I’ve decided to start a new series called Korean Survival Skills, for those of you who may be so brave to travel to Korea without proficiency in Korean. In Korea, it’s quite necessary to know how to speak the language to get anything done, but if you’re feeling feisty, read my guide and hopefully you’ll be able to order successfully! Let me know how it goes!
Caution: I’m not a fluent speaker by any means. These are just the basics I’ve learned through experience. If I mess up the grammar or phrasing, please let me know and I will fix it. The romanization isn’t the standard way to romanize, but I made it so that it sounds most logical to English-speaking ears.
[At your arrival]
Waiter: 몇분이세요? (myot bun i seyo) [How many people are there?]
You: 한(두/셋/넷/다섯/여섯/일곱/여덜/아홉/열) 분이에요 (han/du/set/net/tahsot/yeosot/ilgop/ahop/yeol – bun i eyo) [One/two/three/four/five/six/seven/eight/nine/ten people]
Waiter: 이쪽으로 오세요. (I jjokero ohseyo) [Come this way]
(Calling over the waiter) You: 저기요! (cho ggi yo) [Excuse me (lit. over there)]
Waiter: 뭘 주문하시겠어요? (mwol chumunhashigessoyo) [What would you like to order?]
Here you have several options.
If you’re ordering something with numbers, you can say –
# 번 (하고 # 번) 주세요 (# bon hago # bon chuseyo) [Please give me number # and number #)
And the #’s – 일 (il/one), 이 (i/two), 삼 (sam/three), 사 (sah, four), 오 (oh, five), 육 (yu, six), 칠 (chil, seven), 팔 (pal, eight), 구 (ku, nine), 십 (ship, ten), 십일 (shibil, eleven), 십이 (shibi, twelve), 십삼 (shibsam, thirteen)….
And if you’re not ordering with numbers, just replace the # signs with the name of the food.
If you’re ordering BBQ, the way they sell meat is in the servings per person. So if you have four+ people, you’re supposed to order four+ servings, but some places you can get away with ordering two or three, if you’re lucky.
You: 불고기 사인분 주세요 (pulgogi sa in bun chuseyo) [Four servings of bulgogi, please]
불고기 is really popular, but you can replace it with 갈비(kalbi) or 삼겹살 (samgyopsal).
Three orders of meat: 삼인분 (sam in bun)
Five orders: 오인분(oh in bun)
[During the meal]
If you want more water – 여기 물 좀 더 주세요 (yoggi muul jom doh chuseyo)
If you want some hand wipes – 물수건 좀 주세요 (muul sugohn chuseyo)
If you want to order more food – (name of food) 하나 더 주세요 ( _____ hana doh chuseyo)
[At the end of the meal]
If you want the bill – 계산서 주실래요? (kyesanso jushillaeyo?)
OR 지금 계산할게요 (chigeum kyesan halkaeyo) [We’ll take the bill now]
If there’s anything I missed that you would like to know, let me know in the comments and I’ll add it! Again, if there are any mistakes, please let me know!
One of the main things I love about Korean culture is their food. Before I went to Korea, I hadn’t eaten too much Korean food, just bibimbap and Korean BBQ. But even then, I knew I loved the vibrant colors and intense flavor of Korean food.
One of the best things about living in Korea is being able to eat so much cheap, delicious Korean food just by stepping outside your doorstep. In every part of Seoul (and other cities, I’m sure), there are amazing little restaurants in every street corner owned by families – they’re cheap, authentic, delicious. I found it very difficult to find a restaurant in which I had a BAD meal. Plus, Korean restaurants (along with many other restaurants in Asia) don’t charge tax or tip, so it’s really easy and convenient just to eat out basically everyday.
Some of my favorite Korean dishes were kimchi jjigae, pudae jjigae, pajeon, and labbokki. I loved pretty much everything I ate in Korea, but these were the standouts for me.
Last week I decided to make some Korean food. Now, this is a big step for me, seeing as I groan whenever my mom asks me to try cooking. Cooking to me has always been a bit of a chore, because you need to go out and buy specific ingredients, and without the right ingredients, the food won’t taste right. I basically make only ramen and spaghetti, the two easiest foods to make. But seeing as I love Korean food, and that the closest yummy Korean restaurant is over 30 minutes away, I decided to give cooking Korean food myself a go.
So since I explained to you that I kind of hate cooking and that I have very little experience, I thought it’d be best for me to try an easy dish for my first Korean experiment. I chose Kimchi jjigae because it’s pretty simple – you just put kimchi and some other simple ingredients into a pot and let it simmer for a bit, and voila! You have kimchi jjigae. I have to give a lot of credit to Maangchi for her Korean recipes, because without them, I wouldn’t even had the confidence to try making anything. Her recipes are simple and easy-to-follow, and she often includes videos, which is very helpful.
Here are my kimchi jjigae ingredients:
And here’s my kimchi jjigae after being boiled:
It turned out a lot sweeter than it’s supposed to be (it’s not supposed to be sweet, more sour), so I’ll have to work on that for the future. Also, I used the wrong tofu – it’s supposed to be the slick, smooth one, but I bought tofu that said it was “soft” on the cover – clearly smooth and soft are not the same things. But my parents said they thought it was really delicious, so I was pleased ^^
Next, I tackled kkatdugi because my mom randomly brought me home a radish from the store. So I went on Maangchi’s site again, and of course, there was a recipe for kkatdugi (cubed radish kimchi). The ingredients required for this kimchi are really commonplace – garlic, ginger, green onions – so you won’t have to go too out of your way to buy them. The one weird ingredient that it calls for that I’d never heard of before is fish sauce. Apparently we had some in our garage that we never even opened. Go figure.
Here are the ingredients pre-mixing.
And here’s post-mixing:
I have yet to try it because it’s supposed to ferment outside for several days, so I will update you later once I taste it!
Hope you guys enjoyed this blog post and if you want me to try making any other Korean food, please let me know and I will try my best!
So, it’s officially the halfway point of my stay here in Korea. I have two months left. At this point, I am tempted to do two things: 1) reflect on what I’ve done so far and 2) mope over all I haven’t done and won’t be able to do in the remaining two months.
But I will not do such things. I CANNOT do such things. My remaining time here is limited, and I must make the most of it. The simplest things here, such as the plethora of beautiful cafes, random food sellers on the street, cutesy accessory and clothes stores, and the simple existence of Asians (especially Koreans) everywhere, make me so happy and make me feel that no matter what I was doing here in the future, I would love to live here in Seoul.
Something I’ve been feeling lately – I’m so close to everything (kpop stars are living a couple subway stops from me! There are so many Korean guys but I’m too shy to actually talk to them!) but at the same time, so far away. What did I come here to do? There are so many things I wanted to do when thinking about coming here, but I really haven’t done a great many of those things. Sometimes I feel a little bit disappointed about my experience here so far – I have friends who have actually seen kpop stars up close, I have friends who have actually gotten into live music shows, I have friends who have had Korean guys actually taken in interest in them, and the list could go on and on, but I know this is really destructive behavior and that I should just stop right here.
The solution to this all is to just stay here. But I know I can’t do that…at least not for now. My plan for now is to go back to the States after this semester and finish my bachelor’s degree and then come back here to teach English while taking intensive Korean classes. And then I will pursue my acting career here. I’m still a bit iffy about this – it will take more than a little bit of perseverance and dedication to make it as an actress here, and I know myself more than anyone else – I have a weak will. My heart yearns for so much, but my body can only handle so much. Therein lies my greatest dilemma. Stay in the States and have it easy or come back to Seoul and live in what someone told me yesterday was a “exciting hell”? So true, so true – Seoul is exciting in so many ways, but at the same time, its fast-paced atmosphere can sometimes become overwhelming.
I went to Myeongdong with my friend Simon last Friday. Here are some happy pictures and we had kalguksu at a really famous place! It’s really well-prepared noodles with mandu :) And the kimchi was amazing!
What am I doing here? Where am I going? These days I feel really lost and without answers…but maybe that’s the point…
Yesterday I took my camera with me (and my friend) and just walked around Hongdae taking random pictures of interesting-looking buildings and things. Here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure.
I somehow stumbled upon the Coffee Prince coffee shop! It’s right behind the Hello Kitty on the hill. Here are some pictures.
And then we settled into Toms N Toms, which is just like my familiar Starbucks, but it had 3 floors, so it was nice and lovely. Because the day had kind of gone south, I got a honey bread thing to compensate. It is so cute-looking and delicious at the same time. I almost didn’t know what to do with it. I mean, just look:
And then we went home. But not until after I got some delicious street food. Actually, the 2nd time I was eating street food, a car crashed into me. Or rather, my backpack. It was so unbelievable, and I almost didn’t feel it too. But even though the windows of the car were tinted, I could see the driver and front-seat passenger bowing to me in apology. I waved my hand, as if to say ‘No problem!,’ in a daze. And that was my day. Actually Saturday was much more exciting, but I’ll update about that later. Until next time!~
So last Friday I finally got my butt down to Yeouido, where the KBS Broadcasting Station is located, to see Music Bank.
Now I have to precursor you guys on what it means to “see” Music Bank (or any other music show). Each artist/group has to do about 15-30 minutes of pre-recording before the live show, which starts at 6 pm (for Music Bank). The recordings start late morning and end before the live show. Each group that is performing that week, whether it be Super Junior or F.T. Island, or whoever else, has to pre-record their performance several times before the start of the live show, so that instead of rushing between set changes, some groups might not get to perform it live during the live show (I’m not sure who doesn’t get to perform…I might have to get back to you on that one).
Getting into the pre-recordings: It’s not hard to get into the pre-recordings. All you have to do is show up at the KBS Station about 2 hours before the start of pre-recording with a copy of the latest album of the group you want to see. You will almost always need this in order to get in. Go to the person in charge of the fan club (they will probably be wearing a badge that says they are fan club staff) and tell them you want to see the show. Show them your album, and they will collect your name and (in my case) write a number on your wrist. And then all you have to do is wait until the pre-recording starts, and then enter with everyone else :)
What to do in the pre-recording: The authorities say no photography or videos once you’re inside the KBS Building, and if you’re caught, you will probably be thrown out. They’re kind of strict about this. My friend, however, sneaked a picture inside the studio…so it is possible, if you’re sly enough. Fangirls (in my experience, a lot more girls than guys love kpop) are SO crazy. When I went to see Infinite, the girls around me were all screaming the members’ names at the top of their lungs, and waving incessantly, in the attempt to have the members wave and smile at them. And the fan chants during the actual pre-recording performances are so intense. Half the time my ears were bleeding from the fangirl screams. It’s like you’re at a sports match or something….maybe this is the sports culture of Korea :o
About the live show: I’ve never had any experience getting into the live show, and none of my friends have had either. For Music Bank, Music Core, and Inkigayo, there’s apparently some lottery system online for getting tickets. This most certainly requires a Korean social security number, which none of us have. There really must be another way to get tickets to the live show, but I just haven’t figure it out yet. I hear that Music Core is possible, but you’d have to get there really in the morning, and right now I don’t have that kind of patience. I will update later if I get any more information.
Now, finally let’s get to my experience!
So I got to the KBS Station via the National Assembly station on Line 9 (next to Yeouido). Unfortunately I don’t quite remember the exit I took right at this moment, but I will update with that information later. The KBS building is quite close to the subway, only about a 5-10 minute walk away. When you get to the KBS Station, make a right at the first intersection (after the traffic bars) and walk straight until you see a sign for KBS Hall (written in Korean), turn left, and walk up the stairs. It’s like an open space with a roof overhead, and the entrance to the recording studio is to the right. Find the fan club staff roaming around in that area.
This is what the place looked like when I got there (the entrance is actually on the left side of this picture):
And we waited a longer than I thought we would, actually. We were supposed to enter for Infinite at around 2:30 and I think we waited all the way until 4:10 pm…and I might’ve caught a cold, but it’s so worth it. INFINITE!!
And once we got in, I was so amazed. The studio was a lot smaller than I thought, but the set was beautiful! Really gorgeous. They were promoting Paradise, which I think is a great song. The choreography is really smooth, less intense than the Be Mine choreo, but great nonetheless. And the boys…well, they were a lot smaller than I thought they would be. They were sooo skinny, like malnutritioned kids from a third world country. Yes, I did just have to make that comparison. They looked exactly the same as they did on camera, so that was a happy surprise. Myungsoo looked really tired, so he was the only one who was not really waving back at us, but all the others were really enthusiastic at waving and smiling at us. It was a really good experience. I really didn’t want it to end, but sure enough, after 3 takes, the security guards were ushering us out the door. They were a bit rude about it too, but oh well.
Afterwards, we went to Handel & Gretel, which is the little cafe owned by Yesung (from Super Junior)’s parents. It’s right outside the main KBS gate – you cannot miss it. It was beyond adorable, but it was tiny as hell. We had to sit outside in the cold >___< Here are some pictures of the place.
And there’s the conclusion of my first attempt at going to Music Bank! I will actually be going back again this week, and seeing if I can get any more information. Hope this was helpful and I love reading comments, so please do comment below!
So…this is something I’ve been meaning to write about for a while, but just never got the chance to do it, or had enough reason to do so. But finally I feel like it is time to address this situation.
The situation I’m referring to is…the nightlife culture in Korea. Now, I will tell you off the bat that I’m not a drinker. I was not a drinker in America, nor did I ever desire to drink alcohol. I don’t enjoy the taste of alcohol; I don’t enjoy the results of alcohol consumption; and so I’ve never enjoyed drinking culture and I tend to stay far, far away from it. But here in Korea, the drinking age is 19 and everyone who’s in college drinks. And it’s not like at a frat or house party once or twice a week. People in Korea drink every single day of the week, at restaurants, at bars, at clubs, everywhere in which they can get their hands on alcohol. To them, alcohol (a bottle of beer or soju) is as common as drinking Coke or iced tea back home. They enjoy it for the pleasure and they enjoy it for the social bonding rewards. However, I don’t enjoy either of these things, and in addition, I have a slightly ridiculous alcohol allergy which turns my whole body bright red (it looks like a rash) whenever I do drink, and it’s not pleasant in the least. So you can just about guess how I’m feeling whenever my friends (both Korean and non-Korean) want to go bar-hopping or clubbing.
At first I thought to myself, “Just try it. Everyone drinks here. It’s so simple. Just take the shot glass and drink it. What’s the harm?” But after a few nights of social drinking, I remembered why I stayed away from alcohol in the first place. It doesn’t sit well with my body and I don’t enjoy the taste at all. Am I just destined to be socially outcasted while all my friends have so much fun together, drinking and partying?
I’m not sure. I’m a bit worried. I’ve never felt truly socially pressured to do things that are considered acceptable, because I’m very comfortable with myself and I know what things are important to me. But the drinking culture here in Korea is really so prominent that it makes it hard to ignore.
Some friends say, why not just come drinking with us but not actually drink? It’s more about the company anyway. But to me, it’s not the same. When you drink, you’re not on the same level as sober people. You find the most mundane things more humorous or ridiculous, and you connect more to people who are similarly intoxicated. Sitting there with a glass of water while my friends are all drinking is not my idea of fun, and I will fight you to the death if you believe that drinking alcohol is the primary way of having fun in life. There are many things I love to do, such as shopping, playing board games, trying new restaurants, learning languages, and meeting new people – all things that do not require nor are improved by alcohol consumption. I sincerely believe that for me, alcohol is not a positive thing, but a hindrance to all that I want to experience and accomplish in life.
So in the meantime, while I am doubting my future existence in Korea due to my incongruence with Korean drinking culture, I stick true to my beliefs and views. If you have anything you would like to say, please, I welcome your input in the comments below. With that said, no blatantly negative comments, please.
I’m feeling a bit better since the sad blog posts I’ve made this past week. Life has been slightly better/easier, and it’s finally the weekend, so my mood is naturally better. Good thing I’m only taking 4 classes and that I have Fridays off. Three-day-weekend every week!! So this Friday, some friends and I decided to visit the Hello Kitty Cafe in Hongdae and explore the area a bit. Hongdae is a bit like Myeongdong and Apgujeong but less expensive, I think. There are a lot of food places, shops, but mostly, it’s known for its popping night life. There are tons of bars and clubs everywhere in Hongdae, and it’s where all the young people spend their nights. But we came to Hongdae to visit the Hello Kitty Cafe, and it definitely did not disappoint me. The pink abound was kind of overwhelming actually.
So I had to make a post about all the bad things here. It’s Tuesday and it’s only been two days since classes started, but it’s been a nightmare trying to get everything sorted.
KU has only been accommodating exchange students for six years, versus Yonsei University, which has been accommodating foreign students for over 25 years. So KU’s Center for Global Studies department (the one that helps us get everything we need to get settled here) is not too organized or experienced. Thus, as study abroad students, we’ve not received the best and most up-to-date information. In addition, KU accepted about 1000 exchange students this year and they’ve only had 500 in previous years, so I think they were really unprepared to accommodate so many foreign students this year. This resulted in many classes being really full.
I haven’t attended any of my courses that are taught in English at KU yet, so I’m going to just comment on the Korean Language courses. I decided to sign up for Korean Language for Beginners I and Basic Speaking for Korean Language. In both classes we had to take a placement test to place us among the other students in this class. The Korean Language for Beginners I had over 150 students registered, so the teacher decided to split the class into 5 or 6 groups, or “streams,” depending on their Korean level. I ended up getting an interview and getting into the “most advanced stream” but she said it’d be a bit difficult for me. That’s okay – I’m planning on working really hard to improve my Korean. As for the Basic Speaking class, there was a very simply oral quiz that placed us either in 1) no knowledge of Korean language or 2) very little knowledge of Korean language, which was a lot less stressful.
If you know consonants and how to make basic sentences only, you should take the beginning Korean classes at KU. The Beginning II class actually requires you to know a bit more Korean – they don’t speak English in class at all, so be prepared if you are trying to take anything higher than the very basic Korean Language courses – they will make you take a placement test.
The only Korean I know is the basic stuff I learned from TalktomeinKorean.com – a great resource, by the way. Very easy to understand and really helpful information. However, I’ve never taken an actual Korean language course at school or anywhere – I’m totally self-taught up until now, so my Korean is very, very basic. I can say simple sentences like my age, my ethnicity, what country I come from, and basic sentences in present, past, and future tense.
I’m taking two Media classes at KU – Popular Culture and Understanding Digital Society. I have yet to take them, so I will update with reviews of these two classes. In the meanwhile, I’m living off of $2 meals at the school cafeteria – it’s pretty cheap (not delicious) and studying Korean in my spare time. There are a bunch of parties at clubs that sound interesting, but all of them have cover fees (from 10,000-30,000 Won – waaaay too much), so I’m not even going to bother.
Gonna go sleep now ~
Today was our first day in Seoul. As part of our AsiaLearn Bridging Cultures Program, we took a bus around various parts of Seoul. We went to the National Museum, the largest museum in Korea. And then we had lunch. I had bibimbap.
And then I had bibimbap ONCE AGAIN. Everyone got bibimbap this time. Ridiculousness. So much bibimbap. I will never eat it AGAIN!! …Just not in the next couple of days. I think I liked the dinner bibimbap better.
And it was our beloved Jei’s 21st birthday, so we celebrated it with a cake from Baskin Robbins. It was made of frozen yogurt, ice cream, cheesecake?, cherries, etc but it was soo delicious. We just dug in.
We were going to go to a noraebang for Jei’s birthday, but we were all so fracking tired by the time we got back to our dorm, that we just all bonked out immediately. We’re going to Busan in the morning, so we need to pack and then go to the train at 8 AM, bright and early!
Nightie night <3