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ReLEx SMILE: myths or truth?

Thu, 2019-08-22 08:50
ReLEx SMILE: myths or truth?

(sponsored post by BGN Eye Hospital)

ReLEx SMILE: myths or truth?

These days many people heard about ReLEx SMILE surgery, which is a type of laser vision correction used to correct myopia and astigmatism.

Though it is becoming more and more popular, still some people have wrong ideas and myths about the procedure. Here are some of those myths and the truth revealed.


SMILE laser eye surgery is still new and developing, so it is not safe

While it is true that SMILE is a relatively new procedure when compared to LASIK, that does not mean that it lacks safety or effectiveness. Multiple studies have examined SMILE refractive surgery and found it to be a safe and useful procedure for correcting nearsightedness and astigmatism.

Surgeons in the USA, Europe and Asia successfully use SMILE and receive high satisfaction from patients.


My prescription is too severe to be treated

For nearsightedness and astigmatism SMILE laser eye surgery is capable of treating the vast majority of cases as long as other eye health problems are not present. 

Basically SMILE surgery is possible until -8 to -9 diopters. The best way to discover if your case qualifies for SMILE refractive surgery is to visit clinic for pre-surgery examination and consultation.

BGN Eye Hospital Busan provides free Vision Correction surgery examination and consultation for all patients who would like to check whether they are the candidates for the procedure.

Surgery is painful, and if I blink something could go wrong

Many people have trouble controlling their blinking when faced with pain or discomfort which is natural! Luckily, the developers of SMILE laser eye surgery planned for this.  The procedure involves the use of anesthetic eye drops to numb the nerves of the eye, and a speculum and suction is employed to ensure that your eye stays in place throughout the procedure. 

Surgeons ensure that the conditions are safe before they begin the procedure, and the total duration of the treatment is only 7 to 10 minutes, with laser work of about 30 seconds. Patients who had the procedure have all reported that the surgery itself is painless.

Recovery from the treatment can involve some discomfort for several hours, but is quite manageable, and the eye should completely recover only a few days after the procedure. Other forms of LASIK eye surgery involve more nerve interaction and take longer to heal, so SMILE  actually offers improvements on the pain and recovery side.

SMILE surgery requires a long recovery

When compared to other surgeries, this is not the case. There is a day out for the surgery, of course, and patients may feel discomfort several hours after the procedure, so they are recommended to stay indoors. 

But in most cases patients can get back to normal life, work and studies already on the next day! And full vision stabilization comes within 2 weeks.

The results will not be permanent, and further surgeries will be necessary 

There is a possibility of the secondary vision decrease (2-5%) after any kind of laser vision correction. The probability of the secondary vision decrease depends not on the type of the surgery but on the patient`s prescription and individual corneal conditions.

If patient has enough corneal thickness for the secondary surgery, BGN Eye Hospital guarantees free secondary procedure in case of secondary vision decrease.

To find if you are a candidate for SMILE or other vision correction surgeries contact BGN Busan for free examination and consultation. 


010-7670-3995 (7/24) or kakao: eye1004bgnbusan.
You can also check their Facebook pages, to find some useful information



Don`t forget to check promotional events they have at the time of booking.

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Nothing's Really Real Podcast: (Ep 64) Ryan Estrada

Mon, 2019-08-19 11:47
Nothing's Really Real Podcast: (Ep 64) Ryan Estrada

Ryan Estrada is an artist, author, adventurer, return guest and friend of the show. He comes in to talk about a few of the big projects he’s got on the horizon. We talk about a recent viral trend he started, how he deals with rejection, and staying motivated while balancing multiple projects. We talk about cutting off hyena heads, setting oneself on fire, and bidets. We also talk about how Ryan recently found out a mass-murderer was following him on twitter. Of course, Ryan shares a Moment of Triumph and a Memory of Regret - and on top of all that - Ryan not only DRINKS HIS FIRST BEER EVER on this show, but he shotguns it proving once and for all that he is not a baby.Ryan Links
Ryanestrada.com/Twitter.com/ryanestradaInstagram.com/ryanestradadotcom If you enjoy the show, tell a friend about it, and please leave a review on iTunes or whatever app you listen to podcasts on. I’d really appreciate it!

 Nothing's Really Real Podcast:  Soundcloud    Stitcher    iTunesKoreabridge.net/NothingsReallyReal
 @NothingsReally     @nothings.really.real

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Tips for Raising a Bilingual Kid (feat. Hyunwoo) | A Glass with Billy

Fri, 2019-08-16 14:00





Tips for Raising a Bilingual Kid (feat. Hyunwoo) | A Glass with Billy
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Can Koreans Pass a Korean Language Test? | 한국 사람들도 어려워하는 한국말 Top 10

Fri, 2019-08-09 14:00





Can Koreans Pass a Korean Language Test?
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Best Korean Actresses of All Time

Thu, 2019-08-08 00:00
Best Korean Actresses of All Time

Much like with actors in Korea, there are also a fair amount of actresses that are loved, adored, and respected by the viewing audience.

In some aspects, these Korean actresses may even be held in a higher regard than their male counterparts. Whether it’s a movie or a drama, there are always new actresses coming in to capture hearts.

However, there are some Korean actresses that will rise above all others, over and over again, and below we pay tribute to a few of them.

Can't read Korean yet? Click here to learn for free in about 90 minutes! Joon Ji Hyun

Recommended to watch in: My Love from the Star

Joon Ji Hyun was already Korea’s darling ever since she starred in the drama My Sassy Girl.

However, when she starred in the hit drama My Love from the Star, she immediately rose into international fame.

If she already wasn’t of such status, she is most definitely among one of Korea’s highest rated drama actresses now.

Park Shin Hye

Recommended to watch in: You’re Beautiful

With her youthful and beautiful look, Park Shin Hye has not only received fame through her acting chops but become memorable through her appearance as well.

She’s one of the best paid actresses in Korea, and it’s no surprise as she is constantly appearing in the most popular dramas, especially ones geared towards younger audiences.

In addition to her acting skills, she is also a talented singer.

Song Hye Kyo

Recommended to watch in: Descendants of the Sun

She’s one of the highest ranked celebrities among all genders in Korea, including non-acting celebrities as well.

Through her appearances in several well-received dramas and movies, she has risen to triple A status throughout Asia.

Her latest drama, Encounter, finished broadcasting in 2019.

Ha Ji Won

Recommended to watch in: Phone

As one of Korea’s most versatile actresses, it is no wonder that Ha Ji Won has become so popular and famous.

She has received several awards for her roles, both movies and dramas.

Like many other Korean actors and actresses, Ha Ji Won has also dabbled in music, having even written some of her own songs.

Shin Min Ah

Recommended to watch in: My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox

Another incredibly versatile actress, Shin Min Ah and her fresh look shine in both comedy and more serious work.

Although she started her career as a model, and is still a familiar face in several ad campaigns all around Korea, it is the last decade’s hit dramas such as My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox and Oh My Venus, that she is especially known for.

There is at least one movie starring her coming out this year.

Ku Hye Sun

Recommended to watch in: Boys Over Flowers

Much like Lee Minho, Ku Hye Sun also rose to both domestic and international fame through the hit drama Boys Over Flowers.

To keep up with the momentum, she has continued to star in dramas actively ever since.

On top of acting, Ku Hye Sun is also well-versed as a singer-songwriter, director, amongst other artistic endeavors.

Bae Suzy

Recommended to watch in: Dream High

Although Suzy originally rose to fame as an idol member of the girl group Miss A, she has made herself an even bigger name through her acting.

Having appeared in more than 10 television dramas to date, she has become one of Korea’s most sought after actresses.

Despite gaining momentum in acting, she has continued earnestly to work as a singer and an idol as well.

Gong Hyo Jin

Recommended to watch in: It’s Okay, That’s Love

Over the last 20 years, Gong Hyo Jin has appeared in more than 20 movies and in nearly as many TV dramas.

She is undoubtedly one of Korea’s best liked actresses, especially when it comes to stars of romantic comedy.

On top of a great career in film and TV, she has also taken her talent to theatre.

Yoon Eun Hye

Recommended to watch in: Lie To Me

Despite the fact that Yoon Eun Hye has spent the past few years laying low, she has long been one of Korea’s most popular actresses.

She made her debut as a member of the group Baby VOX, but has mainly worked as an actress since 2005 when her contract ended.

She shot to fame with the almost back to back popular dramas Princess Hours, Coffee Prince, and My Fair Lady, cementing her legacy among Korea’s best actresses early in her career.

Lee Young Ae

Recommended to watch in: Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

While Lee Young Ae wasn't seen in a film or a drama for a long time since starring in the movie Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, she has continuously been regarded as one of Korea’s best paid and most popular actresses. Especially among the slightly older population.

She is so highly regarded that she even became the first Korean actress to ever be invited as a member of the jury for the International Berlin Film Festival.

Lee Young Ae finally returned to TV in 2017, and to the big screen a year later.

Choi Ji Woo

Recommended to watch in: Winter Sonata

Choi Ji Woo might be a slightly unfamiliar name to our younger readers, however she has a long and steady career behind her, starting in the mid-90s.

And she is most definitely not a stranger to those who watched dramas in the early 2000s, starring first in Winter Sonata, and then in Stairway To Heaven right after.

Throughout her career, she has won several acting awards.


While this list details some of the best Korean actresses of all time, it certainly leaves a lot of room for more to be discovered. Who are your favorites right now? Who do you think should be on this list? Let us know in the comments below!


Photo Credit: BigStockPhoto, Soompi.com, Mipijin, kimetc (et cetera) and Yoon Min-Hoo [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)], tenasia10 [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], KIYOUNG KIM from Seoul, South Korea [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

The post Best Korean Actresses of All Time appeared first on 90 Day Korean®.

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LTW: Korea a Punching Bag?

Thu, 2019-08-01 13:12
LTW: Korea a Punching Bag? Bad week for South Korea. Russian A-50 AWACS plane broke into S.Korean airspace in East Sea (Sea of Japan) on July 23 during joint Russia-China military exercise, testing the tattered S Korea-U.S.-Japan triangle alliance after recent sentimental trade war between S.Korea and Japan. Total of 18 South Korean F-15 fighters had to scramble, firing 360 warning shots to force the Russian plane out. It was the first time Korean airspace was violated since the end of Korean War in 1953. When asked for apology, Russia snapped that it was Korean pilots who went crazy enough to fire shots. Angered by South Korea's recent deployment of F-35 stealth fighters, N.Korea's Kim Jong-un fired two short range ballistic missiles again on July 25, which Donald Trump said was O.K. Adding insult to injury, Italy's Juventus manager put Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench throughout the match against K-League All Star team on July 26, thumbing his nose at 65,000 packed spectators and millions glued to TV at the expectation the super star would play minimum 45 minutes.   S.Korean neighbors are poking fun at South Korea. China is still making economic retaliation for allowing THADD missiles in a U.S. base in S.Korea. Japan is slapping on S. Korea with export restriction on key materials used for semi conductors. Russia is making a dangerous entry to Korean territory. A cartoon in French newspaper Le Monde below describes the current situation very well with Japanese, Chinese and Russian anglers trying to catch a fish called Coree (Korea). The funny thing is this cartoon was published over 110 years ago around 1904. Japanese angler eventually caught the Coree in 1910, and put it on sashimi plate for dinner. History better not repeat. 
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Mandeoksa-ji Temple – 만덕사지 (Buk-gu, Busan)

Thu, 2019-08-01 01:11
Mandeoksa-ji Temple – 만덕사지 (Buk-gu, Busan) The view from the entry at Mandeoksa-ji Temple Site in Dongnae, Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Mandeoksa-ji Temple Site is the most famous historic temple in the area. The temple grounds still house a smaller size temple, but it pales in comparison to the former temple that once took up residence on the same grounds. It is not clear when the temple was first constructed, however, there have been numerous excavations done on the site including in 1971, 1990, 1996, and 2001. It’s believed from the artifacts found at the temple site that the temple used to be called Gibisa Temple. Additionally, there were twelve pieces of grayish-blue earthen ware found at the site, too, that dates back to the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C – 935 A.D.). Also, the foundation stones to the main hall that were found at the temple site are four times larger than those at Beomeosa Temple. Adding to the importance of this temple, there were large Chiwei (roof tiles) similar in size and design to those found at Hwangnyongsa-ji Temple Site and Girimsa-ji Temple Site in Gyeongju. Based on this, it’s believed that the temple was a national Buddhist temple. Lastly, it’s believed that the temple was burned down to the ground sometime during the Imjin War (1592-98).

Mandeoksa-ji Temple Site, in Busan, is located on the southern slopes of Mt. Geumjeongsan (801m) and just south of the famed, and remote, Seokbulsa Temple. You approach Mandeoksa-ji Temple Site up a narrow road just north of the entry to Mandeok Tunnel. The temple also lies just west of the Sagi River and a collection of urban farms. There are some nice trails in and around the temple grounds.

The first thing to greet you, rather surprisingly, is a long, yellow building with a Korean flag stretched around one of its walls. Climbing the uneven set of stairs, you’ll pass through the Iljumun Gate at Mandeoksa-ji Temple Site. To your left, you’ll see a field of grass with a pair of tiny three tier pagodas in its centre. This field is then backed by a rectangular pond with a smaller sized statue dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal in its midst.

To your right is an entry to the yellow building that you first saw from outside the temple grounds. This is a contemporary, and almost appears to be, temporary main hall at Mandeoksa-ji temple Site. As you enter the main hall, you’ll first notice a black haired statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Next to this statue and painting on the far left wall is a painting and mural dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars). On the main altar sit a triad of statues. In the centre rests Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). And joining this statue on either side are Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). And on the far right side of the main hall is multi-armed and headed statue dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion).

Past the main hall and the cul-de-sac that houses the temple’s kitchen and visitor’s centre, and past a tree and a few cairns that house a collection of smaller sized Buddhist statues, you’ll find a much larger statue dedicated to Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha). This statue is book-ended on both sides by two stone lanterns. And behind this statue sit thirty-three smaller statues dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal.

HOW TO GET THERE: There are two ways to get to Mandeoksa-ji Temple Site. In both cases, you’ll first need to get to Mandeok Subway Station, line 3, subway stop #310. From there, go out exit #2. Head towards the east just north of Mandeok tunnel. There are numerous signs along the way that guide you towards the temple site. In total, it’ll take about 15 minutes to walk. You can either walk or simply take a taxi. The taxi ride should last about three minutes and cost you 3,300 won.

OVERALL RATING: 3/10. While historically significant, there’s very little that still remains from this temple’s glorious past. With that said, the grounds are well taken care of and the artwork in and around the temple is beautiful, too.

One of the trails that leads up to Mandeoksa-ji Temple Site.A cedar tree with the front facade to the temple off in the distance.The yellow front facade that welcomes you to Mandeoksa-ji Temple Site.The Iljumun Gate at the temple.The pair of diminutive pagodas in the lower courtyard at the temple.The statue of Gwanseeum-bosal that stands in the centre of the temple pond.The upper courtyard at Mandeoksa-ji Temple Site.Some of the Buddhist statues that are placed under the shade of a temple tree.The main statue that stands in the upper courtyard at the temple site.A closer look at the Yaksayore-bul statue.To the rear sit these thirty-three statues of Gwanseeum-bosal.The entry to the temple facilities.Inside the main hall at Mandeoksa-ji Temple Site.The altar to the right of the main altar inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.And then it was time to go.
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Traditional HoTteok (꿀호떡) – Korean Sweet Pancake

Tue, 2019-07-23 21:56
Traditional HoTteok (꿀호떡) – Korean Sweet Pancake HoTteok (꿀호떡) – Traditional Method Korean Sweet Pancakes

HoTteok (꿀호떡) is a popular street food in Korea that’s cheap and tasty. It’s filled with nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon, wrapped in a dough ball and flattened on the pan.



  • Warm water (heat to 40~44ºC / 105~110ºF)
  • 2 teaspoons – Yeast
  • 2 cups – Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons – Sugar
  • ½ teaspoon – Salt
  • 1 Tablespoons – Oil
  • Brown sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Nuts (can be peanuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds…)
HoTteok (꿀호떡) – Traditional Method Korean Sweet Pancakes

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DirectionsHoTteok Dough
  • In a cup, combine warm water and yeast. Stir lightly and set aside to proof for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • While the yeast proofs, in a large bowl, combine flour, salt and sugar then mix.
  • Once the yeast is ready, add it to the dry ingredients in the bowl and mix.
  • Knead the dough, adding the oil as you knead. Add extra flour if the dough is too sticky.
  • Once dough is thoroughly kneaded, press down into bowl, cover the bowl and set aside. Let the dough rise to about twice its original size. Depending on the temperature, this should be about half an hour to one hour.
HoTteok Frying
  • Heat a large pan to medium heat and add a liberal amount of cooking oil.
  • Oil your hands lightly to prevent the dough from sticking to them.
  • Take a pinch of dough and form it in your hands. Make a ball and stretch, flatten into a disc shape.
  • Take the filling and add a spoonful to the center of the dough disc.
  • Grab the sides of the dough and close it into a ball, keeping the filling inside the dough.
  • Set the ball onto the frying pan and let it fry for about a minute. You can form more balls while these cook.
  • With a spatula and/or press, flip each ball over and press them into a flat pancake. Continue to cook another minute.
  • Flip again and press until both sides are golden-brown.
  • Move to a serving dish and allow them to cool at least a couple minutes.

The pancakes are ready to serve, but take caution as they will be quite hot straight from the pan and can cause burns. Let them cool down before taking a bite.

If you like, you can serve with more filling on top.

For a quicker method that doesn’t use dough, but sliced bread, try our HoDdeok (5분 꿀호떡) – Quick and Easy ‘Cheat’ Method.

If you want to learn how to make other Korean desserts, try our ganjeong – puffed rice snack or visit our main page at Yorihey.com.


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We Got Lost in Korea's Back Streets of Euljiro (을지로) | feat. Noealz

Fri, 2019-07-05 14:15





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Nothing's Really Real Podcast: (Ep 61) Johnny The Greek

Wed, 2019-07-03 11:03
Nothing's Really Real Podcast: (Ep 61) Johnny The Greek

Johnny The Greek is a stand-up comic, one of the original Ha-Ha Holers, and hardcore comedy enthusiast. We have a good talk about his background, Greek heritage and family. We talk about music, movies and comedy. We talk a lot about stand up and the right kind of attitude to have if you’re going to take to the mic.

Johnny also shares a Moment of Triumph and Memory of Regret. If you enjoy the show, tell a friend about it, and please leave a review on iTunes or whatever app you listen to podcasts on. I’d really appreciate it!

 Nothing's Really Real Podcast:  Soundcloud    Stitcher    iTunesKoreabridge.net/NothingsReallyReal

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Korean with Won: Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing 'About Time'

Tue, 2019-07-02 23:47

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Korean with Won: Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing 'About Time'
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It’s Time to STOP Hating HDR

Sat, 2019-06-29 22:19
It’s Time to STOP Hating HDR

Around 2007, a friend introduced me to this “new technique” called High Dynamic Range photography or HDR for short. He had just gotten into it and was making some truly epic images.

one of my first few HDR images

We sat on the banks of the Taehwa River in Ulsan South Korea, looking at what is now my current home. He showed me how to bracket the images and then edit them with this program called “photomatix” and from then on I was hooked.

HDR also increased in popularity soon after. Propelling photographers like Trey Ratcliff to stardom. His free HDR guide was hugely popular and so was the rest of his Stuck in Customs site. His HDR images even hang in the Smithsonian. With the rise in popularity also came legions of haters.So why do so many people hate this style of photography?

In The Beginning…

Not all people were as good as Trey and so not all HDR images were well… good. When photo sharing sites like Flickr were in their hayday, a lot of people were exposed to very bad photography and it was easy to pick out the HDR shots. Just look at mine below. NASTY!

one of the worst images that I have made with HDR

With any trendy style of photography, from faded instagram photos to all the way back to selective colour shots of your cousin’s wedding, people go nuts for new trends. With the emergence of photo-sharing sites back then we were witness to a lot of HDR experiments. It was the trend.

I was hoping HDR would have saved a failed shot

From murky skies to images that looked like unicorn vomit, HDR shooters changed the way we look at photography (or made us wish we didn’t look, in some cases). This also also opened up a world of toxic articles and comments.


After shooting for so long I have pretty much seen it all. There’s the film shooter who believes that shooting expired rolls of film documenting homeless people makes him a superior photographer. The studio photographer who masks out every blemish and wrinkle from his model but comments about a landscape photographer’s work as being “over-processed” and unrealistic. Childish insults are often thrown at people’s hard work and passion.

it doesn’t have all be clown vomit

Articles from popular websites like this one casting shade on photographic styles that they don’t like. Note the part about HDR where the author states “When I look at most HDR photos, I sometimes wish that HDR was never invented in the first place. HDR is a great technology, but people overuse and over-abuse it too often. Sadly, most HDR photographs appear plain ugly, with photographers trying to pull something special from a failed photo” . That particular article was written in 2014 and those snobbish ideas still are around today. The sad part is that too many photographers carry that air of superiority. A bad photo is a bad photo, but as soon as you mention HDR, people start sticking their noses up in the air.

A common opinion from 2014 still lingering around in 2019. Source: Photography Life https://photographylife.com/top-photography-sins-and-mistakes-to-avoid

The problem is that nobody is really seeking to teach or to help. They are simply either writing the articles for clicks or (even worse) simply doing it to put another photographer down. This is something that I am keenly sensitive with as I have faced it a lot with my own career. There are just too many snotty holier-than-thou photographers out there for my liking.

Challenging scenes can be handled with skillful HDR editing

The point being is that you can hate people’s work. That is fine. There are many terrible photographers out there. However, you don’t have to be a jerk and unless you are an award-winning photographer (the local photo club annual MVP award doesn’t count). Even if you are Trey Ratcliff or and Elia Locardi, then you are in a better position to be a better guide or teacher without being a jerk.

The thing is that we are all capable taking terrible photos. Even our best photos will not resonate with everyone. The people hating on HDR or any other form of photography? They are just your average photographer, in most cases. Nothing more. So keep that in mind. We are all no better than the next photographer.

Give It Up

This toxic drivel is nothing new. When I was university, photoshop was a taboo word. It was just starting to emerge and this was long before digital photography became affordable to the public. My professor’s went on and on about the meaning of what they called “real photography” and how a photoshopped image was not to be called a “photograph” but an “image” because it was edited in a computer program. That was close to 20 years ago and I hear the same arguments about HDR photography.

There are those subtle insults as well. I am sure that you have seen them where the commenter is giving a compliment where they say “you can’t even tell that this is HDR!” Which is meant as a compliment but is in reality a subtle put down because it implies that using HDR is a negative thing.

You can still have a bit of fun. Don’t anyone tell you how to make your images.

Basically, I feel that we should all just give up on the finger pointing and move on. Sure, you can snicker about the latest hyper-saturated monstrosity that a colleague has shared, quietly at home but just keep in mind that there is somebody rolling their eyes at you everytime you talk about your love of film photography and black and white street signs.

The final thing is that you have to realize that hating on HDR or those who like it, is nothing new. It is not clever or funny any more than your Dad calling you a hippie when you don’t put your hair up in a man-bun. It’s that outdated cringe worthy put-down that deserves to be laid to rest.

The bottomline here is that we need to just focus on our own photography and forget what everyone else is doing. If you don’t like someone’s photo, don’t comment. Nobody is going to hire you because you called out that guy one time on a random post on petapixel’s facebook page.

With the recent advancements in photo editing and programs such as Aurora HDR 2019, I think that the says of the murk grungy HDR are long gone. So should the insults.

The post It’s Time to STOP Hating HDR appeared first on The Sajin.


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Will the US will Make Commensurate Concessions to North Korea to get a Nuclear Deal?

Sat, 2019-06-22 00:13
Will the US will Make Commensurate Concessions to North Korea to get a

This is a local re-post of an essay I wrote a couple weeks ago for The National Interest. It is an extension of this first essay.

That original essay explored why the US will have to make concessions to North Korea if it wants a nuclear deal. The North Koreans aren’t stupid, and CVID is tantamount to unilateral disarmament for nothing. So if we really want them to give up at least some of the nukes and missiles – they won’t give up all – then we have to give them something of commensurate value. That seems pretty obvious at this point, no matter how much official Washington won’t even discuss counter-concessions.

I see two things we can give them: a) a boatload of money, or b) the retrenchment of US strategic assets from South Korea. Or we can give them nothing and try to adapt to a nuclear North Korea. I would rank these choices as: buy them (bad); live with nuclear missilized NK, ie, accept the new status quo (worse); swap them for a tangible US regional strategic assets like bases or airwings (worst).

So this essay argues why buying out as much of their program as we can is better than nothing or giving up local assets. The last is a particularly terrible idea, because once we leave, we’ll never come back. That’s what happened after the US left the Philippines in the 1980s. Even if we said we could flow back into Korea easily, the actual removal of US hard, tangible assets, like the bases in the pic above, would basically be decoupling/abandonment in all but name. It would dramatically soften the alliance.

So, for as ugly as it sounds to pay them off like its blackmail – and the Kims are nothing if not gangsters – that strikes me as better than the two alternatives.

The full essay follows the jump:



In this space in the last few weeks, I have discussed what, if any, concessions the United States might make to North Korea to achieve at least some denuclearization of that country. Since US President Donald Trump began engaging North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un in negotiations early last year, US offers have been consistently one-sided.

The US has repeatedly demanded the North’s complete, verifiable, irreversible disarmament (CVID) – an extraordinary demand tantamount to unilateral disarmament. In exchange, the US has offered vague future benefits – security guarantees, aid promises, modernization assistance, a peace treaty, diplomatic normalization, and so on. This swap is lop-sided in that it expects a huge upfront concession from the North – CVID – in exchange for nothing immediately tangible. Worse, the history of US behavior toward rogue states akin to North Korea – particularly toward Libya and Iran – suggests that the US will not keep its promises. The North will not take this trade, interpreting it as CVID for nothing. It would be great if we could get this, of course, but it will not happen.

Given the political resistance in Washington to ‘negotiating with terrorists’ and ‘appeasement,’ the US has produced no better offer over time. Nor has Trump used the presidential bully pulpit to sell a painful, and therefor serious, concession to North Korea to a hesitant Congress and public. The path of least resistance has been to simply repeat US CVID-for-nothing demands again and again. And so we have. But as the North will not accept such an obviously unbalanced deal, the talks stagnate and nothing changes. Although to be fair, North Korea’s offers have been similarly one-sided in its favor.

Instead, if the US really wants a deal with North Korea, its strikes me that it has two options: offer the North money – a lot – in a cash-for-nukes deal akin to the much-derided Iran deal, or give away US strategic assets in the region – such as troops or aircraft – in a ‘counterforce’ swap. If we cannot stomach either of these, then we just have to adapt to the new Korean status quo of a nuclear missilized North. I would rank our options thusly: 1) buy the weapons (bad), 2) adapt/learn to live with the new status quo (worse), 3) trade away tangible US regional strategic assets (worst).

All these options are poor of course, which is precisely why the North built these weapons, and why Washington’s default response is to pound the table and keep demanding CVID for nothing. But this is fantasy. The Kims are not stupid. Throwing money at Pyongyang has obvious downsides: it is a direct subsidy; the Kim court will absorb it all as funding for its gangster lifestyle; it will launder other, ill-gotten monies. But surrendering actual physical US assets in the region – soldier, hardware, bases – is even worse, and worse than adapting.

Conceding strategic assets is tantamount to the partial abandonment of South Korea and, perhaps, Japan, or the ‘de-coupling’ of the alliances. It has long been assumed that this was a major goal of the North’s nukes, as well as a central reason Beijing never tried harder to stop them. China would also benefit from a US retrenchment from the region. Gambling for that, apparently, is worth the risk in Beijing of an unpredictable ‘frenemy’ like North Korea nuclearizing.

Money is an easier concession, because it is easily replaceable (the South Korean, Japanese, and the US economies are wealthy); it is not political weighted; it does not require complicated logistical or physical structures. It can simply be given to the North while everything else about the US position in East Asia stays the same. This is why it was an appealing choice for the Iran deal too. The politics are a lot easier.

Strategic concessions though have far greater externalities. US assets in region represent the US commitment to East Asian security in a direct, tangible way, giving weight and obviousness to otherwise rhetorical US commitments. And removing them is far more costly than simply packing some units onto a plane and ‘sending the boys back home.’ Trump in his ignorance often talks is if it were that easy, and therefore easy to reverse.

It is not. Anything the US has in East Asia which is substantial enough to swap for North Korea nukes is also large and complex enough to have required years or decades of customization to install. The legacy costs here are huge. US bases in Korea, and Japan, represent elaborate, long-refined compromises between the hosts and the US. Local communities have to be placated and helped in their adjustment to US assets. Land must be bought or rented. Environmental and zoning codes must be followed. Elaborate security must be installed. Complicated legal arrangements – such as the Status of Forces Agreement or Special Measures Agreement – must be struck. Arranging for the use of ground or airspace for exercising is often deeply complicated.

The list goes on, but an illustrative example is the US move to Camp Humphreys in South Korea. Just coming to fruition now, this project has been talked about and underway for decades. Similarly, the US withdrawal from the Clark and Subic bases in the Philippines in the 1980s demonstrates just how hard it is to reverse a withdrawal once completed, as well withdrawal’s possible future costs. Were the US still deeply based in the Philippines, China would likely not be so aggressive in the neighboring South China Sea.

In short, once the US leaves South Korea or Japan, it will not come back. Local interests will re-assert themselves over any bases or facilities surrendered. Local communities will move on. Alliance proponents will have lost an immediate example of US commitment, while opponents will enjoy changed ‘facts on the ground.’

To my mind, these costs – irreversible, strategic, tangible – outweigh adjusting to nuclear deterrence with North Korea.

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



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HoDdeok (5분 꿀호떡) – Korean Sweet Pancake – Quick and Easy ‘Cheat’ Method

Wed, 2019-06-19 22:31
HoDdeok (5분 꿀호떡) – Korean Sweet Pancake – Quick and Easy Method HoDdeok (꿀호떡) – Easy Method Korean Sweet Pancakes

HoDdeok (꿀호떡) is a popular street food in Korea that’s cheap and tasty. It’s filled with nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon, wrapped in a dough ball and flattened on the pan.

Traditional HoDdeok can be messy and time consuming to make, so we made a quick and easy hoddeok recipe using sliced bread that you can make in five minutes.

  • Sliced bread
  • Brown sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Nuts (can be peanuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds…)
  • Oil or butter for frying

You will also need a cup that is about the size of your bread. A cookie cutter isn’t ideal because we want to press two pieces together. The cutter will tend to cut the bread without fusing them together.

Help support us. Scroll down for more content. Directions
  • Combine the sugar, nuts and cinnamon and mix.
  • Place two pieces of bread down. Press down the middle of one slice to make a pocket.
  • Fill the ‘pocket’ with a spoon full of the mixture.
  • Cover with the other slice of bread.
  • Press down with the cup and either tear the excess bread or cut away.
  • In a frying pan, heat and add oil or butter.
  • Add pieces and flatten with a press, spatula or cup (something flat you can press with)
  • Cook until golden-brown, flip and repeat

You can serve straight off the pan or drizzle honey or syrup to make them even sweeter.

Sure, it’s not the ‘authentic’ way of making HoDdeok sweet Korean pancakes, but it is a lot easier, quicker and perfect for a rainy day when you want something sweet and quick to make.

If you want to learn how to make other Korean desserts, visit our post on ganjeong – puffed rice snack or visit our main page at Yorihey.com.


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Nothing's Really Real Podcast: (Ep 60) Julia Gardner

Mon, 2019-06-17 14:35
Nothing's Really Real Podcast: (Ep 60) Julia Gardner

I begin this podcast by telling a story of an intense and kind of, I guess, unique human experience I became involved in over this past weekend. It’s pretty heavy and graphic. After that, Julia Gardner and I have a fun talk about poetry, playground boys, cringey open micers, engaging crowds, looking up my Nana’s nightgown, and getting chased by dogs. Julia talks about losing her father when she was a child, and mental health awareness. Julia is a poet who runs a writing workshop here in Busan, and I got her on the pod before she leaves Busan to pursue a MFA in poetry.  If you enjoy the show, recommend it to a friend, and please leave a review on iTunes or whatever app you listen to podcasts on. It would mean a lot to me!

 Nothing's Really Real Podcast:  Soundcloud    Stitcher    iTunesKoreabridge.net/NothingsReallyReal

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ReLEx SMILE summer promotion from BGN Eye Hospital

Tue, 2019-06-04 05:30

Dear all!!!

BGN Eye Hospital has a special event for you this summer!

We will help you to enjoy this summer in Busan without any glasses or contact lenses!

Only from the 10th of June to the 31st of August, get 150,000 won discount for ReLEx SMILE surgery!!!

Why ReLEx SMILE surgery is the best choice in summer?

  • Recovery to normal life, work and studying already on the next day!
  • Swimming, water and extreme sport activities are possible after 1 week!
  • No need to use sunglasses or avoid bright sunshine after surgery!

Don`t miss this unique chance this summer! No more glasses! Enjoy active life!

Contact us to book a Free Vision Correction examination and consultation today!




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LTW: Palme d'Or in the 72nd Cannes goes to Korean movie maker

Mon, 2019-05-27 11:58
LTW: Palme d'Or in the 72nd Cannes goes to Korean movie maker History was made in Korean film industry as Joonho Bong won top Palme d'Or  in the Cannes Film Festival on May 26 for his latest film 'Parasite.' It was the first time a Korean movie director won this award, more meaningful as it is 100th year since movie first came to Korea, then Japanese colony, in 1919.  The Grand Prix, the 2nd  prize, went to Mati Diop for  her debut film "Atlantics," who became the fist black female to receive a prize.  Bong's first film was released  in 2000, and the Parasite  which explores working class struggles, was his 9th movie.  South Korean Moon Jae-in sent a congratulatory letter to Bong, commenting he was anxious to watch Parasite.

President Moon tends to get much into movies. One of his top policies is to move away from nuclear power dependency for solar and wind energy. Moon deactivated a few nuke power plants earlier than planned, and scrapped plans to build more. Moon's expensive  No Nuclear  policy was formed after he watched Pandora which was about Chernobyl type nuclear disaster movie.   Better buy Pfizer or Roche stocks now as Moon might force every Korean to take antiparasitic pills everyday after watching the Palme d'Or movie.

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Would Unified Korea Keep the North’s Nuclear Weapons? Perhaps to Pursue a Neutralist Foreign Policy

Sat, 2019-05-25 15:10
Would Unified Korea Keep the North’s Nuclear Weapons?

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This is a local re-print of an essay I published at The National Interest a few weeks ago.

The basic idea is that a unified Korea, even one unified under Southern leadership, has much stronger incentives to keep the North’s nukes than most people seem to think.

Generally, everyone seems to think that a UROK (united Republic of Korea) will give up its weapons to the American or, maybe, the Chinese. Or maybe destroy them. But keeping them would be a great way to keep a UROK out of the looming great power contention in northeast Asia between the US, China, Japan, and Russia.

If you are tiny Korea – the shrimp among whales – you want to stay out of the way when these big boys fight. That will be tough given Korea’s geography right in the middle, but nukes would be a really great way nonetheless to insist.

Also, nukes are a great way to defend sovereignty generally against all interlopers, even if there is no regional hot war. Even after France became friends with Germany after WWII, it still built nukes to make sure Germany never invaded it again. A UROK would almost certainly think the same way about its neighbors given their history kicking Korea around and manipulating it.

I am not sure. A UROK still allied to the US would come under a lot of pressure to denuclearize. But the probability of retention is way higher than most people think.

The full essay is after the break.



One of the many hopes raised by the recent détente efforts of South Korean President Moon Jae In and US President Donald Trump is the political confederation if not eventual unification of the two Koreas.

While full-blown unification is a pro forma goal of both Korean polities, many lesser steps and stages have been considered over the years. Frequently a confederation of some kind is mooted. This covering institution would follow China’s ostensible approach to Hong Kong and Taiwan – one country, two systems. In a ‘Greater Koryo Confederation,’ the North and South would retain their own internal political system but try to approach international affairs jointly as well as share resources. Over time, integration would increase, eventually leading to unity as suspicions between the two sides faded away.

This is very much the thinking of the South Korean left, from which Moon has come. The South Korean right still holds to the ‘Germany model’ – North Korea collapses of its own dysfunctions and/or external pressure and is simply absorbed into a greater Republic of Korea (South).

But either model now faces a new wrinkle – the future disposition of North Korea’s nuclear weapons. It should be pretty clear at this point that North Korea will not give up many of its nuclear weapons or missiles. They may give up some, in exchange for large American counter-concessions, but complete, verifiable, irreversible disarmament (CVID) is a fantasy. North Korea is a nuclear weapons state whether we want to accept that or not.

Hence if unification, or some softer confederal solution occurs, what would happen to North Korea’s nuclear weapons? In the West at least, there seems to be a vague, albeit widespread, sense that a unified Korea would not need such weapons, and that they would be destroyed or surrendered – variously to China, America, or some other third party. I hear this all the time on the conference circuit here in South Korea.

This is likely if the South Korean right gets its way. The South Korean right likes the US alliance, worries about China (Chinese naval encroachments in the Yellow Sea are a major issue for the South Korean navy now), and wants better relations with Japan. In its favored scenario, North Korea implodes and is absorbed, much like East Germany, and the larger, but otherwise unchanged Republic of Korea (South), stays where it is geopolitically, just as the enlarged, post-unification Federal Republic of Germany (West) did.

For the left here though, regional geopolitics is a much more mixed bag. North Korea is not, in this perspective, an enemy or opponent, but a fellow Korean state which has lost its way. The answer to inter-Korean tension is therefore not war-threats, sanctions, and confrontation, but brotherly outreach and assistance. On Japan, the opposite is true; the South Korean left is unremittingly hostile for historical and nationalist reasons. That Japan is a liberal democracy and North Korea an orwellian monarchy are passing regime type concerns which do not cut to real, historical-cultural issues driving the South Korean left’s alignment choices.

The left here is also much more skeptical of the US-Korea alliance. The last two left-liberal presidents before Moon openly tangled with the US over North Korea in ways their conservative predecessors never had. Today the left here largely blames the sanctions regime – demanded by the Americans – for halting inter-Korean détente. Anti-Americanism on the South Korean left has been an occasionally political force. Finally, the Southern left is far more comfortable with China than the right. Where the South Korean right would align with the US, and somewhat with Japan, in the looming Sino-US competition in Asia, the left would not. It would likely seek a neutralist position.

Earlier this year, I argued that South Koreans care less about denuclearization than the US for these reasons: “Given that the South Korean left does not see North Korea as an enemy, but harbors deep animosity for Japan and American intervention in South Korea life, a nuclearized, unified Korea would be an ideal foundation from which to pursue a neutralist, non-aligned, post-unification foreign policy.”

An old Korean proverb has it that Korea is a ‘shrimp among whales.’ For a small state surrounded by larger ones – China, Japan, Russia, and the US – possibly stumbling their way into a major confrontation, holding onto nukes is actually not a bad idea. Like Switzerland – marooned for centuries in the middle of raging great power conflicts – a unified Korea might well choose a heavily armed neutralism. Such a non-aligned or finlandization strategy would help avoid a repeat of Korea’s late 19th century fate. Then, this small state in the middle of much larger competitive ones got was manipulated by them in a ‘great game.’ Korea was sucked into this regional competition even though it did not want to be. It eventually lost its sovereignty to imperial Japan and was next riven by the Cold War.

Nuclear weapons, coupled with today’s powerful, capable, Korean militaries, would permanently vouchsafe this unhappy possibility – much as France sought nuclear weapons in part to assure that Germany would never invade it again. Once Korean unification is achieved, why align with the various regional whales as they crash into each other, possibly sparking a major regional conflict? Korea’s geography would, as before, make it difficult to avoid getting sucked into a four-party conflict – China, the US, Russia, Japan – but nuclear weapons would make easier. The temptation to keep them – as tool to push back on Korea’s difficult political geography – will be high.

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



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Buddha’s Birthday 2019

Sat, 2019-05-18 02:11
Buddha’s Birthday 2019

So I have been a little preachy in these last few posts, so I thought that I would get back to basics and just talk about one of the best times of the year here in South Korea and one that few travels really know about. I am talking about Buddha’s Birthday.

I was shocked that when I started posting my images, that there were a lot of people that were living in Korea that had limited knowledge about the event. With so many temples around Korea, I was a little put back by the messages that I received. I think many people just thought that the lanterns and elaborate decorations were limited to Jogyesa Temple in Seoul. Fortunately, they are not and many of the temples outside of Seoul have far better events and celebrations.

TongdosaAt the entrance to Tongdosa

This year is a particularly sad year for this temple as one man’s impatience and road rage lead to 1 death, another person in critical condition and 11 people injured. It is very sad new as this day is supposed to be that of celebration and happiness.

Walking up to Tongdosa

Tongdosa is always a place of quiet thought and long walks. Due to its size, tourists are generally spread out and never get too crowded with the exception of the main temple complex and in front of the museum.

In recent years, they have increased the number of lanterns along the path to the temple as well as added themed lanterns in the stream and path in front of the temple. This makes it slightly different from other temples as many focus more on the amount of personal lanterns as each of them contain a donation.

Testing out my lensball that I rarely useBeomosaThis section of Beomosa always draws my eye.

Beomosa is always a great place to spend the evening. This year my wife and I spent the evening wandering around the grounds. Sadly, it was a little too cool in the night for my wife and I was a little too focussed on my work to notice. However, once I paused long enough to notice the world around me, we went straight back to the car and warmed up.

You don’t often see what lanterns and these alway look so elegant to me.

Beomosa is a temple that I go to pretty much every year. It is calm as peaceful before the big day and you can really get a sense of calm when you are there.

Over the temple grounds at Beomosa

The temple is also slowly being surrounded by nice cafes, so if you do go, you will find a place to sit within walking distance from the temple. However, I tend to usually go down to Route Coffee, my old haunt from when I taught at the university just down the road from there.

One of my favourite walks at Beomosa BulguksaThe sunsets at Bulguksa temple in Gyeongju

This year I was pleasantly surprised with my time at Bulguksa. Upon entering the grounds and my hazy creative brain as well, I was great by none other than a group of some of Busan’s finest photographers.

As the festival starts

These guys are members of the Busan Lightstalkers group who happened to be returning from an epic camping trip and decided to stop in at the temple on their way home. They caught me mid-creative fog which was mildly hilarious as I am sure that there is now photographic evidence of their odd state that I go into.

Blue hour at Bulguksa is amazing

At any rate, the temple was amazing. Not the millions of lanterns that Samgwangsa has, but just a wonderful assortment of lanterns and decorations in a UNESCO recognized temple.

Under the lanterns

The evening ended with a lantern parade around the temple. By this time my batter had died in my camera and sadly I did not think to bring a backup. Typically, I have 2 fresh batteries in my bag and like an idiot I had left them either in the charger or next to it.

shot and edited entirely on an iPhone using Flixel’s Blendeo app

Thankfully, I had my phone and I snapped a few long exposures using Flixel’s Blendeo app. This made for a nice effect with the flow of the lanterns in the parade.

Haedong YeonggunsaThe standard Haedong Yeonggunsa shot

I have been wanting to go to Haedong Yeonggunsa for a while now. I really wanted to get a drone shot of the temple from the water. I felt that this would be the perfect time to do so. The lanterns add so much to the colour and contrast in the image.

Just before the lights went out

Sadly, this visit was cut short due to the fact that the temple closed up early as they do, before the big day. Haedong Yeonggunsa also has a particular advantage when it comes to actually closing as it is one of only a few temples that has bridge leading to a single door.

Haedong Yeonggunsa Buddha’s Birthday 2019

Most temples as you can see are quite open meaning that they usually have a larger main gate for vehicle traffic and whatnot but that usually doesn’t stop too many people from wandering in. Here, the bridge leads to a single entry point which was locked by the time I finished shooting outside.

Overlooking Haedong Yeonggunsa

The also gave a huge warning by turning off all the lights momentarily. The photographers around me were none too happy about that. For me, it just happens and you have to deal with it. After all, the event is for Buddha and his worshippers, not for photographers and tourists.

Temple pagoda with shrine to drivers

I hope that you enjoyed these images. This is really my favourite time of the year in Korea and one that I fondly remember from when I first got started into photography. If you have and questions about the locations or editing process either drop me a line here or send me an email.

Also if you are coming to Korea and would like me to show you some of these places, let me know. If you get in contact, I can make arrangements and take you around as I am slowly starting to do more photo tour here in Korea.

The post Buddha’s Birthday 2019 appeared first on The Sajin.


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