Friday, July 28, 2017

Weird Korean Snacks + Loneliness

Well it’s been a lonely past week and a half since I last wrote. I knew when I came here that my friends have their own lives and jobs but I didn’t realize just how little time they were going to have for me. Plans got moved around a lot too, with some disappointing results. Things aren’t going well with preparing my documents for applying for a work visa either so this week was the first time in a while that I just wanted to go home.

On that happy note, let’s talk about last Wednesday. I went to dance class that day, like I mentioned in my previous post. It was the first time I went in three weeks but the secretary lady still recognized me. We learned the dance to Astro’s newest song, Baby. I like Astro’s music so I was excited but the dance was more difficult than I expected. I made some friends though! We bonded over how difficult the dance was. I met a girl named Mayuri from India and a girl from Indiana named Mykah. Mykah is here in Korea on an H-1 visa (working holiday), which I didn’t know was a thing so now I’m looking into that for me as well. We exchanged Kakaos and got some of that ridiculously tall ice cream on our way to the station. It melted like crazy all over us so we washed our hands in a fountain before parting ways. It’s only been a week but I already forgot the moves to Baby. It was just complicated and the instructor rushed through the chorus. But I was excited to meet some foreigner (not Korean) friends.

Thursday, I tutored Sunny. Nothing too extraordinary there. She talked even more than usual because EXO made a comeback last week and she’s super stoked. Sunny is a SHINee fan so she told me she shouldn’t like EXO because they (SM really) are ruining SHINee’s lives but she really does like EXO underneath it all. So we got even less done than usual. She hadn’t done her homework either so we actually just did that. When I got home, I outlined my plan for the next three weeks to make concrete goals for us. Oh, and I got paid that day by her mom. In cash. J

Friday, I did a little voice recording job for some money. This was posted to Facebook in a group for job-seekers of non-teaching jobs. Basically, this company just needed a bunch of foreigners to record some sentences one day, and it would be 50,000 won for 3 hours. I thought the company was an education company but it ended up being a media/technology company. They’re making some sort of technology like Alexa or Siri for homes where you can issue voice commands from anywhere in the house and it’ll do it. For example, “turn on the AC” or “open the garage door.” The night before, I was told that there was actually a typing component too and that recording was taking longer than they expected so the time estimate was now 4-5 hours and the pay was 100,000 won, would I still like to participate? Hell yeah, I would. The studio was far away from my place, but so is Sunny’s so who cares? The typing task was just writing different commands in as many different ways as possible so the technology would be able to identify the request. Then, I recorded 150 or so phrases. They had actually labeled them “utterances” which I giggled at because who uses that word? I have actually recorded before, when I studied abroad at the very end of December, for a friend who was making a travel app about Korea. So I had learned some things, like that the sound booths are crazy hot because of the lack of ventilation so bring lots of water. The mikes pick up everything too, like the noises of your lips and tongue when you open your mouth so water can help with that. After recording for a while, these noises occur anyway because your mouth dries out so I started pausing after opening my mouth to speak so that the noise wouldn’t be too close to the actual sound bite. *proud* I actually ended up finishing in almost exactly three hours; I like to think because of my little know-how about recording. So I got paid 100,000 won for three hours of work! Yipee! That was pretty exciting.

Oh, I forgot! I got a ticket to Taeyang’s solo concert on the day after my birthday!!!!! Yay! Tuesday, I realized that people had returned some of their tickets so instead of buying from a reseller, I could just buy one from the official site. Now, that didn’t go too well for me. You could only use a Korean credit card on the English site (go figure) so I had to register for a Korean account to do the bank transfer. To register for a Korean account, I had to download the app. I downloaded the app and registered for an account just fine but then when I got to the ticket page, you had to do like another register with more information. That’s where I got stuck because I entered the information correctly but when I submitted it, it just reloaded to that form. No error message, just the same page I had been on. I gave up after a while and starting texting everybody I knew, both friends and people in ticketing. Byul offered to reserve the ticket Wednesday. I’m so stoked. She got me a 2nd floor ticket! I don’t know how because like 99.99% of all the returned tickets are 3rd floor and the 2nd floor ones get resold right away but she reserved me a second floor ticket in the section I wanted. I couldn’t believe it. She must have logged in right as someone returned that ticket. So she reserved it Wednesday and then Thursday before tutoring, I want to the bank and did the transfer of money. The tickets will be mailed in August and I’m super excited!

On the other extreme, Saturday was a really crappy day. Originally, I was supposed to go to Dongdaemun with Byul and make phone cases. Dongdaemun has a craft mall where you can buy or do all sorts of DIY things. Some of the vendors are stations where you can make your phone personalized phone case by choosing and places a whole bunch of super cute charms. This is high on my list of things to do because they’re adorable and I love DIY stuff. Byul and I were going to go Saturday but she backed out last minute because she needed a rest day. I totally get that; she works very long hours and, for the first time in 25 years, her parents bought her a bed to sleep on so she doesn’t have to sleep on the floor. The bed also means that she had a lot of cleaning and re-arranging to do. So I was fine with it but that meant I had to figure out what to do with myself. There was a craft meetup that I wanted to go to but the café they were meeting at is pretty far from my house. It’s far enough away that, to be there on time, I would have had to get up at 8 AM on a Saturday. I made a deal with myself and said I would set an alarm for 8 and I could decide then whether to go or not. So, of course, I woke up at 8 and promptly went back to bed after changing my RSVP.

When I woke up again later, I was faced with the same problem of what to do with myself. I decided to maybe try going to the Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain. There was some rain in the forecast but I would check again later and see. So first, I went to the market. When I got home and started putting away my provisions, I noticed that the marinated meat I bought had broken open and spilled the marinade all over everything. The sauce was on the floor where I had initially put the bag, on my cloth desk chair where I had moved the bag too, all over everything in the bag, all over the bottom of the cloth bag itself, and on my shorts where the bag had touched them while I walked back. It was a complete disaster. I spent about an hour trying to clean everything up.

As a reward for my hard work, I decided to try the cereal I bought at the market. I bought an Oreo cereal that’s pretty famous among foreigners. It’s famous because it’s an American cereal that’s only produced in Korea now. It used to be sold in America too, of course, but production stopped when Post’s parent company sold it to a different parent company. So now it’s only sold in South Korea. I had to buy a little carton of milk to go with it (Korean don’t drink cow milk all that often and it’s not very good quality here) but I was excited. It was pretty good. It didn’t blow my mind away or anything and the marshmallows all melted into the milk but it did taste like something from home, at least.

I was so exhausted and disheartened by my marinade fiasco that I thought about skipping Banpo but, empowered by my Oreo cereal, I decided to check the weather again. The weather had been updated to show a 0% chance of rain for the rest of the day. Perfect. If there’s even a chance of rain in the forecast, the Rainbow Fountain won’t operate. I learned this when I tried to take my brother there, who visited me my second semester of study abroad, and it was a complete disappointment. So, I thought this was finally my chance to see the Rainbow Fountain. I took the train to the Express Bus Terminal after dinner and walked to the Banpo Bridge Hangang Park. Zero percent chance of rain, the forecast said. You know what it did? It fucking rained. I didn’t even bring an umbrella because it said ZERO chance of rain. So after waiting for like an hour in case they decided to run the show, because it was more of a sprinkle really, I gave up and left. I had hoped the rain would lighten up but, as I was leaving, the rain got heavier.

There was this nice sign to guide me on my way though. The cafe must've gotten tired of people coming in to ask. 

Now, I had a plan for this. I knew that even though there was zero percent chance of rain, because there had been like 20% chance earlier in the forecast, they might not run the show the whole day. Because they’re dousches like that. I figured that, in case the Rainbow Fountain didn’t show, I would go to Yunho’s 85th Street café that was nearby and get myself a real strawberry and yogurt smoothie, which is my favorite smoothie in the entire city of Seoul. But hey, it was raining hard and I didn’t have an umbrella because there was zero percent chance of rain. Bitter. So, I wasn’t willing to go to 85th Street because it’s pretty far from the station. I took the train home, drenched with rain and sweat, in different shorts than I had started the day in, having achieved nothing.

As a consolation prize to myself, I decided to get some ice cream from a convenience store on my way from the station to my goshiwon. I was deciding between a mango ice cream treat and a chocolate bar when I saw a tomato ice cream treat and figured “why the hell not?” I have to explain something first. Earlier in the week, I bought some weirdly flavored potato chips. They were labeled Hawaiian and, after I got home, I noticed the little sub-label that said “Garlic shrimp pineapple.” What the hell right? Who decided garlic shrimp and pineapple went together anyway and then who made that a potato chip flavor? Korean snacks are weird. But, I already bought them so I decided to try them. And they were good! I couldn’t believe it. It was certainly an odd combination to my flavor palette (I’ve been watching MasterChef lately) but the more I ate them, the more I wanted. They were really surprisingly good and I looked for that flavor the next time I went to the store. So, emboldened by my victory with the garlic shrimp pineapple potato chips and the Oreo cereal, I decided to give the tomato ice cream a try. They can’t sell something that doesn’t taste good, right? Wrong! It was freaking awful. I was so excited to be surprised by the flavor and then the first bite literally tasted like tomato in an ice cream form. They hadn’t tried to sweeten in up at all or add other flavors. After a few more bites to confirm that it was disgusting, I let it melt in my sink. Think about that. I let ice cream, my favorite dessert, that I bought when I don’t have much money melt in my sink. It was that bad. So basically, everything sucked Saturday and everything I tried to do failed. Jihye woke up in America to like 20 texts from me complaining about everything at various stages of my day.

Sunday, I skyped my family and recounted my terrible day Saturday. My sister’s birthday was the next day so she opened the presents from me and my brother. I gave Bryn a recipe book for homemade cosmetics and household items, like shampoo, laundry cleaner, and lip scrub. Like I said before, I love DIY projects and she’s gotten really into environmental responsibility (so proud) so it’s the perfect thing that we can do together. My brother Andy got her a book about the show Supernatural from the cast and crew’s point of view. She and I both like that show so he wanted me to see her open it. I don’t know what my parents got her yet but I’ll find out this weekend when I skype them. We ended up talking about movies and I mentioned Happy Feet, which I had recently watched, and Bryn got all excited so my family watched it together after I signed off. I pretty much like anything with Robin Williams in it. I, on the other hand, spent the rest of the day doing laundry.

Monday, I was going to run some errands. Koreans don’t have dryers for the most part so I also spent some time checking the hanging laundry and folding or hanging up anything that was dry. At 4 in the afternoon, I was getting ready to go out and do my errands when I realized that I had screwed up. I had purposefully put off running errands so I would be done around suppertime and could pick up some dinner. Plot twist! Korean banks close at 4. American banks close at 5 so I hadn’t thought anything of it but literally, as I was putting my shoes on, I remembered that the bank would be closed. Going to the bank was the main errand I had to run, so I decided to just skip it and stay home and recover from Saturday. It’s so hot and humid here every damn day, it’s honestly hard to convince myself to go outside when I don’t have to.

Tuesday I was supposed to tutor (see, this is a week of “supposed to”s, “going to”s, and “was planning on”s) but I woke up to a text from Sunny saying that she couldn’t make it because she was in Jeju. I don’t know if her family ended up staying longer than they expected or if they missed a flight, but there was no way she was going to make it. So I went back to bed to sleep another hour or two. I sleep really late here, like until noon or 1:00 if I have no plans.

When I woke up and after I ate lunch (of the marinated bulgogi that ended up being delicious despite the trouble), I ran the errands I was going to Monday. I started by going to the copy shop to print some worksheets I wanted to use with Sunny, about brainstorming and writing introductions to essays. Then, I went to the bank to withdraw the money I had been transferred Sunday for my recording work Friday. Yay for money. Since I don’t have a Korean credit card (because no Alien Registration Card), I have to do everything at the actual bank. Then I went to the Daiso to pick up shampoo and conditioner since I ran out. I also bought headphones there because, literally on my way, the right speaker blew out. I thought the Daiso headphones I bought were broken too but it turns out that they just have some technology in them that I don’t have activated in my iPod (like voice recognition). So my headphones and my iPod had to fight it out. I think the headphones won because they're working fine now but my iPod is still freaking out a bit. Then I picked up some dinner at Subway and headed home.

After dinner, I had nothing else to do so I decided to retry Banpo. The weather was literally perfect. It was a sunny day, few clouds, and absolutely no rain on the radar at all. This was the day. Third time’s the charm. So of course, I get there and the stupid Rainbow Fountain show doesn’t go on again. For the third time. The only thing I can think of is that it was much windier than normal for Seoul. Maybe they were worried about the water spraying into the other streams? I have no idea. At this point, the Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain is either a complete myth or it has to be the most fucking perfect day ever for it to work. I was pissed and I had a decision to make. Do I keep trying because it’s a personal vendetta at this point or do I give up because it’s wasted too much of my time? I think I’ve basically settled on giving up but we’ll see, I can be pretty vindictive. I really don’t recommend going to the Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain on your vacation unless you have time to spare because it probably won’t show.

Banpo Bridge

That night I also watched the Nu'Est-W V Live. They had a little mini concert with a live band and streamed it live on V Live. As with every K-pop group I like except Big Bang, I'm not actually a fan of the group: I really like one member and so, to support them, I support the group. With Nu'Est, it's Jonghyun. I was really hoping he'd make it into Wanna One and, although he should have, I'm less bitter than I was before. The mini concert wasn't anything too exciting. They didn't perform any of their dance songs and they did some ballad songs I didn't know but I'm still glad I watched it. Jonghyun looked wonderful in pink and he rapped beautifully. I learned that he would want the same super power as me if he could have one and that the other members agree that he's the best dancer in the group. I'm really happy too because they released a special single earlier in the day and it's been doing really well in the charts. Like, beating EXO and getting number 1 well. I'm very proud of them and happy that their talent and hard work is finally being recognized. Jonghyun actually almost started crying when he was thanking the fans so, of course, I almost cried too. It was a good mini concert and I can't wait for their full comeback. 

Wednesday, I went to dance class again! This week was Red Velvet’s new song, Red Flavor. Now, I’m not really a Red Velvet person but I really like this latest song and the dance looked like a lot of fun. I was pretty excited. Neither of my new friends came. Mayuri was busy and couldn’t go that day. Mykah actually tried to come but got hopelessly lost and eventually gave up after 50 minutes. I felt bad, she kept texting me but I was in the middle of dance class at that point so I didn’t check it. I gave her pretty clear directions so hopefully she’ll be able to find it next time. It was okay though, I made new friends. Being friendly at dance class is easy because we learn the dance pretty quickly so you often ask someone else what that move was again or just laugh at everyone’s failure. The dance was really fun and I think I’m going to remember this one because it’s less complicated than Baby and I’ve been practicing a bit. I actually still remember Chungha’s Why Don’t You Know but we’ll see how long that lasts. Overall, it was fun.

I also tried watermelon juice on Wednesday. Koreans love watermelon in the summer. I don’t quite get it because, to me, there are better summer fruits but Koreans just love watermelon. They always say how refreshing it is. So, in the summer in Korea, you see watermelon everything. This summer and this year, there are juice places everywhere, especially Juicy and Juice King. Now, there have always been juice stores in Seoul but it seems like they’re the current trend so they are positively everywhere. Byul recommended the (what else?) watermelon juice to me and there’s a Juicy right underneath my goshiwon. Watermelon juice seems odd to me because we don’t really have it in America. In my opinion, watermelon doesn’t have *that* much of a flavor so the juice would mostly be water. It was actually quite good! I think the biggest thing is that, it’s called juice, but it’s really just blended fresh fruit and ice. So it’s very fresh-tasting. It was, actually, quite refreshing. It was also quite flavorful so I think it must have been a really good watermelon that was blended into my drink. Maybe it’s a different species of watermelon from the ones in America? I know the grapes are definitely different so I wouldn’t be surprised if the watermelons were too. Off topic but I really don’t like the Korean species grapes. You know that artificial grape flavor that they use for candy? I’ve always wondered where they got that because the grapes in American certainly don’t taste like that. Well, I found out because Korean grapes taste like that. It’s disorienting and kind of gross. American grapes are more refreshing. But back to the watermelon juice. I also tried the mixed watermelon and pineapple juice (smoothie) but I didn’t like it as much. The pineapple adds a tangy flavor that doesn’t need to be there. But I do recommend the watermelon juice.

look at the nice Block B models

Thursday I tutored Sunny. We worked on the brainstorming activities I had planned and, although Sunny complained, I hope I gave her some tactics for when she’s stuck on an essay. She leaves in about two weeks now and she’s really worried about Jeju. I love Jeju. I went with my brother when he visited and it’s a wonderful and beautiful place full of things to do but Sunny’s a city kid and she doesn’t like nature. She actually said to me, “I like tall buildings and gray skies.” I’m hoping she adapts well though because it’s a place that I have very fond memories of.

Today is Friday and Jihye sent me on another mission. The TVXQ wet wipes sold at the SUM store in the SM Town complex in the COEX mall were on sale today. They had been marked all the way down from over 20,000 won to 4,000 each. She asked me to go buy a pack so that she could hand them out with her TVXQ tattoos at the next TVXQ concerts. I had a plan for today but I just moved it to Saturday (tell you why in a bit) and decided to go get the wet wipes. I’ve been to the SM Town complex before in my second semester (which I didn’t blog about. Bitter) but I had planned to still look around a bit, see if things had changed. Afterwards, I was going to walk to Jaejoong’s café which was nearby and get a drink. I wanted to buy the tissues first though because TVXQ goods are super popular and sell out quickly. Their fans are dedicated. I took one look at what Jihye wanted me to buy and realized I wouldn’t be doing any of that. The packs were much bigger than I expected and heavy on top of that. There were only five boxes left and I bought two; one for me and one for Jihye. I also bought the TVXQ popcorn because Jihye recommended it. The boxes weighed 10 pounds each, which doesn’t sound like much but it was rough. 20 pounds is fine on your back or in your arms but I had to carry these awkward, un-stackable shapes from their strings in my fingers. It was actually really heavy and the strings dug into my fingers. I just went right home and dropped them off. But hey, now I have 296 TVXQ wet wipes in cool-looking containers and TVXQ chocolate popcorn and Jihye has her stuff.

Pretty popcorn

I especially liked Red Velvet's design

My goodies

the wet wipes come with photocards too

Afterwards, I went to the market and stopped by somewhere to get dinner. At the market, I decided to pick up little melon chocolate pies and lemon tart potato chips. See, I’m fearless with the trying of weird snacks now. The melon pies are alright. The melon flavoring isn’t all that strong but it’s in there enough to be weird. I bought a pack of 12 so I better like them. I don’t think I’d buy them again though. I don’t even like Choco Pie so I think that’s why I don’t much like these. The textures of the crumbly part and of the chocolate outside feel much to processed to me. I just tried the lemon tart potato chips. I don’t like them. They really taste exactly like you’d expect. They’re very lemon flavored and very sweet and then the end taste like a potato chip. Eww. Koreans seem to make most of their snacks sweet whereas Americans prefer salty snacks and this is a mix of the two that is just unforgivable. Thankfully, I bought a small bag. I like the garlic shrimp pineapple potato chips much better.

Now, the reason why I could just shift my plans from today to tomorrow. I was supposed to go to the Mud Festival in Boryeong with Soojung this weekend, which I was super excited about. She's been kinda sketchy about it though, like not really responding to my texts much and won't book a hotel or bus tickets. So finally on Wednesday, when we've been planning this for three weeks, she texts me to say that she can't go. She says it's partly work and partly that she had a huge fight with her mom. She told her mom she wants to quit her job (you know, because she works 12 hour days and sometimes get called back even after she gets home and she works every other weekend or more and she's being harassed by her boss's boss) and her mom called her a loser who never tries at everything. Her mom also said some really personal, mean things that I won’t repeat here. So Soojung's basically grounded and she can't quit her job until she has another one lined up. So I can't even really be mad at her. But she's known she couldn't go for a while now! On top of that, there was a meetup of foreigners going to the festival last weekend that I could have gone with but I didn't because I thought I was going with Soojung. That's what I’m upset about. I wish she could have gotten up the courage to tell me sooner so that *I* could go. I sent out an SOS to my friends Wednesday night but none of them could go to the festival. I'm just really disappointed because it ends this weekend and now I can't go again for another year.

On top of that, I’m having some trouble with getting my documents ready to apply for a job. I’m looking into the H-1 visa that my friend has but I think I’d prefer to apply for a teaching job because it’s more stable and the schools are very willing to sponsor work visas. The problem with that is that my apostilled diploma is apparently lost in the mail and I’m losing it. When my housing fell through, I sent my university an email requesting that the address be changed that the apostilled diploma would be sent to. I know they saw that email because someone responded. But the State Department charged me for the apostille a month ago now and I still haven’t received the diploma. My mom called yesterday and they said they mailed it to the hotel in June. They didn’t fucking change the address when I requested it, despite not having mailed it yet at that point. So I texted the hotel which was extremely awkward given that the boss screwed me over and then I walked out on them and the nice manager checked their mail room and records for me. He looked through every record they have of mail and deliveries and they don’t have my diploma either. So it’s either still coming to the hotel and I’ll go pick it up or, the far more likely option, my apostilled diploma that I need to get a work visa has been lost in the mail because the State Department didn’t bother to put a tracking number. At this point, it’s most likely too late to request a new apostilled diploma because I have to send in the request to my university who then has to make a copy and sent it to the State Department who then have to apostille it and send it to my parents (because I damn well don’t trust them to mail internationally again) who then have to mail it to me. The process will take weeks. So I’m basically screwed. However, I’m going to send in the request and be charged for it anyway because I want to stay in Seoul really bad. I have to try.

Tomorrow, I’m going to my favorite dog café because I need puppies to forget about the disappointment and stress. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Lazy days, good food, and the Crystal Universe

Last Saturday was a busy but good day. I woke up early (for me) so I could eat an early lunch and get to the SM Town concert area at a decent time. The arena was over an hour and a half away (which I didn’t know when I agreed to do this) so I left my goshiwon around noon and got there around 1:30, which was later than I wanted. Thankfully, none of the goods had sold out yet. I think SM figured that since all the goods they were selling were super cheap to produce, they would just make a ton and still have a huge profit. So I stood in line, which moved much faster than I expected, and got the DBSK light-stick and towel that Jihye’s friend wanted. There were tons of EXO fangirls there. I tried to find some DBSK fans giving out fan-goods but I only saw SHINee, Henry, and many EXO fan-goods. I left pretty quickly, having achieved my mission, and took the train to Jamsil, where I was meeting Soojung at 4.

I got to Jamsil about an hour early so I walked over to the Gyobo bookstore. I looked at some Korean books teaching English to compare to how I was tutoring. My way was much better; some of those worksheets in the books totally sucked. Then I looked at some books about teaching foreigners Korean and those looked much better. I can’t really afford to buy anything I don’t need (or really want) right now, so I determined to buy one of those books if/when I get a job here in Korea. I really want to improve my Korean. Next, I moved on to the point of this visit, which was to find Korean novels translated into English. I can’t really say that in Korean but I went to the information desk and asked for “Korean books but the language is English” and the guy understood what I meant. They only had two Korean translated novels; Please Look After Mother and some book about life advice from a Buddhist monk. I’ve heard good things about Please Look After Mother so I bought that one and left for my meeting place with Soojung.

Soojung and I met up a little late because she was waiting inside the station and I was outside but we figured it out eventually. After finding each other, we went through Lotte World to try and find the TeamLab interactive digital art exhibit. It took some searching but we finally found the darn thing. Admission was 16,000 won and they gave us each a pack of crayons. The first room we walked into was all flowers and butterflies. It was very pretty and you could scatter the flower petals or kill the butterflies if you really wanted to. The reaction time between your touch and the screen responding was a bit slow but it was still cool. The next room had an ocean scene showing on the wall. Visitors could color one of six water animals and, once you were done, the drawing would be scanned into the computer and the animal would show up on the display. This kind of activity was repeated twice more in the exhibit, with a jungle display of frogs, lizards, and flowers, and a city with buildings and cars. There was also a display with floating symbols that, if you touched them, would grow a plant or animal. That one was very interesting and was hard to walk away from. There were other displays, like a table with colored blocks which could make a city and fairways depending on how you arranged the blocks, and a digital hopscotch board that you got to create. It was all very cool.

Towards the end of the exhibit, was a more serious display that wasn’t interactive. There were two rooms where all the walls showed land masses and the ocean. The plaque said that it was based on the predictions of the ocean level rising over the next 10 years, due to global warming. It was actually a very serious and ominous display but most people didn’t read the sign so they were all talking about how pretty and romantic it was. There was a seating area where you could watch the 10 minute cycle so couples were sitting together like a picnic. I think the people who hadn’t read the signs finally understood that it was supposed to be meaningful and dangerous when the water reached the top of the screen, lightning flashed, and everything faded away. Lastly, there was the Crystal Universe room. It’s hard to describe just how beautiful this display is with pictures or words so you’ll just have to go. It’s literally just a bunch of lights on strings but it’s just stunning. Once you walked through the lights, you could use a website on your phone to send stars out into the universe that would change the color, patterns, and movement of the lights. This room really left a positive impression on me and I understand why it’s one of TeamLab’s signature displays.

Overall, I really enjoyed the exhibit. There were lots of kids there but it was equally enjoyable for adults and teens, I think. I was really touched by the message of the exhibit as well. Before we went in, there were signs (that few people read) explaining the goal of the artists. It talked about how, typically, other people are a hindrance when viewing art. Like, for example, if I went to see the Mona Lisa, I would want to go when as few people as possible would be there with me. So they wanted to make the presence of others a good, enjoyable thing, with their art. It would matter which people had been there before me and how long it had been since they had been there. I felt like they achieved their goal. In the displays where your drawings were scanned into the displays, I laughed at some creative drawings, smiled at the children’s scribbles, and “aww”ed at messages couples had written to each other. Like they wanted, my experience was enhanced by the presence of others, not hindered by it.
My colored seahorse

My seahorse on the screen by a silly squid

The symbol screen


My flower

My building drawing

My building in the town

The whole screen

Crystal Universe

After leaving TeamLab, Soojung and I went to a blind restaurant by Konkuk. Everyone else was in couples but this isn’t the first time I’ve done couple-y things with friends and it won’t be the last so I wasn’t affected. The staff walked us up to the room and then we put our hands on the shoulders of those in front of us and they lead us into the darkness. The waiters had night vision goggles on but we couldn’t see a darn thing. There was not a hint of light in there. I told Soojung right away, “I don’t think I like this.” It’s actually a very disturbing thing, not being able to see your surroundings even a little bit. I calmed down after a couple minutes but it was uncomfortable at first. We had a five course meal (for 35,000 won): there was a meat/salami appetizer, a salad with a fruity dressing, seafood fried rice, steak, and some sort of fancy ice cream. I couldn’t see any of it so I’m going entirely on my taste-buds here, for description. It was all very delicious. Before we had gone in, the host told us not to eat with our hands and we all laughed but I did actually touch my dishes with my hand to make sure I was finished. Cutting the steak was especially difficult. Soojung and I had some pretty deep conversations while we ate as well. I think it’s like when you talk at a sleepover when the lights are at; not being able to see each other’s face makes it easier to open up. Overall, it was a really interesting experience and I’m glad I went. We started dinner quite late so, afterwards, we split up for the night because Soojung had to get home.

Extremely blurry picture of us after being released from the dark room (feat. the note we wrote to each other in the dark)

Sunday, I skyped my parents and then lazed around the entire day. Like, I literally put on normal clothes at 7PM after debating if getting take out for dinner was worth taking off my pajamas. It was wonderful. I also started Please Look After Mother, which has four sections instead of chapters. I’m not sure I’m going to like it. It’s just not quite my style but I paid 7,000 won for it so I’m going to finish it.

Monday, I met up with Byul for dinner. We were originally going to go make cute phone cases at the Dongdaemun craft mall but we found out that day that the vendors close before Byul’s finished with work. So we decided to just get dinner in Gangnam instead. We went to a dakgalbi place named 장인닭갈비 that was fucking fantastic. Excuse my language but holy crap. We ordered the dakgalbi with cheese and added in rice cakes and sausages. So the chicken, cabbage, rice cake, and sausages were all mixed together in a sauce and then the mozzarella (?) cheese went in the center. They also had lettuce so you could make wraps if you wanted to. It was so, so good. I didn’t actually like dipping my other food in the cheese so I ate all that first and then ate the cheese separately, which ended up tasting amazing. I’m definitely going back to that restaurant.


Byul and I

After dinner, Byul and I went to Solbing for some dessert. I let Byul decide and paid because it was her birthday a couple days before. She wanted the green tea brownie bingsoo so we got that. I don’t much like green tea but it wasn’t too bad. It was definitely pretty, that’s for sure. We talked until we got kicked out because the store was closing. Byul, like Soojung, has a job with crappy conditions but Byul doesn’t want to quit for some reason that I don’t comprehend. I think she wants to stick with it for at least a full year (she’s at 8 months now). So she told me all about that and eventually we had to go home.
Green tea brownie bingsoo

Tuesday and Thursday I tutored, like usual. We just worked on essay writing those two days but I think we’re going to be doing more work on that. The security guy and I know each other so we just nod at each other and he lets me in. Oh, and the family’s nanny wanted to chat with me Thursday after the session when Sunny went to do her homework. It was extremely uncomfortable because she wanted to complain about the family and I didn’t really know what to say. I held my own on the Korean front, didn’t do too poorly, but it did remind me how much I still have to learn. I got out of there after about 15 minutes of chatting, as soon as there was an appropriate opportunity.

Wednesday, I had a sort of lazy day. I was originally going to go see the Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain show that night by myself, because no one could hang out. However, Tuesday, my bathroom sink plugged up. It’s been slow to drain since I moved in but Tuesday, it completely plugged and refused to drain at all. So I spent most of Wednesday fixing that. I consulted everyone on the best equipment and products in Korea and made a list with the Hangul. Before I left for the store, though, I found some bleach in the goshiwon bathroom’s closet. So I took the water out of the sink as much as I could and then I just poured some bleach in the sink and down the shower drain. The sink still didn’t seem to be draining but I decided to go to the market closer to dinner so I went back to my laptop for an hour or so. After the time passed, I checked the sink again and the water was all gone! The bleach had eaten away whatever was clogging the sink enough to drain the water. So then I poured more bleach down both drains to try and make them completely clean. I did several rounds of this and now it drains right away, like it’s supposed to. I’m honestly really proud of myself. It’s such a simple thing but I figured it out on my own with minimal help and no purchases so I’m quite happy. If my efforts had failed, I was going to have to try and explain the problem in Korean to the landlord, which would have been a struggle. I also went to the market while the second or third round of bleach was sitting. So after all that, I honestly felt too tired to go out again. When I went to the market, it was extremely hot and humid, even more so than usual, so I decided to just stay home and continue with the bleach treatments for the night.

Friday, I went to a meetup through I’m trying to make some more friends, especially international friends, since my Korean friends all have jobs so is perfect. I’m in three meetups that I’m really interested in; a book club, a women-only club, and a crafters club. However, none of those three have any events planned for this month yet. So I’m also in a volunteering club and several groups just for foreigners in Korea. Friday’s meetup was through one of those clubs, for an international group. Yeouido Hangang Park is doing an event this summer where there will be a dance team performance and movie every Friday and Saturday throughout the summer. So the meetup was to go to that. Of the 20 people signed up online, four of us showed up. The organizer had backed out because of a sudden work commitment and it was forecasted to rain, so I think that drove a lot of people away. It ended up being me, a French female translation student, a Korean female kindergarten teacher, and a Korean male baker. And get this; because it was forecasted to rain, even though it wasn’t raining, the performance and movie were cancelled without notice! I’ve had this happen in Seoul before, where things will be cancelled without any sort of notice for weather predictions, regardless of actual weather. So the four of us just sat at the venue and talked for like four hours. It was nice to talk to everyone from different walks of life and learn about them. The translator especially is in a field similar to mine, so that was cool. It was hard though because the three girls got talking about books and one point but the Korean guy kept saying he didn’t read so I had a hard time trying to include him in the conversation without completely changing the subject. At the end of the night, despite an enjoyable time, we all separated without exchanging contact information. I would have gotten the translator’s Kakao and maybe the kindergarten teacher’s too but I couldn’t do that in front of the baker without asking him too so I just didn’t. None of us super hit it off anyway. I’m looking forward to my next meetup; I want one of my favorite three but I might also volunteer.

Saturday I had, guess what, another lazy day! Because I didn’t go to the Banpo Bridge Wednesday, I was going to go Saturday but then it rained all day so I knew the Rainbow Fountain wouldn’t run. Since it was continuously raining, there wasn’t much else I could do either so I just stayed home. I tried a new place for dinner though. It was a bagel café that’s kind of far from my goshiwon. I ordered a hot chicken bagel sandwich. It wasn’t premade and they assembled and cooked it in front of my so that was impressive. The cashier guy was also very nice, although not as hot as the Subway guy, so that was a bonus. The sandwich was pretty good but it was expensive for what I got and farther away from my goshiwon so I probably won’t go back. I also read another section in Please Look After Mother so I’m more than halfway through now. I particularly didn’t care about this section but I heard from the kindergarten teacher at the meetup that the last section is especially good so I’m going to keep going.

Sunday was a good day. Through the prior events in my crafting meetup, I found a DIY pottery place in Insadong underneath the Ssamziegil mall so we were going to do that. Before pottery, we went to lunch at a place famous for Pyongyang naengmyun, which was on my list of foods to try. It’s so popular, when we got there, there was an hour wait and at least 100 people in the huge waiting area. We decided to wait and we were seated after about 30 minutes; I think a lot of people got discouraged and left after leaving their name but it worked for us. The Pyongyang naengmyun was alright. It’s North Korean naengmyun and the difference is supposed to be that it’s meatier and blander but I also found it sweeter. I wasn’t super impressed with the naengmyun for such a popular place but it just might not be my taste. The restaurant, Woo Lae Oak if anyone wants to try, has really good kimchi though! It was kimchi made the same day, not fermented, which is usually not to my liking but the cabbage was ridiculously fresh and tasty. I was very impressed. They also served us buckwheat tea, which I hadn’t had before, and it was very calming. I will probably be looking for that in stores and on menus in the future. So, even though I didn’t like the naengmyun, I was impressed by the restaurant.

Pyongyang naengmyun

After lunch, we walked through Insadong. We looked at the products and eventually made our way over to Ssamziegil. The pottery place was in the basement so we went there. You could pick your dish; they had all sorts of bowls, cups, plates, and platters. I went for a cereal bowl because it was big and I have too many mugs and Byul went with a tea cup. You then sketched your design in pencil and transferred any stamps you wanted. After that, you could begin painting. I decide on a love concept on put a heart with dots, the shape of Minnesota with dots, and Korea in Hangul on the outside. On the inside, I had my stamp in red and I wrote some of the things I love in Hangul. Byul painted a bunny with glasses (adorable!), a guitar, and some flowers. After painting, the owners will kiln the pottery again and glaze it. The finished works can be picked up in a couple weeks. Byul and I noticed a bunch of old pottery left behind from months ago. When Byul asked the owner, she said that when couples break up after making their pottery together, they don’t come and pick them up. Byul and I stayed much longer than anyone else; we took maybe three or four hours to finish the process and, by the time we were done, the basement was beginning to clear out and we were the last ones in the pottery station. As we left, Byul and I noticed that there were a ton of other stations like bracelet making, soap making, matryoshka doll painting, etc. It was really cool. I love crafting so this was right up my alley and Byul and I really enjoyed it.

Mid process




Top view



We then walked around Ssamziegil again. I honestly wasn’t too impressed with Insadong last time I was there, it felt like too much of a tourist trap, and, while it does still feel like that, I at least enjoyed the DIY basement and the atmosphere. Byul and I also had poop-shaped bread so there’s that. Oh, and I found a new Korean artist I really like at one of the shops. It was selling notebooks with her artwork so I wrote her name down. It’s Kim Minji and she works with fairy tales, which I love and have studied. I’m hoping to buy some of her products, like notebooks, somewhere cheaper. We had dinner after leaving the mall. I probably should have gone home to eat because it would have been so much cheaper (Insadong’s an expensive area) but it was late and I was having fun. We had seafood jeon and mackerel for dinner. It was nothing special but it was alright. After dinner, Byul and I went home.


Monday, I skyped my family again. There was a music fest in my hometown this past weekend that I have always gone to so I was super bummed to miss it. It sounds like they had a lot of fun though, so I’m glad. My little sister’s birthday is coming up too so I wished her happy birthday. My mother and brother basically shaved one of my dogs so he looks completely ridiculous but in an adorable way. I miss home still sometimes but I’ve adjusted so much the past three weeks or so. I also went to the market again but this time I tried the one across from the one I usually go to. It’s so much better! I can’t believe I never walked across the street before. It’s much bigger and cleaner and it has a wider variety of food. The only downside is that it doesn’t have the yogurt I like but I can still go to my old one sometimes. It was a good discovery.

That night, I went to dinner with Gilyoung. She’s pretty poor right not so there’s not too much we can do but we went to get seolleongtang which is A) on my list and B) cheapish. We went to a place in Anam, near Korea University, so there were a ton of foreigners there for the summer program. The seolleongtang itself was alright. Of the three foods I tried in this blog entry, it was the best. It basically comes without much seasoning and then the customer adds however much garlic, green onion, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes as they want. So it just tasted like beef stock at first but once I added some pepper and garlic and a lot of salt, green onion, and red pepper flakes, it was actually pretty good. It was addictive. While I couldn’t say it was amazing, I found myself compelled to keep eating it. I finished the entire bowl, down to the last spoon of broth. I wouldn’t pay a lot for it but it was good.


After dinner, Gilyoung and I walked around the area a bit but my legs were chaffing so we took refuge at (where else?) Solbing! Gilyoung wanted me to try something new so we got the Mango/Cheesecake bingsoo. It was pretty good. I’m not huge on chunks of mango but the pureed mango was better and the cheesecake was delicious. Gilyoung and I ended up arguing about strawberries for a while lol. Apparently, strawberries are a winter fruit in Korea and Gilyoung just would not believe me that they’re a summer fruit in America. We ended on a tie because we accepted each other but we have no idea why it’s like that. It was good to see her and talk with her. Of my five mentees at UND, Gilyoung and I get along the best and she’s really easy to talk to. I was also blown away by the prices in the area. I expected it to be around the same price range as Konkuk because they’re both universities but it was super cheap! Apparently, Konkuk is just an expensive area; fuck my life.  Oh, and an old lady tried to compliment me on my subway ride home but I had major trouble trying to understand her pronunciation so it didn’t go too well.

Mango cheesecake bingsoo

Today’s Tuesday so I tutored again. Sunny leaves in less than a month now but it feels like we have so much left to do! She’s actually fun to talk to though because we’re interested in a lot of the same things. I’m going to miss her when she’s gone. Tomorrow, I have dance class so that’s exciting! I didn’t go to the one two weeks ago because I had plans with Jinseong and I didn’t go to last week’s because it was Mamamoo and A) I don’t like them much and B) they don’t dance anyway. But this week is Astro and I love them so I’m going. I don’t think this title track was their strongest but the album is golden and I’m excited to learn the dance anyway. We’ll see how it goes~ 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

New Foods (and other experiences)

Last Thursday, I met up with a former mentee of mine from college. It’s kinda funny because everyone else I haven’t seen in a couple years but I saw Gilyoung about a month ago when school ended. So our meeting wasn’t as dramatic as some of the others. It was more just like “Hey. How’s your month back been?”

Anyway, we met in Hongdae for lunch and went to a place called Hongdae Donburi. It has Hongdae in the name but it’s actually all over Seoul (and Korea). It serves Japanese food and I got the mixed donburi with don katsu and shrimp. It was really, really good. It was just onions, rice, the meats, egg, and some sort of sauce but it was absolutely delicious. I definitely recommend going to Hongdae Donburi if you have the time. It was about 10,000 won, so not too terrible.

After lunch, we decided to wonder around for a bit before going to the bakery because we were both stuffed. There’s always a lot to do in Hongdae so I wasn’t too worried. Seoul is a place for trends and one of the current trends is the claw machine. The claw machine is literally everywhere right now. There are entire stores just with claw machines in them. It seems silly to me; like, this fad can’t possibly last so what are you going to do with your business then? I bring this up because we found a three floor arcade in Hongdae. The whole first floor was claw machines. The second had shooting and driving games, with darts near the front, and the third floor was more familiar games to me, like basketball, air hockey, and Dance Dance Revolution. We played a couple games, and totally sucked at all of them, before leaving so we wouldn’t go broke.

Gilyoung and I walked by some tarot card readers and she asked if I had ever gone. When I told her that I hadn’t (because my Korean wasn’t good enough) but I wanted to, we walked right into one of the stores. I paid 3,000 won to ask a simple question. I asked if I would get a job that I liked within three months. The tarot card lady had me pick out three cards that represented my past, current, and future job luck. Guess what card I managed to draw for my future? The death card. There are 56 cards in a tarot deck and I manage to pick the death card for my professional future. But my past and present looked fine so hey. Gilyoung then asked the lady if my fortune would change so I chose three more cards. According to those, my fortune will change for the better in one month. So the tarot lady recommended that I just stay still and not apply for too many jobs for a month and then try again after that. We left the store with Gilyoung feeling bad and me a little surprised at my own (bad) luck.

On the way to the bakery, we also looked for some clothing for Gilyoung because she wants new dresses. That is another current fad in Korea. Women are wearing spaghetti strap dresses with white T-shirts underneath. That in itself isn’t so surprising because Koreans generally don’t show cleavage but what’s driving me insane is that the women are purposefully making the adjustable straps too long. So instead of the dress fitting like it’s supposed to, it cuts across too low on their boobs or falls to the side or below their chest. It looks absolutely ridiculous and not cute at all. Jihye and I actually talked about this before she left and she says it’s supposed to make them look young. Like, clothes that are too big will make them look younger. I sorta get that, even though it’s a bit creepy, but this doesn’t even look good! I shake my head every time I see a woman with the chest of the dress in the wrong place. Gilyoung actually wanted to buy a dress like that but I vetoed it. She probably has enough sense not to wear the dress with the straps too long but I didn’t want to even risk it.

After shopping, we finally made it over to the bakery I wanted to try. Yay! It’s called Aoitori Bakery and I saw it on a show called Battle Trip. The show was totally boring (I watched because IOI was on it) but the bakery looked delicious! We ordered four buns; a green tea melon bun, a yakisoba bun, a butter-red bean paste bun, and a typical cream bun as a safety net in case the others sucked. We tried the green tea melon bun first. It was pretty good. You couldn’t really taste the melon underneath the green tea flavor and I’m not really a green tea person so even though I enjoyed it, I would try something else next time. We then went for the yakisoba bun, which looked the best on the broadcast. It was so, so good. It’s kinda like someone took a hotdog, removed the sausage and stir fried it with yakisoba, and then put it back in the bun. That sounds really strange but it was super good, I promise. The ginger didn’t blend with the other flavors as well though so, next time, I’ll take off the ginger. Next time I’m in Hongdae, I plan to buy two of the yakisoba buns and bring them home for dinner. The butter-red bean paste was Gilyoung’s favorite. It actually tasted much better than I expected but it’s hard to get past the visual. It looks like they put a small stick of butter in there with a thick line of red bean paste, which dries on the outside and looks even less appealing than usual. Despite all that, it was pretty good. After sharing three buns, Gilyoung and I were full so I took the cream bun home to eat later. We eventually parted ways so Gilyoung could have a late dinner with her brother. I went home and tried the cream bun. It was nothing special but, overall, I was very happy with my Aoitori experience and would go back.

Gilyoung and I + creme bun

butter + red bean paste bun

yakisoba bun :D

green tea melon bun

Friday, I didn’t do anything too exciting. I wrote up my ad to put up, offering tutoring over the summer break to college students. It was Byul’s idea and it sounded like a good plan. I later found out that a lot of the colleges offer free tutoring as part of the tuition so I can’t post on the college sites like I was planning to.

I also mailed a package all by myself! Let’s hear a round of applause. It was not without struggle. I mailed my forms to an FBI channeler to get my background check sent back to me sooner. I think background checks are only necessary for the E-2 (teaching) visa but I’d rather have it just in case. The people at the post office and I worked together to figure the whole mailing process out. It was actually funny because their English was at the same level as my Korean and that meant that we both knew how to say the same phrases in each other’s languages. So, for example, we couldn’t figure out how to say things like “travel insurance” or “customs form” but he would say “this will take 2 weeks” and then I’d repeat that in Korean back to him and then we’d stare at each other trying to figure out the right wording so the other one would understand. It was great. I felt very accomplished after my long trial and promptly texted most of my friends so I could be praised. They mostly teased me about it but I’m still happy.

Saturday, I had lunch with someone I met on the street. Literally. The past Monday night, there was a woman in my subway car that got off at the same station. We walked up through the station together and walked to the same exit. She then went the same way as me and we walked near each other all the way from the station to my street. It was getting extremely awkward so I was getting ready to speed up to pass her when she, Jane, turned to me and said “Hi” in English. We talked for a bit and exchanged Kakao IDs before turning in for the night. Turns out we live like two minutes from each other. After texting, we decided to meet for lunch on Saturday at my favorite dakgabli-bokkeumbap place, 샘터골. I was excited about making a new friend at first but then I remembered that there are a lot of Christian fanatics in Seoul that very actively try to recruit people. I dealt with this a lot two years ago.

So I went to our meeting place with a little trepidation but still looking forward to talking and finally eating one of my favorite dishes. I’ve tried to replicate it in America but we simply don’t cut up chickens that way, so that there’s “chicken ribs” (it’s really throat and shoulder meat). Sure enough, about ten minutes into our meal Jane brings up her church and starts talking about how dedicated she is. It wasn’t anything too crazy; we talked about other things too and I told her I wasn’t religious. She would find ways to bring it up though. Like, when I told her I studied editing, Jane said that she knew some people who edited that I should meet but I could tell from her tone that they were from her church. However, we talked about other things and when I told her I love dogs, she said we should go to a dog café together. So, I thought I got through to her that I had no interest in going to her church. After we finished (delicious), Jane offered to pay and even though I said no, she said I could pay next time so I let it go. As we’re leaving though, she said “My church is actually just this way a bit, if you want to check it out.” I wonder if she thought I’d feel like I had to go since she paid but I have absolutely no intention to get roped into something I don’t want to do. So I said that I was actually going to the market, which was in the other direction. I like her so I’ll still hang out if she wants to but I can’t tell if she just wanted to recruit me. So, for now, I’m going to wait until Jane texts me and we’ll take it from there. It’s almost been a week and she hasn’t texted me so I suspect that’s the end of our relationship. Oh well.

Sunday, I went to the Seodaemun Prison Museum. It was a political prison during both the Japanese colonial era and the dictatorship that followed. It’s not exactly a tourist spot so it was 95% Koreans there. I think the older gentleman who took my ticket was excited to see a foreigner interested in Korean history because, as I’m walking away, he suddenly yells “Hi!” very brightly and waves. I laughed and waved back; he was adorable.

The prison was interesting. It was interesting in the same way the Holocaust Museum is interesting; it’s not fun but it’s important to remember history and the people whose lives were taken. I also learned my word of the day for that day: 고문(gomun), which means torture.

It is of note that the museum had much more information on the Japanese era than the dictatorship era. I don’t think it’s because the Japanese were worse to the prisoners (although I learned some new ways to terrify and hurt somebody), I think it’s just easier to see others as the bad guy instead of your own people. What information there was about the dictatorship era (which was maybe 20%, if I’m being generous, of the exhibits) was not translated into English. All the signs and explanations about the Japanese colonial era were translated into English but none of the stuff about the dictatorship era was. I thought that was a very deliberate decision.

It was a bit surprising to me who Koreans call patriots and heroes during the Japanese era. Many of the prisoners are what we would today call terrorists. There were two signs in the entire place about peaceful protests, one about a labor strike and one about a newspaper. All of the other protests were violent, either robbing or assassinating people. I would honestly understand if it was the Japanese they were murdering but some of these “heroes” killed Koreans who supported the Japanese. That was what surprised me. I can’t imagine praising someone who murdered our own people just because of their way of thinking. However. I also can’t imagine being forbidden to speak my language, being forced to change my name, and seeing my countrymen and women carted off to labor or sex camps. I can’t imagine someone trying to systematically destroy my culture so I don’t get to judge. I didn’t live then and I will never be in the same situation so it’s not my place. I was just surprised, that’s all.


View from lepers' building

"exercise facility" what bull

Prison cells

Torture box so you can neither stand nor sit comfortably

Building underneath gallows where dead bodies where collected (reconstruction)

Pictures of victims


After walking through the prison cells, the torture rooms, and all the facility buildings, I left the museum. I happened to see a map as we left and I’m glad I looked at it because there was a 3.10 memorial and the Independence Gate just a couple blocks away. There was no information online about those so I got lucky that I looked at the map. After looking at those too, I went home.

3.10 Memorial

Way to Independence Gate

Monday, I skyped my parents in the morning. After lunch, I went to see the new bears on K-star road. I actually went to K-star road during my second semester but, hey, I didn’t blog then so I’ll put those pictures here as well. I went back because they added new ones after I left. I like these because they look like giant Mustoy dolls and they’re adorable. I was surprised; while I was taking pictures of the bears, I passed like 10 other groups doing the same thing. I didn’t realize they were so popular so good job Seoul government, I guess. There’s even a tiny gift shop now where you can buy miniature versions of the bears.

2015 (feat. friends Brandon, Emily, and Yubi)




Super Junior

FT Island


Miss A






Poster of Halo while on my way. I will never forget one of the boys running over to me with a poster of himself from his fan club and saying "This me!" It was so freaking adorable; I will always support them just for that.


The new ones were very clearly less planned out than the first 10. The original ones are all very close together and actually have a pink and blue path painted along them. The new ones were much more scattered and had random intervals between them. They just fit the bears where they could. So one might be by a bus stop and then you don't see another for like 500 feet until there are two in front of a shop. Luckily, they have this little tile on the path so you knew you were still going the right way and it hadn't ended.


Infinite. I don't really like Infinite but I really like this design. It was probably my favorite.


Block B


The bears are by Apgujeong Rodeo street in Gangnam. If anyone tries to tell you that Apgujeong is a popular area, they’re lying. Apgujeong has some cool things, especially K-pop related, but it certainly isn’t filled with people or activities like Hongdae, Sinchon, Myeongdong, or Gangnam would be. The station itself is K-pop themed, though. They always have some sort of exhibit going on with lots of posters. Last time I was there, it was AOMG (Jay Park, Simon D, etc) and this time it was GOT7. Many companies have buildings in the area so it’s good marketing for them.

You could take pictures behind GOT7.

Or with each member individually. I thought about taking one just because but I was kinda embarrassed and I don't actually like GOT7 anyway.

List of the exhibits.

List of sponsors. 

It was actually a bit sad looking at the dolls, though. Of the original 10, 4Minute and MissA have disbanded and many of the others are nearing the end (Super Junior, FT Island, SNSD, and 2PM for example). Even in the new ones they just installed in 2016, Kara has disbanded and AOA is in crisis. Infinite is also in contract talks so we’ll see what’s happening there. There’s been a big shift in K-pop this last year or two and it’s not over yet. For someone who’s been a fan since 2009, it’s sad and it’s taking some getting used to.

Tuesday and Thursday, I tutored Sunny and didn’t do much else. She lives an hour away by subway from my place so it’s an event going to tutor her. We continued working on prepositions, spelling, expanding her vocabulary, and essay writing this week. We worked on the on/in/at prepositions this week and she had a little more trouble with them so I’m glad we went over which one to use in which situation. She needs more help writing essays, from brainstorming on, than I expected so I might do an essay a week with her; we’ll see, that might be too much.

Wednesday, I met up with Jinseong, who I did the escape the room with last week. Joohee wasn’t there this time because she started her job in Wonju this week! I’m proud of her but it also sucks because she’ll barely get to hang out now. Jinseong and I were going to meet for lunch but we switched it to dinner because there were heat warnings out (there should be heat warnings every goddamn day). We went to a samgyetang place because it’s on my list of food to try. Samgyetang is like a healthy soup with Chinese herbs, a whole chicken, jujubes, and garlic. I was actually disappointed in the samgyetang. It looks so healthy and interesting that I expected the taste to match the visual but it was actually bland. It tasted like chicken noodle soup but without the MSG or the noodles. We drank ginsaeng shots with it, which are also supposed to be healthy, but that tasted disgusting.


After dinner, Jinseong wanted to go to some bar that he heard was really good so we walked there. He said it was kind of far, which I assumed meant like 15 minutes, but actually meant like three stations away and more like 45 minutes. We got there eventually, after walking through a sketchy factory neighborhood. Even if I remembered the name, I wouldn’t tell you because it was pretty unimpressive. The interior design was nice and all but the beer wasn’t that good. I don’t drink much, actually. A) it’s expensive B) I don’t like the taste and C) I’m not a fun drunk; I just get tired. So if Jinseong was looking to get turnt up, it didn’t happen lol. We just talked over some beers. Jinseong is having a bit of a hard time in his life right now but he’s one of the few guys I understand and have fun talking to so I was glad we met up. He left Thursday to go to Busan to get a surgery.

Once I finished Jinseong’s second beer (it tasted like coffee and he didn’t like the bitterness), we went to get ice cream. Jinseong wanted to get Baskin Robbins but, like, is Baskin Robbins ever good? I vetoed that and then we couldn’t find a different ice cream place so we went to get bingsoo at Solbing. At Konkuk, there are two Solbings right across the street from each other but they were both completely packed. We managed to get a spot at the slightly less popular one. Jinseong wanted to get the melon bingsoo but I hate melon so I asked for anything else. (I’m realizing a trend here). He eventually ordered the injeolmi (bean powder?) bingsoo, which I was fine with because I like that one lots. We eat bingsoo in the same way – yes, there are different methods – and I was glad to find someone else who uses all the condensed milk. We talked some more but his girlfriend was starting to text him constantly about why he was still out (it was like 11) so we left right after we finished our bingsoo. He offered to walk me home but I’m a big girl so I told him to go home before his girlfriend tries to track him down. She wants us all to hang out sometime, I think to check me out, so I’m hoping we become friends. But that won’t be for like three weeks because Jinseong has to go to his hometown. Another one of my friends is leaving me~! *dramatic wailing and self-pity* On an unselfish note, I hope his surgery goes well.

Friday is today and I mostly did chores and adult-y things. I went to the market, did my laundry, applied for three jobs, and wrote this blog. So it’s been a pretty productive day. I was originally supposed to meet up with Byul today but she has her license test tomorrow so she wanted to go to bed early. We’re going to meet on Monday instead. That’s okay because I needed a day to do my laundry. It was also extremely hot and humid today so I was happy I didn’t need to go outside much. The humidity added more than 10 degrees to the Real Feel temperature. Nasty. Anyway, it’s been a pretty good couple of weeks and I’m adapting much better. I feel really good. Tomorrow, Soojung and I are going to an interactive art exhibit put on by TeamLab and we’re going to a restaurant where you eat in the dark. I’m also hoping to pick up some Korean novels translated in English in Jamsil. Oh, and I have to go to a concert area to pick up some goods for a friend’s friend. What an awesome person I am.