Facebook Login twitter login

avatar

Chris Backe

Rss Author Twitter Author Facebook Author Linkedin Author

Chris Backe is a popular blogger on travel and life in Korea. Based in Seoul or the area since March 2008, Chris makes it a point to visit a new place, event, festival, etc. every week. For his entire publication list, check out http://is.gd/E76IFA . Have a question about Korea? Do a quick search to see if your question has already been answered, then e-mail me at chrisinsouthkorea AT gmail DOT com.

My last post here – where to go next

February 13, 2013 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

My time on Travel Wire Asia has been a great one, but they’ll be going in a new direction with the website at some point. I recently finished the transition back to my own site, Chris in South Korea, at http://www.chrisinsouthkorea.com – be sure to head there for all the newer posts. If you have…>

thumb

Destination: Guinsa – Buddhist high-rises and an elevator inside a temple (Chungcheongbuk-do)

January 31, 2013 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Chris in South Korea note: my lady and I went here in mid-November, one of the last weekends where fall was in the air. Things got busy as the holidays approached, and I’m just now getting around to blog posts that got pushed back! Hope you enjoy, and aren’t thrown by the seasonal shift. You…>

thumb

Life in Korea: Zen and the art of tofu

January 29, 2013 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

THIS post is dedicated to the omnivore Westerners who say “tofu? What do I do with it?” then buy some at the store to try it out. I’m here to tell you to give it a try, especially if you’re a meat eater. The flavor and grease of meat isn’t always appetizing, and sometimes you…>

thumb

Destination: Gwangyang Ornamental Knife Museum (Gwangyang, Jeollanam-do)

January 28, 2013 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

IT’S happened to every traveler – a place starts off sounding intriguing, but upon arriving seems more ‘meh’ then ‘hey, cool!’. The Gwangyang Ornamental Knife Museum (광양장도박물관) was one of those places for me – an interesting facet of Korean history, dulled somewhat by the lack of English explanation and few stories worth telling. It ended…>

thumb

Performance: Teddy Boys, Knock Down, and the Rock Tigers (DGBD, Seoul)

January 27, 2013 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

CISK note: trying something new with this post – videos! Still photography remains my favorite, but this was a test to see how it would turn out.  When it’s time for an album release, it’s time to tour – and boy do the Rock Tigers know how to put on a show. In case it’s…>

thumb

Exploring: Mullae street art (western Seoul)

January 25, 2013 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

I hesitate to use the word ‘destination’ in this post, as other travel pieces are labeled. It’s not quite a ‘Random Pictures’ post either. In the absence of a more descriptive label, “Exploring” shall serve as a hybrid of the two, where no one specific destination is in mind and understanding that things may look…>

thumb

Life in Korea: 10 things you’ll appreciate more when you learn Korean

January 24, 2013 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

LEARNING Korean is a struggle for most foreigners – and it’s definitely a tough language to learn. There’s a reason why it’s considered a critical language for the U.S. State Department. Knowing Korean – and more importantly passing their test – gives you extra consideration in that hiring process. Even if you’re not American, there…>

thumb

Destination: Wonjong Jangneung (Gimpo, Gyeonggi-do)

January 23, 2013 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

LIKE the other Joseon Dynasty tombs in and around Seoul, Wonjong Jangneung (김포 장릉) honors the royalty in a way that UNESCO considers a World Heritage Site. As usual, there’s more court intrigue and drama than the signs on site indicate – the man who we call King Wonjong, for example, was little more than a…>

thumb

Destination: Yecheon Space Center – bounce on the moon, try the gyroscopic device, and watch dinosaurs? (Yecheon-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do)

January 21, 2013 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

  IN many ways, the Yecheon Space Center (예천천문우주과학공원) is a microcosm of many other Korean tourist destinations. They sound fancy, and it’s clear there was plenty of money available to make the thing come into existence. Arriving, however, becomes more than half of the battle – that is, trying to ensure one’s way to…>

thumb

Konglish? Yep, still here in 2013

January 20, 2013 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Clothing … Day at Good one victory for day send from Since A3 Realist naningg… 19 Distinction yself of we choice be able Magnetic poetry went horribly wrong upon their expansion to clothing. … your friend. …Sunset Inn Bigholiday rd. Free support California City More magnetic poetry hard at work.

thumb

Review: Joseon Dynasty “erotic” art exhibit (SFW)

January 18, 2013 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Promoted in both the Korea Herald and Joongang Daily, this exhibit of Joseon Dynasty genre paintings is the first public exhibition of several dozen 19th century paintings. With the headlines of both stories involving the angle of “erotic” paintings, you would be forgiven for thinking they comprise a large portion of the exhibit. Not so…>

thumb

Destination: Hyeonchungsa – Admiral Yi’s shrine (Asan, Chungcheongnam-do)

January 16, 2013 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Yi Su Shin’s shrine has all the pomp and circumstance the man deserves. One of Korea’s biggest heroes, Admiral Yi served his country by fighting off the Japanese invasion and developing the 거북선 (geo-buk-seon), the ironclad spiked turtle ship. While it doesn’t feature any signs of royalty, it wouldn’t – and shouldn’t; instead, the Admiral…>

thumb

Random pictures, part 69 – and a ‘caption this!’ contest

January 15, 2013 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

As always, these are the photos, that didn’t fit into other posts. Behold the subway strap – the elegant simplicity, the rounded triangle form factor, the hard plastic. For the photography buffs out there, this was one of the first shots I wanted to take with the 50mm f/1.4 lens – you can just make out…>

thumb

On cracks and growing pains in Seoul’s creative scene

January 14, 2013 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

2013 is set to be a great year for creatives and those who love the arts. With the average teaching job requiring little more than a pulse above one and and a half-awake brain, the need to express oneself – or at least not spend all of your money on alcohol – remains high. The…>

thumb

Destination: Namhae Treasure Island Garlic Land (Namhae-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do)

January 10, 2013 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

And now, for something completely different. You read the title, right – it’s a glorified garlic museum in Namhae. The full name is the Treasure Island Garlic Land (보물섬 마늘나라), and I believe the claim “The Only Garlic Exhibition Hall in the Nation”. Why someone else would even want to build a second one is…>

thumb

Announcing Korean Made Easy, version 3.0

January 9, 2013 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

ANNOUNCING the newest version of Korean Made Easy – version 3.0 features an audio track recorded with a native Korean speaker. What is Korean Made Easy? In short, it’s an irreverent, basic look at the Korean language and culture. In almost five years, I’ve never needed to say ‘I am wearing a green sweater’ in…>

thumb

Destination: Kimchi Museum (Seoul)

January 8, 2013 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

IF there was an award for the food most likely to be worshiped in Korea, it would be kimchi. Neither condiment nor main attraction, kimchi connects hyper-modernized Koreans with their traditional past in a distinctively Korean way. People say ‘kimchi!’ instead of ‘cheese’ when their picture is taken. When kimchi prices go up, there are headlines in the…>

SOUTH KOREA WCUP WORLD CUP SOCCER

On a new year and moving on

January 7, 2013 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

AS milestones, new years are good for any number of things – starting new habits, trying to break old ones, and making the usual resolutions and to-do lists. Since New Year’s Eve in 2008, I’ve celebrated the holiday in a number of different ways – walking around the backstreets of Busan, singing Auld Lang Syne and…>

thumb

Review: Say Kimchi Korean Food Comic e-book

January 4, 2013 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

  LEARNING about Korean food in English can be done in a few different ways. If you’re new to Korea, you can head out with a good friend, check out one of the many Korean food blogs, or pick up a guide to some of the foods you might try. The folks over at Ongo…>

thumb

Life in Korea: 7 tips to mastering the Korean festival

January 3, 2013 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

KOREAN festivals rock – there’s plenty to see, plenty to do, and in most cases plenty to eat and drink. If it’s popular, however, it can be a feat to get in and see what there is to see. Be prepared – in most cases you’ll need to buy your tickets well in advance, if…>

thumb

Destination: Hwajinpo Aquatic Museum and Aquarium (north of Sokcho, Gangwon-do)

January 2, 2013 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

THE Hwajinpo Aquarium (화진포 해양 박물관 – Hwa-jin-po hae-yang bak-mul-gwan) is in the far northeast part of Gangwon-do, within walking distance of the Hwajinpo Castle (which we also visited). If you’re going to make the trip, make it a full day proposition and visit the Castle along with Syngman Rhee’s summer villa. The other two sights…>

thumb

The state of the expat: a lookback at 2012 and predictions for 2013

December 31, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Credit: Webdesignhot It’s that time of the year again – predictions for 2012, 2011, and 2010 are all here as blasts from the past. A lookback at 2012 would not be complete without a good, hard look at the Mannam / Shinchonji story. Scroozle, through his many-part series, combined facts and reasoning to inform us…>

thumb

Beer me, please: A look at Reilly’s Taphouse (Itaewon, central Seoul)

December 27, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

What’s that, you ask? You like beer too? You’d like to enjoy some good beer without feeling a beer snob or needing a degree in Beer to make a good choice? Make a beeline (beerline?) to Reilly’s for some good beer, good grub, and good conversation. Despite the impressive beer list, there isn’t any pretentiousness…>

thumb

Destination: National Museum of Korean Contemporary History (downtown Seoul)

December 27, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Opening today (December 27, 2012), the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History (대한민국 역사박물관) aims to display the last 150 years of so of modern Korean history, starting from 1860. With 44,800,000,000 won ($41.3 million) spent, the 6,445-square-meter museum is controversial not because of the cost, but over what elements of history are covered. From the liberally-based…>

thumb

Performance: Just Friends, Kite Flying Robot, and a fond farewell to a friend

December 24, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

As with all things in life, people come and go – in this case, a fellow creative is heading back to California, and what a way to go. Props to Mark at Moonnight for making the venue available. It just happened to be the same weekend as her birthday, and naturally the crowd had to…>

thumb

‘Twas the night across Seoul

December 24, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Photo credit: JoshBerglund19 ‘Twas the night across Seoul, where all throughout town Lots of people were stirring, with many a frown Their papers were piled on their desks with care Because they knew the won-jang-nim would still be there The five ajummas cackled loudly over their coffee Complaining to each other that it should’ve been…>

thumb

Life in Korea: shopping for vintage clothes in Seoul

December 21, 2012 - 6 Comments - Chris Backe

Seoul has more shopping than even the biggest fashionistas will have time to see. Towering department stores overlook their more traditional roots, and while the old school markets retain a certain charm, the vintage stores combine a taste of the new with the styles of yesterdecade. There’s more than a few out there, thanks to…>

thumb

On acupuncture

December 20, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

OVER the past few months, I’ve had a condition called plantar fascitis (plant-tar fass-sigh-tis) in my feet. It’s basically a pain in the arch of my feet that is most pronounced when I first wake up or after sitting for longer lengths of time. After seeing an ad on Facebook (a great way to find…>

thumb

Destination: Daegu National Museum (Daegu, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

December 19, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

ALTHOUGH she was talking about me, it was my girlfriend who first said “When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. When life hands you limes, you make mojitos!”. To expand on that, when life gives you rain, you go to a museum – and the Daegu National Museum is worth the visit come rain…>

thumb

Destination: Chicken Art Museum (Dongducheon-si, Gyeonggi-do)

December 17, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

The chicken returns! What was once the Seoul Chicken Art Museum in the central neighborhood of Hahoe-dong is now the Maniker Museum of Chicken Art (마니커) in northern Gyeonggi-do. The story and reasons why they moved is unclear, and probably has to do more with financial realities than any lack of art about fowls. In…>

thumb

Random pictures, part 68

December 13, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

As always, these are the photos that didn’t make it into another post. Because every so often, it’s fun to figure out how to make something look like it’s floating in air. No Photoshop here, though I did use Picasa to make it black and white and make it a little darker. If you know…>

thumb

Destination: The rest of Gunsan (Gunsan-si, Jeollabuk-do)

December 12, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

HAVING seen Dongguk-sa, one of the main reasons to come to Gunsan, we then took the rest of the day to look for anything else worthy of taking in. We didn’t find much. Our first intended stop was the Jinpo Marine Theme Park, within walking distance of Dongguksa and a fast-fading food street that only had…>

thumb

Guest post: getting a D-10 visa

December 11, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

CISK note: this guest post comes from Rajnesh Sharma, a Canadian journalist who has traveled to nearly 30 countries to gain insight into cultural issues. When not enthralled in storytelling, she is intrigued by movies, reading and nature. Her sense of adventure includes scuba diving, trekking and rafting. A pristine beach, fine dining and dancing the…>

thumb

Destination: Dongguk-sa – the last Japanese-style Buddha temple in Korea (Gunsan-si, Jeollabuk-do)

December 10, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

THE city of Gunsan doesn’t get much attention from tourists, unless they’re stationed there or visiting Jeollabuk-do. That’s a bit of a shame, since it’s in the smaller towns where you’ll find the more unusual sights that have fortunately been preserved. After the Gunsan port was turned into an international trading center in 1899, the…>

thumb

Snow in Seoul (part 1)

December 6, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Seoul’s first large snowfall of the year was a good enough reason to take the camera out for a walk. Hope you enjoy! Look for the complete set on my photo blog Seen around my neck of the woods in Haebangcheon. Next stop: Jogyesa temple! The perpetually smiling Buddha welcomes all. Now to the City…>

thumb

Destination Nagan Fortress (AKA Naganeupseong, Suncheon, Jeollanam-do)

December 5, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Take the tourist friendliness of Jinju Fortress, the size of Suwon’s Hwaseong, and a bit of the remoteness required for the Andong Hahoe Village. Put them together and you get Naganeupseong (낙안읍성) – a fortress with several hundred citizens still living within the fortress walls. It’s remote, so it’s a stretch to call it a…>

thumb

Review: “Korean Straight Lines” (NB Armstrong)

December 4, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

NB Armstrong has called Korea home since 2000, and during that time has enjoyed some interesting characters that make your average expat tale look lame. To be clear, NB does seem to have gone out of his comfort zone quite a bit more in “Korean Straight Lines”, and it’s unclear from most of the stories…>

thumb

Destination: the Tomb of the Rainhat Poet (middle of nowhere, Gangwon-do)

December 3, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Every so often, a place stands out as being remote – that’s part of its appeal, perhaps, although when directions are unclear it makes for some… frustration… Presenting a story about a place we almost didn’t reach. Meet Kim Sat-gat (remember the ‘a’ sound in Korean is like the ‘ah’ sound in ‘father’), born as…>

thumb

Life in Korea: networking and getting connected

November 30, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

If you’re ready to meet some new people, start a new project, or even find a new job, there are plenty of networking events and opportunities around Korea. Some events have meetups in real life, while other online communities offer the chance to ‘meet’ people no matter where you are. Note that while there are…>

thumb

Destination: Early Printing Museum (Cheongju, Chungcheongbuk-do)

November 28, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

A good rule for museums: you should leave feeling like you’ve learned something on the subject, and feeling like there’s more for you to explore and learn on your own, if you so desire. Cheongju’s Early Printing Museum (청주고인쇄박물관) does both of these fairly well, and is one of the better museums I’ve visited in Korea.…>

thumb

Random pictures: fun with a macro lens (Hongdae, northwest Seoul)

November 27, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

For the photographers out there, this is a Nikon 105mm f/2.8 macro, which can focus down to 0.314 meters, or about 1 foot. For everyone else, macro lenses are great for focusing in really close – a lot closer than your average lens  I borrowed my girlfriend’s lens while my favorite lens is in the shop. I…>

thumb

Destination: Jinju Fortress and Jinju National Museum (Jinju city, Gyeongsangnam-do)

November 26, 2012 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

A band with one well-known song is called a one-hit wonder. A very small town might be called a one-horse town. Like Suwon in Gyeonggi-do, Jinju is a one-sight city – a pleasant enough town with precisely one main tourist attraction. We arrived at Jinju’s intercity bus terminal, which had nothing about the fortress, its…>

thumb

Revisited: Children’s Grand Park (southeast Seoul)

November 25, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: ‘Revisited’ posts are intended to be a fresh look at a place I’ve visited before. In many cases, it will have been years between visits, and offers a chance to see a place with a fresh set of eyes (and more than likely, a much better camera than I had before!). While they…>

thumb

Destination: Great Stone Face Sculpture Park (Eumseong-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do)

November 21, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

When was the last time you saw faces from across the world gathered in one single place? At the Great Stone Rock Sculpture Park (큰바위얼굴조각공원), you get over 1,000 stone sculptures of people representing 185 countries and weighing an average of 30 tons each. As you might expect, there’s a story at play here. Meet…>

thumb

Life in Korea: adult product stores in Korea (NSFW)

November 20, 2012 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

The post is not safe for work – but the first 100 words or so are. Sometimes you need a little something to spice things up, and sometimes you’re terrified of bringing your favorite items from home. While Korea maintains a veneer of conservative nature in the bedroom, you’d be surprised what you can pick…>

thumb

Destination: Chateau Mani – a wine lover’s dream (Yeongdong-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do)

November 15, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

YOU know you’ve arrived in wine country as soon as you get to the train station. The engraved stone murals (above and below) are both found within the station, as are a number of wine bottles and barrels. I love the dimensionality of these figures. Getting there is straightforward enough – once at the train…>

thumb

Destination: Unjusa – where weird stone statues are more interesting than the temple’s buildings (Hwasun-gun, Jeollanam-do)

November 14, 2012 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

IF you’ve spent any time in Korea, you’ve seen a temple or three. I’ve lost track at this point, but this one remains memorable for a few reasons. On one level, it’s considered a ‘mysterious temple’ since the founder and date isn’t known. On another level, the temple holds a number of stone statues I…>

thumb

Who’s blogging about Korea? A blogger round-up

November 13, 2012 - 26 Comments - Chris Backe

UPDATED (13 Nov 2012) to include some blogs mentioned in the comments. It’s been quite awhile since I saw a post about who’s blogging in Korea. To be clear, this is far from a comprehensive list, but is meant to highlight some of the standouts focusing on Korea that actively blog (which for the sake…>

thumb

Destination: Haeinsa – complete with wonderful fall colors (Gyeongsangnam-do)

November 12, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

To be clear, doing Haeinsa justice requires an all-day visit. Even when starting nearby the appropriate bus terminal in Daegu, Haeinsa demands a 1 1/2 hour bus ride (from Daegu) that makes several stops before you eventually pass through its front gate. Even then, arrival requires a ticket (3,000 won, paid to a ticketing person…>

thumb

Book Review: Korea: The Impossible Country (Daniel Tudor)

November 10, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Korea has achieved what many thought impossible – in a couple generations, the country has rebuilt itself from war-torn devastation to a first-world country known for many reasons. At present, the country faces a number of other issues, possibly considered ’first-world problems’, that have to be addressed to continue its success. If you’re interested in…>

thumb

Revisited: Changdeokgung and the Secret Garden (central Seoul)

November 9, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: ‘Revisited’ posts are intended to be a fresh look at a place I’ve visited before. In many cases, it will have been years between visits, and offers a chance to see a place with a fresh set of eyes (and more than likely, a much better camera than I had before!). While the old…>

thumb

Destination: Golgulsa (Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

November 7, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

“You didn’t get the picture!”, the twentysomething monk said, in English, after performing an impressive chest-high split kick. An older monk told him to do it again, for the camera. The younger monk pointed at me, saying to snap on two – one smaller jump, then a second, higher jump. After refocusing his energy, he…>

thumb

Destination: Bugok Hawaii AKA Buddhist hell (Changnyeong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do) – where water park meets Buddhist hell (NSFW)

November 5, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

This isn’t even one of the most bizarre sights around, but signs that this is a weird place start in the lobby. Opened in 1983, Bugok Hawaii is one part hot springs resort, one part amusement park, one part outdoor attractions, and one part a display of Buddhist hell. Wait, what? Don’t ask me how…>

thumb

Setting up for the Lantern Festival

November 2, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Presented with little further interruption – go check out the Lantern Festival, starting today in downtown Seoul along Cheonggyecheon and going through November 18, 2012. If you’re not in Seoul, live vicariously through the pictures from last year’s festival

thumb

Random pictures, part 67

November 2, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Although the days are shorter, it’s still nice enough to get around town. As always, these are the photos that didn’t make it into another post. I had no idea a shell could ride a bike. Seen at the Sea Fossil Museum in Pohang. Buddhist holy water, anyone? Seen at Jeondeungsa. The mascot of Gyeongnidan?…>

thumb

Revisited: Seoul Racecourse Park (Gwacheon city, Gyeonggi-do)

November 1, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: ‘Revisited’ posts are intended to be a fresh look at a place I’ve visited before. In many cases, it will have been years between visits, and offers a chance to see a place with a fresh set of eyes (and more than likely, a much better camera than I had before!). While the…>

thumb

Destination: the Gam Wine tunnel – Persimmon wine, anyone? (Cheongdo-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

October 31, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

To be clear from the start, it’s a tourist trap that sucks in plenty of Koreans – and strangely enough, their kids. Combine wine and tunnels, and apparently families with kids are somehow enthralled. The persimmon wine tunnel has an old dungeon-like quality, although it’s ‘only’ a century or so old. The tunnel was completed…>

thumb

Performance: Howlin’ Weenie Festival (AKA HBC Fest) – Haebangchon, central Seoul

October 29, 2012 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

With over fifty musicians or bands spread out across two evenings and six venues, the Howlin’ Weenie Festival crossed one of the most entertaining holidays with plenty of music. While not seen as much in previous festivals, the police presence was necessary. For better or worse, the foot traffic far exceeds what the two-lane road…>

thumb

Performance: Rocky Horror Picture Show (2012)

October 27, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Because a rainy Saturday afternoon is the perfect time to finish a blog post – last night (October 26th), the Seoul Players put on their now-classic version of the Rocky Horror Picture Show shadow-cast. DMCK opened up the set (above) with their set of rock and noise, and the timeless double-feature is set to be…>

thumb

Konglish: the fall edition

October 26, 2012 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

You’ll be nature Hi Green Label is desgined for people who want confortable clothes (…???) relaxed smooth and happy it makes your soft and smooth Love your Skin, Love your Body Oy vey. OPERA The man&woman music to make own nice life by wealth farst it is good life Yes, people can make music –…>

thumb

Destination: the Sedge Mat Museum – but what the heck is sedge? (Ganghwa-do, Incheon)

October 24, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

I know what you’re asking – what the heck is sedge, and why did they make a museum for it? It came up while looking for some weird / unusual places, and luckily enough the Ganghwa-do area has several worthwhile places for day tripping. Sedge is basically straw – that is, the grass of several…>

thumb

Destination: Jeondeungsa – where naked women hold up temples (Ganghwa-do, Incheon)

October 22, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Did I get your attention? Good – that’s one of the stories you wouldn’t ordinarily associate with a Buddhist temple. In this case, it’s true. We’ll get to that in short order, but let’s see what’s along the way. Start with a hike including a steep hill and some big steps. Just past the ticket…>

thumb

Destination: Yanggu Prehistoric Museum (Yanggu-gun, Gangwon-do)

October 19, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

This sleepy town in Gangwon-do has recently been jolted back to life, thanks in part to some unusual museums. While there are a couple newer entries, Yanggu holds the first museum in Korea dedicated to the prehistoric era, with 650 pieces from the Paleolithic, Neolithic and Bronze ages. Rewind to 1987, when the Peace Dam…>

thumb

Destination: Gwangju Kimchi Town (Gwangju, Jeollanam-do)

October 18, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Gwangju Kimchi Town (광주김치타운) – possibly one of the weirdest places in Jeollanam-do – and on a road named after a food! Intended to house a kimchi museum and a working manufacturing plant, we saw no evidence the latter was operating. The place was such a ghost town we weren’t sure the place was open…>

thumb

Destination: Itaewon Global Village Festival (2012)

October 15, 2012 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

Having visited the Itaewon Global Village Festival on both Friday (October 12th) and Sunday (October 14th), there are a couple things that need to be said. First, Itaewon is already as international a place as Korea has to offer. Perhaps two dozen nationalities – and their food / drink – are represented on a daily basis,…>

thumb

Question from a reader: Coming to Korea as a teacher?

October 12, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: everything old is new again, especially when blogging about the same things and places for several years. This seemed a good time to publish a question that’s commonly asked, upon realizing how long it’s been since I’ve seen a blogger in Korea approach the topic. Do you have a question about Korea? Do a…>

thumb

Five misconceptions Americans (and a lot of people) may have about Korea

October 10, 2012 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

EDIT: Picture added, and title changed to reflect the worldwide nature of misconceptions – surely it’s not just Americans who think or believe some of these things. Taking a page from fellow travel blogger Everything Everywhere, I thought I would address some of the interesting notions that I’ve heard about Korea. Photo credit: John Pavelka,…>

thumb

Destination: Jeonju Traditional Wine Museum (Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do)

October 8, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

If your travels take you to Jeonju’s tourist-friendly Hanok Village, you might discover the small traditional wine museum within (전주 전통술박물관 - Jeonju jeon-tong-sul bak-mul-gwan). While not particularly worth visiting on its own, it’s a decent exhibition of some traditional Korean alcohols and the processes that created them. It isn’t as comprehensive as, say the Liquorium in…>

thumb

Random pictures, part 66: the naked statues edition (NSFW)

October 5, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

If there’s one thing that makes a Westerner in Korea giggle, it’s the amount of nudity on statues. I’ve gotten used to them, however, but I thought some of you wonderful folks would be amused by them. Without further ado: Naked mermaid, anyone? Seen on Udo. No idea what prompted the pose – seen in…>

thumb

Destination: the first laver cultivation farm – the legacy of a Mr. Kim (an island in the middle of nowhere, Gwangyang, Jeollanam-do)

October 3, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Designated Jeollanam-do Monument #113, this is one of the most remote places I’ve visited in Korea. That includes Ulleungdo, a Geoje-do POW camp, and a tropical island where the taxi drove on the sand. Even after 2 fairly long bus rides and a walk along the main road, it’s still a 700 meter walk down…>

thumb

Revisited: Ilsan Lake Park, Greenhouse Cactus Garden, and Toilet Exhibit Hall (Goyang-si, Gyeonggi-do)

October 2, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: ‘Revisited’ posts are intended to be a fresh look at a place I’ve visited before. In many cases, it will have been years between visits, and offers a chance to see a place with a fresh set of eyes (and more than likely, a much better camera than I had before!). While they…>

thumb

Exploring Seoul: Dongmak-ro-7-gil – the new happening street in Hongdae

October 1, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: this is the first of a new series of newly developed neighborhoods, roads, or areas worth mentioning. The area surrounding Hongik University has long been known for having one of the best bar and club scenes in Seoul. Lots of good live music is around as well, with everything from rock to goth to…>

thumb

Destination: Gimpo Tea Etiquette Museum (Gimpo-si, Gyeonggi-do)

September 30, 2012 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Let the record show that I don’t have the need to bash a place – if it’s open, if it’s trying to make something interesting or understandable, cool. Having been to enough places where there’s little to no English around, I understand English speakers aren’t exactly the primary target. I’m also fully aware of how…>

thumb

Revisited: Seoul Folk Flea Market

September 27, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: ‘Revisited’ posts are intended to be a fresh look at a place I’ve visited before. In many cases, it will have been years between visits, and offers a chance to see a place with a fresh set of eyes (and more than likely, a much better camera than I had before!). While they…>

thumb

Life in Korea: 8 dirty secrets about love motels

September 26, 2012 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

If you’ve traveled around Korea at all, you’ve seen a love motel whether you knew it or not. The large, baudily decorated facades create a spectacle on the skyline, which of course is exactly what they’re going for. Whether you stay at the fanciest one close to the train station or get a regular room…>

thumb

A trifecta of newness: Asian, goth, and poutine in Seoul

September 25, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Over the weekend, I found myself in Hongdae and Haebangchon – two havens of international flavor within Seoul – and discovered three new places that are worth taking a look. Instead of writing them up individually, I thought I’d throw them into the same post and keep things simple. Don’t forget to share with your…>

thumb

Destination: BK Plastic Surgery Museum (Seoul)

September 24, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Finding weirder destinations require a different kind of research than learning about mainstream palaces and temples. In some cases, a tourism organization is kind enough to offer some information about the place, while in other cases a couple of searches in Korean is required. In this case, it was just dumb luck – I stumbled…>

thumb

Destination: Namhae German Village (Namhae-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do)

September 21, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

A little slice of Germany on Korea’s southern coast. Think cobblestone streets. Think brightly-colored roofs. Think of a couple dozen houses, built to exacting design specifications, set by the southern sea. It’s a bit surreal – is this really Korea?, I thought - and for a few minutes, you really can be fooled into thinking you’ve…>

thumb

Guest post: taking a trip with Travel Pants Korea (some pictures NSFW)

September 19, 2012 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

Chris in South Korea note: this guest post comes to you courtesy of a fellow blogger named Chris Hallquist. There’s a new tourist company in Korea called Travel Pants Korea, and they invited me on their first trip in exchange for blogging about them. I didn’t have the time, but they were open to letting…>

thumb

Destination: Cheollipo Arboretum (Taean-gun, Chungcheongnam-do)

September 18, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

If you enjoy nature, Cheollipo Arboretum (천리포수목원) is well worth the day trip. Started in 1966, it’s the biggest arboretum in Korea, and part of a select group certified as one of the most beautiful by the International Dendrology Society (that’s the study of trees to us, and yes, I had to look it up myself).…>

thumb

Destination: Simone Handbag Museum, Seoul

September 17, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

THERE are times in life when one has to go out on a limb. The first time you kissed someone (romantically speaking, with someone that wasn’t part of your family tree). The first time you tried a new food and you didn’t know spicy it was. The first time your friend dared you to try…>

thumb

Destination: Monkey School (Buan-gun, Jeollabuk-do), Korea

September 14, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

KOREA has no shortage of campy places to take kids, and more often than not they end up interesting to the young-at-heart. While there are demonstrations of trained simians at Everland and on Jeju-do (among other places), this is the original in a land of knockoffs. Start with a quick look at the schedule –…>

thumb

Destination: Sapsido and an isolated beach (Chungcheongnam-do)

September 12, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

It’s been a long time since I went to a beach where there was almost no one else around. The popular beaches are great places to sightsee, but sometimes getting away from it all is worth the travel time. Off we went to Daecheon harbor, taking in the busy Daecheon beach nearby the night before…>

thumb

Review: Visit Korea app – version 2.0

September 11, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

This app has come a long way in a single version. The first version, while not bad, required an Internet connection; this one has the same requirement, but fits the smartphone platform with redesigned mobile-friendly pages. Start with the main page, which is well-organized into expected sections: destinations, accommodations, and practical needs like dining and…>

thumb

Destination: Sejong, Korea’s newest city

September 10, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

THE bus to Sejong City passes through plenty of rice fields. The speed bumps are seen occasionally and felt seconds later, especially through the straight parts of the road. Look up to appreciate the mountains, both near and far, and down to take in a stream that runs just as it has for decades. Just…>

thumb

Korea: Random pictures, part 65

September 7, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

AS usual, random picture posts are those wonderful pictures that didn’t fit in any other post. Peace and love – seen in the Haebangchon area. Pelvis / hip chairs, anyone? Seen at the Modo Sculpture Park. This is either the most dangerous manhole (personhole?) in Korea, or it’s just easier to open with gloves already…>

thumb

Guest post: Life in Korea – Korean food nutritional information

September 6, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

CHRIS in South Korea note: this guest post comes courtesy of my girlfriend, who after hours of hard work has translated a large part of the nutritional information for almost every Korean food you’ll eat! The words and chart are her own, while the photo below is mine. As a diabetic living in Korea for…>

thumb

Destination: Gyeongpo Beach (Gangneung city, Gangwon-do)

September 5, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Sometimes plans don’t quite go the way you expect them to. Other times, the bus trip takes longer than you expect, or the museum’s hours are shorter than you expect. This is a case of serendipity, mixed in with a great place to call a plan B – or in your case a plan A.…>

thumb

Destination: Tapsa (Jinan-gun, Jeollabuk-do)

September 3, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

It’s sometimes said that teachers have to have the patience of a saint. That may be true, but it pales in comparison to that of 이갑룡 (LEE Gap-ryong). Born in 1860 in Jeonju, the man hand-set 108 towers of rock – some reaching up to 15 meters high – from 1885 to 1915. Only about…>

thumb

Destination: Modo Sculpture Park (Incheon, Gyeonggi-do)

August 31, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Somewhat remote from the mainland, the Modo Sculpture Park (모도조각공원 or 배미꾸미 조각공원) sits on an island that requires at least four different forms of transportation to reach from Seoul – train to bus to ferry, back to bus, then a walk. The reward, however, is to see some of Lee Il-ho’s unusual – and adult-oriented…>

thumb

Destination: the only Trojan Horse in Korea (Jangsu, Jeollabuk-do)

August 29, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Out in the middle of nowhere, you never know what you’re going to find. A Buddhist temple open only one day a year? Been there. A park dedicated to faithful dogs? Yep, there too. Next up, a Trojan horse – just like the ones in your ancient Greek textbooks. We’re getting there, I promise. On…>

thumb

Destination Byeongsan beach and Gyeokpo beach – a tale of two beaches (Buan-gun, Jeollabuk-do)

August 28, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

I’m half-naked in a bathroom stall, trying not to spill all my stuff onto a wet and dirty floor. Is this supposed to be a vacation or the end of a bad night out?, I thought. It’s the former, of course, but arriving at a beach at 4pm means the facilities have already been well-used.…>

PSA: watch out for religious organizations posing as volunteer organizations

August 26, 2012 - 8 Comments - Chris Backe

Let’s play a little game here. Let’s take two groups, group A and group B. Let’s pretend you’ve been asked by join an event being thrown by group A. The people that approach you speak English, and seem like pretty good people. You go to one of the events, you have fun, and you look…>

thumb

It’s finally cooling down for some more Konglish

August 24, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

SEEN in Itaewon – I could accept one typo, but four in precisely the same way? A little odd. attractive issue love style issue design attractive issue issue design sexy issue love style Lots of adjectives don’t make an single English sentence. A well-functioned sophisticated and best in quality created exclusively for you. Your day…>

thumb

Review: Artsonje North Korea / DMZ tour

August 22, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

IN the book Les Miserables, the author expounds on the condition of Paris’ sewers for quite a few pages. For anyone that managed to finish the brilliant but sometimes boring book, I salute you. While this tour didn’t require as much patience, it wasn’t an experience I’d foist on someone for the same reasons. Produced…>

thumb

Review: Burgermine (HBC)

August 22, 2012 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

If you live in the HBC area, you’ve seen this place go up recently – complete with the graffiti-covered exterior that’s near-impossible to ignore (see more on this in a couple of paragraphs!). Burgermine has set up shop next door to another also-new burger place, just down the hill from legendary Jacoby’s, and presumably the…>

thumb

Why is Samsung poking fun at foreigners speaking Korean?

August 20, 2012 - 17 Comments - Chris Backe

Why does Samsung think it’s a good idea to tell foreigners they can’t speak Korean because it’s a hard language to learn? Out to sell some more of its so-called ‘Smart TV’s’, Samsung has produced the following commercial, currently available on Youtube: I don’t have much in way of video editing or subtitling skills, so…>

thumb

Revisited: Jongmyo (Seoul)

August 20, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: this is the start of a new series. ‘Revisited’ posts are intended to be a fresh look at a place I’ve visited before. In many cases, it will have been years between visits, and offers a chance to see a place with a fresh set of eyes (and more than likely, a much…>

Life in Korea: the ipseok adventure!

August 17, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: a version of this article and another train story I wrote appears in the August 2012 issue of Groove Magazine. Iksan station. A transfer station. Crap. Time to surreptitiously pack up and be ready to move without looking concerned. The train doors open, and a few people file off while dozens more push…>

thumb

Review: Ask a Korean Dude (Kim Hyung-geun)

August 16, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

OK, admit it. You’ve always wanted to know why Koreans use metal chopsticks. Or why Koreans Romanize their names differently from the standard system. Or why Koreans don’t own dryers. Or any of a million other things about the locals. While the excellent blog Ask a Korean! answers some similar questions on a regular basis,…>

thumb

Destination: World Eros Museum (Seogwipo city, Jeju-do) (NSFW)

August 15, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: this museum is also called the ‘Museum of Erotica’ in some places, and should not be confused with the Museum of Sex & Health or Loveland. Yes, the same island has THREE sexually-themed attractions, so put the kids away and don’t scroll down if you’re at work =) A bit hidden inside Jeju’s…>

thumb

Destination: Hahoe Mask Museum, Korea

August 13, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

IT’S a rarity to be so pleasantly surprised. While in Andong and checking out the Soju Museum, we couldn’t pass up the chance to check out Andong’s main attraction – Hahoe Village. This museum of masks happened to be right where the bus let us off, and it had to be checked out. Masks impart a…>

thumb

Destination: National Lighthouse Museum, New Millennium Memorial, and Homigot (Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

August 11, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

LIKE Suwon and Jinju, Pohang has precisely one noteworthy place attracting tourists from around the country – welcome to Homigot (호미곳, literally ‘tiger tail port’), home of the the New Millennium Memorial, a Sea Fossil Museum, and a big hand in the sea. Although the area isn’t high on the ‘must-see’ list,  it makes Pohang worth a full-day visit.…>

thumb

Life in Korea: group tours and getting with other travelers

August 10, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Just a quickie to round out the week. I love traveling, to put it mildly. Most trips, my girlfriend is along to see the sights she’s interested in as well. Sometimes, however, it’s fun to travel and make some new friends; other times it’s nice to let someone else figure out how to get somewhere.…>

thumb

Destination: Udo (the boat tour version)

August 8, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

I had the good fortune to take a boat tour around Udo not too long ago – while a mere 30 minutes or so on the ship, it was long enough to snap a few pictures: One of the lighthouses on the island, complete with the multi-ton concrete units that make Tetris look like a…>

thumb

Destination: Nodongdangsa (Office of the former Worker’s Party AKA North Korean commies) (Gangwon-do)

August 6, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

AND now, for something a bit off the tourist trail… You know, like most everywhere I’m going these days. Nodongdangsa (노동당사) is located in extreme northern Gangwon-do, and was the house of North Korea’s Labor party. While it harkens back to a day when Korea was unified, the country wasn’t exactly at its best. Constructed…>

thumb

Korea: Random Pictures, part 64

August 3, 2012 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

As always, random pictures show off some interesting sights around the country, but didn’t fit in any other post. Hope you enjoy! Great photo op here in the space of a mural. Seen in downtown Seoul, near Hanbit Media Park. Oh, dear. Maybe that’s why there aren’t any more wild teddy bears… Seen in Hongdae. Saddle…>

thumb

Destination: Silmido (Incheon), Korea

July 30, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

AT less than a quarter of a square kilometer and with no human population to speak of, Silmido doesn’t appear to be worth the hours of journeying to arrive. At first, there’s little indication you’ve even arrived, much less found what you’re looking for. Silmido represents an fascinating destination, mainly because it’s well off the…>

thumb

Life in Korea: watching the 2012 Summer Olympics

July 28, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

I’ll be honest here – I’m not exactly the biggest sports fan in the world. The Super Bowl? Sure – the spectacle, the commercials, and usually the two best teams. The World Cup? Yeah, I watched a few of the games at the local bar. I don’t own a TV, and don’t watch enough TV…>

thumb

Korea makes Konglish like I make blog posts

July 27, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

I call a work of art the sweat of this ethic. Any work that is not the sweat of an ethic ,any work not stemming from an exertion of the soul’s will more strenuous than any physical labor, any work that is too visible (since the personal ethic and the works of art it engenders…>

thumb

Destination: Jikjisa (Gimcheon city, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

July 25, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

YOU’LL see the park first, then the traditional collection of restaurants and souvenir shops that welcome tourists. There’s also a porcelain museum a short walk away. Sure, there’s a temple up there – but you’ll have to walk by these first. Our visit, during the three-day Buddha’s Birthday weekend, couldn’t have been timed any better.…>

thumb

Destination: Feelux Lighting Museum (Gyeonggi-do)

July 23, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

IT’S not every day you get this far off the tourist trail. Hundreds of exhibits document some of the fancier lights, while others show a more historical perspective. While not incredibly bizarre yet, it is a museum about lighting – and as you can see above, it starts with a historical overview of lights. Some of…>

thumb

Seoul on a budget: Cheap, cheaper and cheapest

July 20, 2012 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

AT first glance, Korea doesn’t look to be the cheapest place to travel. As one example, take a walk down Gangnam’s main drag and peruse the sky-high prices for clothes (they want how much for a t-shirt?!). Get away the luxury clothes and pretentious restaurants, however, and a surprisingly cheap side of Korea emerges. It’ll…>

thumb

Question from a reader: TEFL certificates and teaching in Korea

July 19, 2012 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

A READER writes in: A few weeks ago I begun doing research into the possibility of teaching overseas. I think this is something I could turn into for the next 4-5 years of my life (I’m a recent college grad and having a hard time settling down). I do not have my TEFL certificate, so…>

thumb

Destination: Dak Paper Doll Museum (Seogwipo city, Jeju-do)

July 18, 2012 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

While far less erotic than the sex museum located nearby, the family-friendly Dak-paper doll museum is also within the World Cup Stadium. This one, describing a time from centuries past, is about as risqué as it gets. Dozens of displays show a traditional view of life in Jeju and Korea in general. The paper is made…>

thumb

Destination: Gimcheon Porcelain Museum and Jikji Culture Park (Gimcheon, Gyeongsangnam-do)

July 16, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Call this a lesson in serendipity, or just a reminder that Korea has more tourist attractions than any book can hope to cover. While Jikjisa was our main destination, we saw the above display just as we were leaving the Buddhist temple. Calling it a ‘World Porcelain Museum’ (세계도자기 박물관) seemed a bit pretentious, especially considering…>

thumb

Book review: As much as a rat’s tail (Peter Liptak and Si Woo Lee)

July 14, 2012 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

No doubt you’ve seen this on bookshelves before – I vaguely recall taking a look at it quite some time ago, before I felt comfortable with trying to parse Korean sentences. I meant to come back to this book, and finally have the opportunity to enjoy it for real this time. This is not for…>

thumb

Korea: Random Pictures, part 63 – the MEGA-SIZED edition

July 13, 2012 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

As always, random pictures are too good to keep to myself, but don’t belong in any other post. Enjoy! Guitars played by kids, or someone young at heart? The world may never know… The official Itaewon outfit – classy-enough jacket, plaid tie, plastic crown, and yes, tacky orange whistle to tell your friends where you…>

thumb

Destination: Hangpaduri – AKA the anti-Mongolian fortress (Jeju city, Jeju-do)

July 11, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

SET up to help the Goryeo Dynasty Koreans fight off the Mongolian invasion in the mid-13th century. General Bae Jung-son gathered the Sambyeolcho (삼별초) army in the year 1270, even as the Goryeo court tried to have peace negotiations with the Mongols. When General Bae died the next year, General Kim Tong-jeong constructed the Hangpaduri…>

thumb

Destination: Hamel’s reconstructed ship (Seogwipo city, Jeju-do)

July 9, 2012 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

JUST when you think nothing can surprise you anymore, something always does. Yep, this is Korea (Jeju-do’s southern coast, to be exact), and this is a 17th century reconstructed Dutch ship (하멜상선전시관).  In 1653, the Dutch ship de Sperwer (The Sparrowhawk) crash-landed on the coast of Jeju, complete with dozens of crew and passengers. Only…>

thumb

Review: Tuktuk (툭툭) – keeping classy after-hours in Hongdae (Seoul)

July 6, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Hongdae needs another restaurant like it needs another handphone shop or place for coffee – that is to say, not at all. Still fairly new and sans website, you’re more likely to stumble across it by accident and look inside – and sometimes that’s how restaurants are chosen! This particular evening, however, we wanted quick and…>

thumb

Destination: Japanese coastal cave encampment, Korea

July 4, 2012 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

What do you get when you combine a new, fancy filter and an hour or so at an off-the-beaten-path destination? An interesting picture or two =) The Japanese coastal cave encampment  (제주 송악산 해안 일제 동굴진지) is close to Songaksan, complete with numerous parasitic cones. Unless you knew it was here, you’d miss it – along…>

thumb

Destination: Baengnokdam White Deer Theme Park (Jeju-do)

July 2, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

CALL this one of the weirdest places we visited in Jeju-do – with dozens of white deer around, the Baengnokdam White Deer Theme Park has an interesting legend at play. According to the engraved stone by the entrance, a hunter on Jeju-do followed a white deer on the belief that a deer’s blood would serve…>

thumb

Review: English Teacher X and three books worth reading

June 29, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

ENGLISH Teacher X (referred to as X for the rest of the post) hasn’t been in Korea for quite some time, is a crappy teacher by his own admission, and spends more time talking about who he’s done and where he’s partied than most anything else. With that said, his 15 years in the ESL…>

thumb

Guest post: K-Pop and Koreanovela: Global trends that cause travel upswings in Korea

June 27, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

CHRIS in South Korea note: Tess Pajaron is part of the team behind Open Colleges. She has traveled to many different countries and loves to discover new and exciting places. She loves to explore and dreams to become a full-time blogger someday. She can be also seen on her social media profile at Google+. BRIGHTLY colored…>

thumb

PSA: Uijeongbu line and Suin line open

June 25, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

More of a PSA and future reference than anything else =) North of Seoul in Gyeonggi-do is Uijeongbu city, population about 450,000. It has it’s place in history – the American TV show M*A*S*H was set here, and budae jjigae (Army stew) was invented thanks in part to the US Army’s presence. Construction began in July…>

thumb

Review: Two Hands Burger (Haebangchon, central Seoul)

June 22, 2012 - 6 Comments - Chris Backe

It’s a new restaurant in an area that sees a lot of new restaurants – Two Hands Burger offers made-to-order burgers in a dark but intimate space. This is, of course, the same neighborhood where Jacoby’s has done burgers for at least the last several years. With that said, first impressions were a little shaky.…>

thumb

Konglish – the summer edition

June 21, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

WHEN Korean and English gets together, it makes a baby – Konglish! The GuiltyPartees Wacko Maria Freedom Renegades Huh? This marks some of the weirder Konglish I’ve ever seen. Simply CUTE CHE(?) You’ll be nature Hi Green Label of designed for people who want comfortable cloth(?) relaxed smooth and happy it makes your soft and smooth Love…>

thumb

Destination: Songnimsa (Daegu vicinity, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

June 20, 2012 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

AUTHOR’S note: this post is rated PG-13 – put the kids away and keep scrolling if you’re squeamish =) Yes, I enjoy Buddhist temples, although I’ve found a lot of them look quite similar in many ways. No, I don’t have an intimate scholarly knowledge of the religion, so a lot of the symbolism is…>

thumb

Destination: Bongamsa – the temple that opens only one day a year

June 18, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

TO call Bongamsa in South Korea a temple is like calling Stanford a university – a gross understatement at best. Being one of the founding Nine Mountain Schools of Zen, it has a history that dates back to the 9th century and the end of the Shilla Dynasty. To the monks, it’s a peaceful, solemn…>

thumb

Life in Korea: five secrets to the express buses

June 15, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Unlike the trains that criss-cross Korea, the express bus system is surprisingly straight-forward. See the original ‘dirty secrets’ post about trains if you like! OK, the bad news first – as far as I know, there’s no way (yet) to buy Korean bus tickets from an English-language page. If you’re brave and want to try the Korean-language pages,…>

thumb

Destination: Osu faithful dog monument and park (Osu-myeon, Jeollabuk-do)

June 13, 2012 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

”WE’RE the only two people getting off the train,” I said upon reaching the rural station. Parts of Osu station, along with the town, look and feel like the countryside from decades past. It’s a good thing the Mugunghwa trains still serve this area, although the passengers on-board usually see this as just another stop.…>

Time to win: be one of the first to see RED LIGHT WINTER in Seoul!

June 12, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

It’s not often that I get to give away some cool prizes, but I have in my hot little hands (er, inbox) a couple pairs of tickets to RED LIGHT WINTER. This is the Probationary Theatre’s newest play that will be showing June 22nd-24th… For the mere mortals, that is. Go ahead, watch the video:…>

thumb

Destination: Korea World Travel Fair – COEX Mall (2012)

June 11, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

JUST a quick post to start the week. The Korea World Travel Fair, hosted at COEX mall in Seoul from June 7th-10th, was an opportunity to take in how quite a few parts of the world do tourism. As a travel blogger, it’s interesting to see how Korea compares with the world. First impressions were…>

thumb

11 Apps To Use In Your ESL Classroom

June 8, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

If you’re carrying a iPhone or iPod Touch in your pocket, there are probably more than a few apps on it already. There’s more than a few apps out that can make your life in the classroom a little easier: Stopwatch (free, iTunes): a simple, straightforward app that’s easy enough for the first-graders to use.…>

thumb

Destination: Nonghyup Rice Museum (Seoul, South Korea)

June 6, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

PART of the food manufacturer’s PR effort, the Nonghyup Rice Museum (쌀박물관 – ssal-bak-mul-gwan) seems better suited for a elementary school field trip than a tourist. That said, it’s nearby a subway station and a reasonably interesting look at a site few non-Koreans visit. An interesting chart showing what 1 되 (dwi, or a wooden…>

thumb

Destination: Amethyst Cavern Park (Ulsan / Eonyang, Gyeongsangnam-do)

June 4, 2012 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

THE Amethyst Cavern Park (자수정동굴) sets a new record for tackiness and randomness at a Korean destination. It’s interesting, all right, and worth the visit. Not mentioned on many official tourist sites, and only blogged about a couple of times that I could find, the Amethyst Cavern Park’s main attraction is the cave nearby the…>

thumb

Korea: Random Pictures, part 62

June 1, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

As usual, these are the pictures that don’t make it into other posts, but are too cool to keep to myself: This is the LAST cherry blossom picture this year, I promise – they’ve long grown out by now as they always do. Why a make-up company needs buckets of body parts out in the open,…>

thumb

Konglish, part something-or-other

May 31, 2012 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

AUTHOR’S note: if you like Konglish posts, be sure to read the other posts that are tagged ‘Konglish’! Apologies for the blurriness – the guy behind the counter did NOT want us taking pictures within the store. Anti-calculus All this time I had been confusing the high-school math with the stuff in my mouth…. People…>

thumb

Coming to Korea: 20 stores you know and their local versions

May 30, 2012 - 6 Comments - Chris Backe

Coming to Korea means learning about a whole new set of brands. Sure, some franchises are basically the same around the world – McDonalds and KFC are just two examples – but there are plenty of local stores that take their cue from abroad. Presented here are 20 stores you’re probably familiar with, and their…>

thumb

Destination: Maze Park / Seri World (Seogwipo city, Jeju-do)

May 29, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

WHAT’S that, you said? There are three maze parks on Jeju-do? Yep – although this one feels like the ‘me-too’ of the trio. Although it’s about 4,950 square meters, it’s hard to see the deceptively large size until you make it to the halfway staircase. It’s still fairly simple as the staircases are useful landmarks,…>

thumb

Destination: World Automobile Museum (Seogwipo city, Jeju-do)

May 28, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

The Panther Kallista has some company. Because if there’s one thing the tropical island of Jeju-do is famous for, it’s classic automobiles… right?! As one of the many specialized (and kitschy) museums on the island, there’s plenty to see and enough to do to make it worth your while. The first section features a number…>

thumb

Life in Korea: Performing for a crowd – where, when, and how to show off your talents

May 25, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: I’m sure I’ve missed some awesome groups – apologies, as no oversights are intended. If you’re aware of an active expat-related group that has chances for people to perform, e-mail me at chrisinsouthkorea AT gmail DOT com and I’ll update this post ASAP. On your average Thursday night, expats in Korea are doing…>

thumb

Destination: Lotus Lantern Parade / Buddha’s Birthday parade (downtown Seoul)

May 23, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

ONE nice thing about living in Seoul is the annualized rituals. The big ceremony at Jonggak in downtown Seoul to welcome the new year; the cherry blossoms in Yeouido, and the lantern parade for Buddha’s Birthday. One fairly common display, beyond the lanterns, are the devout. And then there’s the… oh, what’s the best way…>

thumb

Performance: Magical Mystery Four and Damnear David and the Reality Tourists

May 22, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

LADIES and gentlemen, it’s become somewhat rare for me to look forward to an evening of music. It’s one thing to show up in Hongdae or Itaewon and just find something – there’s always something happening. Ever since I hear Damnear David and the Reality Tourists was doing a follow-up show, I put it on…>

thumb

Destination: Geumsansa (Gimje city, Jeollabuk-do)

May 21, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

WE found Geumsansa while looking for another temple – of course, we had to stop and take a look around. First built in 599 or 600 AD (sources disagree), King Beop of the Silla Dynasty was a devout Buddhist, and Geumsansa (금산사, 金山寺) was the main temple to practice the Maitreya faith. With a National Treasure,…>

thumb

Destination: Dongni Mokwol Literary Museum and the hall of Silla’s Great Men (Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

May 20, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

AFTER seeing Seokguram Grotto in Gyeongju, we hopped on the bus back towards Bulguksa and the rest of Gyeongju. The bus, however, left us aways from where we got on. We eventually found our way back to the bus stop, but we saw a sign for these two attractions and decided to venture in. To be…>

thumb

Book review: Eating Kimchi and Nodding Politely

May 18, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

In a similar vein to Chris Tharp’s and Jeffrey Miler’s recent contributions to literature, Alex Clermont’s Eating Kimchi and Nodding Politely will feel familiar to expats that have spent any time working in Korea. While the self-styled creative non-fiction features no plot line, the mostly autobiographical tales are a vivid reminder of what it’s like…>

thumb

Destination: The umbilical cord shrine for King Sejong’s children (Seongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

May 16, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

”Welcome to the middle of nowhere,” I thought as we arrived at the Seongju bus terminal. As per my own tradition, I walked out of the bus terminal to the closest intersection and looked down both streets to see what there was. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. We were looking at a map…>

thumb

Destination: Chuncheon Animation Museum (Chuncheon, Gangwon-do)

May 14, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

The country’s first museum dedicated to animation makes for an interesting day trip, as my girlfriend and I found out not too long ago.  Unlike Seoul’s own cartoon and animation museum (check out the Qi Ranger’s recent video), the Chuncheon museum focuses on the history of animation. With a broader worldview, the 애니메이션박묵관 (ae-ni-me-ee-syeon bak-mul-gwan) is worth…>

thumb

Life in Korea: getting a Korean drivers license

May 11, 2012 - 6 Comments - Chris Backe

In most countries, the department responsible for handing out drivers licenses doesn’t make it that easy. I am happy to say that while Korea’s service could use a few improvements, it’s about as straightforward as it is in other countries – and relatively easy to do in English. If you had the forethought to pick…>

thumb

Destination: Changgyeonggung at night

May 9, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

While not as good as Robert Koehler’s recent pictures, Changgyeonggung at night offers a more intimate look at one of Seoul’s five palaces. It’s not currently open at night, but keep your eyes open to future opportunities – I’m told Gyeongbokgung will be lit up at night from May 16th-20th. When a palace is lit…>

thumb

Why I won’t be going to the Yeosu Expo

May 8, 2012 - 14 Comments - Chris Backe

The nice thing about being a travel blogger is the seemingly endless array of places to write about. Since I started, I’ve made it a point to visit a new place, event, festival, or something new every single week. It’s also quite nice to retain an independent mindset (e.g. not paid by official or government…>

thumb

Destination: Hahoe Village (Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

May 7, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Call this one a nice aside to an otherwise packed itinerary. As a major tourist destination in Korea, the Hahoe Folk Village (하회마을 – Ha-hwey ma-eul) in Andong needs little introduction – if you’re reading from outside of Korea, Hahoe Village is a Joseon Dynasty village and a UNESCO World Heritage site. More popular than the vaguely…>

thumb

Guest post: Scuba diving in Korea

May 4, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: this guest post comes to you from Rutger Thole at bookyourdive.com. Guest posts are written with you, the reader, in mind. Chris in South Korea does not receive or pay any compensation for them. JEJU Island is generally considered to be the best sites for scuba diving in Korea. Whilst the area is…>

thumb

Destination: Freedom Protection Peace Museum (Dongducheon city, Gyeonggi-do)

May 2, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

FREEDOM isn’t free – or so the saying goes. While the name is the Freedom Protection Peace Museum (자유수호평화박물관), it’s essentially a euphemism for the tools and weapons of war. That said, the Korean war relics have been scattered to a number of places across the country (the War Memorial in Seoul comes to mind)…>

thumb

Destination: ROK Rollerderby!

April 30, 2012 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

WATCH out, ajummas – there’s a new group of girls ready to take some names and kick some ass. Rollerderby is still in its infancy in Korea, but Saturday (28 April) marked the first scrimmage between two rollerderby teams here in Korea – Seoul and Daegu, to be specific. The rules of rollerderby are reasonably…>

thumb

Korea: Random pictures, part 61

April 29, 2012 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

As usual, these are the pictures that don’t make it into other posts, but are too cool to keep to myself: Angels and graffiti never seem to mix well together – seen outside Yongsan station. An early candidate for the worst-looking bus map of the year. Seen near Iksan bus terminal, on the way towards…>

thumb

A night in… Haebangchon, Korea

April 26, 2012 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

WHILE within walking distance of foreign-food-haven Itaewon, Haebangchon offers a scene better suited for local residents than tourists. That said, read this basic guide to the area and you’re off and running. The name Haebangchon (해방촌, 解放村) translates to ‘freedom village’ or ‘liberation village’, which makes some sense considering you’ll walk along the Yongsan Garrison’s outer…>

thumb

Destination: Love Castle (Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do) (NSFW)

April 25, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

GYEONGJU is known for having plenty of touristy things to see within a bus ride’s distance. Bulguksa, Seokguram Grotto, and plenty of tombs make the area a worthy destination for as long as you have to visit. Not mentioned on most of the area maps, I only heard about the Love Castle (성박물관 러브 개슬…>

thumb

Destination: Andong Soju Museum (Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

April 23, 2012 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

HAVING visited a number of weird and unusual museums recently, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with the Andong Soju and Traditional Food Museum (안동 소주 전통음식 박물관). While Andong soju is made in a more traditional way than your average green bottle of firewater, was it really possible to have an interesting museum…>

thumb

Destination: Everland (Yongin, Gyeonggi-do), Korea

April 20, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Just like Disneyland, but in the Korean style. Everland is to Korea what Disney World is to Florida – a huge commercialized amusement park minting money with every person that walks through the gate. It’s virtually impossible to see in a single day – heck, even two days would be a push to ride every…>

thumb

Guest post: Reverse culture shock – an update from Gone Seoul Searching

April 19, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

AUTHOR’S note: this guest post comes to you from Marie Webb at goneseoulsearching.com. Guest posts are written with you, the reader, in mind. Chris in South Korea does not receive or pay any compensation for them.   Courtesy of Luke Martin at www.ROKetship.com Was it the reverse culture shock or moving back in with my parents?…>

thumb

Review: Korea – Robert Koehler (Seoul Selection)

April 17, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

They’ve done it again. As a follow-up to the excellent ’Seoul’ from 2011, Robert and the Seoul Selection team have produced another winner in ‘Korea’. If you’ve read ’Seoul’, the only major difference is the scope. Covering the country better than Lonely Planet and hitting almost as many of the off-the-beaten-path places as the Moon…>

thumb

Destination: Seosaengpo Waeseong – Japanese fortress in Korea (Ulsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

April 16, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

A hat tip to Jason Teale at The Sajin and Eddie over at Tigers and Magpies for their excellent write-ups on the area. Don’t confuse this with other fortresses in Korea – unlike Suwon’s Hwaseong Fortress or the fortress in Gongju, I’m surprised this one’s still here. It was first built under the direction of…>

thumb

Bar of the week: Craftworks Taphouse

April 13, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Lest you think this is some micro micro-brew, this place has been serving up some awesome beer and pub food for what seems like forever. In reality, it’s been just over a year – and yet the institution remains. A year can be a long time in the Seoul bar / restaurant scene. Craftworks Taphouse…>

thumb

Question from a reader: online shopping in Korea?

April 12, 2012 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

A reader writes in: Hello Chris, Let me first thank you for the wealth of information you have in this blog; I have several of your pages saved in my favorite places for reference.  I’m currently in the process of working with a few recruiters to land me a teaching job somewhere out there and reading your blog has…>

thumb

Destination: Haemi Fortress and a Catholic Martyr’s Shrine

April 11, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

You’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. Well off the beaten path, Haemi Fortress (해미읍성) in Seosan, Chungcheongnam-do, is pleasant enough on the eyes while harboring an interesting back story. Built from 1417 to 1421, this site was the army post for the province, and defended the land against Japanese pirates. The wall remained here after the…>

thumb

Destination: Geoje-do POW camp (Geoje-do, Gyeongsangnam-do)

April 9, 2012 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

One of the more interesting sights in southern South Korea, the Geoje-do POW camp (거제도 포로수용소 유적공원 – geo-je-do po-ro-su-yong-so yu-jeok-gong-won) documents the prisoner-of-war camp’s history during the Korean War, with more than a touch of war propaganda. While foreigner-friendly, it’s bizarre on multiple levels and rated PG-13 (so leave the kids at home). These are…>

thumb

South Korea: Random pictures, part 60

April 5, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

RESTAINMENT: ??? The act of staining something again?   “Height Increaser Class”? Yes, those taekwondo classes might get you in shape, but increase your height? Hmm… Seen in Chungju. Um, hey… guys? You forgot something… Seen near Golgulsa in Gyeongsangbuk-do. An official sign (in Korean, naturally) reminding us that loudspeaker trucks promoting political candidates aren’t…>

thumb

Destination: Yangdong Village (Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

April 4, 2012 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

One place where the 1% lived during the Joseon Dynasty. Yangdong Village (양동마을 or 양동민속마을) is where a number of the yangban (aristocratic class) lived during the Joseon Dynasty. It was founded in the 15th century by the Yeogang Lee and Wolseong Son clans. It’s a chance to see what some Joseon Dynasty houses looked like. Much like the…>

thumb

Destination: Boryeong Coal Museum (Boryeong city, Chungcheongbuk-do)

April 2, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Even folks who have never stepped foot in Korea have heard of the Boryeong Mud Festival – a celebration of summer, mud, and the inevitable alcohol that eases the few remaining social boundaries. Even during a more recent tour of Boryeong, this museum didn’t appear on my radar. Along with other areas of Korea, Boryeong’s…>

thumb

Interview: a professional Konglish writer

April 1, 2012 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: A few days ago, I had the privilege to meet Mu Jil Seo (무질서), a professional Korean writer, of sorts. The interview is paraphrased, not quoted, as the interview happened without a tape recorder.  Chris In South Korea: It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mu Jil Seo! Mu Jil Seo: A pleasure to…>

Life in Korea: More dirty secrets about the Mugunghwa train

March 30, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

The last time I wrote a post about how to get ahead on the Mugunghwa trains, I was still figuring out the best way to approach the system. I wouldn’t say I’m at 100% (who is?), but there are definitely ways to hack the system. Why, you ask? Hacking the system makes the difference between…>

thumb

Coming to Korea – 10 mistakes to avoid

March 29, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

AUTHOR’S note: ‘Coming to Korea’ posts are aimed at  folks still new to Korea. If you’ve been in Korea for awhile, consider this a review =) COMING to Korea means a new lifestyle – resolved. That lifestyle often comes with a few trial-and-error bumps along the way – mistakes you don’t have to make. While most…>

thumb

Performance: And More Fest (punk, baby!)

March 27, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

UPDATED 27 March 2012: A hat tip to Shawn for correcting a couple details. Punk rock is alive and well in Seoul – if you know where to look. Props to my friend Jon who told me about the show in a relatively new venue in Yongsan – the Jeonja Salon (전자 쌀롱). First up: Stay…>

thumb

Destination: Liquorium / Fermentation Science Museum (Chungju, Chungcheongbuk-do)

March 26, 2012 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

SELF-PROCLAIMED the “world’s first liquor museum”, the Liquorium (리쿼리움 or 술박물관) features two floors of exhibitions you probably won’t find anywhere else in Korea. Unlike the Andong Soju Museum (on the list to visit soon!) or the Baedari Brewery, there’s no specific focus on Korea – in fact, one sign calls the place a ‘World…>

thumb

Random pictures, part 59

March 23, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: ‘random pictures’ are pictures I’ve taken around Seoul or South Korea that didn’t fit into any other post. If you have any interesting or unusual pictures of South Korea, send them on to chrisinsouthkorea AT gmail DOT com and they may be published here! Psychedelic, man – seen in Myeongdong. Two of the…>

thumb

Life in Korea: The E-2 health check (and where to get yours done)

March 22, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

LET’S start off this post on a high note: Thursday (March 22nd) marked my four-year anniversary of life in Korea. And what a life it’s been – filled with traveling, singing, dancing, and of course, teaching. In the four years I’ve been in Korea, I’ve been lucky enough to skate through this thing with little…>

thumb

First look: Korea’s newest train – the ITX

March 21, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Korea’s newest train just begs to be ridden. The ITX 청춘 (Cheong-chun) makes the journey from Yongsan station in central Seoul to Chuncheon in an hour and nineteen minutes, making several stops along the Gyeongchun line. While more expensive than the subway that runs the exact same line, this train reminds us getting there is…>

thumb

Destination: Suwon Toilet Museum (AKA Hae-woo-jae, AKA Mr. Toilet’s House) – UPDATED

March 19, 2012 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

CISK note: I read a story about how this place had ‘opened’ in July, and thus made it a point to revisit. The new pictures sweeten the pot, perhaps, and round out the exhibits inside with some additional exhibits outside. Since when did an off-the-beaten-path tourist attraction go by three names? Depending on who you…>

On staying safe, keeping people informed, and best wishes for a fellow blogger in Korea

March 13, 2012 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

Michael Hurt is the man behind more projects than I can shake a stick at. His presence in Korea makes the rest of us expats look good. And we nearly lost him. Sometime on March 1st or 2nd, Michael had a stroke. A co-worker sensed something was wrong, and tried calling him when he missed…>

thumb

Destination: Majang Livestock Market (NSFV), Seoul

March 12, 2012 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: this post is NOT SAFE FOR VEGETARIANS. Children should probably not be seeing these pictures either – if you’re a teacher at work, please ensure no kids are around :: Insert bad joke about how meat markets are bad places to meet girls :: If you like seeing weird meat markets but can’t…>

thumb

Korea travel: There’s an app for that – March 2012 edition

March 9, 2012 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

A WHILE back, I wrote a post on the apps to make life in Korea  a little more interesting. A few other apps have been reviewed here as well, but I thought it was time to take a look and see what’s new or been updated. Without further ado, here are several Korea travel apps…>

thumb

Life in Korea: Finding some tastes from home

March 8, 2012 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

Living in Korea requires a few compromises, especially in finding some things from home. Sure, there are plenty of Korean equivalents for virtually everything during your daily life, but sometimes you need something specific. While Seoul has the lion’s share of shops dedicated to exports, other cities have a center or two for finding a…>

thumb

Random pictures, part 58

March 7, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: ‘random pictures’ are pictures I’ve taken around Seoul or South Korea that didn’t fit into any other post. If you have any interesting or unusual pictures of South Korea, send them on to chrisinsouthkorea AT gmail DOT com and they may be published here! Baby it’s cold outside – at least a few…>

thumb

Destination: Dongnimmun and Seodaemun Prison History Hall (Seoul)

March 5, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

A trying part of Korea’s history, preserved. Dongnimmun (독립문) gate – originally constructed in 1897 by the Independence Club to pledge their determination for independence. It was moved here in 1979 to make room for construction of the main road, Seongsandaero. Not pictured nearby is Dongnimgwan (독립관) – a wooden building originally used for entertaining…>

thumb

Konglish – spring’s coming soon!

March 2, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Born is the internet cafe who leads internet culture. This is the place the everyone puruse his pleasures at his convenice . This seems so close, yet so far – seen at a (defunct?) PC bang in Seoul.   DIRTSTYLE FUNKSH!TUP This isn’t quite Konglish, but it’s definitely an interesting use of the English language. Seen in…>

thumb

Life in Korea: Some sizing charts to work with

February 29, 2012 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: this is a ‘living post’, and will be updated as I’m able. If you have any photos of sizing charts found throughout Korea, please send them on at chrisinsouthkorea AT gmail DOT com! Sizes in Korea tend to run a bit smaller than elsewhere in the world. It sucks, especially if you’re a…>

thumb

Destination: Dongmyo (Seoul)

February 27, 2012 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world outside – and surprisingly peaceful inside.  Surrounded by a madcap traditional market full of locals, Dongmyo (동묘, 東廟) sits as an acknowledgement to Korea’s historical connection to China. The historical tale, however, explains why this place doesn’t get as much attention. Formerly known as Dongwangmyo, Dongmyo is designated National Treasure #142…>

thumb

PSA: Getting around Korea – bigger network, but a little more expensive

February 26, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Seoul’s transportation network is getting a little bigger – but a little more expensive. Call it inflation if you like, but to be fair they haven’t gone up in years. This chart, comparing public transportation costs across the world, shows Seoul right in the center as of November 2010. Effective February 25, 2012, Seoul subway…>

thumb

Life in Korea: decoding Korean nutritional labels

February 24, 2012 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: Life in Korea posts are aimed at the newer Korean expats among us. If I missed something, point it out in the comments! If you’re from the Western hemisphere, you might be interested in learning more about what you’re eating. This goes double if you’re on a diet, a cleanse, or just on…>

thumb

Question from a reader: Controlling diabetes in Korea?

February 22, 2012 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

A READER writes in: Hi Chris, I was very fortunate to stumble across your blog after some searching on the internet. For the past year, I have been saving up for an international exchange to Korea. I’m happy to say that I was accepted at Korea University in Seoul, and will be arriving at the…>

thumb

On fond farewells and new arrivals

February 21, 2012 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

While coming to Korea is never seen as a permanent thing, it still hurts to say goodbye to new friends. Whether life presents a better opportunity in their home country or the Korean experience turns sour, the process of making friends and connections never ends. It’s not a unique experience, of course – having friends…>

thumb

Destination: Gilsangsa (Seoul)

February 20, 2012 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

The ambassador of Angola lives in the neighborhood. So does the ambassador of Portugal. And Canada. And Sweden and Columbia, for good measure. Walking to Gilsangsa is a geography lesson as much as anything else, and a reminder that power remains concentrated in the same spaces it was decades ago. This was Daewongak, one of…>

thumb

Random pictures, part 57

February 18, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

As always, random pictures are taken around Seoul and/or Korea, and don’t fit into any other posts. Enjoy! Some of the barbed wire surrounding the Yongsan Garrison – definitely not something I want to mess with. The barbershop poles don’t just mean a place offers haircuts. The classic (but unverifiable) urban legend in Korea is…>

thumb

Travel tips: Making the most of your Seoul layover

February 16, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

A READER writes in: Chris, I don’t have much time during this trip to Korea. What’s worth seeing and what’s worth doing in Korea in a short period of time? I travel for business, so I’ll be back this way in a few months. Hurried traveler Thanks in part to Korea’s public transportation system, getting…>

thumb

Coming to Korea: A primer on Korean street food

February 15, 2012 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

ALTHOUGH far from healthy, Korean street food is just the thing to cap off a night on the town. It’s hot, fast, and cheap – what more can you ask for during the cold Korean winter? Street food in Korea can be divided into two basic categories: Korean, and stuff adapted from abroad. The former…>

thumb

Destination: Seonamsa (Suncheon, Jeollanam-do)

February 13, 2012 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

THE bus ride and walk are worth it. Located within Jogyesan Provincial Park, 선암사 (Seon-am-sa, or heavenly rock temple) offers Seung-seon-gyo (the bridge seen above) as one of the temple’s National Treasures (Treasure #400). The scholars aren’t sure whether the temple started in either the Three Kingdoms Period (57 BC-AD 676) or the Unified Silla Period (676-935)…>

thumb

Random pictures – part 56

February 10, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

CISK note: As always, ‘Random Pictures‘ posts show off some interesting / quirky pictures that didn’t fit in any other post. The majority of these were taken around Seoul or nearby Korea’s capital city. I love the texture of the bleachers – taken at Kyung Hee University in Seoul. Gotta love dragonflies – and in…>

thumb

Infographic: Where to party in Seoul

February 9, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Where are you going to party this weekend? Just like my other flowchart on ‘where to go this weekend?‘, I present to you this flow on where to party when you’re in Seoul. Note that while Seoul has plenty of party places, this flowchart focuses on Hongdae and Itaewon. Rock on.

thumb

Review: Sin Bin (sports pub, Itaewon)

February 8, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Roofers got an upgrade – and a penalty box. Itaewon is always changing, and Sin Bin is one of the newest places around (opened mid-December). While I was a bit shocked to see Roofers close up shop, the Sin Bin classes the space up with a new paint job and a few upgrades.   Beyond…>

thumb

Destination: Jayu Park and Chinatown (Incheon, Gyeonggi-do), Korea

February 6, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

I’VE been here before, but it’s always a good time. Typically, I don’t blog about the same place – the last post on Chinatown dates back from July 2008 - but Jayu Park (자유공원) and Chinatown (차이나타운) are worth revisiting. Since they’re an easy day trip from Seoul and an excellent introduction to Incheon, they’re great…>

thumb

You know Korea is your home when… – Part 12

February 4, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

It’s about time for a new post. See the long-running series here, then read the newest installment below. You know Korea is your home when… The guy sweeping the floor at E-mart has an iPhone. You instinctively start taking discounts into account when using a credit card. Someone tells you a subway name, and you look…>

thumb

Review: Seoul Metro Project

February 1, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

EDITED by Flash Parker in collaboration with the Seoul Photo Club, the moniker ’Seoul Metro Project’ is slightly vague, yet perfectly appropriate. 100 years from now (assuming future computers can read PDFs or that the human race survives that long), the book will live as a tangible time capsule of the life and times of…>

thumb

Destination: Aiins World (Bucheon, Gyeonggi-do)

January 30, 2012 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

The last time I was here was a field trip with my school at the time – hardly the best time to appreciate the sights or try to compose some decent pictures. Just west of Seoul, Aiins World is an intriguing look at famous or iconic buildings from the world. It opened on November 15,…>

Waiter, this isn’t the blog I ordered… – or – new lunar year, new look

January 26, 2012 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

Greetings awesome readers. Chris in South Korea here – as you might have noticed, there’s a new look around the site. I’ve joined forces with Travel Wire Asia, a website pooling bloggers from all around Asia. The focus is on travel, life, and adventure throughout Asia Just like I’ve been doing since March of 2008,…>

thumb

Infographic: What to do this weekend in Korea?

January 23, 2012 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

WE expats in Korea are always trying to figure out what we’re going to do this weekend… so I made a flowchart to help you figure it out. I’ve visited all of these places except for one (take a guess in the comments) and hope you’ll check out some of these places as well. Enjoy!

thumb

6 great day trips around Seoul

January 23, 2012 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

SEOUL is a wonderful place to go exploring. With several historic palaces, dozens of Buddhist temples, and more shopping than you have money, you might be wondering ‘why go anywhere else around Korea?’ The simple answer is to get off the beaten path, and to explore some places tourists/foreigners don’t go to see as often.…>

Question from a reader: Seoul vs. Busan vs. Daegu

January 18, 2012 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

A reader writes in: Hi! Just found out your blog and really liking it. I thought I would ask you some questions regarding your thoughts of Busan, Daegu and Seoul. I’ll probably go on a trip to Korea this year to take language courses and I can’t  make up my mind on which city to…>

thumb

Korean noraebang (singing rooms): A survival guide

January 17, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

CALL it a singing room with alcohol, a chance to be mortally embarrassed, or a way to impress that cutie you’ve been chatting up all night. Either way, the noraebang allows you that opportunity. Noraebang translates to  ‘singing room’, it’s an opportunity to make a fool of yourselves. It’s so much more fun when you know what…>

thumb

Destination: Hyangiram (Yeosu, Jeollanam-do)

January 16, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Where life moves at the speed of turtles made of stone. Let’s start off by calling this place remote – from the nearest train station, it’s a 50-60 minute bus ride. Planning to visit somewhere after will require you to get a fairly easy start. That said, it’s well worth the trip to slow down…>

thumb

Question from a reader: the application photo

January 13, 2012 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

A reader writes in: Hey,I’m presently looking for my first EFL job in Korea and have a question a about a CV. Everything in my CV is solid, I’m well qualified and have some relevant experience relating to teaching English. However I have heard that a photo is of serious importance to Korean employers in…>

thumb

Dining etiquette: Is it okay to eat alone in Korea?

January 12, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

A READER writes in: i’ll be visiting seoul for a few days ( i came here years ago,a number of times–but ironically,cant remember much of it) and this time, it’s solo. i’ve read in a few blogs and guides that it’s rude/weird to dine alone? i couldnt believe it at first; but after reading and…>

thumb

Destination: Odongdo (Yeosu, Jeollanam-do)

January 11, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

It’s a hike – but it’s worth it. The Yeosu area may well be a very different place later this year, as the Yeosu EXPO finishes construction and gets underway in May 2012. As it stands when I write this post, the only exit at the train station deposits you in the midst of a…>

thumb

A night in Hongdae… Seoul, South Korea

January 10, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

ALTHOUGH not every tourist to Seoul calls Hongdae a favorite, there are many reasons why it’s such a popular place among the younger crowds. The creative energy, the artsy community, and the bars and clubs all make up legitimate reasons why this area is so popular. If you find yourself invited or heading to Hongdae…>

thumb

Three New Restaurants in Itaewon worth checking out

January 10, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: rest assured, this is NOT turning into a food blog. Having recently moved into the nearby Haebangchon area, it’s much easier to explore the international flavors that exist in the Itaewon area. I was not paid or reimbursed for any meals, and all opinions are my own.   Vatos – two words: urban…>

thumb

Random pictures, part 55

January 6, 2012 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Beyond the obvious misspelling, what else are you doing in the restroom? (Yes, I can guess it’s designed for the handicapped, the elderly, and for families, but ‘purpose’ implies a reason to visit.) Found at a rest stop. Pretty. Seen in Incheon. One local charm of Wolmi-do – a restaurant set up like an army base. Lots of…>

Coming to Korea: what to pack and what to buy (2012 edition)

January 4, 2012 - 10 Comments - Chris Backe

The date in the title is intentional – these things age quickly. Do a search for ‘Korean packing list’ and you’ll find thousands of results. There’s plenty of good intentions, of course, but reading a list from 2007 might lead you to pack a year’s worth of deodorant. Plenty of varieties are easily found these…>

Poll results for December 2011

January 2, 2012 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Poll results for December 2011: Complete the sentence: I live in…? (Readers in Korea – select the most appropriate one) a work-provided apartment by myself (48%, 55 Votes) a place I rent myself (and I paid the key money) (17%, 19 Votes) a work-provided apartment with my significant other (10%, 11 Votes) a house I/we…>

thumb

Destination: D-Cube City (Sindorim, Seoul)

January 2, 2012 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

A mall is a mall is a mall, whether it’s in Seoul or Istanbul. Opened in late August 2011, the newest mall in Seoul feels as modern as you’d expect. Start with futuristic architecture, a check-list of brand name clothing stores, and more food options than a food snob can enjoy in a week. Add…>

thumb

Restaurant of the week: Jacoby’s Burger, Seoul

December 27, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

JACOBY’S BURGER, SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA Where? 45-6 Yongsan-dong-2-ga, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, 02-3785-0433, open until 2 a.m. What makes it special? This place is far from a secret – in fact, it’s one of the most respected and widely-known expat haunts in the Haebangchon area. Not too many tourists head up this way, of course, since they’re…>

thumb

Destination: D-Cube City (Sindorim, Seoul)

December 24, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

A mall is a mall is a mall, whether it’s in Seoul or Istanbul. Opened in late August 2011, the newest mall in Seoul feels as modern as you’d expect. Start with futuristic architecture, a check-list of brand name clothing stores, and more food options than a food snob can enjoy in a week. Add…>

thumb

Konglish: the ‘countdown to Christmas’ edition

December 23, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

The problem starts in the title and doesn’t stop being hilarious: Frist Floor (1F) A Pldege of an lexy hair’s Happy Stylist Here, I, as a happy stylist to make my customers, colleagues and everybody I am facing everydy happy and successive with my best skills I have, my smile with a [covered up] attitude…>

thumb

A night in… Itaewon, Seoul, South Korea

December 22, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

The central hub of foreigners in Seoul makes for a fun-filled night out, whether that fun involves food, drinks, or dancing. Close to the Yongsan Garrison (the U.S. Army base that gave rise to the area decades ago), Itaewon and two nearby districts are within walking distance of each other. We’ll tackle the other two…>

thumb

Destination: Seoul Design Fair 2011

December 21, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

It’s over now – but it was still fun. The Seoul Design Festival – not to be confused with the Seoul Design Fair. Pay the 7,000 won admission fee, enjoy the disco ball at the front entrance. Oil lighters, anyone? Created by LEE Dong-kyu (이동규). “The key to dreams”? It looks like an executioner’s chair,…>

thumb

Destination: Seoul Design Fair 2011

December 20, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

It’s over now – but it was still fun. The Seoul Design Festival – not to be confused with the Seoul Design Fair. Pay the 7,000 won admission fee, enjoy the disco ball. Oil lighters, anyone? Created by LEE Dong-kyu (이동규). “The key to dreams”? It looks like an executioner’s chair, sans the wires. Created by…>

thumb

Life in Korea: Where to crash in Seoul

December 19, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Crashing - everybody eventually does it. Coming to Seoul to party is fun. Trying to find a place to crash afterwards is not. Presuming you haven’t already arranged to stay at a friend’s house or reserved a hotel, there are plenty of 24-hour jjimjilbang to lay your head in Seoul. Five star hotels they are not,…>

thumb

Performance: Rocky Mountain Tavern’s Battle of the Bands (2011)

December 19, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

The Itaewon music scene just got more interesting. Rocky Mountain Tavern’s Battle of the Bands continues to impress. While I went to parts of the preliminary rounds, I broke out the camera for the final round. First up: Minha - a hard-rocking Korean band. This guy started sweating about three songs in. Next up: Glass Inspired.…>

thumb

Christmastime in Seoul (2011)

December 16, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

CISK note: a version of this article first appeared as a guest post on Gone Seoul Searching. Pronounce it ‘low-tay’.  A number of areas around Seoul get gussied up for the holidays, and the downtown area is one of the best. Christmas in Seoul has plenty of the commercial messages, along with a few of…>

thumb

Book Review: Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm – Jeffrey Miller

December 14, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

It’s a fairly rare expat in Korea who can claim twenty-plus years in Korea. Jeffrey Miller is one of those guys, of course, and his first-person perspective on Korea’s history since 1990 is a rock-solid one. While Jeffrey’s previous book, War Remains (paperback, or for Kindle), was fictional, it was very much based in reality. In this…>

thumb

Destination: Here is Korea, 1970KHz, Seoul

December 12, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Some things in Korea haven’t changed much in the past three decades. Here is Korea, 1970KHz (여기는 대한민국 1970KHz) is a look into Korea from the 1970s. While far from comprehensive, it’s an intriguing glimpse into the lives and lifestyles from not too long ago. It’s also a reminder that while some aspects have changed…>

thumb

Destination: Here is Korea, 1970KHz

December 12, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Some things in Korea haven’t changed much in the past three decades. Here is Korea, 1970KHz (여기는 대한민국 1970KHz) is a look into Korea from the 1970′s. While far from comprehensive, it’s an intriguing glimpse into the lives and lifestyles from not too long ago. It’s also a reminder that while some aspects have changed…>

thumb

Guest post: Reverse Culture Shock back in California

December 9, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

CISK note: this guest post about reverse culture shock comes from Marie Webb, the blogger behind goneseoulsearching.com. Check out her blog for more insights on travel and life in Korea, even as she’s left the country. The first things that crossed my mind were definitely unsettling upon entering the crowded San Francisco Airport for a connecting…>

thumb

Life in Korea: viewing .HWP files

December 7, 2011 - 8 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: ‘Life in Korea’ posts are aimed at the newer expats in Korea. If you have a more experienced perspective to offer, please feel free to share in the comments! HWP – Hansoft (Hangeul?) Word Processor. To geeks like me, HWP is an unnecessary evil. Millions of Korean computers have this office suite installed,…>

Poll results for November: learning hangeul and a trip to Korea

December 4, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Poll results for November 2011: How long did it take you to learn hangeul (e.g. read it without help?) – readers in Korea only. Learned it before I landed (29%, 44 Votes) I’m STILL trying to learn it… (6+ months) (21%, 32 Votes) My first week (18%, 27 Votes) My first month (16%, 24 Votes)…>

thumb

Coming to Korea: Nine myths debunked or confirmed

December 2, 2011 - 6 Comments - Chris Backe

It’s sometimes hard to tell truth from myth when looking at a job (and country) from across an ocean. If your research / due diligence has brought any of these doubts to mind, it’s time to debunk them. Myth #1: you have to be super skinny to find Korean clothing that’ll fit you. PARTIALLY FALSE.…>

December 2011 events

December 1, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

  Author’s note: There’s bound to be updates to this month’s events – keep checking back for more information and new events! If you have an event you’d like to plug, comment on this post or contact me with all the details. Please follow a few guidelines for the maximum benefit. It’s that time of…>

Life in Korea: 50 things not to miss during your year in Korea

November 30, 2011 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

Signing a one-year contract to teach English sounds like a long time, but it’ll fly by once you arrive. It’s also easy to stay within your comfort zone and not venture out to see what Korea has to offer. You might be inspired to make your own Korea list, so add your thoughts in the…>

thumb

Travel therapist: How much Korean should I know?

November 29, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

A reader writes in: I’m coming to Korea for a couple of weeks to see the country, and I’ve heard Korean is one of the most difficult languages to learn. How much Korean do I really need to know? I don’t plan to be having long conversations in Korean, but I do want to eat.…>

thumb

Destination: Yangjae Citizen’s Forest (Seoul)

November 28, 2011 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

It’s so much easier to reach now. Since the opening of the Shinbundang line, the Yangjae Citizen’s Forest has gotten that much easier to reach from the rest of Seoul. I was here a couple of years ago, at least to a different part of the forest. It’s a big place, and there’s plenty to…>

thumb

Guest Post: In The Footsteps of Wonhyo – A 21st Century Pilgrimage

November 26, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

CISK note: this guest post comes to you from a group of fellow travelers. Simon Phillips is one of the men behind a project called In the Footsteps on Wonhyo, and is an expert hiker and photographer. Their journey will (roughly) follow the footsteps of an eccentric monk, and is a story I’ll personally be following…>

thumb

50 things not to miss in Korea

November 25, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

WHETHER you come to Korea for a few days, a few weeks, or a few years, time seems to fly once you arrive. It’s also easy to stay within your comfort zone and not venture out to see what Korea has to offer. There’s plenty to do away from the tourist-friendly places, of course. Consider…>

thumb

Performance: White Lies Burlesque

November 24, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Sexy girls + fancy costumes = a night of fun in Seoul. The MC of the night – Shanty Panty – making sure the sizable crowd is paying attention. Every so often, the expats of the White Lies Burlesque Troupe puts together a themed show, to enjoyers of the art form. The show changes performances…>

thumb

Naughty, naughty! Catching a burlesque show in Seoul

November 24, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

SEXY girls + fancy costumes = a night of fun in Seoul. Every so often, the expats of the White Lies Burlesque Troupe puts together a themed show, to enjoyers of the art form. The show changes performances almost every time, thanks to the ever-changing themes and increasing talents of the performers. While clothes do…>

thumb

Where to crash in Seoul on the cheap

November 23, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

CRASHING - everybody eventually does it. Coming to Seoul to party is fun. Trying to find a place to crash afterwards is not. Presuming you haven’t already arranged to stay at a friend’s house or reserved a hotel, there are plenty of 24-hour jjimjilbang to lay your head in Seoul. Five star hotels they are not,…>

thumb

Destination: Manggyeongam and Bongguksa (or, Peace in Seongnam)

November 22, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Off the beaten path, but not too far.  EDITED 23 Nov 2011 to correct a mistake in the order of Buddhas (HT to Dale in the comments). The area of Bundang is new, fairly easy to get around, and an excellent satellite city connected to Seoul. Seongnam, while nearby, gets only a fraction of the…>

Coming to Korea: Six myths debunked or confirmed

November 21, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

It’s sometimes hard to tell truth from myth when looking at a country from across an ocean. If your research / due diligence has brought any of these doubts to mind, it’s time to debunk them. Myth #1: you have to be super skinny to find Korean clothing that’ll fit you. PARTIALLY FALSE. While it’s…>

thumb

Embracing my un-Korean-ness

November 19, 2011 - 15 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: I was invited to write a piece for an expat blog section in the always excellent Seoul Writers Anthology. The section ended up not getting used, so here is my contribution. Check out the “Out of Place” Anthology Launch from 3-6pm on November 20 at the Berlin Cafe in Itaewon. I AM NOT…>

thumb

Six things to avoid in Seoul

November 18, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

SEOUL is a huge place – beyond being one of the largest cities in the world, the surrounding metropolitan area is filled with plenty of other attractions. While you can spend weeks touring Seoul and not see it all, there are several places you can safely skip if you’re on a tight time schedule. 1.…>

thumb

Destination: Seoul Lantern Festival (2011)

November 18, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

The third time around, it’s still plenty of fun. Venerable Muhak and his staff – the Buddhist monk who co-established Hanyang as the capital of the Joseon Dynasty. As with previous lantern festivals, the crowd was borderline overwhelming – especially on a Saturday night. Thankfully, this year featured some crowd control for the privilege of walking alongside…>

thumb

In pictures: Seoul Lantern Festival 2011

November 17, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

THE third time around, it’s still plenty of fun. As with previous lantern festivals, the crowd was borderline overwhelming – especially on a Saturday night. Thankfully, this year featured some crowd control for the privilege of walking alongside the Cheonggyecheon stream – the later the night wore on, the longer that line got. Walking along the stream…>

thumb

Coming to Korea: getting and using Korean health insurance

November 16, 2011 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: ‘Coming to Korea’ posts are aimed at the wonderful readers who are either brand new to Korea or learning about Korea from their home country. Do you have a question about Korea? Do a quick search of the blog first, then contact me! A reader recently e-mailed me, asking about health insurance in…>

thumb

Destination: Wando Tower / Wando Beach Park (Wando-gun, Jeollanam-do)

November 11, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: a version of this article appears in the Gwangju News, November 2011 issue. On my way to Wando Tower – the harbor serves as a cornucopia of colors, and is a reminder of what you don’t see in Seoul. The scene is set – drying fish in the foreground, the evergreen forest island…>

thumb

Destination: Craftworks Taphouse tour (Gapyeong, Gyeonggi-do)

November 10, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Beer-lovers, rejoice – Korea’s best pub takes you to the source. If you live in Seoul, Craftworks Taphouse is your escape from crappy Korean beer. Their beer is brewed at the KAPA Brewery in nearby Gapyeong (eastern Gyeonggi-do, about 1 1/2 hours east of Seoul), and it’s a small enough facility that you might pass it by…>

thumb

Tapping the source of Korea’s best beer

November 9, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

BEER lovers, rejoice – Korea’s best pub takes you to the source. If you live in Seoul, Craftworks Taphouse is your escape from crappy Korean beer. Their beer is brewed at the KAPA Brewery in nearby Gapyeong (eastern Gyeonggi-do, about 1 1/2 hours east of Seoul), and it’s a small enough facility that you might…>

thumb

Performance: The Importance of Being Earnest (Cut Glass Theatre)

November 8, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Just a quick post today on The Importance of Being Earnest - Cut Glass Theatre’s first production. The troupe is new, but many of the actors bring considerable experience to the stage. The stage is set – but this is the last weekend. Catch it at Club After / Moonnight (Itaewon station, line 6, exit 3) this…>

thumb

Destination: Wando Arboretum (Wando-gun, Jeollanam-do)

November 7, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: a version of this article appears in the Gwangju News, November 2011 issue. A beautiful way to spend a day. The taxi driver dropped me off with a smile on his face and his card in my hand. I’ll need to call him when I’m ready to leave, as a remote place like…>

thumb

Cooking in Korea: making bread in a rice cooker (guest post)

November 4, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

CISK note: this guest post comes to you from Joyce Kong, the blogger behind http://insunee.blogspot.com/. I’m Korean American, and like all Korean Americans, I have a story.  I’m from Austin, Texas.  My father was an engineer doing his Ph.D. at the University of Texas and then started working at a research facility…blah blah blah.  Though we…>

thumb

Five must-try Korean dishes

November 3, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

COMING to Korea means the chance to try plenty of new foods. Most Korean restaurants, however, still tend to market to the locals, usually leaving the foreigners in the dark on what to pick. During my first few weeks, I discovered the ‘point-and-smile’ approach worked most of the time. Since the menus are occasionally in…>

thumb

Random pictures, part 53: the Jeju-do edition

November 2, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Typically, the random pictures are from all over the country – this time, however, I took 1,700+ pictures during two recent trips to Jeju-do. In case you missed it, the posts are here. More than a few didn’t fit into other posts (just in case you missed them – part 1, part 2, and part…>

thumb

Performance: Rocky Horror, Seoul Players, and a drag show (AKA Halloween in Seoul, Korea) – NSFW-ish

November 1, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Halloween in Seoul gets a little better every year. Let’s call this one NSFW – this is Rocky Horror and drag, not the Little Mermaid. Yes, that’s me in the disco pants – perhaps another reason this isn’t safe for work. Club After / Moonnight in Itaewon hosted the Seoul Players doing a live-action version…>

Poll results for October 2011

November 1, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

October 2011′s poll results: What was your major in college? (readers in Korea – pick one) English / Literature / Journalism (16%, 27 Votes) Marketing / Accounting / Economics (14%, 24 Votes) Other / something weird (14%, 24 Votes) Psychology / Philosophy / Religion (11%, 18 Votes) History / Geography / Anthropology (9%, 15 Votes)…>

thumb

November 2011 events

November 1, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: There’s bound to be updates to this month’s events – keep checking back for more information and new events! If you have an event you’d like to plug, comment on this post or contact me with all the details. Please follow a few guidelines for the maximum benefit. *** SPECIAL EVENT *** November…>

thumb

Performance: Rocky Horror, Seoul Players, and a drag show (AKA Halloween in Seoul, Korea) – NSFW-ish

October 31, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Halloween in Seoul gets a little better every year. Let’s call this one NSFW – this is Rocky Horror and drag, not the Little Mermaid. Yes, that’s me in the disco pants – perhaps another reason this isn’t safe for work. Club After / Moonnight in Itaewon hosted the Seoul Players doing a live-action version…>

thumb

Destination: Odaesan in fall glory (Gangwon-do)

October 31, 2011 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

Beautiful leaves – yep, they’re here! EDITED 31 October 2011 to reflect some corrections. After exploring nearby Woljeongsa, I aimed to explore a bit of Odaesan National Park. It is duly noted, of course, that a half day’s worth of exploring a large national park barely scratches the surface of what the park has to…>

thumb

Life in Korea: the Sinbundang line opens (Seoul)

October 29, 2011 - 6 Comments - Chris Backe

EDITED 31 October 2011 to include a couple extra details not seen on previous posters. It’s official – the Sin-bundang / Shin-bundang line opens on October 29, 2011 at 3pm. This is more of a PSA, seeing as how many of you wonderful readers are into travel and life in Korea. The Sinbundang line (신분당선)…>

thumb

Life in Korea: The Sinbundang line opens (Seoul)

October 28, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

It’s official – the Sin-bundang / Shin-bundang line opens on October 29, 2011 at 3pm. This is more of a PSA for the wonderful readers are into travel and life in Korea. The Sinbundang line (신분당선) is essentially a shortcut from Gangnam station down to the Bundang / Seongnam area. Taking the Bundang line does…>

thumb

On the Korean Halloween spirit

October 28, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Korea loves a holiday – and why not? It invariably turns into a reason to party, to shop, to be sociable, and sometimes to be someone else. With those thoughts, I’m delighted to see Halloween becoming a more widely celebrated holiday in South Korea, albeit with a few reservations. It goes without saying that the…>

thumb

Siri to not be offered on the Korean iPhone 4S

October 27, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Apple Korea recently announced that Siri, the personal secretary embedded within the company’s newest phone, will not be part of the Korean iPhone 4S. While the phone is coming to Korea next month, Apple officials declined to give an exact date. “At this point, we’re involved in a number of lawsuits with tech companies. Literally…>

thumb

Destination: Woljeongsa and a Buddhist festival (Gangwon-do)

October 26, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Buddhist temple + surprise Buddhist festival + autumn leaves = gorgeous. Located in Odaesan, Woljeongsa (월정사, ‘moon-vitality-temple’) was the host of a Buddhist festival I had no idea was happening until I arrived at the local bus terminal. One of three Buddhist temples among the five grand peaks, Woljeongsa is the first temple I’ve seen…>

thumb

Destination: Odaesan in fall glory (Gangwon-do)

October 24, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Beautiful leaves – yep, they’re here! After exploring nearby Woljeongsa, I aimed to explore a bit of Odaesan National Park. It is duly noted, of course, that a half day’s worth of exploring a large national park barely scratches the surface of what the park has to offer. You would need at least two full…>

thumb

Destination: the new city of Songdo (Incheon)

October 24, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

What a difference two years makes. When I visited the Songdo / Incheon Central Park area in June 2009, the area was a construction zone. To put it nicely, walking down the street would not have been possible had I gone during a work day. Now, traffic is flowing, the area has a finished look…>

thumb

Destination: the abandoned Songdo Bible Park (Incheon)

October 21, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Let’s call this one NSFC – Not Safe For Christians. And now, for something completely different – the abandoned site someone could actually stumble across without even trying. Presenting what’s left of the Songdo Bible Park in the Songdo Central Park. A little history is in order here, especially for the sake of posterity. According…>

thumb

Destination: Woljeongsa and a Buddhist festival (Gangwon-do)

October 20, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Buddhist temple + surprise Buddhist festival + autumn leaves = gorgeous. Located in Odaesan, Woljeongsa (월정사, ‘moon-vitality-temple’) was the host of a Buddhist festival I had no idea was happening until I arrived at the local bus terminal. One of three Buddhist temples among the five grand peaks, Woljeongsa is the first temple I’ve seen…>

thumb

Book review: The Dog Farm – David S. Wills

October 19, 2011 - 12 Comments - Chris Backe

Hunter S. Thompson would’ve been proud. Forget what you know about Korea. Forget what you know about teaching English. Forget the screaming five-year-olds and impossible bosses screaming Korean obscenities. This is one part sex, one part drugs, and one part a search for rock-and-roll in the land of K-pop. Did I mention it’s a book?…>

thumb

Performance: Nick’s Farewell Party (Stompers, Itaewon)

October 18, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Presenting a musical reunion – and a farewell Itaewon will remember. What happens when you combine a full docket of bands with another full docket of bands? Sheer mayhem? Pandemonium? A lot of angry, drunk folks? Nah – it’s all good. Even as Stompers managed to double-book the night, times got shifted and got worked out…>

thumb

Destination: Songdo (Incheon) – South Korea’s ‘beta’ city

October 18, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

What a difference two years makes. When I visited the Songdo / Incheon Central Park area in June 2009, the area was a construction zone. To put it nicely, walking down the street would not have been possible had I gone during a work day. Now, traffic is flowing, the area has a finished look…>

thumb

Destination: Wolmi-do Amusement Park – at night (Incheon)

October 17, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Myrtle Beach, eat your heart out. An excellent place to check out a more Korean version of the nightlife is mere minutes away from Incheon station. Known as 월미도테마파크 (Wol-mi-do te-ma pa-keu, or Wolmi-do theme park) it’s a family-friendly outing much like Seoul Land and Lotte World.  The area is easy to come and go, pay…>

thumb

Destination: a full day of Jeju (Jeju-do) – part 3 of 3

October 14, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Meet Oedolgae, Jusangjeolli, Cheonjaeyeon, Jungmun Saekdal Beach, Sanbanggulsa, and Loveland – all in the same day. The nice part of going on a guided tour is the ability to meet with like-minded travelers, visit a bunch of places, and (perhaps nicest of all), not have to think about how you’re going from A to B.…>

thumb

Destination: Wolmi-do Amusement Park – at night (Incheon)

October 14, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Myrtle Beach, eat your heart out. An excellent place to check out a more Korean version of the local nightlife is mere minutes away from Incheon station. Known as 월미도테마파크 (Wol-mi-do te-ma pa-keu, or Wolmi-do theme park) it’s a family-friendly outing much like Seoul Land and Lotte World.  The area is easy to explore, pay by…>

thumb

Random pictures, part 52: the Hongdae murals edition

October 12, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

This one’s a little different. Normally, ‘Random Pictures’ posts are for those interesting pictures that don’t make it into other posts. This time around, however, the theme of Hongdae murals works. Although I’ve covered Hongdae murals in the past, there are enough interesting – and new – murals around Hongdae to merit a new post. It’s nice…>

thumb

Destination: Jeju! Jungmun Saekdal Beach, Sanbanggulsa, and Loveland

October 10, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: this is the fourth in a series of four posts on a recent trip to Jeju. Head back for parts one, two, and three if you missed them. The latter half of the late-summer day was the perfect time to take in a few of Jeju’s most beautiful sights, starting with a wide…>

thumb

Destination: U-do / Biyang-do (Jeju-do) – part 2 of 3

October 10, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Day trips don’t get any better – but there’s a catch.  Welcome to Cow Island – yes, Udo does sort of resemble a sitting cow. Thus, the name fits, if such a thing matters much. While Jeju features enough places to keep most travelers busy for a week, the tiny 5.9 sq. km. Island requires a…>

thumb

Destination: Jeju! Oedolgae, Jusangjeolli, and Cheonjaeyeon waterfall

October 7, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: this is the third in a series of four posts on a recent trip to Jeju. Head back for parts one and two if you missed them. The nice part of going on a guided tour is the ability to meet with like-minded travelers, visit a bunch of places, and (perhaps nicest of…>

thumb

Destination: Manjanggul Lava Tubes and Crater Mountain Peak (Jeju-do) – part 1 of 3

October 6, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: this is the first of three posts on a group tour to Jeju-do during Chuseok. Stay tuned for the other posts! Jeju-do. Part 1. ‘Nuff said. While the oft-repeated title of ‘honeymoon island’ is true, there’s far more to see than newlyweds – or anyone else, for that matter – can see in…>

Question from a reader: what to tell your parents

October 4, 2011 - 8 Comments - Chris Backe

A reader writes in: My parents seemed quite impressed and supportive when I mentioned that teaching in Korea was a possibility for graduates like myself, but now that I’ve actually started the process, they’re, well… less than, shall we say. Any advice/tips/resources you could recommend to help put them at ease? I’m going to go…>

thumb

Poll results from September 2011: foreigner card and learning about Korea

October 3, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

The foreigner card: where do you stand? (readers in Korea – select one) What’s a foreigner card? (43%, 38 Votes) I use it occasionally (25%, 22 Votes) I use it sometimes (11%, 10 Votes) I can’t remember the last time I played the foreigner card (10%, 9 Votes) I use it all the time (11%,…>

thumb

October 2011 events

October 1, 2011 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: There’s bound to be updates to this month’s events – keep checking back for more information and new events! If you have an event you’d like to plug, comment on this post or contact me with all the details. Please follow a few guidelines for the maximum benefit. Jon of koreagigguide.com fame is…>

thumb

Destination: Jeju-do! Manjanggul Lava Tubes and Crater Mountain Peak

September 30, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: this is the first of four posts on a tour of Jeju-do. Stay tuned for the other posts! Jeju-do. Part 1. ‘Nuff said. While the oft-repeated title of ‘honeymoon island’ is true, there’s far more to see than newlyweds – or anyone else, for that matter – can see in a week. Korea’s…>

thumb

Destination: Jeju-do! A side trip to U-do/Biyang-do

September 30, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: this is the second in a series of four posts on a recent trip to Jeju. Head back for part one if you missed it. Welcome to Cow Island – yes, Udo does sort of resemble a sitting cow from above. Thus, the name fits, if such a thing matters much. While Jeju features…>

Life in Korea: living cheaply to save won

September 29, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: ‘Life in Korea’ posts are written with the newer expats among us in mind. If you have a more experienced view to offer, comments are wide open. Life in Korea doesn’t have to be expensive – in fact, people can live quite cheaply thanks to a good salary and a low cost of…>

thumb

Destination: Lake Park (Ilsan, northern Gyeonggi-do)

September 28, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

OK, Chris, what’s so special about a man-made lake? Beyond it being the biggest man-made lake in South Korea, the 300,000 square meter (73 acre) lake is accompanied by a greenhouse with dozens of species of cacti, a 9,550 square meter Rose Garden, and plenty of room to stretch out and relax. The unoriginal ‘Lake…>

thumb

Book review: Dispatches from the Peninsula, by Chris Tharp

September 27, 2011 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

Chris Tharp of Busan Haps fame tells all in his newest autobiographical tale! I’m sure that’s he’d like the headline to read, at least. The Signal 8 Press book, split into twenty-ish relatively long chapters, will sound familiar to anyone that has called Korea home for more than a couple of months. Perhaps it’s a…>

thumb

Guest post: dancing in Seoul

September 26, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

This guest post comes to you courtesy of Dee Mason, a freelance travel writer. Seoul, South Korea is home to an amazing dance community. From ballet, to contemporary, to hip hop, and everything in between, the number of dance classes available in the city and the quality of the training has positioned Seoul as one…>

thumb

Random pictures, part 51

September 26, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

If you have any random pictures to contribute, please e-mail them to me at chrisinsouthkorea AT gmail DOT com. They need to have a Korean focus (travel, food, people, culture), and be at least slightly weird. Each picture should be accompanied by a 1-3 sentence description. Contributors receive full credit for their photo(s) and a…>

thumb

Performance: DragRace Showcase (Club After, Itaewon, Seoul)

September 20, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

This is one case where the pictures essentially speak for themselves.  Presenting The Duchess, Madame Sarcasma, Andrea Meguro, Tracy Carey, and Be’yonca Fierceness.                           Hope you enjoyed!

thumb

Random pictures, part 50

September 19, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

If you have any random pictures to contribute, please e-mail them to me at chrisinsouthkorea AT gmail DOT com. They need to have a Korean focus (travel, food, people, culture), and be at least slightly weird. Each picture should be accompanied by a 1-3 sentence description. Contributors receive full credit for their photo(s) and a…>

thumb

Destination: the Garden of Morning Calm (Cheongpyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do)

September 16, 2011 - 8 Comments - Chris Backe

Sometimes, the pictures don’t do a place justice. This was the verdict of the Garden of Morning Calm (아침고요수목원 – a-chim go-yo su-mok-won) – a beautiful place on a beautiful day had more awesome than my camera could handle. Professor Han Sang-kyung at Sahmyook University first conceived the garden as a world-famous Korean garden. The…>

thumb

Win tickets to the Probationary Theatre’s next play – Cosi!

September 14, 2011 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

Read on to win free tickets to a hilarious show! From Probationary Theatre’s press release: Probationary Theatre Company is proud to announce their main stage production for fall; “Cosi” – A comedy by veteran, award-winning Australian playwright, Louis Nowra. Set in Melbourne in 1971, the show takes a unique insight into the trials of Lewis,…>

thumb

Question from a reader: must-knows before coming to Korea?

September 14, 2011 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

A reader writes in: Hi Chris! I love your blog and have learned so much about various experiences in Korea. I am leaving on Friday to Seoul for a week of training and then living in [city redacted] which is nearby Seoul. Just wondering if you have any must knows that you could share with…>

thumb

Destination: Jupil Spider Museum (Namyangju, Gyeonggi-do)

September 8, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Arachnophobics and kids, look away now – the spiders are crawling and the statues have breasts. Claiming to be the only spider museum in the world, the Jupil Spider Museum (주필거미박물관) in Namyangju features a lot more than just spiders. First started in May 2004, the spider museum is a small part of the larger…>

thumb

Book review: Wild Korean (야생 한국어) – Sanghyun Ahn

September 7, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Stop being stuck at the basic level. Calling itself “A Fieldguide to Real Korean Conversation”, Wild Korean promises to get you conversational by the time you’re finished with the textbook. While my own book, Korean Made Easy, teaches you enough to get started and make your way around, I was delighted to hear about Wild…>

thumb

Random pictures, part 49 – the ‘not necessarily about Korea’ edition

September 6, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

If you have any random pictures to contribute, please e-mail them to me at chrisinsouthkorea AT gmail DOT com. They need to have a Korean focus (travel, food, people, culture), and be at least slightly weird. Each picture should be accompanied by a 1-3 sentence description. Contributors receive full credit for their photo(s) and a…>

On restless Americans, living in a foreign country and settling down

September 5, 2011 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

If I had read this New York Times article before I had thought of teaching English in a foreign country (circa late 2007), I would have found the premise implausible at best. Americans voluntarily leaving their soil indefinitely? Americans don’t do that. Maybe they go off for a holiday in Australia, or they backpack their…>

Life in Korea: Enjoying the jimjilbang to the fullest

September 2, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: ‘Life in Korea’ posts are dedicated to the newer expats among us. If you have a more experienced perspective to offer, the comments are wide open! Ask the average foreigner what they think of the 찜질방 (jjim-jil-bang, or Korean’s public baths / spas), and you’ll get a polarized response. Some foreigners (like myself)…>

Poll results for August 2011: traveling and recruiters

September 1, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

August’s polls are closed! Traveling around Korea: how do you do it? (readers in Korea – check all that apply) The KTX, baby! (47%, 41 Votes) Express bus (39%, 34 Votes) I own my own car (28%, 24 Votes) Saemaeul / Mugunghwa trains (14%, 12 Votes) Scooter / motorcycle (7%, 6 Votes) Rental car (5%,…>

thumb

September 2011 events

September 1, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: There’s bound to be updates to this month’s events – keep checking back for more information and new events! If you have an event you’d like to plug, comment on this post or contact me with all the details. Please follow a few guidelines for the maximum benefit. August 27-September 4: It’s finally…>

Life in Korea: your first week

August 30, 2011 - 7 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: ‘Life in Korea’ posts are geared toward the newer expats – in this case, those just starting out in Korea. Comments are open! As one semester ends and another begins, a new wave of English teachers will be coming to Korea. If you just arrived off the plane, welcome – here’s how to…>

thumb

Destination: This Week In Startups Seoul / TWIST Seoul (Gangnam, Seoul)

August 30, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Get your creative juices flowing – in the business way. More than just a collection of small business folks, the TWIST Seoul event offered a chance for the world to see some of the best small businesses being formed in the country. Although 31 businesses participated, there was only room for six in the final…>

thumb

A Temple By the Sea – Haedong Yonggungsa (guest post)

August 29, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

CISK note: this guest post comes to you courtesy of T Paul Buzan, who has a lot more stories and pictures available at koreaconnection.net. Life in Korea is a high-octane rush of work and play, late nights and early mornings, and routine adventure. It’s exciting – and frequently exhausting. No wonder caffeine is a staple…>

thumb

Destination: a KTX trip – tea fields in Boseong and rail-biking in Gokseong (Jeollanam-do)

August 26, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

There are quite a few ‘KTX Tours’ available – typically one- or two-day trip offering to whisk you away to sights around the country using Korea’s fast train service. While the KTX train didn’t take us all the way to our first destination, the chartered bus took us the rest of the way. The rural…>

thumb

Destination: Damyang Spa (Damyang-gun, Jeollanam-do)

August 24, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

It’s a rare place that offers an outdoor hot spa for the naked people and a pool for the swimsuited. Beyond the Juknokwon bamboo forest, Damyang Spa (담양온천, or Dam-yang on-cheon) is one highlight of visiting the Damyang area in Jeollanam-do. The spa isn’t open 24 hours a day, however. The connected tourist hotel is…>

thumb

Destination: Juknokwon bamboo forest (Damyang, Jeollanam-do)

August 22, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

The bamboo forest at Juknokwon (죽녹원) is one of the main attractions in Damyang county. Since it’s a mere half-hour from Gwangju, I thought it was time to check it out. Quite a few smaller towns and areas have become known for one thing or another – Boryeong / Daecheon for their mud festival, Jeonju…>

thumb

Destination: Jangheung Water Festival (2011) (Jangheung-gun, Jeollanam-do)

August 20, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Better late than never. After getting sidetracked by some other posts and a Twitter contest. it’s time to catch up on a festival long over. Consider this a glimpse into a festival not seen by many foreigners, or a guide to what to see at next year’s festival. The Jangheung Water Festival features mool in…>

thumb

Review: Roomorama

August 18, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

With 425 destinations covered (including several destinations in Korea) and counting, Roomorama is a website offering short-term rentals, hotels, etc. Much like Couchsurfing and craigslist matches up traveler and host, Roomorama brings security, transparency, feedback, and a sense of professionalism to the ‘rent-someone-else’s-place’ world. From Roomorama’s home page, watch a video that explains the service…>

thumb

Destination: Culture Station Seoul 284 (Seoul)

August 17, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Don’t let the name confuse you – it’s the new old Seoul Station. Mr. Marmot himself beat me to the punch, and his blue-hour shots of the station’s exterior come highly recommended. His excellent post doesn’t talk about what’s happening inside, however – hope you enjoy. Much of the old exterior remains – credit the…>

Expat slang, part 3

August 16, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

UPDATE 20 August: see below for a new one overheard over beer that couldn’t wait until part 4. Why a part 3? Because slang is always being created. Check out part 1 and part 2 if you need a few more. bus ballet (n.) – that delicate dance people do when standing on the bus…>

thumb

Random pictures, part 48

August 14, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Something new! If you have any random pictures to contribute, please e-mail them to me at chrisinsouthkorea AT gmail DOT com. They need to have a Korean focus (travel, food, people, culture), and be at least slightly weird. Each picture should be accompanied by a 1-3 sentence description. Contributors receive full credit for their photo(s)…>

thumb

Performance: Shakespeare and @ssholes – OR – A Saturday night in Itaewon

August 10, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

If you live in Itaewon, this might be a totally normal weekend. I don’t, however – in fact, I’m close to 1 1/2 hours away when you factor in waiting for the buses and such. For better or worse, the foreigner-friendly area serves as a special occasion sort of destination, not a place to party…>

thumb

Performance: Pentaport (Incheon, Gyeonggi-do)

August 10, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Pentaport rocks. Rock festivals come in all shapes and sizes, but Pentaport can claim the granddaddy position. This year is the 6th iteration, and the three-day festival offered up enough rock, electronic, techno, and DJ’s to balance out the mud and corporate presences. Two thirds of Idiotape – a seriously awesome pair twiddling knobs and…>

Question from a reader: stuck in a rut?

August 10, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

A reader writes in: First of all I would like to say that your website is fantastic! Really refreshing, and you seem to cover all angles. I moved here about four months ago now. I love Korea, everything possible is different from home. Not necessarily better or worse, as I don’t like comparing it in…>

thumb

Pokyeom, meet Konglish

August 5, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

The rainy season has come and gone across the Korean peninsula (ha!), but Konglish knows no seasons, not even jangma or pokyeom. Apologies for the noise – low light and a fast-moving subject made this a high ISO affair. As the little boy strains to peep over his grandpas captain

thumb

Destination: Hwajinpo Castle, Syngman Rhee’s summer villa, and more (Goseong-gun, Gangwon-do)

August 4, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

No, I didn’t visit North Korea – but I went pretty close to it recently. After our recent trip to Sokcho Beach, we headed north along the Gangwon-do coast. The rural highway bent and curved somewhat, which kept the ride bumpier than expected. Don’t eat a full meal before getting on the bus unless you…>

Poll results for July 2011: ultimate goals and Korean elements?

August 3, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

This month’s poll questions! What is your ultimate goal in Korea? (readers in Korea only, select ONE) Become debt-free / save mucho money (32%, 71 Votes) Travel the world (29%, 65 Votes) Get married to a Korean (16%, 35 Votes) World domination, baby! (9%, 19 Votes) Start my own business (8%, 17 Votes) Rock-star teacher…>

thumb

August 2011 events

August 1, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: There’s bound to be updates to this month’s events – keep checking back for more information and new events! If you have an event you’d like to plug, comment on this post or contact me with all the details. Please follow a few guidelines for the maximum benefit. July 30 – August 7:…>

thumb

Destination: Sokcho Beach (Sokcho, Gangwon-do)

July 26, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Sometimes, arriving at 2am is perfect. After catching a late-night bus from Seoul to Sokcho, Kiwi and I arrived at what felt like a late hour – until we saw more lights and neon than some areas of Seoul. The jovial beach area – combined with some younger vacationers – meant the place was surprisingly…>

thumb

Seoul to plan women-only subway lines

July 22, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Photo credit: Asian Correspondent With the success of the women-only parking spots, the men in the National Assembly have decided again that they know what women really need: their own subway lines. Although some politicians have been talking about adding female-only subway cars, a few people more likely to have common sense recently attended a…>

thumb

Random pictures, part 47

July 21, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Enjoy! As always, random pictures are those shots I’ve taken around Seoul / Korea that don’t fit (or haven’t been used) in other posts. The escalator at my local Homeplus – it feels like you’re heading up to a space station.   The nighttime scape from the roof of my building. With Gangnam station’s reboot…>

Question from a reader: school gives bad references?

July 20, 2011 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

A reader writes in: I’m having a problem. I’m trying to find a new job in [city redacted], but no hagwon owner will hire me without speaking to my previous school about why I left early. (They stopped paying me on time and I gave them notice and left 2 months before my contract was…>

thumb

Performance: Drum Cat (Seoul)

July 18, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Lest you think I’m always the photographer when I travel, there are times when it’s not an option. This happens to be the case with the Drum Cat show, so all photos in this post are from the official site. If you’ve spent more than 30 seconds in Korea, you’ve probably heard of NANTA –…>

thumb

Guest post: getting a F-visa without getting married to a Korean

July 15, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

CISK note: Today’s guest post comes to you courtesy of Sharon de Hinojosa, a university professor and TEFL teacher for just under a decade. Her blog - tefltips.blogspot.com – offers plenty of tips on TEFL, and is recently renovated. I’m currently working at a university on an E2.  I’ve been here since last February and would…>

thumb

Quiz: Where in Korea should you teach English?

July 13, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

I’ve received a number of questions asking ‘where should I live?’. Sure, it’s kind of fun thinking about Jeonju vs. Tongyeong, but the possible permutations are endless. If you’ve already passed the ‘Should I teach English in Korea?‘ quiz, now it’s time to figure out where you should go. Image credit: Wikipedia 1. Where are you living…>

thumb

Destination: Richard Gere photography exhibit (Seoul Arts Center)

July 12, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

While not just an expat thing, the Richard Gere photo exhibition offers a glimpse into Tibet and elsewhere in the Far East. I personally hadn’t known the man as anything other than a movie star, but apparently his photography has won him some fame as well. Define ‘pilgrim’: A person who journeys to a sacred…>

On AFEK, a conference, and hundreds of years of Korean experience

July 9, 2011 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

Arguably, a moth is drawn to a flame thanks to an intense point of light. To say I was drawn to the AFEK business conference like a moth to a flame is not only appropriate, but apt. Although not a F-visa holder, my presence was courtesy of Mike Yates, who heard my interest and sent…>

thumb

Performance: R-16 B-boy show (Olympic Park, Seoul)

July 7, 2011 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: it was very hard narrowing this down to 20 photos for this post – for even more, check out this Facebook photo album. Watch out for spinning feet, headstands, and battles – the B-boys have come to town. Combined with a street market and several walls worth of graffiti contests, this was an…>

thumb

There’s an app for that – Korean-related apps for your iDevice

July 5, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

It’s hard to ignore Apple’s presence in the smartphone / tablet world – or the apps available for them. I recently picked up an iPad to replace / upgrade from a first-gen iPod Touch, and decided to take a fresh look at the apps that cover Korea. (Note – all ratings out of 5 taeguks)…>

thumb

Poll results for June 2011: vacation plans and exciting aspects?

July 1, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Poll results for June 2011: Where are you going for summer vacation? (readers in Korea – select as many as apply) I’m going to travel around Korea! (35%, 57 Votes) Summer vacation? Um, none for me… (26%, 42 Votes)

thumb

July 2011 events

July 1, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: There’s bound to be updates to this month’s events – keep checking back for more information and new events! If you have an event you’d like to plug, comment on this post or contact me with all the details. Please follow a few guidelines for the maximum benefit. *** THIS MONTH’S FEATURED EVENT…>

Question from a reader: diagnosed with depression

June 30, 2011 - 12 Comments - Chris Backe

A reader I’ll keep anonymous writes in: My name is [redacted] I’m a returned Peace Corps Volunteer living here in [city redacted]. I came across your blog on a Google search for information about teaching English in Korea. I currently have to friends who are past PCV’s teaching with EPIK in Korea. I have a…>

thumb

Performance: Little Shop of Horrors (Camarata Music Company)

June 28, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

The ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ has aged nicely, considering it was copyrighted the same year I was born. The story is straightforward enough: geeky Seymour, an orphan taken in by Mr. Mushnik (left), and his ‘not-so-secret’ crush Audrey, both work at Mr. Mushnik ‘skid row’ flower shop. I was too busy taking photos to note…>

thumb

Question from a reader: non-smoking, please!

June 27, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

A reader writes in: Hi Chris, I was looking forward to traveling all around Korea when I moved to Seoul nearly 18 months ago. But I’ve had a heck of a time because I am severly allergic to smoke. This is not something that’s been easy to explain to locals, even when (trying to) use…>

thumb

Random pictures, part 46

June 23, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

The American language – not to be confused with English (or Spanglish, in some states). This is what happens when you take a macro lens to an outdoor sculpture made of colored pipes. Not quite in focus, but it’s a little more abstract that way. The infamous Blue Screen of Death – you just never…>

thumb

Destination: Anmyeon-do Recreational Forest (Anmyeon-do, Chungcheongnam-do)

June 22, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

What the heck is After an interesting experience in nearby Taean-gun, the pension owner were dropped off just across the bridge towards Anmyeon-do. At an unmarked bus stop. In the summer heat. Let me repeat myself from the last post just in case you’re tuning in: this area of Chungcheongnam-do, you’ll want a car. Buses…>

thumb

Destination: Taean-gun (Chungcheongnam-do)

June 21, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

You won’t confuse this area of Chungcheongnam-do with an active, happening getaway. That said, a night in a pension may be the cure for what ails you. The word pension implies a retiree’s monthly income, but can also refer to a family-owned guest houses not unlike a summer cottage or a bed-and-breakfast (without the breakfast,…>

Question from a reader: a teacher’s schedule?

June 20, 2011 - 6 Comments - Chris Backe

A reader writes in: Hi Chris: I stumbled across your blog and I’ve found it to be of great use to me, as I am going to be heading to Seoul in approximately two months to teach English. Although I have done quite a bit of research on my own, I have been unable to…>

thumb

Destination: Hwaseong Haenggung (Suwon, Gyeonggi-do)

June 18, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Suwon is quite proud of its Hwaseong Fortress, and rightfully so. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage, and the biggest tourist draw to the area. A place not as visited by the tourists is the nearby Hwaseong Haenggung (수원화성행궁) – a detached palace that was also used as both a government office and a retreat for…>

thumb

South Koreans set ‘paper, rock, scissors’ record

June 17, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Source A group of 200 South Koreans set a Guinness World Record for playing ‘Paper, Rock, Scissors’ for just over 86 hours non-stop earlier this week. The group, an eclectic mix of people including college students and octogenarians, started approximately 9am on Tuesday morning and didn’t stop until just after 11pm Friday evening. “We started…>

thumb

Destination: Seoul-mazing race (NEH Magazine)

June 16, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

The first Amazing Race-style event held by one of Seoul’s expat magazines had a lot to live up to. 35 teams and over 100 racers made the Saturday a day to remember – or one they might try to forget. The premise of the race was simple: follow the clues, conquer the tasks, and be…>

Teaching: 8 games to play with your English-language-learning students

June 14, 2011 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

This blog focuses on travel and life in Korea – but for many wonderful readers, teaching English takes up a pretty significant amount of time. Hope these help you in your classes!   Sparkle Die! Also called ‘Sparkle!’, this spelling game requires students to pay attention and spell well. Get the students in a circle,…>

thumb

Destination: Jeongdongjin Beach – and an awesome lunch (Jeongdongjin, Gangwon-do)

June 13, 2011 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

The Jeongdongjin Beach Hourglass – originally installed in 1999 and counting down enough sand (eight tons) to last a year. After arriving in Jeongdongjin one late Saturday night, Kiwi and I checked into a nearby pension to drop off our stuff, then meandered down to the beach. A cool May evening may not be the…>

thumb

Question from a reader: professionals coming to Korea?

June 12, 2011 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

See an update after the original post A reader writes in: Hi Chris, I recently obtained a job as a design engineer with one of the major Korean companies. I’ll be moving to [city redacted] in June for at least the next couple years and am very excited for the adventure! One thing which I…>

thumb

Destination: Ganghwa-do Anglican Church, a Goryeo palace site, and Jeondeungsa (Ganghwa-do, Incheon)

June 10, 2011 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

Update: HT to Martin Uden for pointing out an important religious distinction. It’s NOT Gangwon-do – although Ganghwa-do is almost as far away, it’s well worth visiting all the same. Korea’s fifth-largest island retains an old-world charm not found on the island, thanks in part to its secluded nature. Even with a full day to…>

thumb

Performance: Rockorea 2011 (Midan city, Incheon)

June 8, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Being the first incarnation of Rockorea, it’s fair to say my expectations were set a bit lower than for something like, say, the Jisan Valley show. For a first go, 18 hours of rock music is a big mouthful to chew on, and for the most part was successful. There are suggestions of course, but…>

thumb

Konglish – June 2011

June 7, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Queen’s avenue is meaning which is a space of the queen. It comes to the four-star hotel and it equips luxury ist person reel rear facility and the top grade acoustic system of one impression sourly *** Because we all know queens worry about sound systems. Seen outside a noraebang in Suwon. TOG exceed a…>

thumb

Energy and Volume – Slaughterhouse Jive

June 5, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Call them a new band. Call them a bunch of dudes. Call their band name a play on Vonnegut’s satirical novel. But DO NOT call Slaughterhouse Jive unenergetic or quiet. The first song (Grinderman’s No Pussy Blues) rocketed off Tim’s lead guitar like the strings themselves were Angry Birds getting flung at those damn green…>

thumb

Random pictures, part 45

June 3, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

As with other Random Pictures posts, these are too good to keep to myself – hope you enjoy! Walk into this building with the appropriate amount of money, walk out with some work done, some nicer-looking teeth and a better singer! Seen in the Dongseongno area in Daegu. So THAT’s how you play leapfrog… Seen…>

thumb

Destination: Ojukheon black bamboo forest / Gangneung city museum (Gangneung, Gangwon-do)

June 2, 2011 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

Gangwon-do’s east coast is full of tourist attractions – beyond the numerous beaches, I was delighted to learn of this place from Kiwi. Take a close look at this guy’s face, then stare at the 5,000 won bill (about $4.63 USD). It’s the same guy: Yulgok Yi Yi (율곡이이). Take a look for yourself (and…>

Poll results for May 2011 (how much you make and your purpose in Korea)

June 1, 2011 - 6 Comments - Chris Backe

Counting legal and, um, not-so-legal funds – how much do you make a month? (readers in Korea – choose ONE) 2.0 – 2.5 million won (39%, 92 Votes) 2.5 – 3.0 million won (19%, 44 Votes) 3.0 – 4.0 million won (13%, 30 Votes) 5.0 million won or more (12%, 27 Votes) 1.5 – 2.0…>

thumb

June 2011 events

June 1, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: There’s bound to be updates to this month’s events – keep checking back for more information and new events! If you have an event you’d like to plug, comment on this post or contact me with all the details. Please follow a few guidelines for the maximum benefit. All though June: Korean baseball!…>

You know Korea is your home when… (part 11)

May 31, 2011 - 9 Comments - Chris Backe

It’s back! See the whole series of ‘You know Korea is your home when’ here. You know Korea is your home when… You eat noodles with a 70-year-old woman and twigs found in the forest. You find it almost impossible to walk a straight line unless you’re following the yellow footpath. Almost every appliance or…>

thumb

Destination: Korea Queer Culture Festival (2011)

May 30, 2011 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: in compliance with the requirements to photograph the event, all faces have been blurred to an unrecognizable level, and names of the performers were not revealed. While Korea has a few gay celebrities, the stigma is such that one might lose their job, their position in the family, and more just for being…>

Question from a reader: being vegetarian / vegan in Korea?

May 28, 2011 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

A reader writes in: Hi, Chris, I have a question.  I’m interested in traveling to Korea this fall, and am learning Korean to prepare, but have one concern about the trip:  I’m vegetarian. How difficult is it to eat in Korea if you do not eat meat, fish, or eggs (allergy to eggs)? Thanks for…>

Re: 12 rules for expat life in Korea

May 26, 2011 - 14 Comments - Chris Backe

A recent article on CNNGo recently talked about the 12 rules for expat life in Korea. While I found myself agreeing with some of them, living in Korea requires more than drinking like a fish or learning to dance K-pop (yikes!). If you’re coming to Korea to teach, work as a business person, serve the…>

thumb

A weird, fun, weekend – or – Destination: Daegu Colorful Welcome Festival

May 24, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

With Namiseom and the French Village behind us, Kiwiwiwi and I made our way to Daegu, where I was to participate in a singing contest,  specifically at the 국채보상공원 – the National Debt Repayment Park. While the whole singing thing was a great excuse to come down to Daegu, I won’t pass up a chance…>

thumb

Destination: Namiseom / French Village (Gapyeong, Gyeonggi-do)

May 24, 2011 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

The island of Namiseom is an easy day trip from Seoul, and a chance to escape the mainland and enjoy some natural beauty – well, sort of. The name Nami comes from General Nami, a brilliant military strategist who was falsely accused of treason during King Sejo’s reign (r. 1455-1468). His grave was never found,…>

thumb

Expat slang, part 2

May 24, 2011 - 7 Comments - Chris Backe

Since the first expat slang post, a few new phrases of expat slang have been overheard. Add what you know and enjoy! Keyboard condom (n.) – the thin, plastic-film-like plastic cover found on Korean keyboards. Often taken off the keyboard by Westerns more interested in typing than fighting with a piece of plastic. I can’t…>

Question from a reader: Jeonju vs. Tongyeong?

May 22, 2011 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

A reader writes us: Hi Chris, I’ve just seen your website and was wondering if you might be able to help me! I am going to be moving to South Korea to teach English very soon and am trying to make a decision about where it is best for me to go… as you seem…>

thumb

Where am I? (round 3)

May 20, 2011 - 7 Comments - Chris Backe

More photos, no notes – this is what I get for forgetting my pen… Check out part 1 and part 2. Guess in the comments!   1. Tiled wall   2. Olympic tiger 3. Geometric shapes 4. White elephant 5. Sexy Tinkerbell

thumb

Performance: RAK 2011 Bellydancing Festival

May 19, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Raising funds for a couple of Korean charitable organizations, Raising Awareness in Korea – AKA the World Belly Dance Day Fundraiser – was a success on both fronts. Head on down for plenty of pictures. If you were a performer, please check out chrisbacke.zenfolio.com for more pictures – check your e-mail for the access code.…>

thumb

Random pictures, part 44

May 18, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Disregard what the calendar says – spring is here when the flowers arrive. A little abstract, but apparently layers of thick glass make for an interesting macro shot. Seen at the COEX, near the exhibition halls.   I love the diagonals and strong colors – yes, I really did take a picture of an escalator.…>

thumb

Destination: World IT Fair (COEX Mall, Seoul)

May 16, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: this post exclusively features a new – well, new to me – lens. Specifically, it’s a manual focus Vivitar VMC 70mm-210mm Series 1 f/3.5 with a macro mode. It only works in manual mode with my Nikon D80, so I used this fair as a chance to play with exposure, ISO, aperture, etc.…>

Publication list

May 14, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

This blog is merely one avenue of my writing and photography. The following is a list of selected publications my words and/or photography have been featured in: Honors and mentions: Korea Herald calls Chris in South Korea one of “the nation’s most helpful websites” in a Feb. 2011 article. Selected as an official worldwide blogger…>

thumb

Destination: Cheonan Postal Museum (Cheonan, Chungcheongnam-do)

May 13, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

I know what you’re thinking – a postal museum? – and have this to say: I love getting off the beaten path. Since people seem to cover the same places over and over again, I’ve made it a point to try seeing the places where most foreigners don’t venture. The 우정박물관 (u-jeong bak-mul-gwan) was originally…>

thumb

Coming to Korea: 5 places to pass on while traveling Seoul

May 12, 2011 - 11 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: ‘Coming to Korea’ posts are written with tourists in mind. For the complete series, please check out the ‘coming to Korea’ category. Updated to change the name of the palace – wetcasements, seriously, you’re a mind reader. Seoul is a huge place – beyond being one of the largest cities in the world,…>

thumb

Destination: Hi Seoul Festival, Seoul Friendship Fair, and Buddha’s Birthday Parade

May 10, 2011 - 8 Comments - Chris Backe

A trio of festivals in the same city at the same time – all within walking distance of each other? Wow – where else would I be? Oh, that’s right – downtown Seoul at it’s finest. Note that trying to condense three festivals into a set of twenty pictures of less was frikkin’ hard. For…>

Life in Korea: 10 things to do instead of being jaded

May 9, 2011 - 8 Comments - Chris Backe

Define: jaded – “dulled or satiated by overindulgence”, “worn out or wearied” It’s easy to get jaded in Korea. It can be a fight to get to work, a fight at work, a fight to get home, and a fight to get some food. Add to that a biased mainstream media and being thousands of…>

thumb

Performance: Slaughterhouse Jive, Frills and Thrills Burlesque, and Mirrorhouse

May 6, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Lots of pictures here – give them time to load. Kenny on guitar amidst all the smoke and fog. A hell of a show from a couple of Hongdae veteran bands and a new one worth checking out. Starting off the night at DGBD was Slaughterhouse Jive – a relatively new band covering some classic…>

thumb

Guest post: Korean modern literature and the road trip

May 5, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

This guest post is from a member of Nanoomi.net, a community of writers, translators and Korea-enthusiasts who represent part of the diverse ecology of the Korean blogosphere. You can see more from Charles Montgomery at ktlit.com. It’s a puzzle how someone interested in something as specific as translated Korean modern literature might have anything to…>

thumb

Destination: Jongmyo Daeje

May 4, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Held on the first Sunday of May, the annual Jongmyo Daeje (종묘대제) is an intriguing glimpse into the solemn ceremonies for the spirit world. It seems a mite out of place in this ultra-modern country, but if the US can have Civil War reenactments, Korea can have their annual ceremonies. While I had done some…>

Moving forward: time to talk about a new teacher’s organization

May 3, 2011 - 26 Comments - Chris Backe

It’s time to move forward. I do think we need a organization that assists teachers; in fact, I’d be open to sitting in on that future discussion and offering up some ideas. Let’s get the seven or eight or twenty of us interested in moving forward and have a roundtable sort of meeting. Not in…>

AT THE CROSSROADS: TO ATEK OR NOT TO ATEK (guest post from Chris D.)

May 3, 2011 - 6 Comments - Chris Backe

Chris in South Korea note: this is a guest post from Chris D., whose biography is part of the story. Since we happen to share the same first name, please kindly address your comments to Chris D. (the author of this guest post), or Chris B. (yours truly) to avoid confusion. A post written by…>

thumb

Poll results for April 2011 (relationships with a local and which things are worth money)

May 2, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Relationships with a local – where do you stand? (readers in Korea – select all that apply) I’m interested in one (23%, 32 Votes) I’m single (20%, 28 Votes) I’m dating one (19%, 27 Votes) I’m with a foreigner / non-Korean (18%, 25 Votes) I’m married to one (17%, 24 Votes) I’ll let you know…>

May 2011 events

May 1, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: There’s bound to be updates to this month’s events – keep checking back for more information and new events! If you have an event you’d like to plug, comment on this post or contact me with all the details. Please follow a few guidelines for the maximum benefit. April 6 – May 29:…>

thumb

ATEK at a crossroads – the fallout post-3WM

April 28, 2011 - 36 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: if the title of this post makes no sense to you, please read this post to catch up. Some weeks after the Three Wise Monkeys’ expose on ATEK (read part 1, part 2, and part 3), the first salvo in response seems to be ready – Roboseyo’s four posts on ATEK (part 1,…>

thumb

Destination: Gwangju scavenger hunt / Kunsthalle Gwangju (Gwangju, Jeollanam-do)

April 27, 2011 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

The 1st anniversary of the Gwangju blog was celebrated with a scavenger hunt – one of my favorite activities – and was enjoyed with 100 or so other enthusiasts. Most had already formed teams, so I was placed with a team of other people that came on their own. The Kunsthalle in Gwangju played host,…>

thumb

Destination: Metapolis (Dongtan, southern Gyeonggi-do)

April 26, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: I credit Seoul Sub>Urban for the inspiration behind a more abstract set of photos. In the movie Mallrats, our heroes Jay and Silent Bob try to disrupt a dating show filmed in a mall somewhere in suburban America. While Dongtan’s Metapolis didn’t even exist for the 1995 flick, the several floors of stores,…>

thumb

Random pictures, part 43

April 24, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Presenting the latest installment of random pictures – fun stuff that didn’t make it into any other posts. Dennis Rodman called – he’d like to know why his line of hair coloring is being pictured on a foreign girl in Korea. Seen in Dongtan’s Metapolis.   The streets of Gangnam look a little different now…>

thumb

Destination: A tour of Boryeong (Chungcheongnam-do)

April 22, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

The city of Boryeong is most widely known for the Boryeong Mud Festival – a raucous party not like the spring break at Cancun. A few other side attractions are mentioned in the brochure, but for the most part most go unvisited by a mass of foreigners. They might be forgiven for thinking this area…>

thumb

Destination: Cheongdo Bullfighting Festival (Cheongdo-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

April 20, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

One experiences some unusual things while living in Korea. While bullfighting isn’t an unusual sport, it does bring to mind a centuries-old tradition that seems better left in the past. Five days a year, the festival brings forth that tradition, combining it with the modern touches Korean festivals all seem to have and a healthy…>

thumb

Question from a reader: where to volunteer and get involved?

April 18, 2011 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

UPDATED 19 April 2011 – thanks for the comments! Post updated to reflect helpful comments. A reader writes in: Salutations Chris, First off let me just thank you for your hard work in making such an outstanding blog! I’m moving to Seoul in May to teach at a Hagwon and have found your website to…>

The hidden cost of starting over – a tale of becoming single again

April 18, 2011 - 17 Comments - Chris Backe

The Lady in Red and I broke up on Friday. It’s not heartbreak, it’s not infidelity, and personally it’s not a shock. I’ll refrain from sharing the story or rehashing the details in such a public forum, but suffice it to say, it’s over. After a year of living together and two years of being…>

thumb

Konglish in the spring

April 17, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Perfect Pair of Vintage Jeans Evisu is a field of subtle, luminous radiation supposedly surrounding a person or object Unlimited challenge   Yes, because pink plaid = vintage jeans. Seen at an E-mart. Found this while perusing an old virtual stack of photos. Don’t remember when taken or if I’ve published it before… A spice…>

thumb

AFEK opens membership to E-series visa holders

April 15, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

The following press release comes courtesy of AFEK‘s Mike Yates, AKA ‘The Web Guy’: AFEK, a group for expats in Korea, is pleased to announce that the leaders have opted to shun grand titles for the 2nd year. Despite a worrying trend amongst smaller organisations for the people at the top to assume titles such…>

thumb

Destination: Vagina Monologues

April 13, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Above: Cassie Andrews, Christine Shea, and Courtney M. Askins in the intro. Because you can never have enough vaginas in your life! The Vagina Monologues is known around the world as any number of things: an expression of a body part, a theatrical production, an opportunity to raise awareness on any number of issues, or…>

thumb

Random pictures, part 42

April 11, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Yet another random pictures post comin’ at you! These are the photos that didn’t make it into another post, but were too good to keep to myself. Association? Asocation? Assicition? Assocation? Ah, assocition! Got it! Seriously, do the people that buy signs ever use spell-check? OK, ladies, does the size of the ring really matter?…>

thumb

Review: The Visa Book – Christine Gilbert (almostfearless.com)

April 9, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Visas are a tricky thing – not just here in Korea, but around the world. If you’re traveling around the world and don’t want to do hours of research, fellow expat traveler Christine Gilbert of almostfearless.com has put together a $10 e-book explaining visa procedures around the world. Better yet, she’s compiled the links to…>

thumb

Question from a reader: bigger clothes, shipping to Korea, and crazy Korean girls?

April 7, 2011 - 9 Comments - Chris Backe

A reader writes in: Hi Chris, Recently I’ve been considering doing a year or two worth of TESL work in South Korea, but I had a couple of questions regarding life over there.  1. I’m 6’2″ 220 lbs, I’m assuming it’s probably going to be problematic finding clothes over there.  Are there any places to…>

Question from a reader: ferries from Korea to China?

April 5, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

A reader writes in: Hey Chris, I have no idea if you’ve thought about it/know about it or what-not, but how easy is it for a foreigner to take a boat to China? I’ve read that boats go from Incheon to different ports along the Chinese coast but I’m wondering how much of an obstacle…>

29 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Chris in South Korea

April 3, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

In honor of my 29th birthday, which I celebrated on March 29th, I thought I’d mix things up and present some things I’ve never shared with my wonderful readers: 1. Although I’ve lived in Seoul in the past, I actually take an hour-long bus ride to come to Seoul these days. 2. I work with…>

thumb

Poll results for March 2011 – one wish for Korea and planning a trip?

April 2, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

March 2011 polls: Your one wish for Korea (readers in Korea – select ONE): Let me do something other than teach English (25%, 31 Votes) Try critical thinking (20%, 25 Votes) Stop demonizing foreigners (15%, 19 Votes) Be more polite (14%, 17 Votes) Stop staring at the waygooks (11%, 14 Votes) Let me stay for…>

thumb

Japan set to renounce claims to Dokdo

April 1, 2011 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

Photo credit: http://mdhiker.tistory.com/330 Although an unanticipated move, a source from within the Japanese government says Japan will relinquish its claim to Dokdo at a press conference on Friday. The source, who remains anonymous because they are not authorized to speak to the media, has said “Japan will be in a rebuilding mode after the 9.0…>

thumb

April 2011 events

April 1, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: There’s bound to be updates to this month’s events – keep checking back for more information and new events! If you have an event you’d like to plug, comment on this post or contact me with all the details. Please follow a few guidelines for the maximum benefit. April 2nd (9:30pm-???): What’s this…>

thumb

E-book review: Travel the world on 50 dollars a day, by Nomadic Matt

March 30, 2011 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

$19.97. You’re probably wondering how much this e-book costs, so I’ll come out and get the big mystery out of the way. If you’re of the opinion that information should be free, check the price tag on that college diploma filed away somewhere (you have HOW MUCH in student loans?), or on any paper book.…>

thumb

Life in Korea: the M-bus

March 28, 2011 - 6 Comments - Chris Backe

UPDATED 30 May 2011 with more M-bus routes. Author’s note: Life in Korea posts are aimed at the newer expats among us. If you have a more experienced perspective to offer, the comments are wide open! Photo credit: ajnews.co.kr Ahh, the M-bus. While not interested in waxing poetic about a public transportation system, the M-bus…>

thumb

Coming to Korea: what to do during your layover or stopover

March 25, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: this article is dedicated to the wonderful readers coming to Korea during a layover, or otherwise making a short trip to Korea. The New York Times recently answered a reader’s question on what to do during a 14-hour layover with kids in Seoul. As a resident of Korea for three years, I sometimes…>

thumb

Destination: Jeonju, part 2 (Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do)

March 23, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Jesus Christ – a fitting place to start part 2 of the Jeonju post. Part 1 is here, so go back and read it again! One Jeonju landmark is the Jeondong Catholic Church. It borders the Jeonju Hanok Village, and is noted as National Treasure #288 by the powers that be. They neglect to mention…>

thumb

On ATEK and 3WM – an enigma meets a mystery

March 22, 2011 - 25 Comments - Chris Backe

I’m not sure when I accepted the role of an outspoken, if optimistic, critic of ATEK. Perhaps it was during this article where I offered then-new president Greg Dolezal a few suggestions. Perhaps it was this article talking about the rumblings around ATEK when another human-rights type organization was formed. Perhaps it was when I…>

thumb

Destination: Jeonju, part 1 (Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do)

March 17, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Jeonju has just enough to offer for a full weekend – not so much that you feel overwhelmed, but enough that you like you saw it all. There’s enough variety in the sights, enough walking, and enough places to take pictures for your friends back home. There’s even a couple of local dishes worth trying.…>

thumb

Waiter, there’s some Konglish in my alphabet soup…

March 15, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Konglish, much like the Random Pictures series, are almost too easy to spot, as this post’s photos show. The combination of Korean and bad, BAD English never ceases to amaze me: Because we all need a “sexy sound” coin bank. Seen in Incheon. Sounds like someone got an 950 on their TOEFL vocabulary and a…>

thumb

On Groupon, the social buying scene, and not being Korean

March 15, 2011 - 9 Comments - Chris Backe

Next week will mark my three-year anniversary in Korea. With the exception of a visa run to Fukuoka, I haven’t left Korean soil since I landed at Incheon. That certainly doesn’t make me a Korean, and it certainly doesn’t guarantee a residential status. The former is seemingly impossible, and the latter is not particularly of…>

Question from a reader: coming to Korea with a kid?

March 13, 2011 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

A reader writes in: Hi Chris, I am considering moving to Korea; however, I’d be traveling with my 3 year old. Do you think this is something feasible with a child. Would you happen to know any American teachers in similar situations. I saw a posting from www.asia-teachers.org on my school’s career development site. I…>

thumb

Five easy day trips out of Seoul

March 11, 2011 - 6 Comments - Chris Backe

Seoul is a wonderful place to go exploring. With several historic palaces, dozens of Buddhist temples, and more shopping than you have money, you might be wondering ‘why go anywhere else around Korea?’ The simple answer is to get off the beaten path, and to explore some places tourists / foreigners don’t go as often.…>

thumb

Where am I? – round 2

March 9, 2011 - 8 Comments - Chris Backe

Oh, dear – more pictures, no notes. As with round 1, I seem to have misplaced my notes for these interesting sights around Seoul. They’re all around Seoul in public places – but where are they? Answers will be posted in a future comment – best or closest guesses to be honored with… something 1.…>

thumb

Destination: Pinnacle and the Antidote / Rock Tigers

March 7, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

In the interest of documenting a kick-ass show at DGBD, I present this photo essay courtesy of Angie Gilman. She’s a writer with the Lonely Planet that came out to the show, sharing a story about how a monkey stole her Canon in Thailand. She did some pretty cool stuff with my Nikon D80, although…>

thumb

Pinnacle and the Antidote: the sickness and the cure

March 7, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Don’t come to a Pinnacle and the Antidote show if you’re not ready to get your mind blown. Seriously – if all you’re looking for is some band to play in the background while you sweet talk that cute girl at the bar, you’ll be catching that taxi home by yourself. It’s usually an exaggeration…>

thumb

A rise to fame: Frills and Thrills style

March 5, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t. Margaret Thatcher Madam Moiselle kicks off the show by asking: “Who’s ready for some boobs?” As you might expect, the guys in the crowd — and quite a few of the women — cheer, ready for the show…>

thumb

E-book reviews: Coming to Korea & Teach Korea Guide

March 3, 2011 - 6 Comments - Chris Backe

Some of you wonderful readers hail from outside of Korea, and you might have wondered about how people get started teaching English in Korea. While providing the answers is beyond the scope of this blog, a couple of e-books are out there to help you learn the ropes. One of them, Coming to Korea, has…>

Poll results for February 2011

March 1, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

So the poll questions didn’t change this month – unfortunately, February’s hack attack and subsequent WordPress re-install wiped out the poll results up to that point. Therefore the number of votes shown below are much lower than normal. (For readers outside of Korea) Which Korean foods have you tried and enjoyed? Bibimbap (mixed rice, egg…>

thumb

March 2011 events

March 1, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: There’s bound to be updates to this month’s events – keep checking back for more information and new events! If you have an event you’d like to plug, comment on this post or contact me with all the details. Please follow a few guidelines for the maximum benefit. February 26-March 12: Internal Affairs…>

thumb

App review: Visit Korea (Android, iDevice)

February 25, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

After positively reviewing the recently released MediTour app, I had high hopes and expectations for this free app from the Korean Tourism Organization. Available for both Android phones and iDevices, the app looks and works nice – but suffers from a flaw that may be a dealbreaker. I tested the Android version; an iDevice app…>

thumb

Random pictures – part 41

February 24, 2011 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

These things don’t stop coming! As always, the Random Pictures series highlights pictures that didn’t make it into another post, but were too good to keep to myself. It’s a little hard to see from this angle, but this vacuuming device is driven and controlled by the person inside. Seen near Suwon station. Bonus points:…>

thumb

South Korea gives priority to talented foreigners in awarding citizenship

February 23, 2011 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

In a follow-up to the original Yonhap story, the Korean Immigration Service has clarified its intentions in awarding citizenship to ‘talented foreigners’. “Nobel prize laureates as well as accomplished scholars, entertainers and entrepreneurs” will be given priority, as will world-class soccer players and intelligence collection experts. Photo credit: Joongang Daily The statement, released by Immigration,…>

Hacked x 2 – but back to good (update 3)

February 20, 2011 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

UPDATE 3 (3:17am local time, 23 Feb 2011) Pictures and posts 100% restored. If you see any broken image links, please let me know which posts you saw them on On a lighter note, the poll questions are the same, but the answers were washed away when the blog was – with only a week…>

thumb

Destination: Beomeosa (Busan)

February 20, 2011 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

The largest Buddhist temple in Busan, Beomeosa feels both homey and solemn, if such a thing is possible. Enter through the storied gates and become aware of the temple’s 1,300 year history. The temple was first founded in 678 A.D. by Master Ui Sang during the reign of King Munmu (Silla Dynasty). It sits on…>

thumb

Where am I? – Round 1

February 18, 2011 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

To my wonderful readers in Seoul: I seem to have misplaced my notes for these interesting sights around Seoul. They’re all around Seoul in public places – but where are they? Answers will be posted in a future comment – best or most specific guesses to be honored with… something 1. Pointy building 2. Colorful…>

thumb

Seoul to institute new bans

February 17, 2011 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

Photo credit: Starlight Press LLC Not satisfied with their new ban on smoking in public places, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has decided to initiate some additional bans. “We’ve discovered that if we put a ban on something, a small minority of people actually stop doing that thing”, said one city council member. The new ban…>

thumb

Destination: Uireung (Seoul)

February 16, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

I blogged about Uireung over a year ago, as the sort of place one stumbles across while looking for something else. With my Joseon-Dynasty tomb quest now in full swing, it’s high time for a revisit. Located in Seoul, Uireung is easy enough to reach; while it lacks the sereneness of the more rural tombs,…>

thumb

Hacked and back to good – preventing WordPress from getting hacked again

February 15, 2011 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

UPDATE 4 – In case you’re looking for the Cliffs Notes on WordPress security – or, what I learned from restoring a site: Step 1: until you’re off of the default settings, assume that every hacker is circling like a herd of sharks. You might think that a hacker cares about how popular your site…>

thumb

Korean Mythbusters: makeup, women, and Dae-grrls

February 14, 2011 - 8 Comments - Chris Backe

I was surrounded by beautiful women on the tightly crowded subway. The two to my left combined weighed less than I do, while the one to my right was perusing her smartphone. My fiancé had found a seat on the other end of the subway car, and I was left alone with beauty to my…>

thumb

Destination: Jeongneung (Seoul)

February 11, 2011 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: ‘Life in Korea’ posts are written with the newer expat in mind – this is a great place to share your expertise if you have some! Korea is quick to mention its four distinct seasons – indeed, 겨울 (gyeo-ul, or winter) is typically cold, dry, and surprisingly beautiful. Although winter isn’t the prime…>

thumb

Random pictures – 40 posts

February 9, 2011 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

Because the ‘Random Pictures’ thing has done so well, this will feature a few more random pictures than normal. As usual, these are photos I’ve taken while traveling and living in Korea that didn’t fit with any other posts. I love public art in Korea. Seen across the street from Seoul Station is a wonderful,…>

Question from a reader: investing in Korea

February 8, 2011 - 10 Comments - Chris Backe

A reader named C.H. writes in: Hi Chris: Think this might be a good question for people. I’m over here in the states vacationing (very nice and warm here in [city redacted], sorry) and was meeting with a financial adviser at my credit union here about retirement investing. he told me since we are non-residents…>

thumb

Destination: Shinsegae Centum City (the largest department store in the world – Busan)

February 7, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Assume for a second that you enjoy big malls, or you enjoy meandering aimlessly for an entire day. Bigger than the Mall of America and the Macy’s flagship store in New York, the Shinsegae Centum City behemoth features almost every franchise Korea offers. Without needing to step outdoors, one has access to restaurants, a gym,…>

thumb

Destination: Heolleung / Illeung (Seoul)

February 5, 2011 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

OK, so this might be a little old, but it happened as I was gearing up for vacation. Travel around Seoul and Gyeonggi-do got a little bit easier as 2010 came to a close: The Seoul subway system has featured posters such as these in every station I’ve visited recently. For the sake of non-Korean…>

thumb

A week in the life (guest post on The Professional Hobo)

February 3, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

A version of this article was submitted as a guest post for The Professional Hobo. As a full-time English teacher in South Korea, traveling is limited to my off-hours. With that said, I’ve made it a point to visit a new place, event, or festival every week since March 2008. While the lifestyle is conductive…>

thumb

Poll results for January 2011

February 1, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Poll results for January 2011: Resolutions for 2011? (up to 3 answers allowed – readers in Korea) Save more money (60%, 36 Votes) Travel around Korea more (50%, 30 Votes) Make more Korean friends (38%, 23 Votes) Get a better job (28%, 17 Votes) Get an English teaching certification (22%, 13 Votes) Get a Master’s…>

thumb

February 2011 events

February 1, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: There’s bound to be updates to this month’s events – keep checking back for more information and new events! If you have an event you’d like to plug, comment on this post or contact me with all the details. Please follow a few guidelines for the maximum benefit. February 1 – 27: Trick…>

thumb

Destination: Songgwangsa (Suncheon, Jeollanam-do)

January 30, 2011 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

The monks were everywhere. One was beating his wooden moktok, another was laboriously carrying a load of plants, and a third was walking through the courtyard. A number were meditating behind one of the hall’s closed doors, while even more were seen walking in a separate section of the temple, restricted to visitors. One was…>

thumb

YAKP (Yet Another Konglish Post)

January 28, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Coming up next on “When English goes bad”, it’s KONGLISH! Gacina is the name of the brand we always survire the highest suality will the clistingais hed style and the design we do the our best for the top ‘Nuff said. banal chic bizarre A spice called banal chic bizarre to the insideof the custom…>

thumb

Review: i Tour Seoul 2 (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad)

January 26, 2011 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

It’s rather rare to see a second version of an app with such marked improvements. After reviewing the first version of the i Tour Seoul / iTourSeoul app, I actually uninstalled it and thought nothing more of it. As the proud owner of a 1st gen iPod Touch and an Android smartphone, I wasn’t interested…>

thumb

Destination: Burlesque girls in lingerie (NSFW)

January 24, 2011 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: this post is rated NSFW – not all workspaces can handle pretty girls in lingerie. You have been warned. Yes, I’m fascinated by burlesque. I was while living in the US, and that fascination has recently been stoked (pun, um, not intended) by the girls of Frills & Thrills. This all-expat, all-female group…>

You know Korea is your home when… – a compilation / quiz

January 24, 2011 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

As of this posting, I’ve written a total of 10 parts answering the ‘You know Korea is your home when…’ question. While you’re welcome to check out part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8,, part 9, and part 10, I’ve added a point system in place…>

thumb

Review: The Ultimate Tech Guide for Travelers – Anil Polat

January 22, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

If you’re traveling anywhere in the world, tech likely travels with you. Where can you get internet access, and how can you ensure your data stays safe? What about encryption, using Tor, wiping your data remotely if your device is stolen, and a hundred other things? Before starting the popular travel blog foXnoMad, Anil Polat…>

thumb

Random pictures: the 39th part

January 20, 2011 - 6 Comments - Chris Backe

As with other posts with a ‘Random Pictures’ title, these are photos that are too interesting to keep to myself, but didn’t fit in with any other post. Enjoy! Yes, these are models. No, these are not zombies. If you were confused too, raise your hand. Seen in Myeongdong, Seoul. Mario! As we all know,…>

thumb

Review: MediTour app (Android / iDevice)

January 19, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Brought to you by the Korea Tourism Organization, the MediTour app (Android and iDevices) offers ample information for those bound for a Korean medical tourism trip. With versions in English, Japanese, Chinese, and Russian, there’s no language barrier and few language issues to speak of. While good if you’re already coming to Korea or desiring…>

thumb

Random pictures: the Christmas edition

January 18, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Ask your average Korean to name the December 25th holiday, and all but the youngest child will be able to tell you the correct answer. Ask them what holiday happened on December 1-9 (Hanukkah), on December 21st (Yule), or will happen on December 26th to January 1st (Kwanzaa), and you’ll probably get a puzzled look.…>

Life in Korea: The expat magazines in Korea

January 17, 2011 - 23 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: ‘Life in Korea’ posts are written for the newer expats here in Korea. If you have a more experienced perspective to offer, comments are open! UPDATED 25 Jan 2011 to correct an oversight. UPDATED 17 Jan 2011 to include additional information about ART + SEOUL, received via e-mail. Expats in Korea are quite…>

thumb

Question from a reader: understanding the buses?

January 15, 2011 - 6 Comments - Chris Backe

A reader named J.L. writes in asking about buses: Hello Chris. I’ve been here for about 5 months with my Husband in [city redacted]. I was wondering if you had any websites that explain what busses to take to go to certain places? the 20 bus that takes us to Pyeongtaek Station//AK Plaza but I…>

Lullabies, AC/DC, and a new Korean sleep product for children

January 14, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware that Koreans sleep less than they should. Need a hint? Try looking at how many are sleeping (or trying to sleep) on the subway, bus, or while waiting for a restaurant to deliver lunch. The sleeping habits engendered by kids often carry on to adulthood,…>

You know Korea is your home when… (part 10)

January 13, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Presenting part 10 of the series, ‘You know Korea is your home when…’. See part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, and part 9 for even more funny stuff. You know Korea is your home when… Someone asks you where you’re from and you say somewhere…>

thumb

Destination: Hongneung / Yureung (Namyangju, Gyeonggi-do) – and a couple bonuses

January 12, 2011 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

As with many of the other Joseon Dynasty tombs, Hongneung and Yureung are somewhat off the beaten path. Although they’re relatively close to present-day Seoul, they often require a bit of a bus ride to reach. Thankfully, this one’s pretty easy to get to – and a few bonuses while there make the site that…>

Is it time to head home or stay in Korea? A 10 question quiz

January 10, 2011 - 8 Comments - Chris Backe

It’s that age-old question for Korean expats: is it time to head back home? As 2010 ends and 2011 begins, New Years resolutions are made, and people ever-so-briefly consider where they are and where they’re going. Is it time to head home? Although I recently asked you wonderful readers “After Korea, what’s next?” not too…>

thumb

In search of democracy – or – Destination: 5.18 Memorial Cemetary (Gwangju, Jeollanam-do)

January 9, 2011 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

The 5.18 Memorial Cemetary (국립 5.18 민주묘지, guk-rib min-ju-myo-ji) is a reminder of how much a city – and a country – can change in a short period of time. It’s also a reminder of how new Korea’s democracy is. Lest anyone think Korea hasn’t learned from their history, let this be a place to…>

Chris in South Korea is moving!

January 8, 2011 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

OK, folks, it’s been a great run on Blogger / Blogspot… but it’s time to move on. No, I’m not leaving Korea – just taking the blogging to a whole new level.Chris in South Korea – all about travel, life, and South Korea – is now self-hosted on chrisinsouthkorea.com. All previous posts will remain up…>

About the tomb quest

January 7, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

My new quest is to see all of the Joseon Dynasty tombs that are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Collection. All the royal Joseon Dynasty tombs. The Cultural Heritage Administration’s website will (hopefully) provide enough information. If not, there’s always Wikipedia. Overall, there are 18 tomb clusters and 40 능 (neung) type tombs, some…>

thumb

Trouts, ice, and a wintry festival – Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival

January 5, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: a version of this article appears in the January 2011 issue of the Groove. I never thought I’d get to drive an ATV on ice, or take a dip in freezing-cold water to try catching a slippery fish by hand. I also never thought I’d see a frozen water wheel with icicles at…>

thumb

Review: High Street Market (Itaewon)

January 4, 2011 - 9 Comments - Chris Backe

Deli meat. Cheese. Wine. Fresh bread. Hard-to-find foreign products. It’s rather rare for me to review a store – of all the places that can be found on one’s own, stores feature colorful and prominent signs. Yes, this store features one of those hard-to-miss signs, but it’s what’s inside that merits the attention. Notice any…>

thumb

Seoul to Chuncheon by subway (the Gyeongchun and Jungang line)

January 3, 2011 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

OK, so this might be a little old, but it happened as I was gearing up for vacation. Travel around Seoul and Gyeonggi-do got a little bit easier as 2010 came to a close: The Seoul subway system has featured posters such as these in every station I’ve visited recently. For the sake of non-Korean…>

Predictions for 2012

January 3, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

A quick post to mark the new year: NORTH KOREA Kim Jong-il’s passing will mean the regime will work double-overtime to respond to any uprisings. Kim Jong-eun will play a small role in the actual running of the country, though his name will be paraded around as though he made the decisions himself. ‘Figurehead’ will…>

Poll results for December 2010 – biggest news story of the year?

January 1, 2011 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Biggest / most important Korean news story of 2010? (for all readers – choose up to 3) Cheonan sinking 72 (45%) North Korea tensions 97 (61%) Apple vs. Samsung 15 (9%) The G20 summit comes to Seoul 32 (20%) Korea makes World Cup round of 16 24 (15%) Japan apologizes for colonial Korea 14 (8%)…>

January 2011 events

January 1, 2011 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: There’s bound to be updates to this month’s events – keep checking back for more information and new events! If you have an event you’d like to plug, comment on this post with all the details. Please follow a few guidelines for the maximum benefit. Special author’s note / PSA: Some festivals are…>

The state of the expat – looking to 2011

December 30, 2010 - 9 Comments - Chris Backe

The year of 2010 was good for Korean expats. We saw a number of K-bloggers get married (congrats to Roboseyo and Brian in Jeollanam-do), get pregnant (congrats to Joe and E.J. @ ZenKimchi), get to do something other than merely blogging and teaching (congrats again to Joe @ ZenKimchi and also to Dan @ Seoul…>

Important update on E-2 visa regulations

December 23, 2010 - 9 Comments - Chris Backe

As you may have seen on Gusts of Popular Feeling, we’re finally getting some clarification regarding the new visa regulations for the E-2 teaching visa. This should come as no surprise to those who know Korean ways, but that clarification had to be specifically asked for, as seemingly none had come on its own. Credit…>

thumb

Christmas – Korean style (2010)

December 23, 2010 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

Ask your average Korean to name the December 25th holiday, and all but the youngest child will be able to tell you the correct answer. Ask them what holiday happened on December 1-9 (Hanukkah), on December 21st (Yule), or will happen on December 26th to January 1st (Kwanzaa), and you’ll probably get a puzzled look.…>

thumb

Why War CAN Be the Answer – a response to the Hankyoreh and Lee Jong Seok

December 21, 2010 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

UPDATE: Another blogger from Canada has weighed in on how war can save lives, using game theory and the Prisoner’s Dilemma to bolster their argument. Well worth a read, whichever side of the argument you agree with. Author’s note: I get the feeling I’m going to get a lot of comments on this one. I’m…>

thumb

Life in Korea: winter – what are you waiting for?

December 21, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: ‘Life in Korea’ posts are written with the newer expat in mind – this is a great place to share your expertise if you have some! Korea is quick to mention its four distinct seasons – indeed, 겨울 (gyeo-ul, or winter) is typically cold, dry, and surprisingly beautiful. Although winter isn’t the prime…>

thumb

A 1,000 day party (Seoul) – WARNING: personal details and NSFW

December 20, 2010 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

Friday, December 17, 2010 was my 1,000th day in South Korea. For the nitpickers out there, I spent exactly one night on Japanese soil doing a visa run; not counting that day makes my 1,000th day Saturday the 18th instead. No biggie. This milestone, however, was just a pretext for getting some awesome friends together…>

Three things to take when traveling around Korea – and three to leave behind

December 17, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Fellow blogger Nomadic Chick recently blogged about what works and what doesn’t in her travels. While traveling the world and traveling around a first-world country are two very different beasts, I thought I’d share three things you’ll definitely want when traveling Korea, and three things you can safely leave behind. MUST HAVE #1: Entertainment. An…>

thumb

Destination: Taereung and the Royal Tomb Museum (Seoul)

December 15, 2010 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

In my continuing quest to see every Joseon Dynasty tomb in Korea, I found my way up to Taereung – one of the few within Seoul city proper, and the place where a shiny Royal Tomb Museum can be toured as well. Opened on December 24, 2009, the Royal Tomb Museum details the procedures of…>

Life in Korea: shipping stuff home – or – help, there’s no UPS!

December 13, 2010 - 6 Comments - Chris Backe

So you just found that perfect thing for your mom and your brother from Breda’s recent gift guide – now it’s time to ship it home. Oh, snap – WHERE’S THE UPS AROUND HERE?! While there are FedEx/Kinko’s stores or Tara stores around (Tara’s the local name for DHL), you’re better off finding the closest…>

Life in Korea: the 10 survival phrases in Korean you HAVE to know

December 12, 2010 - 9 Comments - Chris Backe

CORRECTED 13 Dec 2010: A hat tip to thesnowleopard for catching a couple things I missed by not proofreading more carefully. Korea has bent over backward to incorporate English in many places and situations. Although it’s far from universal, you’ll find plenty of English signs to make finding your way around town easier. Start with…>

Current Korean slang amongst expats

December 10, 2010 - 11 Comments - Chris Backe

UPDATED x2 21 Dec 2010 with another big one. UPDATED 10 Dec 2010 – a hat tip to the commenters for remembering some I forgot! So what if the Korean language is not your first language? You can still use it in a way that’s probably not used by the locals. These are the examples…>

You know Korea is your home when… (part 9)

December 9, 2010 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Presenting part 9 of the series, ‘You know Korea is your home when…’. See part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, and part 8 for even more funny stuff. You keep a toothbrush in your desk at school. You unconsciously correct the English of complete strangers. You can…>

thumb

Konglish – winter edition

December 8, 2010 - 14 Comments - Chris Backe

As you likely know, Konglish is either bad uses of English, bad English, or a bad combination of Korean and English. Enjoy! Sounds like my fifth graders. Multi-factorial? Is this math class or a bar in Gwangju? Oh, dear. Something tells me I don’t want to know what goes on behind those windows. Seen in…>

thumb

Question from a reader: getting around Korea and the KR pass

December 7, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

A reader named H.W. writes in: You really have a great blog about South Korea. It’s nice to learn many things about South Korea from your blog. When I wrote my comment at your blog about Cheongok Cave, I really didn’t know that you have this great blog. It’s more amazing to realize that you…>

thumb

Destination: Gwangneung (Namyangju, Gyeonggi-do)

December 6, 2010 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

The first thing to know about Gwangneung is that it holds King Sejo on the left and Queen Jeonghui on the right. The second thing to know is that the tombs are part of the Korea National Arboretum, and feature some old trees that have managed to stay vertical through all of Korea’s turmoil. The…>

thumb

Destination: Central Park (Dongtan, Hwaseong city, Gyeonggi-do)

December 6, 2010 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Somewhat like the better-known Central Park in New York, the Central Park in Dongtan features a wonderful variety of accouterments. Being in the middle of high-rise apartment buildings shouldn’t look too surprising, of course. A great place to take a date – a nine-hole ‘golf’ course. It’s a bit more like croquet, though – a…>

thumb

Destination: Dongtan (Hwaseong city, southern Gyeonggi-do)

December 5, 2010 - 8 Comments - Chris Backe

Who would’ve thought a staircase could look so fancy? Take the subway well south of Seoul. When you’re not quite sure where you are relative to the capital city, get off. Once you’ve arrived, go past the huge bus stop where precisely two small buses always seem to be parked. Walk about a block to…>

Life in Korea: staying healthy during the winter

December 4, 2010 - 7 Comments - Chris Backe

CORRECTED 7 Dec 2010: A hat tip to Schplook for correcting my Korean. Korea is an advanced country when it comes to medicine, and there are plenty of 병원 (byeong-won, or hospital) and 약국 (yak-guk, or pharmacy) around. Find your way to a pharmacy for a wide selection of over-the-counter fixes, and be prepared to…>

thumb

Poll results from November 2010: commute to work and K-pop thoughts?

December 2, 2010 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Wow. A huge number of voters this month came out to party in November – thanks so much! What is your commute to work like? (for readers in Korea – 232 votes) I walk to work 119 (51%) I bike to work 12 (5%) It’s a subway ride 32 (13%) It’s a bus ride 40…>

thumb

Life in Korea: an address change in your future

December 1, 2010 - 12 Comments - Chris Backe

Korea is advanced in more ways than I can count. Fast internet, great public transportation, and so on. One area where the country has been a laggard is their address system, which has been stuck in the early 20th century. The concept of 도 (do, or province), 구 (gu, or district), and 동 (dong, or…>

thumb

December 2010 events

December 1, 2010 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: There’s bound to be updates to this month’s events – keep checking back for more information and new events! If you have an event you’d like to plug, comment on this post with all the details. Please follow a few guidelines for the maximum benefit. November 26 – December 12: The Seoul Players…>

thumb

Destination: Yongmunsa (Yangpyeong, Gyeonggi-do)

November 29, 2010 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Not to be confused with the surrounding Yongmunsan Resort (용문산관광지), Yongmunsa offers a thousand-year-old tree just outside of a temple founded as the Silla dynasty was ending. It seems a bit disingenuous to put an amusement park right next to a Buddhist temple, but there it is. Founded by Monk Taegyong or the last Silla…>

thumb

Question from a reader: dress code and physical appearance?

November 28, 2010 - 9 Comments - Chris Backe

A reader named M.C. writes in: I’ve been researching and preparing to expatriate to Korea to teach english and have some questions about physical appearance. I’ve read that physical appearance is important and that job applications are usually accompanied by a photo. I have a shaved head, as well as a beard. How do Korean…>

thumb

Destination: Yungneung and Geolleung (Suwon area, Gyeonggi-do)

November 26, 2010 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

He spent several days forcibly locked in a rice box before finally dying. Born Crown Prince Jangheon, his father allowed him to manage the affairs of the state because of his smarts. Although he was never actually king, he was the victim of a political conspiracy from the rival Old Doctrine faction. It wasn’t until…>

thumb

Guest post: rock climbing in Seoul

November 25, 2010 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

This guest post comes to you from Peter Jensen-Choi, a adventurous sort of guy who’s really into rock climbing. So what if it’s getting cold outside? Plenty of climbing indoors means you can go no matter what Mother Nature is doing. All photos used with permission from http://sanirang.net/m_photos.html. Disclaimer: Chris in South Korea does not…>

thumb

Re: 36 Hours in Seoul

November 24, 2010 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

I love the New York Times’ “36 Hours in [city]“ series – it’s informative, interesting, and gives someone unfamiliar with the area a general idea about what to see or do. With their recent article about Seoul, I found myself agreeing with a couple parts – and disagreeing with others. My only criticism is that…>

thumb

Destination: Yongjusa (Hwaseong city, Gyeonggi-do)

November 23, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

This deva carries the pagoda in one hand and a deadly weapon in the other – bow to all four, including 다문천왕 (deo-mun-cheon-wang) before passing through. Yongjusa (용주사, 龍珠寺) is unique among Korean temples for having a 홍살문 (hong-sal-mun), or a gate typically found at the entrance of a royal tomb: Originally built in 854…>

thumb

Destination: Korea Food Expo (2010)

November 22, 2010 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Finding your way wasn’t as difficult as the signs made it look. While the Korea Food Expo intended to show off Korea’s food to the world, that world didn’t seem to notice. A shoutout goes to Matt from On My Way to Korea – who showed up early to try out all the makgeolli samples…>

thumb

Random pictures – part thirty-eight

November 21, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

As with other random picture posts that have come before, these are pictures that were funny, interesting, etc. – but didn’t find their way into any other post. Rather than let them collect virtual dust, let’s put them on display in their own special post. A picture just doesn’t do this scene justice – unless…>

thumb

The last burst of fall

November 19, 2010 - 7 Comments - Chris Backe

Thought I’d share a few pictures from the last burst of fall, my favorite season of the year. Less talk and more pictures this go around: Let the record show that no Photoshopping was used in these images – the colors come from a polarizing filter and some already vivid colors.

thumb

Destination: Siloam sauna (Seoul)

November 18, 2010 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

After a recent post about jimjilbang, I was informed of another excellent place worth checking out. Two trips later, I’m happy to say this is a place I’ll be headed back to a third time. Located within walking distance of Seoul Station, it’s a great place to crash if you’re on a budget. Above is…>

thumb

Guest post: Holiday shopping tips

November 17, 2010 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

This guest post is brought to you by Breda Lund over at the blog Annyeong! With the Christmas / Hannukah / Kwanzaa / winter solstice season coming up, it’s high time to figure out what you’re getting the special people in your life. There are some different ideas here, so read on! Holiday shopping season started, well,…>

thumb

Destination: Burlesque (WARNING: NSFW)

November 16, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Now that I have your attention, this post should be considered NSFW – teachers, don’t scroll down while there’s kiddies – or bosses – around. You have been warned. The Frills and Thrills Burlesque Review featured several appropriately-named ladies strutting their stuff in the classic Burlesque way. Showing off lots of skin wasn’t on tap,…>

thumb

Destination: Gossi cave (Gangwon-do)

November 13, 2010 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Just a few of the beautiful fall colors along the way. My friend Rob from fellow K-blog Roboseyo was kind enough to include me on his recent Gangwon-do trip. After our excursion to Jangneung and nearby Bodeoksa, we found our way to Gossi cave (고씨 동굴, or Go-sshi dong-gul) not too far away. The name…>

thumb

Winter fashions, Myeongdong style

November 12, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

I’ll leave it in Feet Man Seoul’s capable hands to keep you up-to-date on all things fashionable in Seoul – for now, watch out for what’s coming up this winter. Above, enjoy the tights – and the leg warmers. Maybe it’s better for the sellers – selling two things is better than one… Some weird,…>

thumb

Review: Korea (iDevice app)

November 11, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Oh, dear. The app ‘Korea’ has either done the country a disservice, or is the result of a prank pulled on the iDevice app store. A blogger like myself is not big enough to see this thing pulled from the app store, but see if this review leads you to desire the same thing. Choose…>

What’s next after Korea?

November 10, 2010 - 8 Comments - Chris Backe

A version of this article appears in the November 2010 issue of the Groove magazine. I recently did a survey on my blog, asking “After Korea, what’s next?” ; while not surprising, the 127 voters were a nice blend of serious and whimsical: Teach English in another country 45 (35%) Get a Master’s, Doctorate, or…>

thumb

Korea in the news: Time, Life, and Wall Street Journal have their say

November 9, 2010 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

So there’s been several stories in high-profile Western publications – the Wall Street Journal, Time, and Life – in the lead-up to the G20 summit. While Dae Han Min Guk is proud of positive coverage it (probably) didn’t have to buy, the writers bring up good points that remind the world to approach Korea with…>

thumb

Destination: Seoul Lantern Festival (2010)

November 8, 2010 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

UPDATED 14 Nov 2010 – the festival has been extended until November 21st. See the Joongang Daily article for more information.

thumb

Review: Seoul Bus (iDevice app)

November 7, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

The Seoul subway system has been covered in the iDevice universe time and time again. The Seoul bus system, however, has only seen a couple releases – almost entirely in Korean, and . I’m quite happy to have discovered this app recently – it was only released in September – and am equally happy to…>

thumb

Destination: Jangneung and Bodeoksa (Yeongwol-gun, Gangwon-do)

November 7, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Above – built in 1973, this pavilion celebrates Park Chung-won – the magistrate of Yeongwol county in 1541 who had a vision to rebuild the tomb and hold memorial services. Just like the other Joseon Dynasty tombs in Korea, this site is a UNESCO World Heritage. My friend Rob (AKA the K-blogger Roboseyo) and I…>

thumb

Random pictures – part 37

November 5, 2010 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Presenting yet another random picture post – good pictures that didn’t find their way into another post for whatever reason. Incredible – an ancient Egyptian something-or-other discovered in South Korea! I shudder to think what the hieroglyphics say. Seen in Wonju. So that’s what happens when you drink too much Jager… Seen at a bar…>

thumb

Review: Seoul Metro Tour app (Korean sauna edition)

November 4, 2010 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Even as more foreigners are picking up the iPhone and iPad, I find myself sticking with an iPod Touch – and a full-fledged netbook computer better able to do the heavier lifting. There are times when one or the other is preferred; in this case, looking up the subway lines is an easy job for…>

thumb

Seoul Lantern Festival – coming soon

November 3, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: a version of this article is published in the November 2010 issue of the Groove. In case you needed an excuse to head to Cheonggyecheon, here’s an excellent one. The 2nd annual Seoul Lantern Festival (서울 세계등축제) will host dozens of gorgeous lanterns lighting up Cheonggyecheon. Go for the opening ceremony on the…>

thumb

Destination: Seoul Zombie Walk / Halloween in Hongdae (2010)

November 1, 2010 - 7 Comments - Chris Backe

Hongdae may well be the perfect place for Halloween in Korea. The scene is already set – clubs and bars are open until 6am, and the locals come dressed and prepared to stay out late. The Lady in Red and I did not start in Hongdae, however. Instead, we met up at Seoul Forest to…>

Poll results for October 2010 – pulled a midnight run?

November 1, 2010 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

The question was “Have you ever pulled a midnight run?” With 115 votes, the answers were interesting: Yes, and for good reasonYes, but the reason was… iffy 11 (9%) 2 (1%) No, but I’ve thought about it a couple times 11 (9%) No, never had to 33 (28%) No, never will 20 (17%) What’s a…>

thumb

November 2010 events

November 1, 2010 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: There’s bound to be updates to this month’s events – keep checking back for more information and new events! If you have an event you’d like to plug, comment on this post with all the details. Please follow a few guidelines for the maximum benefit. All through November: now that Korean baseball and…>

thumb

Life in Korea: Halloween

October 29, 2010 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: A early version of this article appears in the October 2010 issue of the Groove Magazine. This version should be considered more complete and up-to-date due to the early print deadline. Like a number of places across the world, Halloween is a great way to escape the bonds of your usual personality and…>

thumb

And now, for something completely different…

October 27, 2010 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

As further proof that you never know everything that’s going on, I present to you a few pictures from a Ginseng Festival in downtown Seoul. Held last weekend, the Lady in Red and I wandered around the Cheonggyecheon area and came across it. Prices ranged from 40,000 per kilogram on up – way up. Koreans…>

thumb

Question from a reader: reliable recruiters?

October 27, 2010 - 13 Comments - Chris Backe

UPDATED and ADDED 27 October 2010: Recruiters mentioned in the comments have been added to the list – readers, do your own due diligence, but having multiple, unsolicited, unpaid, positive recommendations from fellow expats is about as good as you can get. A reader writes in: Dear Chris, First, an obligatory thank you for your…>

thumb

Live like a nomad or stay in one country?

October 24, 2010 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: the following was written as a guest post for Nomadic Chick, a fellow travel blogger currently making her way around the world. As an expat of 2 1/2 years, I’ve found living in one country (South Korea) to be a wonderful adventure. Reading blogs like Nomadic Chick, Nomadic Matt, and Everything-Everywhere remind me…>

10 things Korea has taught me about the world

October 23, 2010 - 7 Comments - Chris Backe

Since arriving in Korea in March 2008, I’ve made it my point to learn about the people, the places, and the life in Korea. It goes without saying that living in a foreign country hasn’t always been easy, nor has it been what I expected. Some things have been better; others worse. There are some…>

thumb

Destination: Irish Ceili Dance / Music Festival (2010)

October 22, 2010 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

Put on by the Irish Association of Korea, the Irish Ceili offered a chance to appreciate a wonderful tradition of music and dance. Held in an excellent location – the Daesung Plaza in Insa-dong – the hundreds in the crowd had a chance to join in the festivities as well as watch them. Start with…>

thumb

Life in Korea: Dissecting bus / train tickets

October 20, 2010 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: ‘Life in Korea’ posts are dedicated for the newer expats among us. If you have a more experienced perspective to offer, comments are open! The good news about Korean bus and train tickets is that they’re fairly intuitive and easy to figure out once you’ve seen a few of them and can read…>

Reality check – five things to know before coming to Korea

October 19, 2010 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: ‘Life in Korea’ posts are dedicated for the newer expats among us. If you have a more experienced perspective to offer, comments are open. Quite a few of you wonderful readers hail from the U.S., Canada, England, Scotland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and dozens of other countries. I also know quite a…>

Baz Luhrmann says: Eat Kimchi

October 19, 2010 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: full copyright credit for original text goes to Mary Schmich, an author for the Chicago Tribune in 1997. Find the original article here. Baz Luhrmann made it into a popular song in 1998. For the entire history of the song / text, Wikipedia has you covered. Ladies and Gentlemen, to the Korean expats…>

thumb

Should you teach English in Korea? A 10 question quiz to help you find out

October 16, 2010 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: this post is dedicated to the wonderful readers that aren’t in Korea yet, but have been thinking about coming to teach English in Asia. For those readers already in Korea, do the time warp back to before you came to Korea – I’d be interested in hearing your scores as well. OK, admit…>

thumb

Question from a reader: hard choices and homesickness?

October 14, 2010 - 9 Comments - Chris Backe

A reader we’ll call ‘J.A.’ writes in: I saw your blog today. You make it look like a lot of fun to be in Korea. My question is a little personal, I hope you don’t mind. What made you decide to so far away? I have been thinking about going to Vietnam or China to…>

Is Seoul ready for the G20? – and – an experiment that needs your help!

October 11, 2010 - 7 Comments - Chris Backe

I’m totally stealing the title from Foreign/er Joy’s post, because it’s where this post got its start. I had high hopes tonight. Get to work sorting out the photos and notes from the Haebangchon Festival, the Hi Seoul Festival, and the Irish Ceili Music / Dance Festival – all of which happened this weekend. And…>

thumb

Destination: Haebangchon Fest (fall 2010)

October 11, 2010 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Gil, at the HBC Cafe. The good news about the Haebangchon Fest: if you’ve gone once, you know exactly what to expect. The bad news about the Haebangchon Fest: if you’ve gone once, you know exactly what to expect. Excellent local musicians – both expat and Korean alike. More than adequate supplies of beverages, both…>

You know Korea is your home when… (part 8)

October 11, 2010 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

Presenting part 8 of the “You Know Korea is your home when…” list. See part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6 and part 7 for even more funny stuff. Without further ado… You know Korea is your home when: You see a group of foreigners and conclude they look fat.…>

thumb

Random pictures – part 36

October 9, 2010 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Note: ‘Random pictures’ are from around Seoul or Korea, and didn’t quite fit into any other posts. They’re too good to keep to myself, however – hope you enjoy. You know it’s a real commitment when they plant a slab of marble in the sidewalk. This is, of course, the same country that’s redoing their…>

thumb

Itaewon + wandering = Itaewandering

October 7, 2010 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

One recent weekday afternoon I had the chance to meander through some sections of Itaewon that I hadn’t seen before. If you’ve lived in Seoul or visited Seoul, you know Itaewon as the foreigner-friendly district with plenty of international restaurants and dance clubs. Getting off that main street (and a couple of side streets) is…>

thumb

Interview: Shotgun Mascara

October 6, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: a version of this article appears in the October 2010 issue of the Groove. Pump your fist, hold up your lighters, and rock your head – this is 80′s hair rock in Korea. You know the songs – “Rock You like a Hurricane”, “You Shook Me All Night Long”, “Girls, Girls, Girls”, “Every…>

thumb

Korean woman assaulted in Itaewon

October 5, 2010 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

A 22-year-old Korean girl was found unconscious near Itaewon station late Saturday evening. According to official police reports, she had a confrontation with a number of foreigners, although no Korean could explain the problem to them. The following picture was found on the woman’s camera:

thumb

What do the Rocky Horror Picture Show and kimchi have in common? (or – a review of the RHPS show)

October 4, 2010 - 7 Comments - Chris Backe

I’m happy to report the Rocky Horror Picture Show (RHPS) is as advertised – with dialogue in English (and a bit in Korean), the show offers much of the dialogue and songs you know and love from the cult classic. A few differences are evident to make this version a bit more ‘PG-13′ than ‘R’,…>

Don’t blame the foreigners – an interesting look into Japan’s English educational system

October 4, 2010 - 9 Comments - Chris Backe

From the Japan Times comes an article on the JET program. The entire article is worth reading, but I’ve copied and pasted a few juicier parts. The Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme, touted as the world’s largest cultural exchange scheme, has brought thousands of non-Japanese into the country to teach at local boards of education.…>

thumb

Suwon’s Hwaseong fortress – or – take that, Robert Koehler!

October 3, 2010 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

Robert Koehler inspires me. His recently-started travelog features some gorgeous photos of some well-known Korean destinations give me something to work toward. Definitely a source of travel ideas if you’re looking for some more places to check out. Oh, and the Marmot’s Hole has me beat on Alexa’s web-ranking service (one of the only K-blogs…>

thumb

The fall colors are on their way

October 1, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Poll results for September 2010

October 1, 2010 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

The question for September: After Korea, what’s next? (up to three choices allowed) – Teach English in another country 45 (35%) Get a Master’s, Doctorate, or another piece of paper 54 (42%) Two words: TEFL certification 14 (11%) Back home to do something else 31 (24%) Keep on traveling or refusing to grow up 54…>

thumb

October 2010 events

October 1, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: There’s bound to be updates to this month’s events – keep checking back for more information and new events! If you have an event you’d like to plug, comment on this post with all the details. Please follow a few guidelines for the maximum benefit.

thumb

My Top 3 Travel Secrets

September 29, 2010 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: A hat tip to fellow travel blogger Legal Nomads for the idea, who originally got it from Katie on Tripbase. Time to start a meme, perhaps? Or simply time to get people traveling some more? Take your pick – with the fall weather upon us, one of the best times to travel Korea…>

thumb

Destination: Golden Splendors – The Royal Tomb of Silla (National Museum of Korea, Seoul)

September 29, 2010 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Once buried under tons of rock and dirt, this exhibition of (mostly) authentic relics from Korea’s Silla Dynasty is given new life – and exhibit space – decades after they were first discovered. Dating back to the 4th and 5th centuries, they tell the stories of kings and queens, burial rituals, and the handing of…>

thumb

Destination: Sambul-am / Mangwolsa (Namsan, Gyeongju)

September 28, 2010 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: A huge thanks and shout-out to Sherwin over at www.gyeongjublog.com for showing the Lady in Red and I around during our visit. For part of our Gyeongju trip, we had the privilege of meeting a fellow K-blogger. He was kind enough to take us around in his car to several Gyeongju-area destinations. Our…>

thumb

Guest post: A Taste of Jeonju

September 27, 2010 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Note: Guest posts are written by people with expertise regarding Korean travel, food, culture, people, etc. Want to submit a guest post and promote your blog / website? Please see my guest posting guidelines. This post was written and photographed by Jo-Anna Lynch, an excellent blogger on life in Korea over at http://smileyjkl.blogspot.com. A Taste…>

The big question – what do expats or Korea-bound travelers want?

September 27, 2010 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

My dear readers, every so often I feel the need to ask a question, then get out of the way while your responses (hopefully!) pour in. The last time I asked for your help, you voted on a number of photos to submit to a contest. This time, I’m asking for a friend. He’s interested…>

thumb

Destination: Manbulsa (Yeongcheon city, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

September 26, 2010 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: A hat tip to Sherwin at gyeongjublog.com for writing about this temple first. Most Buddhist temples are quiet. Reverent-feeling. Relaxing. Here at Manbulsa, (literally: the temple of 10,000 Buddhas), you get two out of the three. Upon arriving, you’ll immediately begin to sense something is different about this particular temple. The planning for…>

thumb

Destination: Petroglyphs in Cheonjeon-ri (Ulju, Ulsan)

September 24, 2010 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: A big thanks to Sherwin over at gyeongjublog.com for serving as our tour guide! I know what you’re thinking. Petroglyphs, Chris? Yep – proof that Koreans have been around this neck of the woods since the Bronze Age. That some additional carvings are surmised to be 1500 years old are an additional source…>

thumb

Destination: Seoul Design Fair (2010)

September 22, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

The classic color scheme returns – it’s time for the Seoul Design Fair once again. Open until October 7th, this three-week-long festival emphasizes design and creativity at every turn. Called the Seoul Design Olympiad last year, the name changed due to some questions by the better-known holders of the Olympic name. While it’s worth an…>

thumb

On playing the foreigner card

September 22, 2010 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe
thumb

Life in Korea: Chuseok

September 20, 2010 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

Just some of the gift sets available for the masses. 추석 (Chuseok) is one of the biggest holidays in the Korean calendar. Sometimes compared to the American holiday of Thanksgiving, 추석 traditionally celebrates ancestors, gathering with relatives, and food. A traditional spread of food celebrates the harvest season, just like the American holiday, although the…>

thumb

Life in Korea: finding a cheap place to sleep

September 19, 2010 - 6 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: ‘Life in Korea’ posts are written towards those expats new or newer to Korea. If you have a more experienced perspective, feel free to show what you know in the comments. Minbak, yeogwan, yeoinsul, motels, and hostels can be found in virtually every area of the country. With prices that rarely top 50,000…>

thumb

US set to claim West Sea, East Sea

September 18, 2010 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

Original photo credit: mapsofworld.com Following South Korea’s campaign to rename the Sea of Japan to the Korean-favored ‘East Sea’, the United States is set to do the same. While the rest of the world may call it the Pacific Ocean, the United States will simply call it the ‘West Sea’. The Atlantic Ocean will be…>

thumb

Random pictures – part 35

September 16, 2010 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: random pictures are taken throughout Seoul and/or Korea. They don’t necessarily fit with other posts, but the pictures are too good to keep to myself. I hope you enjoy Just in case you’re wondering where to pick up a belt: Dongdaemun, baby! Don’t forget about the fluorescent belts the next time you want…>

thumb

Destination: Orchid Garden / Exhibition Hall (Mokpo, Jeollanam-do)

September 15, 2010 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

If you’re exploring Mokpo for any length of time, Yudalsan will show up on your list of places to see. The mountain area is a centerpiece of town – and there’s plenty to keep you busy for at least a couple of days. The 228-meter-high isn’t an overly difficult climb Although the Lady in Red…>

thumb

Interview: Sour Mash

September 14, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: A version of this article appears in September 2010′s issue of the Groove Magazine. All photos posted here are my own, and may differ from the printed article. In case the name isn’t familiar, sour mash is used as part of the distillation process for making whiskey. It’s also the name of a…>

Question from a reader: hygiene at the jimjilbang

September 13, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

A reader writes in about my recent article on enjoying the jimjilbang: great article on jjimjjilbangs! i have been wanting to go for such a long time, and your article just moved it to the top of my list of things to do. the single reason why i have not yet gone, however, is that…>

Interview: Josh Roy

September 12, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: a version of this article appears in September 2010′s issue of the Groove magazine. All photos in this post are mine, and may differ from the printed article. Name three popular reggae artists. Go ahead. Wyclef. Bob Marley. and… and… yeah – the genre doesn’t register very high on most people’s radars. Being…>

thumb

Destination: Maseok Chamsut Gama (Gyeonggi-do)

September 11, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: this is the 5th in a series of jimjilbang (day spas or saunas) worth visiting in Korea. Welcome to Maseok Chamsut Gama (마석참숯가마) – home to one of the most authentic saunas I’ve found in Korea. These charcoal kilns offer plenty of heat, but don’t come here expecting a luxurious bathing experience –…>

thumb

Destination: The Spa in Garden Five

September 10, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: this is the 4th in a series of jimjilbang (day spas or saunas) worth visiting in Korea. The Spa in Garden Five (더스파인가든파이브) – one of the newest jimjilbang in Korea, the brand new modern facility delivers everything you’d expect. Constructed as part of the Garden Five behemoth-to-be, this area offers much of…>

thumb

Destination: Seoul Leisure Town

September 8, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: this is the 3rd in a series of jimjilbang (day spas or saunas) worth visiting in Korea. Welcome to Seoul Leisure Town – proof that a jimjilbang can be beautiful without being opulent. A 50 degree C. sauna looks like you’re inside a mine, while a hotter 60 degree C. looks like you’re…>

thumb

Destination: Wolgok Land (jimjilbang)

September 6, 2010 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe
thumb

The jimjilbang lifestyle

September 4, 2010 - 10 Comments - Chris Backe

I was naked, yet I felt no shame. After emerging from a HOT hot tub, I cooled off by jumping into a tub of cold water – it’s great for the circulation. Quick! Jump back into the hot tub to really get your blood moving. Put some clothes on, then head into a dry sauna…>

thumb

Review: Seoul Encyclopedia Show

September 2, 2010 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: a version of this article appears in September 2010′s printed edition of the Groove. All photos below are my own, and may differ from the printed article. “I want to sweatf*ck your talisman,” goes one saucy line. Mere minutes later, we watched an animation of a innocuous-looking balloon beating the crap out of…>

On ‘bad’ tourist places – do the DMZ and a templestay belong on the 101 places NOT to see list?

September 1, 2010 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

If you’re one of those people who really want to know where not to travel, you are now in luck. A new 272-page softcover book ‘lowlights’ the 101 places not to see before you die. The anti-travel book makes sense, considering how the genre / meme has taken off. From the author’s website: There are…>

thumb

September 2010 events

September 1, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: There’s bound to be updates to this month’s events – keep checking back for more information and new events! If you have an event you’d like to plug, comment on this post with all the details. Please follow a few guidelines for the maximum benefit. August 27 – October 10: Folks, it’s time…>

Poll results for August 2010

August 31, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

The poll question: When you travel, how important is it that English is spoken to you? Absolutely imperative – I’d pay a premium to have English service / products 4 (2%) Very important – I have to be able to communicate 13 (9%) Important enough – I’ll prefer the place / product that offers an…>

thumb

Destination: the DMZ – with a twist (Gyeonggi-do)

August 31, 2010 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

The ever-optimistic and politically-correct train sign. Note that no trains actually run to Pyongyang from Seoul, or vice versa. I’ll spare you the history lesson about Korea’s DMZ – but ROK Drop’s post is detailed, accurate, and full of win. Suffice it to say that the sites you’ll see are designed to give you the…>

thumb

Destination: Daegu International Body Painting Festival (2010) (NSFW)

August 30, 2010 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: this post is rated NSFW (Not Safe For Work) due to some nudity – this IS a body painting festival, people. Please go elsewhere if you’re looking for pornography – this is tasteful and beautiful art. As one might notice at a body painting festival, there’s plenty of paint, a touch of toplessness,…>

thumb

Question from a reader: getting started in Korea

August 29, 2010 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

A reader writes in: Annyong haseyo Chris! My name is [L.] and while I currently live in the United States – Texas, I will be traveling to the Republic of Korea next month to live and work as (wait for it, wait for it….) an English teacher (you guessed it::-)! I have some very good…>

thumb

Destination: Yudalsan International Sculpture Park (Mokpo, Jeollanam-do)

August 27, 2010 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

The Lady in Red is both an artist and a lover of sculptures. Thus while in town to see Bigeumdo off the coast of Mokpo, we made it a point to search for this place. Welcome to 조각공원 (Jo-gak-gong-won) – or Yudalsan International Sculpture Park if you prefer the English translation. Don’t let the ‘International’…>

thumb

Destination: Bank of Korea Museum

August 25, 2010 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Don’t be too surprised that I’m fascinated by money. A museum of money? Sure, it’s a fairly touristy place in downtown Seoul, but still somewhere I needed to check out. First established on June 12, 1950, the Bank of Korea began functioning as a central bank in the turmoil following World War II. Within a…>

thumb

Destination: Wonpyeong Beach / Bigeumdo (Shihan country, Jeollanam-do)

August 24, 2010 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

To put it mildly, Wonpyeong Beach (원평해수욕장) is off the beaten path. Bigeum-do is 54.5 kilometers (about 34 miles) from the mainland of Dae Han Min Guk. Of the 827 islands that dot the shores of Shinan county in Jeollanam-do, Bigeum-do is the seventh-largest. It hearkens back to a time before foreigners taught English in…>

Question from a reader: technology and electronics in Korea?

August 23, 2010 - 12 Comments - Chris Backe

EDIT – 24 August 2010 – Added directions to another shopping place, fixed a link, and corrected some information. See the comments for the full story. A reader writes in: Hi Chris, A friend of mine showed me your blog a while and I gotta say I love it! Thanks for taking the time to…>

The five places in Seoul you’re not partying at – yet

August 20, 2010 - 7 Comments - Chris Backe

When it comes to partying, Hongdae or Itaewon are the two areas that come to mind. They cater to foreigners, offer cheap drink specials, and are the places to see lots of other foreigners. If you’re tired of being catered to, however, here are 5 areas where the locals go to get their party on.…>

thumb

Destination: Gangjin (Jeollanam-do)

August 19, 2010 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

While in town for the Gangjin Celadon Festival, the Lady in Red and I decided to meander our way through the tiny county in Jeollanam-do. It’s technically an 읍 (eup, or rural county), and with a mere 41,000 people living there it’s far from densely populated. As usual, we started from the bus terminal and…>

thumb

Destination: Liberation Day at Gwanghwamun

August 18, 2010 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Between where I stand and the mountain on the horizon is Gwanghwamun. The front gate to Gyeongbokgung has been under renovation since 2006, but the wait is over – and with it is the wait to appreciate Korea’s foremost palace in its entirety. The event also celebrated Liberation Day (also called V-J day if you’re…>

Been to Daegu? Take a survey and win prizes

August 17, 2010 - 7 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: I welcome opportunities for my wonderful readers to win prizes – this comes from a trusted friend and university professor here in Korea. He writes: One of my colleagues is working with Daegu city on a survey for foreign visitors. Respondents are eligible for prizes, including a free night and dinner at the…>

thumb

Destination: the biggest Buddha in Korea (Nammireuksa, Gangjin, Jeollanam-do)

August 14, 2010 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: A hat tip goes to Brian in Jeollanam-do for discovering this place and sharing it with the K-blogosphere. The middle of nowhere seems the best place to place a Buddhist temple. Far away from the distractions of the world and sounds of the city is this fine example, neatly divided into two sections…>

thumb

Destination: Geumgang Park / Hyujeongam (Busan)

August 12, 2010 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: As a general rule, I don’t usually write a ‘Destination’ about the same place twice (see my previous post on Geumgang Park). My last visit being two years and two cameras ago, I found some parts of this park that I haven’t previously visited. Hope you enjoy. Geumgang Park offers a full day…>

thumb

Ska Bless You – Kingston Rudieska CD review

August 11, 2010 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

A version of this article is published in the August 2010 issue of the Groove. Gesundheit. Kingston Rudieska has done it again – and not just in the musical sense. Their second full-length album features their trademark style of ska – frentic at times and chilled at others; combining calypso and reggae while remaining the…>

thumb

Destination: Gangjin Celadon Festival (2010)

August 11, 2010 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

At the risk of treading on Brian in Jeollanam-do’s territory, the Lady in Red and I headed down to southwest South Korea to check out the 38th Gangjin Celadon Festival. Korea has over 1,000 years of pottery-making history, and the festival is designed to get you interacting and learning about it. The festival has been…>

thumb

Destination: Nakdong Estuary Eco Center (Busan)

August 9, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Although it’s not yet considered one of the ‘must-see’ destinations while in Korea’s second-largest city, western Busan holds the Nakdong Estuary Migratory Bird Park and Eco Center (낙동강하구에코센터). With 37.7 square kilometers of the southern coast protected, there’s plenty of room for the birds to roam or migrate. There’s enough room for humans to enjoy…>

thumb

The ‘one letter’ quiz – Itaewon style

August 7, 2010 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

Continuing the meme of fellow K-bloggers The View from Over Here and Tuttle from the Seoul Patch, I present yet another twist – the ‘one letter’ quiz. Itaewon is widely regarded as the central place to meet foreigners in Seoul. On some nights it seems as though there are more foreigners than locals around. The…>

thumb

Destination: Mangsang Beach (Donghae, Gangwon-do)

August 6, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

Welcome to Mangsang Beach (망상해수욕장). Considered one of the finest beaches on the east coast, there’s 1.4 kilometers of sand, 40,000 square meters of camping space, and more than enough salty water. Because the area is such a tourist draw, it isn’t the best for peace and quiet – and the Lady in Red and…>

thumb

Destination: Chuam Beach / Chuam Sculpture Park (Donghae, Gangwon-do)

August 5, 2010 - 4 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: trying a slightly different style with this ‘Destination’ post – feedback appreciated in the comments or by personal e-mail – chrisinsouthkorea AT gmail DOT com. Far away from the big-city life, Chuam beach offers a level of peacefulness I hadn’t experienced in awhile. No tall buildings in sight. No other foreigners around. Nobody…>

thumb

Destination: Whale Fossil Museum (Donghae, Gangwon-do)

August 4, 2010 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

The Donghae Whale Fossil Museum (동해고래화석박물관) is across the street from Mangsang Beach. Seemingly intended to bring in tourists in the same way the biggest ball of string might, there’s plenty to see.   Ratings (out of 5 taeguks): Ease to arrive: Foreigner-friendly: Convenience facilities: Worth the visit: Directions to the Whale Fossil Museum: Get…>

Question from a reader: finding birth parents and scared about traveling alone

August 3, 2010 - 6 Comments - Chris Backe

A reader writes me in search of her birth parents (question edited for length): Hi Chris, I hope you are doing well. I found your blog through a google search (hope you don’t think that’s weird!) but I’ve always wanted to visit South Korea. I was adopted from Seoul and currently searching for my birth…>

thumb

Konglish – summer edition

August 2, 2010 - 5 Comments - Chris Backe

My permanent marker was mysteriously missing from my bag, or else this sign would have a few ‘fixes’. In case the cursive script gives you fits, the shirt says “Deliciously in Sedated Luxurious Captivity” – never got to see the front of the shirt.

Poll results for July 2010

August 1, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

July’s poll is now closed. The question: Overall, have you gained or lost weight since arriving in Korea? I’ve gone up a few sizes (gained 20+ pounds / 9+ kg) 28 (10%) Let’s just say the belt’s getting tight (gained 10-20 pounds / 4.5-9 kg) 46 (16%) Nothing I can’t work off by walking more…>

thumb

August 2010 events

August 1, 2010 - 3 Comments - Chris Backe

Author’s note: There’s bound to be updates to this month’s events – keep checking back for more information and new events! If you have an event you’d like to plug, comment on this post with all the details. Please follow a few guidelines for the maximum benefit.So much to see and do, so little time.…>

Question from a reader: advice for families?

July 31, 2010 - 0 Comments - Chris Backe

A reader writes in looking for information about families and cost of living: First off, I would like to thank you for answering many of my questions about South Korea. Chris, I have not found any information specific for families. I am married and we have two young children. Many questions have been answered, but…>

thumb

Random pictures – part 34

July 30, 2010 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

Just a few more pictures of my travels that didn’t fit into any other posts – welcome to Random Picture Time. The Korean alphabet (in alphabetical order) – just one thing seen at the Story of Sejong, in Gwanghwamun Plaza (downtown Seoul). Just when you thought you’ve seen it all – not pictured is the…>

thumb

Destination: Dokdo Museum (Ulleungdo)

July 29, 2010 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

As part of my recent trip to Ulleungdo (see part 1, part 2, and part 3), I checked out the Dokdo Museum on the island. For those of you tuning in from outside the Korean peninsula, Dokdo is a set of two islands that both Korea and Japan believe to be theirs. Located about halfway…>

On ATEK and a new president

July 29, 2010 - 1 Comments - Chris Backe

My good friend Rob, the National Communications Officer for ATEK, and the man behind Roboseyo has recently raised some interesting points regarding ATEK’s next president. The Association for Teachers of English in Korea has had a checkered history, but over the last year quite a few positive changes have been made (quoted from Rob’s e-mail…>

thumb

Book review: Baekdudaegan Trail – Hiking Korea’s Mountain Spine (Seoul Selection)

July 27, 2010 - 2 Comments - Chris Backe

Along much of Korea’s eastern coast is an unexplored treasure – a mountain ridge that extends 1,400 kilometers (457 miles) from near the southern shores to the northernmost parts of North Korea. About 735 of those kilometers are walkable within South Korea – and yes, the two main authors hiked the whole thing in about…>