Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Images of Seoul

I'm organizing all of my pictures from Korea and I found a random assortment from Seoul that I haven't put up yet:

New apartment complex near the express bus terminal in Gangnam

outside the National Museum of Contemporary Art



Seoul Auction House



Monday, July 28, 2008


To say that my relationship with Korean food has had its ups and downs is a bit of an understatement. I love food and considered myself an open-minded eater before I came to Korea. It took a long time for me to adjust to eating Korean food daily and an even longer time to actually appreciate it. Now I realize that there are many Korean foods that I honestly enjoy and will miss not being able to have regularly (and as cheaply) in America.

When I'm in Seoul I normally avoid Korean food, since I eat it every day in Cheongju. Well well. I found that I missed it during my week in Seoul, so I went to a couple of Korean restaurants to satisfy my (new and surprising) cravings.

This was my 8 dollar Thursday lunch at a small restaurant in Insadong, the traditional culture area of Seoul.

Yes, it's boiling when brought to the table.

This is a marinated beef soup with mushrooms and spring onions.

The side dishes in detail:

Pickles with a spicy sauce

Lightly steamed sprouts and greens


Zucchini sauteed with onions

Ome-rice is actually a Japanese food, but it's caught on big in Korea. This was my 6 dollar Sunday lunch from the food basement of the Hyundai Department Store .

The side dishes include pickles, pickled radishes and cold kimchi soup.

It's basically a fluffy omelet filled with rice and served with curry sauce. This is just one type of omerice; others have cream or other type of sauces.


Pat Bingsu is a perfect summer treat. There are many variations and I think they're all delicious!

Shaved ice, sweet black beans, fruit and a small dish of vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Updates: Me!


According to my cellphone organizer's "D-Day" function, I have 28 more days to spend in the "Land of the Morning Calm". After spending 507 days in Korea, I could make a good argument that this is not the most appropriate nickname for the country. I will refrain from doing so right now, however, because I am focusing my energy on anticipating my return to America.

July 4th

Celebrating a distinctly national holiday in a foreign country is challenging and often inspires ambivalence about one's own country. One is expected to show dedication to and enthusiasm for the same country that one deliberately left. Any trouble one has in adjusting to the foreign country only accentuates the awkwardness.

My troubled relationship with Korea and impending return to America made this July 4th no easier. Although I am excited- okay, practically giddy- about being back in America, anxiety about the economy and political issues is casting a shadow over my return. From afar, America seems broken. What is it going to be like for me when I'm back? My impatience to return is based on more personal concerns, like family, friends, open communication, and food. (I anticipate that my blog will become a showcase for all my cooking and baking exploits.) But just as much as I am eager to return to America, I'm also eager to leave Korea. I've had enough. I find the continued protests against American beef in Seoul aggravating; they compound my feelings of alienation and disconnect. A holiday like July 4th is supposed to promote unity and counter feelings of disconnect by emphasizing shared values. This Independence Day highlighted my ambivalence towards both America and Korea, but it made me think that I'll find satisfaction in working on a way to connect with America and American society once I return.


I managed to find an "apple pie" for July 4th. It was actually more of a galette and I bought it at a French pastry shop, but it served its symbolic purpose.

On Saturday, we went to a baseball game in Daejeon. For some reason, all the tickets were free and the stadium was packed, so we had to sit on some stairs in the outfield. The 3rd base coach was blocking our view of the batter and it was an incredibly humid day, but we still had fun!

On Sunday, we went to Hwayang Valley to go swimming at a river. Koreans don't wear bathing suits. They go into the water fully clothed. Only a couple of men took off their shirts. It's very strange. The water was lukewarm, but we were just happy to have access to water on such a hot and humid day.
Update: Minimum Wage

Although the Minimum Wage Council was petitioning for a 26% raise in minimum wage, the new figure for minimum wage will be 4,000 won (approximate $3.80) an hour. This is only a 6% increase. According to The Korea Times, about 2 million people live on minimum wage; this figure represents 13% of employees in Korea.