songs you sing rather than on an hourly basis. The booths are also smaller, kind of resembling a telephone box.

There will be a microphone or two, a remote control to select songs, and a coin slot to pay for the number of songs you want to sing. Prices normally start at 500 KRW for one or two songs).

Coin noraebangs are recommended for those of you who want to belt out some songs alone in a place other than your shower with a microphone that isn’t a hairbrush. These are absolutely ideal for that!

Read more about the unique Korean room culture from our previous blog posthere!

2. Dating Slang

If you’re looking to meet your potential future girl or boyfriend, not to worry as there are many ways that you can! Blind dating and ‘meetings’ (and no, we don’t mean the kind you have at the office on a Monday morning) are quite common here. Here are some of the terms explained.

So-Gae-Ting‘: A one-on-one blind date where two strangers are set up by a mutual friend. Sometimes the mutual friend will have shown the participants pictures of each other along with information about their school or job.

“So….what’s your favorite color?”

Meeting‘: Group hangouts where one mutual friend or even a few invite their friends to hang out together. They are usually very popular amongst university students as a way of meeting lots of new people. Since it is a large group, there is a lot less pressure. Drinking games are also played to make things more comfortable and fun.

*Never have any high hopes for these. I’ve been on five so far but haven’t been able to meet anyone even close to what I would consider ‘boyfriend material'(sighs). Just focus on having fun!

Hap-Seok‘: Hap-Seok usually happens when a boy or girl finds someone of interest in a bar (since alcohol can make someone more comfortable and confident). They will then go up to them and ask if they want to Hap-Seok (join seats). It’s essentially like a meeting but very spontaneous! Mat-Seon‘ or ‘Seon‘: These are the most serious of all Korean dates, as they are a blind date arranged by parents or relatives with the potential of producing a marriage.

3. Couple Culture

I’m quite content with being single and enjoy the freedom, but sometimes I do get lonely and wish I had someone by my side- especially here. Why? Because couples are everywhere, and boy they sure like to make it clear to the whole world that they’re dating. 

Korean couples will wear matching outfits, accessories, rings, shoes….even underwear! Pretty much anything that shows that they’re dating. Don’t get me wrong- I think it looks cute most of the time. But there’s always those couples that go overboard or have matching things that just make you think ‘why.’ The worst was when I saw a couple with matching crocs. CROCS. I don’t care what anyone says. Crocs are hideous and need to be banned from this earth.

Banish them!

There’s also a bunch of holidays that are specifically for couples, some of which include:

White Day (March 14): Known as the ‘second valentine’s day’, boys give gifts to the girls in return for the ones they received on Valentines Day. Yes, Valentines Day here is when the girls give gifts to the boys!

Rose/Yellow Day (May 14): Couples dress in yellow and exchange roses. Kiss Day (June 14): Confess your feelings to your crush and a new relationship may blossom. Lipstick brands and breathe mints will also have various promotions.

Even Christmas is more of a couple’s night than a time spent with the whole family. You’ll most likely find me drinking the night away with my girlfriends that night. And if you want to document your whole relationship, install an app called ‘between’ which allows you to share photos, messages, and generally chronicle the whole course of your relationship.

4. Drink till you (almost) die

It should come as no surprise to some of you that South Korea boasts the top alcohol consumption level on the planet.Soju. That green glass bottle filled with a devilish substance that’s caused some of my worst hangovers, cringe-worthy text messages, and other bad decisions is the main alcohol of choice in Korea. It’s under 2 dollars at convenience stores and comes in flavors such as grapefruit, peach, apple, and more! You can also mix it with everything from orange juice to energy drinks to beer. Drinking is a way of bonding with your friends, co-workers or family. For this reason, ‘hweshiks (company dinners)’ are very common. Hierarchy is very prevalent in the workplace, and respecting higher-ups is a huge deal. Drinking gives you the chance to open up and strengthen your relationship with them in a casual environment.You’ll find people drinking at parks or playgrounds since drinking in public is legal. Additionally, no one is fazed when they see someone passed out on the street or subway either since it’s such a common sight.

Hangover soup that will warm up your stomach

If you need some hangover relief, head to the convenience store where you’ll find the shelves lined with hangover relief drinks (check out our top 5 here) ! There’s also soups to get nutrients back into your alcohol-filled system. If you love to drink, Korea will be like heaven for you. Bottom’s up, folks.

5. Same Sex Touching

Normally in many other parts of the world, two people of the same sex holding hands or linking arms would make people assume they are a gay couple. In Korea however, while public displays of affection are generally frowned upon, people won’t blink an eye even if you sit on your friend’s lap or walk down the street holding their hand.

You’ll see lots of music videos or shows where celebrities of the same sex have their arms around each other cuddling or have their arms around their friend’s waist. It’s totally normal here and also probably the reason why so many international fans freak out and ‘ship’ members of their favorite idol group with each other.

6. “What’s your Korean age?”

In Korea, your age has nothing to do with your birthday. Instead, you calculate your age by the year you’re born, so it doesn’t matter whether your birthday has passed or not.

So how old am I?

The easiest way to calculate it is to subtract the current year from the year you were born and add one. So if you were born in 1992, then your age is 2016 – 1992 + 1 = 25. The reason why you add one is because you’re already considered to be a year old once you’re born.

This system is fine when you’re young, but gets more and more depressing as you age. If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of those in their late twenties approaching thirty crying as they say “I’m technically still in my twenties!”

7. Offensive Comments

“Why do you have so many pimples on your face?””You’ve gained so much weight!” These are some common comments you may hear from people, whether it be friends, relatives or co-workers.

Me at every family gathering: “Here we go again….”

Of course, there are people who say these things on purpose to offend you, but a lot of times in Korea, they’re simply said out of concern or even love (though I beg to differ). The best thing to do is just laugh it off and not let it get to you.

My technique now is to just do the same thing back. Two can play the game. When one of my aunts recently told me I was getting fat and should get some exercise, I feigned concern and told her she had gotten more wrinkles and should probably get some botox. Needless to say, she shut up right away.

Her-0 : Me-1  *flips hair*

*Tread gently if the opposition is a superior at work or someone you don’t want to have a rocky relationship with. I’m not responsible for any fights that occur!

8. Korean Beauty Products

It’s no secret that Korea is the pioneer in the world of skincare and beauty. Even Western brands are beginning to release products that have formulations and finishes similar to Korean products.

BB creams, lip tints, cushion foundations…. it all started in Korea. Recently, however, the products have become more, erm, interesting. But hey, no matter how strange and unusual they may be, the important thing is that they work! 

I previously mentioned some briefly in this post, and I’ve since discovered many more bizarre products. One of them includes this ‘Starfish All-in-One Cream’ with 70% starfish extract that promises to improve skin elasticity, moisturize, prevent wrinkles, and whiten the skin. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had great regenerating results as starfish  can regrow lost arms and even entire new limbs!

Ugh, even looking at that snail is grossing me out

The site even has placenta, bee and snake venom, and snail mucus cream. Not the usual products you would find on a skincare website. But hey, if it makes me look younger and gives me amazing skin, I’ll gladly try it.

I’d probably eat these since I love anything with salmon

I also found this cream that literally looks like the salmon eggs you find in sushi restaurants. Apparently, the enzymes help to regulate moisture and enhance your skin’s color, texture, and overall condition. The site recommends using 2 to 3 eggs at a time.

9. Fortune-Telling

Fortune-telling stalls and cafes can be seen all over Korea.  There are tents lining the streets and portable vans with little tables and chairs inside.

Find out what life has in store for you through a variety of different methods. For example, ‘kwan-sang’ is where the psychic analyzes little details about your face such as the shape of your nose or how far apart your eyes are to determine your personality. Then they will use this information to figure out the rest of your life.

‘Saju’ is another popular form of fortune-telling. It means the four pillars of destiny, as the readings are based on the day, month, year, and time of your birth. The fortune-teller will consult a book of celestial significance to tell you about your character and how it can affect your future.

Many mothers also consult fortune-tellers about their children before important events. These include things like the college entrance exam to find out whether or not their child can get into a top university or job interviews at a conglomerate company to predict the chances of getting hired.

Some do go a little too overboard and literally rely solely on these fortune-tellers to predict their whole life for them.

10. Love Motels

Sound seedy and sketchy? As the name suggests, love motels can be rented hourly and are for couples who want somewhere private to..erm…’do the deed.’ Since most youths live with their parents even in their twenties or thirties, they’re the ideal place to go for some uninterrupted time together.However, they’re not just for couples anymore. A lot of tourists on a budget or business people who need a place to crash for the night use them as they’re actually really nice and clean!Most will have a queen-sized bed, big screen tv, bathroom, and mini fridge. Some even have computers, jacuzzis, karaoke machines, and video games! Many will even be themed. Take the Spain room for example, which is decked out with Spanish football memorabilia such as Barcelona football uniforms and boots.The best part is that if you look around almost every bus terminal or train station you will find some, so you have lots of options! *Since it is a ‘love motel’, the bathroom may just be separated by a curtain or glass door that’s practically transparent (shown above) so take note if you’re going with someone you’re not too comfortable with (ie. that co-worker you’re not too close with yet).

Which ones do you agree with? Do you have any more to add to the list? Let us know!

If you want to check out more fun posts like this one as well as more fun things to do in Korea, don’t forget to check out Trazy.com, Korea’s #1 Travel Shop! 

Photo Credits

Naver Blog@body4282
Naver Cafe J.metis
Naver Blog@mallnmall 
“No crocs under any circumstances” By Yusuf C 
Naver Blog@jcs203 
“she loves me, she loves me not” By Robert Couse-Baker
“Soju time!” By Graham Hills
“Fruit soju” By Beatlehoon
Naver Blog@jcs203
Naver Blog@53477
“Stanley hudson eye roll” By Giphy
Mizon Creative Beauty Lab
Naver Blog@happynchic
Naver Blog@dukjokim
“Korean Motel” By James Nash

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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The THAAD Debate is now Wildly Overwrought and Exaggerated

Tue, 2016-10-18 23:03
The THAAD Debate is now Wildly Overwrought and Exaggerated

This a local re-posting of an essay I just wrote this week for The National Interest here. That pic is mine, taken next to the US embassy in Seoul.

Basically, I’m amazed at how unhinged the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missile defense debate has become in South Korea. The South Korea left is really digging in its heels and turning this into a huge issue. ‘Activists’ have shaven their head and and thrown eggs at officials supporting deployment. Opposition lawmakers even went to Beijing, which strongly opposes the deployment, to ‘apologize.’ The National Assembly, now with a leftist majority, wants a vote on THAAD, and this might even become a presidential election year.

I honestly don’t understand this at all. All THAAD does is raise South Korea’s missile defense roof by about 100 kms. That’s it. SK already has lower tier missile defense, and THAAD’s radar adds nothing that the US doesn’t already have (contrary to China’s assertions, which the Chinese know but won’t admit). Yet the South Korea left and China (cynically) are treating this like the apocalypse, as some massive re-orientation of the northeast Asian strategic landscape. It’s not.

This is not intended to seem partisan. I actually agree with the SK left on a lot of domestic issues, such as better regulation of the chaebol, press freedom, protests rights, the SK right’s creepy mccarthyism. But on North Korea, I just don’t get the SK left at all, and running off to China over THAAD looked like craven appeasement of a bully. Appalling flunkeyism.

Anyway, read after the jump about why THAAD only buys SK a little more time to figure out to response to NK missilization. It’s hardly a revolution.



Since South Korean President Park Geun Hye’s decision to deploy the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missile defense system in South Korea earlier this year, public discourse has flared intensely over the issue. Dozens, maybe hundreds, of editorials, both in favor of and highly critical, have appeared in Korea’s major newspapers. Analysts have invoked Thucydides to explain it. The conservative Saenuri party speaks of THAAD as a paradigm shift.

But the South Korean left has gotten the most carried away, where deployment of a single THAAD battery with just 8-10 anti-missile rockets, has morphed into great powers once again kicking around Korea. There have been marches, protests, and activists shaving their heads. A regular anti-THAAD protest (which I photographed above) has sprung up next to the US embassy in Seoul. The main opposition elected a new leader, Choo Mi-Ae, who buoyed her appointment with a strong anti-THAAD message. The left’s presidential candidate of 2012, Moon Jae-In, called for halting the deployment. There is talk of using THAAD as a campaign issue in next year’s presidential election.

This is so much sturm und drang over very little – heavily fanned by China, which knows very well how little THAAD changes things and why South Korea wants it. THAAD changes almost nothing geopolitically. It is a defensive system intended recapture the status quo ante against Northern missilization. It does not facilitate American or South Korean offensive action against North Korea or China. Its X-band radar may ostensibly reach into China, as Beijing claims, but other US systems can already determine a Chinese missile launch, so X-band adds nothing. South Korea is only buying one THAAD battery, which has only 8-10 rockets. That battery will not, as a concession to the China, cover Seoul. THAAD also does nothing to reduce North Korea’s conventional, artillery-barrage choke-hold on Seoul.

Next, THAAD has never been battle-tested. No one really knows how effective it will be. But even if all ten THAAD anti-missile rockets were to destroy Northern inbound missiles, the North almost certainly has, or will soon have, many more, including dummies. Finally, THAAD is only a mild quantitative expansion of what South Korea already has. It is not a qualitative shift in regional air battle scenarios. South Korea’s current missile defense capabilities, the Patriot PAC-2 (soon to be PAC-3), reach up an altitude of 40 kilometers, while THAAD can reach around 150 kms. If Beijing and the South Korea left are correct, adding an extra 110 kms of middle defense range is bringing down east Asian stability. This is preposterous.

In reality, THAAD just thickens South Korea’s ‘roof’ a little. It buys South Korea a few more years at best – a bit more time before North Korea builds so many missile, drones, dummies, and so on that it can overwhelm Southern air defense. THAAD does not obviate the North’s nuclear weapons, much less China’s. It just gives Seoul a little more breathing room to figure out what to do about Pyongyang’s spiraling missile program. This minor addition to Southern defense kicks the can of Northern nuclear weapons down the road while everyone scrambles to figure out what to do before air-strikes become a serious option.

Opponents suggest that THAAD will increase North Korean and Chinese anxiety, spurring reprisals. Perhaps, but those are worth the risk now that North Korea is so close to nuclear-tipped missiles and is likely on track to build dozens in the next decade. And it is North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs which are the real challenge to otherwise stable conventional deterrence on the peninsula. Nuclear missilization gives North Korea a growing asymmetric advantage. Failing to respond would leave South Korea more vulnerable to nuclear blackmail, or a nuclear first strike in case of crisis escalation and conflict. Whatever the risks of THAAD deployment, the risks of inaction are greater. THAAD can help mitigate those risks without offensively threatening South Korea’s neighbors.

But these practicalities are overshadowed by larger currents running through the Korean political system. The left remains committed to the Sunshine Policy (even though North Korea cheated egregiously by continuing its nuclear program through that period), and it still has trouble admitting that North Korea is greater threat to South Korea than the US or Japan (yes, really). Moon Jae-In could not politically admit until five years after the Cheonan was sunk, that North Korea was the culprit, and in 2012 an openly pro-Pyongyang political party garnered 10% of the vote. China of course has been glad to stoke all this with overwrought claims of THAAD’s capabilities and its bullying interventions into South Korean politics to block deployment.

It is thus understandable perhaps, that few wish to admit how incremental THAAD actually is. The South Korean left remains convinced that North Korea can be talked down, and playing to Korean anxieties of foreign domination – that America is arm-twisting Korea into this, and that China will turn against it – is powerfully resonant. And China benefits from every tortured Korean political decision that gets cast as Korea ‘choosing’ between the US and China. So long as Korea tilting toward the US also implies aligning with Japan and against a fellow Korean people, there is always sure to be deep popular resentment. All this stress the US-Korea alliance and changes the subject away from the Northern nuclear program – fine outcomes for China.

South Korea’s current defenses against a North Korean missile attack grow porous as Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile capabilities improve. THAAD improves things, but only a bit. Soon Pyongyang will have enough nuclear missiles that a Northern nuclear first strike would be powerful enough to existentially threaten the Republic of Korea. This is the real debate of the future: what will Seoul do when North Korea has so many missiles that it will be able to overwhelm any missile defense, and when those missiles are so powerful that they could destroy the Southern constitutional order in one strike? THAAD does not change this terrifying calculus; it just buys desperate Seoul a little more time to chew over it. That alone is reason enough to support but not overrate it.

Filed under: China, Domestic Politics, Korea (North), Korea (South), Missiles/Missile Defense, North Korea & the Left, The National Interest

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


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Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

Jinju (Lantern) Festival (진주 남강유등축제) Oct. 1~16

Wed, 2016-10-05 01:30
Jinju (Lantern) Festival (진주 남강유등축제) Oct. 1~16


Jinju Namgang Yudeung (Lantern) Festival (진주 남강유등축제), October 1-16, 2016

This is a festival that I have wanted to go to each year but had never made time for it. Even with the long wait and the 10,000₩ entrance fee, this festival was super cool.

Fireworks on the Namgang River at 8pm kicked off Saturday night. Floating lanterns on the water and lanterns of all shapes and sizes all around. There are so many lanterns, I don’t even know where to start listing them. I really enjoyed the lanterns of famous global attractions like the Statue of Liberty and Sphinx. There were also famous characters like Snow White and Beauty and the Beast. 

The most impressive was probably the Jinjuseong Fortress Battle within the actual fortress. The festival itself originates from the lantern lighting custom to prevent Japanese troops from wading the river used during the Imjinwaeran War of the Japanese invasion of 1592. 

Wear your walking shoes and eat beforehand (and/or bring snacks) because I ate a few things at this festival that did not taste good and did not leave me feeling well. 

I drove to Jinju and parking was a nightmare. Parking in Korea is often a battle of wits and patience. It seems to involve driving aimlessly around small alleys, then, risk parking up on a curb or in front of a closed business. 

Taking a bus to this festival would be cheap and easy. From the Jinju Bus Terminal to Jinjuseong Fortress (진주성), you can walk 1 km, take a cheap taxi, or a 20-minute ride on bus 120.


Jinju Namgang Yudeung (Lantern) Festival (진주 남강유등축제), October 1-16, 2016

This is a festival that I have wanted to go to each year but had never made time for it. Even with the long wait and the 10,000₩ entrance fee, this festival was super cool.

Fireworks on the Namgang River at 8pm kicked off Saturday night. Floating lanterns on the water and lanterns of all shapes and sizes all around. There are so many lanterns, I don’t even know where to start listing them. I really enjoyed the lanterns of famous global attractions like the Statue of Liberty and Sphinx. There were also famous characters like Snow White and Beauty and the Beast. 

The most impressive was probably the Jinjuseong Fortress Battle within the actual fortress. The festival itself originates from the lantern lighting custom to prevent Japanese troops from wading the river used during the Imjinwaeran War of the Japanese invasion of 1592. 

Wear your walking shoes and eat beforehand (and/or bring snacks) because I ate a few things at this festival that did not taste good and did not leave me feeling well. 

I drove to Jinju and parking was a nightmare. Parking in Korea is often a battle of wits and patience. It seems to involve driving aimlessly around small alleys, then, risk parking up on a curb or in front of a closed business. 

Taking a bus to this festival would be cheap and easy. From the Jinju Bus Terminal to Jinjuseong Fortress (진주성), you can walk 1 km, take a cheap taxi, or a 20-minute ride on bus 120.


Hi, I'm Stacy. I'm from Portland, Oregon, USA, and am currently living in Busan, South Korea. Check me out on: Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Lastfm, and Flickr.


Categories: Worldbridges Megafeed

Temple Stays in Seoul

Thu, 2016-09-29 09:30
Temple Stays in Seoul

You hear nothing but the sound of crickets and birds chirping as you gaze at the sun starting to peak through far off in the distance, along with the tranquil sound of water trickling down the stream nearby. Sound like a dream? Well, this is a sight you may be able to witness when you experience a temple stay in South Korea. 

What is a Temple stay?

A temple stay is a unique cultural program that gives participants the opportunity to experience the life of Buddhist practitioners at traditional temples. You can search for your true self and become one with nature, clearing your mind through meditation, prayer, and various activities. Korean Buddhism is a way of mind that helps rejuvenate the soul and body.

Programs are currently offered at more than 50 different Buddhist temples in various parts of Korea. Each temple has its own program and activities based on its location and particular spiritual focuses. You will follow a structured schedule as you learn the prayers, eat vegan food, and attend the morning and evening ceremonies. Religious or not, everyone is welcome to stay for as little as one day to a whole week.

Main Activities1. Yebul : Ceremonial Service

‘Yebul’ is the most important event in the daily routine of Korean temples, with people paying their respects to the Buddha enshrined in the Dharma hall three times a day. The teachings are repeated before dawn, at 10:00 in the morning, and in the evening. It is the main ceremony that regulates the day so it is attended by everyone in the temple compound.

The Heart Sutra and Buddhist chant are read aloud, 108 prostrations to the Buddha are executed, and the Dharma drum, Buddhist bell, wooden fish drum and cloud-shaped gong are stricken in order. The prostrations symbolize a fresh start, ridding you of greed, anger, and ignorance as you learn the precise etiquette and actions for bowing.

2. Chamseon : Zen Meditation

Zen is known as ‘seon’ in Korean. Chamseon is a form of meditation that allows people to reflect on themselves. There are two forms of meditation that you can choose from, which are ‘jwaseon (seated meditation)’ and ‘haengseon (walking meditation).’ Monks will instruct you on the proper posture.

Jwaseon will have you sitting quietly as you focus your mind on finding peace at heart, usually taking place on temple grounds. On the other hand, haengseon will be held outside as you walk slowly and steadily around a beautiful nature spot.

3. Barugongyang : Monastic Meal

Barugongyang is a unique and special way of eating in Korean temples. Meals are eaten in complete silence and not a single grain of rice or drop of water is wasted. You only put on your place what you can finish. Be careful not to slurp or make any clinking noises with your utensils as you eat.

As it is against Buddhist beliefs to hurt animals, the food is vegetarian and made up of mostly seasonal vegetables which will cleanse both the body and soul. However, stimulating foods such as onions and garlic are avoided as they are thought to create heat, distracting the mind from meditation. Barugongyang teaches the importance of eating food with care and appreciation. You are free to go for multiple rounds as the idea is not to go hungry, but rather simply not to waste.

4. Dado : Tea Ceremony

‘Dado (tea ceremony)’ is one of the oldest customs in Korea that involves the process of boiling and serving tea. Traditional tea clears the body and mind, and the ceremony focuses on spiritual awakening which symbolizes purification, absorption, and meditation. Making the tea and washing the cups is all part of Buddhist training.

To enjoy the tea, start off by focusing on the sound of water boiling, then relax as you breathe in its soothing fragrance and see the soft and subtle colors. Lastly, feel the warmth of the tea radiate through the cup as you slowly savor the taste.

Temples Offering temple stay programs in English

As temple stay programs have become increasingly popular among foreigners, more and more places are conducting their programs in English so people can understand the meaning and beliefs behind the practices.

1. Bongeunsa Temple

This 1,200-year-old temple in Samseong-dong, Gangnam was the head temple for Seon Buddhism during the harsh oppression of Buddhism by the Confucian-favoring Joseon Dynasty. You may think that most temples are located in the secluded countryside, but Bongeunsa has mass appeal as it is set against the backdrop of the modern skyline with Gangnam‘s towering skyscrapers and flashing lights.

You can find out about the temple stay programs they have through this link.

2. Gilsangsa Temple

Gilsangsa Temple is situated on the southern side of Samgak Mountain in northern Seoul. First registered in 1995, some of the buildings have been remodeled though most still preserve their original state. Many people frequent the temple as it is conveniently located in the heart of Seoul. It also serves as a downtown cultural space, offering many programs like classes on Buddhist teachings, temple experience, and temple stay.

You can find the temple stay program schedule here.

3. Geumsunsa Temple

Geumsunsa is located in the north of Seoul and belongs to the Jogye Order. Thriving with over 600 years of history, this venue is one of the largest Buddhist temple complexes in Korea and literally means ‘golden mountain temple.’ It features a three-story building called Mireukjeon that contains the world’s largest indoor statue, which stands at 11.82 meters.

To find more about the temple stay program details, click here.

4. Hwagyesa Temple

Located at the foot of Samgak Mountain in the north of Seoul, Hwagyesa Templeis surrounded by beautiful mountains and landscapes that create a serene atmosphere to help visitors escape from urban life. A small water spring named Oktakcheon next to the temple is famous for its supernatural healing powers for the skin and stomach diseases. Legends say the spring was formed from crows pecking away at the rocks.

Check out the temple stay program schedule here.

5. Myogaksa Temple

Myogaksa Temple is to the east of Seoul in the quiet residential district of Jongno-gu, Sungin-dong. Established by Monk Taeheo Hongseon in 1930, it is tucked away in the foothills of Naksan Mountain. The location was chosen based on Feng Shui, with the belief that by being situated on Naksan Mountain, it would bring peace and happiness to the residents of Seoul.

Find out more about the temple stay program here.

6. Jogyesa Temple 

The head temple of the Jogye order in Korean Buddhism is Jogyesa Temple, located in the heart of the city in Insadong. The temple grounds are surrounded by urban buildings, a great escape from the big city for both locals and foreign tourists and convenient to visit. It is especially packed with visitors during the Lotus Lantern Festival when the entire courtyard is embellished with paper lanterns.

Take a look at the temple stay programs offered here!

7. International Seon (Zen) Center

The International Seon (Zen) Center is a meditation and Buddhist propagation training center as well as a learning facility for Buddhist cultural practices. Its overall aim is to promote awareness of the value of Korean Buddhism and its practices to the global community. It is located in Mokdong. Book a temple stay experience at this location here.

Book a temple stay experience at this location here.

Temple Stay Etiquette & Tips

Temples are a site of historic preservation as well as personal meditation. Therefore, it is very important to keep quiet and adhere to the rules and regulations.


* Refrain from speaking loudly, shouting, running, singing or playing music.

* Physical contact between men and women is strictly forbidden.

* Eating and drinking in undesignated areas or while walking is prohibited.

* No chewing gum, drinking alcohol or eating meat or fish

* No Smoking


* Use the correct side doors to walk into each building. Never enter through the middle as this is for the monks only.

* Whenever you meet someone, greet them with a half bow. You must also bow towards the Buddha when entering and leaving the temple.

* ‘Chasu’ is the posture used when walking within a temple or in front of a monk, portraying a humble mind and silence. Fold your right hand over your left hand at the center of your belly to achieve this posture.

* For Yaebul, enter the main hall through the side door and do three full bows facing the Buddha before sitting on your mind. So how about it? Find peace in a peaceful environment away from your clamoring and fast paced lifestyle, even if it’s just for a day or two. The temple stay programwill give you the chance to experience and witness something that’s completely different to what you’re used to – and you’re going to love it.

Check out the list of temple stay experiences we offer here and don’t forget to bookmark Trazy.com, Korea’s #1 Travel Shop, to find the best deals and fun things to do in South Korea! 

Photo Credits
“Beopjusa Temple Stay South Korea” By MeganYoungmee
“Tenryuki Kyoto two people relaxing” By Jesper Rautell Balle 
“Temple Stay” By raYmon 
“Temple Stay at Hwagyesa – Meditating” By sellyourseoul 
“Pyeongtaek Cultural Tour – Sudosa Temple Stay – U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys, South Korea – 21 April 2012″By USAG- Humphreys 
“Tea ceremony” By Jordi Sanchez Teruel
“Bongeunsa” By jcs203 
“Gil-sang Sa (길상사) Buddhist Temple, Seoul, South Korea” By Jirka Matousek
“Geumsansa” By Steve46814
“Hwa Gye Sa” By Martin Roell
“Myogaksa Temple” By Sandra K. 
“Myogak Temple3” By culturalcorpsofkoreanbuddhism
“Jogyesa Main Hall” By Steve46814
“Meditation” By Moyan Brenn

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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7 Korean Drinks You Need To Try Immediately

Tue, 2016-09-20 05:00
7 Korean Drinks You Need To Try Immediately

There are an infinite number of reasons to visit Korea – whether it’s the art, the fashion, or the food, there’s truly something for every visitor to make a trip to Korea an amazing experience. What people don’t often talk about, however, are the amazing drinks that are found throughout Korea.

Like Korean meals and Korean snacks, Korean drinks are all insanely interesting and wildly different from one another. Whether you’re looking for something warm, something sweet, or something that’ll fill you up, read through our list below to figure out which Korean drink is perfect for you!

Korean Drink #1: Banana Milk

Photo credit: http://seoulcolors.com

Banana milk is one of the most popular beverages on this list by far – nearly one million bottles of banana milk are sold per day in South Korea! While it sounds kind of boring in theory (it truly is just banana flavored milk), something about the combination of sweet and savory notes in this Korean drink have ensured it has risen to popularity very quickly.

Initially, banana milk became popular because the government wanted to encourage South Koreans to drink more milk for their health. Pick up a banana milk the next time you see it so that you understand what all of the fuss is about!


Korean Drink #2: Sikhye

Photo credit: http://aromacookery.com

Sikhye is a traditional Korean rice drink that’s as sweet as it is traditional – so sweet, in fact, that it’s often served as a dessert! This Korean drink contains cooked rice, which gives it an interesting texture as you get to the bottom, and has been served in Korean for centuries as a traditional end to a meal.

Drinking sikhye is such a rite of passage that you can even find it in bottles or cans in most Korean supermarkets! Pick up a can of sikhye (or order it in a restaurant) and treat yourself after your next big meal – you won’t be disappointed!


Korean Drink #3: Coffee Milk

Photo credit: http://ramblingsabout.wordpress.com

Oh, coffee milk. Where would we be without you? Coffee milk is pretty straightforward as far as Korean drinks go – literally coffee infused milk. It’s chock full of caffeine and is the perfect drink for when you have a long day ahead of you and need some extra energy. Not to mention, it’s sold in the cool packages in the photo above – how fun is that?

Pick up a couple of packages of coffee milk the next time you have a long week ahead of you (or if you need some extra energy to explore Seoul) – just remember to throw the packages out when you’re done playing with them!


Korean Drink #4: Milkis

Photo credit: http://milkis.com

The milkis tagline, “new feeling of soda beverage,” is NOT lying — milkis is definitely unlike any drink you’ve ever had up until this point. Milkis is a Korean drink that combines carbonation, milk, and corn syrup, so what you’re left with is a fizzy, sweet drink that’s oddly refreshing at the same time.

Although the classic, unflavored milkis is great on its own, you can also find this Korean drink in a variety of fruit flavors ranging from strawberry to banana to keep things interesting. You can find milkis in eclectic grocery stores around the world, so you don’t even have to wait until your next trip to Korea to try this Korean drink! Be sure to let us know what you think of your first milkis experience in the comments below.


Korean Drink #5: Omija tea

Photo credit: http://www.pinterest.com

The omija berry is named for its unique blend of flavors (‘omija’ literally translates to five-flavor), so it’s no surprise that tea made from the omija berry is versatile as well. While it can be enjoyed on its own or with honey as a sweetener, omija tea can also be flavored with mung beans or flowers to turn it into a variety of punches.

This tea is perfect for when you feel a cold or the flu coming on – it supposedly has a range of medicinal properties that keep colds at bay. According to traditional Korean medicine, omija tea may even help restore the liver over time! I recommend you try classic omija tea before trying one of its variations so you can get a feel for the unique flavor profile of the omija berry.


Korean Drink #6: Chrysanthemum Tea

Photo credit: http://ccjk.com

Yes, you read that correctly! Chrysanthemum tea is a popular (and incredibly beautiful) Korean drink that’s a crowd favorite for good reason. To make this very visually appealing tea, dried flowers are steeped in honey for several months and then brewed with hot water, producing a light and slightly sweet tea full of flower blossoms.

Both delicious and fun to look at, this tea is a huge hit in the cold winter months while colds are running rampant. We’re not sure if there are actual medicinal properties or if drinking something beautiful makes you feel awesome – either way, we’ll take it! Pour yourself a cup of chrysanthemum tea and experience a Korean drink you won’t want to miss.


Korean Drink #7: Bacchus

Photo credit: http://vaiguoren.wordpress.com

If you need a pick-me-up and coffee milk isn’t cutting it, give Bacchus a try! Bacchus is an energy drink often compared to Red Bull – though its creators originally intended for it to be used as a way to combat hangovers, it’s now marketed as a hardcore energy drink for people who really need a boost. Grab a bottle of Bacchus the next time you’re in a convenience store that sells it – you’ll have a hard time sitting still for the rest of the day, but you certainly won’t complain about being too tired!


Have you tried all of the Korean drinks on this list? Be sure to tell us all about your favorite in the comments below (or all about your favorite Korean drink if it’s not featured in the article)! We’re always excited to try something new.

Learn to read Korean and be having simple conversations, taking taxis and ordering in Korean within a week with our FREE Hangeul Hacks series: http://www.90DayKorean.com/learn

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


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South Korea’s Earthquake Risk & Possible Damage Scenarios

Tue, 2016-09-13 02:18
South Korea’s Earthquake Risk & Possible Damage Scenarios

This week, South Korea experienced two strong earthquakes centered near Gyeongju city, including a magnitude-5.8 quake that was the largest ever recorded in the ROK. Before these events, due to seismic activity earlier this year in Japan, as well as aftershocks felt in South Korea, some were beginning to ask if a whether a major seismic event could also hit the ROK & if buildings, bridges & other infrastructure could survive. To answer these questions, Korea FM host Chance Dorland spoke with Korea Institute of Geoscience & Mineral Resources (KIGAM) senior researcher Dr. Taesung Kim & Tae-Hyung Lee, a Konkuk University department of civil engineering professor & member of the Korean Earthquake Engineering Society.

This episode is brought to you by Podcast Assist & its $30 per hour flat rate podcasting voice overs, editing, mastering, transcriptions & even hosting (select a topic, they’ll create & host the podcast). Visit Facebook.com/PodcastAssist for more information. 

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Interview answers, both in written & audio form, have been edited for length & clarity.

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GAME OF MINDS - Busan's Escape Room - New Rooms in Gwangan & Seomyeon!

Mon, 2016-09-12 05:05
Website:  http://game-of-minds.com/


What is the Game of Minds?

Before proving yourself in the project “Game of Minds”, it is good to learn first, what the reality of the quest is.

History of the title

It is good to start with the terminology. The word “quest” itself is well-known and we frequently use it in life, when we search for the meaning of any object. Actually, the word “quest” means the searching for an object. But the roots of “Game of Minds” and other similar projects come from computer games of the same-name genre. Virtual quests, also called “adventures”, distinguish themselves by the presence of tasks that require mental effort from the players. These are not violent slasher games or one-on-one fighting games that we see today. Computer quests appeared at the dawn of the video game revolution (in the start of 1980s) and are still popular today. The classic example of the quest game can be the video game based on the Indiana Jones movies.

From virtual to reality

The situation with real quests is much more interesting. It is not certain when and where this form of entertainment appeared, but many believe it to be Japan. According to popular belief, it was in the Land of Rising Sun in 2007 where the first quest in reality was opened. The publisher of entertainment magazine in Kyoto arranged for the citizens of the city unusual adventures in clubs and bars when they had to find all the codes and hints within one hour. Then he began conducting quests in gardens and abandoned hospitals, in large stadiums and even in churches.

The public liked the new kind of entertainment, and therefore, the quests spread into Asia (Thailand, Singapore, China), Europe and the USA. At the present moment the largest centers of the quests in reality are Beijing (China) and Budapest (Hungary), where more than hundred rooms are based. It is remarkable that in Asia for the fixed time (they get only 56 minutes there) only 10% of participants are able to complete the quest. However in the USA only 2% are able to complete the quests.

So, what's the point?

So, what is «Game of Minds»? The game represents itself as full immersion in imaginary reality: everything looks totally the same as in computer games, but the action is conducted in real room with tangible objects. The mission for the players consists of escaping the room they are locked in. For this purpose they must use their logic and sanity, as the players will be solving brainteasers, searching hiding-places, getting hints they have to interpret correctly, and ultimately obtaining the key which will open the door to the freedom.

Players will have only one hour to complete the quest. After the time is up, the doors of the room will open even if the team does not complete the task. If at first you don’t succeed in the completion of the quest, a second attempt may be purchased. The team may consist of two, three, or four persons.

You can get acquainted with the rules here, but the major thing that the players of “Game of Minds” should remember is that if they want to overcome the enclosed space they should use not the “strength of Hercules” (it is better not to use force at all, because the items have the way to broken) and not the wisdom of King Salomon, but ordinary logic, gumption and imagination.

At the present moment of the project “Game of Minds”, seven quests are open and ready to be played: “Jail”, “Polar station”, "Interstellar" and "Nautilus" - located on Gwangalli Beach and "Harra Potter", "Da Vinci", "Cannibal" - located on Seomyeon



Address of game locations in your Busan:




Busan, Busanjin-gu, ChungangDAERO 680Beonga gil 11-5, 2nd floor (Bujeon-dong, 198-10)





Game of Minds - Busan's First Escape Room
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Don’t Fear Trumpism too Much, East Asia – You’re Already Governed by It

Thu, 2016-09-08 00:44
Don’t Fear Trumpism too Much, East Asia -You’re Already Governed by It


The following is a local re-up of an essay I wrote for The National Interest recently. That essay was edited. The original is below, and I think it is better.  

The text in the picture is Chinese and reads: “Donald J. Trump super fan nation, Full and unconditional support for Donald J. Trump to be elected U.S. president.”

That Trump has sympathizers out here makes sense – even though he bashes the region all the time – because he obviously got a lot of his political ideas from East Asia: Mercantilism, race nationalism, hostility to immigration, huge distrust of Islam, oligopolistic mega-corporations dominated by interlocking family and crony networks, soft authoritarianism, manipulating the state to benefit politically-connected insiders, golf – that’s Trumpism. But it’s also the de facto governing ideology of contemporary Sinic-Confucian East Asia.

I remained convinced that Trump learned about East Asia primarily through the ‘declinist’ school of the 1980s. The popularized version of that argument was Michael Crichton’s 1992 novel Rising Sun. Given that this is Trump we are talking about though, he probably just watched the movie instead. This is why he talks about Japan so much.

What just amazes me is that Trump simultaneously has a 35-year history attacking the East Asian (mostly Japanese) nationalist-developmentalist model while pretty much proposing to bring it to the United States now if he gets elected. Trump is basically acting like what he thinks Japanese businessmen acted like in 1985 – just with an extra thick layer of idiocy and know-nothingness on top . Why does no one else see this? So if you are Japanese, maybe you can be proud in a weird way (lol): Trump thinks he’s you, just turning the tables.

The full essay follows the jump.



One of the (many) ironies of Donald Trump’s emergence is the general dislike for him in East Asia, especially among American allies, who clearly want Hillary Clinton to win the presidency. For ‘Trumpism’ actually channels pretty well how much of East Asia is governed in practice. To be sure, East Asian elites are not much like Trump himself – thankfully. They are business-like (to the point of leaden), not prone to outbursts, far more serious and better versed, and so on. But Trumpism will likely outlive its bizarre tribune this year, and once shorn of the Orange One’s shenanigans, East Asian elites should find its message quite familiar. Trumpism – nationalism tinged with racism, trade mercantilism, hostility to immigration and Islam, border control, disdain for the media and transparency, family-based business oligarchy, semi-authoritarian political style, and so on – is more or less the unstated ruling consensus in places like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and China. Consider a few issues:

Immigration & Ethnicity

Japan and South Korea have some of the lowest immigration rates in the developed world. This is by design; it is difficult to obtain long-term visas for anyone who is not an English teacher. The non-native populations of South Korea and Japan are in the low single-digits. And those that do live there are almost always an out-group rarely occupying positions of authority in the private or public sector. China, technically with over fifty distinct ethnicities, has ‘Han-washed’ these cultures and standardized languages and customs throughout their borders. It has ‘encouraged’ Han internal immigration to non-Han areas, most famously Tibet, and enforces standardized Mandarin in public schools to compel integration.

Trump has called for a complete ban on Muslims entering the country, and has questioned accepting Syrian refugees. Like Trump’s base, East Asia is intensely critical of Islam and has accepted virtually no refugees the Middle East. The select few that do make it face discrimination and diminished expectations, and even in democracies like Japan and Korea, they are treated poorly. Muslims in China are repressed and suspect; in Singapore they are informally locked-out of power.

Trade & Mercantilism

In addition to congruent views on immigration, Japan, Korea, and China share similar Trumpian views on trade: there is a finite amount of pie on the table and a bigger slice for others means a smaller slice for us. Trump’s evaluation of agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as “bad deals” that allow the other to “take advantage of us” mirrors mercantilist attitudes in East Asian agricultural and manufacturing industries. Even democracies like Japan and Korea continue to throw up NTBs to protect their national champions: take for example the half trillion in government subsidies dished out to Korea’s biggest conglomerates last year – Samsung, LG, and Hyundai to name a few.

China, of course, is worse. The difficulty foreign firms have there – with corrupt officials, politicized investigations or tax treatments, corporate espionage, and so on – are well-known. Some of the world’s largest tech companies – arguably America’s foremost export – have limited footprints in the country, ceding market share to Chinese domestic alternatives. When deals are completed for foreign company expansion, there are often the result of joint ventures between Chinese firms and private international entities. These arrangements frequently insist on tech transfers and other concessionary privileges in exchange for market access. This sounds much like what Trump wants to do.

China also uses trade as a geopolitical weapon as Trump proposes. When the Philippines tangled with China over the Scarborough Shoal in 2012, China immediately stopped accepting bananas, mangos, and other tropical fruits that represent a significant portion of Filipino exports. Only once Manila backed down and withdrew their complaint did trade flows resume.

Semi-Authoritarianism and Dislike for Free Media

Trump’s authoritarian flirtation is also reflective of East Asia’s political style, where executives are very powerful, legislatures are weak, media are crippled by libel laws and ties to state actors or corporations, rule of law is often bent to accommodate wealthy businessmen and nationalist pressure, and so on. Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan all have outsized executives only weakly constrained by legislatures. I have had students refer to the South Korean presidency as an elected monarch. In these system, decision-making comes from the top, and there is little the opposition can do in key areas such as foreign policy or criminal justice.

Civil liberties in China, South Korea, and Japan are relatively weak. Mr. Trump, in his calls to deport 11 million people without due process and his removal of journalists from events are eerily similar to South Korea revoking the passport of a Japanese reporter and trying him for defamation. Large parts of the internet are entirely blocked in China. Japan has dropped to 72 out 180 nations on the World Press Freedom Index, behind such countries as Madagascar, Georgia, and Niger.



Trump is arguably a reaction to multiculturalization of America. He speaks to those looking for a traditional nationalism of race and soil. This has always sat uncomfortably with America’s formal constitutional tradition of credal nationalism, but in East Asia this paradox scarcely exists. To be sure, biracial Japanese, Koreans, and so on exist, but discrimination against this small minority is genuine problem. Instead, race and language are broadly still the populist determinants of nationality, and nationalism, often with racial and grievance overtones westerners find reminiscent of the 19th century Europe, is the overwhelming regional ideology. To be sure, much of this is Hegelian myth-making – the building of nationalist historiography for contemporary state purposes. But the point is that East Asia is very much of the modernist-nationalist mind-set regarding the state and its borders, much as Trump voters are. When Trump says, ‘if you want to have a country, you have to have borders,’ East Asia embodies that today probably more than any other part of the world.

Since the 1980s, Trump has followed – as much as he as able to, I suppose – Asia; he was an original Japan-basher back in the day. What an irony that, for as much as he dislikes the region, he is now importing its mercantilist-nationalist trade model to the US.

Robert E. Kelly (@Robert_E_Kelly) is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Pusan National University. More of his work may be found at his website: https://asiansecurityblog.wordpress.com/.

Filed under: Asia, Domestic Politics, Elections, Japan, Media, The National Interest, Trump

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


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Korean Business Etiquette and Business Practices

Wed, 2016-09-07 04:44
Korean Business Etiquette and Business Practices

As a person who might be interested in working for a company in South Korea, it’s important to know the local customs for doing business and experiencing company life. Just like any other country, South Korea has their own particular working and business culture. Thus everyone planning to work or do business in Korea should be aware of the Korean business etiquette before their first meeting.

Let’s cover what you need to know!


Meeting for the first time

In Korea it’s common to be introduced to a new business person by a third party as opposed to introducing yourself. These days it’s become more normal in Korea to shake hands when you meet someone for the first time. However, that hasn’t entirely taken the place of bowing, which might still take place before the handshake.

You should also not go into a first meeting without having your business card ready to be given to the person you are meeting. When receiving a business card from someone else, you should read it carefully before placing it on the table to show the utmost respect. When presenting and receiving business cards, you should also try to use both of your hands.


Business meetings

Do make the appointment for the business meeting ahead of time, perhaps even a few weeks beforehand. Schedule it somewhere in the mid-morning or mid-afternoon, without cutting into anyone’s lunch time.

Be aware of the reality that if these business meetings get cancelled, it often happens with little or no advance notice. If it happens once, it’s probably of no malicious intent but because something unavoidable simply popped up. However, if the same person repeatedly cancels on you, it might be a sign. It could indicate that they’re not that interested in doing business with you or doing business with you must be postponed for some other reasons.

If you’d like to reduce the possibilities of a misunderstanding during a meeting, sending out written materials prior to the meeting is a useful trick. When showing up to the meeting, be punctual and bring a gift with you. Punctuality is a sign of respect. Gift-giving helps in building relationships, thus easing your way to get the result you want out of the meetings.


Business contracts

Koreans prefer contracts to be flexible with room for adjustments and view the interpersonal relationships of the companies as more important than the contract itself. The contract is seen more as simply an outline of the working relationship more so than a binding agreement. Be aware of this and communicate about it clearly with whomever you’ll be signing those contracts with.


Addressing your business partners

While the amount of Koreans using Western names when doing business with you is rapidly growing, they will likely be delighted if you know their Korean name as well. Try to be fully knowledgeable of their title and department, and address them with their title and family name, if applicable.


Building business relationships

Keep nurturing a relationship with your Korean business partner or client after contact has already been made. Some ways to do this is by giving gifts to them on their big national holidays (Korean Thanksgiving and Lunar New Year) or by contacting them and visiting them on your business trips to Korea (even when your business is unrelated to theirs).

It’s very important to show them that you are interested in a long-term relationship and commitment with them instead of just wanting to make profit off of them. Don’t be afraid to bond through personal conversations, though remember not get too personal with them.


Other Korean business etiquette to note

Some other things that you might want to know about Korean people and their business culture is that it’s of high value to be as modest and humble as you can. You might not want to completely undersell your company, but it’s also best to keep your boasting about your company and its achievements to the minimum.

Also, although Koreans in general might want to avoid making eye-contact with someone as a sign of respect, in the business world it’s important to keep eye-contact with whom you’re doing business with to show your sincerity and trustworthiness. When expressing your opinions or possible criticism, try to be as delicate as possible instead of being too direct. Saving face is a big thing in Korea, and being opposed by someone in public can be deemed as greatly embarrassing.

If you’re from the Western world, you might be accustomed to fast decision-making. However, it’s a little bit different in a country like Korea where the sense of hierarchy and collectivity is stronger.

Try to stay patient, as hard as it may be, and don’t expect any conclusions to be made in the first meeting. Maybe even learn a few words of Korean, or at least keep your English as clear and simple as possible for your business partners to understand, as not every Korean business person you’ll meet is confident in their English skills.

There’s a high chance that at least one of your business meetings will take place in a restaurant or a bar. Eating and drinking (especially drinking) are a big part of Korean culture, so participating in drinking with your potential business partner is a great way to help form that interpersonal working relationship with them.

However, if for some reason you can’t drink – such as religious reasons – be honest with them about it. If you’re just not a fan of alcohol, be honest about that, too.


Korean business etiquette wrap-up

The two keywords to end your “lesson” on Korean business etiquette with are ‘Confucian values’ and ‘Kibun’ (기분). ‘Confucian values’ are still very much integrated in Korean culture. This means that respecting authority, collectivity, harmony, working hard, and staying modest are all greatly valued virtues.

‘Kibun’ is another expression for ‘face’, something that’s important to maintain in Korea. Koreans often seek harmonious relationships in both work life and personal life. This might take a while for a straightforward Westerner to grasp as you might often not get a direct ‘no’ as an answer to a question or a request, though it’s subtly implied.


Now that you’re more knowledgeable about Korean business etiquette, you can walk into that meeting with confidence!

Learn to read Korean and be having simple conversations, taking taxis and ordering in Korean within a week with our FREE Hangeul Hacks series: http://www.90DayKorean.com/learn

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


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