A few weeks ago, my friend Miranda and I ventured to Ikseongdong and Insadong for an afternoon of exploring. These areas of Seoul are full of Korean Hanok homes and traditional art, clothing and tea houses. You must visit this part of Seoul on your next visit to South Korea.
On our way to find a cafe, we walked past a fortune dispenser along a tiny alleyway in Ikseongdong. Miranda very kindly lent me the dollar (1000 KRW) to get my fortune, too (I’m not a big cash carrier). We decided to go with our Chinese zodiac rather than our horoscope sign. I am born in the year of the rat (in case you were curious). After inserting the money, and out popped a ball with my magical fortune inside. The plastic snap-fit ball was reminiscent of those from a gumball machine that actually dispenses tiny toys that usually ended up in someone’s mouth and on the local news.
The fortune was all in Korean and it was nonsense, but it was fun to have a nice day out with a friend in a place I haven’t been to since 2017!
If you’re like me and you have a penchant for Japanese architecture, art and serene water features, then I have found the museum for you. Jeju Island is full of art and design if you know where to find it. Luckily for you, I have written this post to give you a hint. So, all you art lovers should head to the Bonte Museum the next time you find yourself wandering around Jeju Island wondering what to do with yourself. Here are the details:
The museum houses a range of contemporary and traditional art which breaks up the viewing experience nicely. You can wander from a room full of historical Korean artefacts and then head into Kusama Yayoi’s Infinity Room. The design of the museum frames the surrounding beauty of Jeju beautifully with its concrete walls and water features. It is no wonder that the word ‘bonte’ means original form
With five galleries, a cafe and a gift shop, everyone is bound to find something to love about Bonte Museum! Let me know about your travels by following me on Instagram, YouTube or by leaving a comment below!
We travelled to Bonte Museum in part 2 of our Jejumoon (Jeju Honeymoon) series. But watch them both here and don’t forget to subscribe!
Blob Opera is a gem I discovered on Google Arts and Culture this morning when I should have been working. It was created by David Li in collaboration with Google Arts and Culture and is an AI Experiment.
Li enlisted the help of real opera singers to teach a machine learning model how to be an opera singer. Li’s algorithm is called a convolutional neural network and was trained using 16 hours of opera singing recorded by 4 opera singers.
You can play around with the blobs and record your own song, or you can go on a tour of the world to hear the sounds of other cultures. By clicking on the globe at the bottom right of the page, you can click on ‘Seoul, South Korea’ or 5 other cities around the globe. Then, you can choose to have the Blob Opera sing three different Korean folk songs! The songs are ‘Arirang’ (‘My Beloved One’), ‘Han River’ and ‘Doraji Taryeong’ (named after the Platycodon flower).
I am a huge fan of anything that combines art and machine learning. I regularly check out Google Arts and Culture and Experiments with Google. Check them out if you have time! Maybe something I make will end up there one day, who knows!
Nobody likes furniture shopping, especially not when you are an ex-pat in a new foreign country. Unless you have a lot of money and boatloads of spare time. After this blog post blows up the internet, maybe I’ll have some of that. When I first came to Seoul, I had no idea how to buy furniture for our tiny apartment. Now that I’ve been here for two years, I know a thing or two about the best places to shop for furniture here in Korea both online and offline.
Last year, I briefly worked in a Korean company as an interior designer. We are all still scratching our heads and trying to figure out how that happened. I learned a thing or two about how not to buy furniture. I was a terrible interior designer. But here’s some advice that doesn’t suck.
Where to buy cheap-ish furniture in-store in South Korea
Full disclosure, I am a huge fan of furniture and homewares. If you are just after basics to get by with, check out Facebook groups and also Craigslist Seoul. But, if you are buying new bits, these are some of the places I have purchased cheap items from or dreamed of buying from (in no particular order).
You can buy cheap furniture in Korea at Lotte Mart, H&M Home (I like the one in Yongsan), IKEA, Emart Grocery Stores and Zara Home (My favourite location is at IFC Mall in Yeoido)
Special mention for homewares goes to…
Jaju is one of my FAVOURITE homewares stores in Korea. ‘Jaju’ in Korean means ‘often’, so they sell all of those items in your home that you use often. It is very much like a Korean version of Muji but with more colour and more of a Scandinavian feeling. If you are looking for storage solutions, textiles, cookware, kitchen utensils, rubbish bins and other small storage furniture, definitely check out Jaju. Most Emart supermarkets have a Jaju located in their stores. Jaju is owned by Shinsegae who also own Emart supermarkets.
So, if you are sick of buying cheap, low-quality items from Daiso, hit up Jaju! They also have cute pyjamas and clothing items which I am currently eyeing up!
Where to buy furniture in South Korea online
There are so many great sites in Korea for buying furniture online. If Korean is not your strong suit, I recommend viewing these sites in your browser. If you look at them in your browser, you can easily translate the pages into English to help you navigate to the products you need.
These are just some of my favourite places to buy furniture online in Korea. I have used most of these sites so I can definitely recommend them. You may need someone’s help ordering things online if you are new to Korea!
Where to buy mid-range furniture in Korea (in-store and online)
Muji – Great products but they are quite pricey and there are very limited styles
Hanssem – One of the top furniture brands in Korea and is kind of similar to IKEA. Hanssem has showrooms all around Korea with a range of low-price to mid-range furniture. Hanssem has amazing customer service in-store, I can highly recommend them if you are buying new pieces for your home.
iloom – I have never shopped with iloom but they are another top brand in Korea. I personally really love some of their designs but I have no experience with their website or customer service.
Casamia – I have never shopped here but I often go into their stores to gawk at their huge sofas and beautiful styling. Keep an eye out for their sales!
We bought our bedhead and mattress from Brandless last year and we absolutely love it. They are really affordable and have a lot of showrooms around Korea for you to go and test out their beds. Definitely my favourite bed store in Korea!
Want to see my house?
Last year, I made a video touring my house here in South Korea! A lot has changed since we filmed it so I’m thinking I might need to make another one.
More home content:
If you have some more tips and tricks about furniture shopping in Korea, help a girl out below.
It is almost mind-boggling to think that almost 4 years ago I came to Seoul for the first time. During that time, I had a view from my AirBnb overlooking the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP). Shortly after my arrival, I fell immediately in love with Seoul. It is around that same time that I started writing this very blog! The posts about that time are all archived away somewhere on this site, in a place we may never find. Oh wait, I just found one about the DDP. You can see it by clicking here!
Last night I found myself back at the DDP for work. It was as though the past-me could picture the life I have for myself now. That’s what made me so excited… Somehow she knew I’d be back here. Who knew it would be for helping my company film Holographic Reality video content! I doubt she knew, she was drunk on the floor of her AirBnb drinking grape flavoured soju.
All of these memories came flooding back to me last night and I gave my present-day self a little pat on the back. I wanted to thank my past self for always seeking the opportunities that felt right and for following her curiosities. If I keep along this path, who knows where I might end up!? Most likely back on the floor drinking soju from a slightly higher shelf.
With my company working from home, I have been given the gift of time. The two hours per day that I would have been spent shuffling on and off crowded buses are now being put to better use. I have been drawing more, cooking more, doing more home workouts, and I finally watched The Queen’s Gambit like the Netflix sheep that I am. In fact, I was able to draw so much that I actually got the point where I was happy with my work! This is a cool new feeling for me, the control freak perfectionist that I am.
I work as a UX/UI designer during the 9 to 5 workweek (well, 9 to 7 if you work in South Korea like me), which involves a lot of drawing, ideating and general creativity. This leaves me with a lot of motivation to do my own thing outside of work, but not a lot of energy to finish my personal creative projects. Now that I am a professional creative, my hobbies are starting to feel like a missed financial opportunity. I keep thinking of ways I can turn my hobbies into“side hustles” (ugh), rather than on how I can improve my ~process. This is evident from my failing YouTube channel, a blog with few readers, and multiple subpar Instagram accounts.
This is when the idea of becoming a Samsung Galaxy Theme designer really started to look like a golden opportunity. I could use my newfound ability to like my artwork, and possibly make money from selling it. Samsung Galaxy Themes are basically a wallpaper, font and icon design that you can purchase or download for free for your Samsung phone. I came across the application process for designing these themes in early November 2020 and took note of the dates for submission. The applications are only accepted during four window dates throughout the year. This was finally my chance to turn my hobbies into a “side hustle”.
With all of my creative gusto and energy from not having to interact with humans on buses, in cafes or offices, I got to work on my theme design. Despite all of this energy, I of course did the entire application in about 4 hours, the day before the deadline (stay true to yourself). Now that I have been rejected, I am hyped for my next submission! So hyped, in fact, that I am here writing this post and going to help others submit their themes and by doing so further reduce my own chances of being accepted. Wait, that doesn’t sound right? We’re here now, so let’s get into the process.
Merry Christmas, loyal followers. Because 2020 has been such a brain explosion to us all, I gave up on presents and gifts and general good-human-ing. I’ve been so tied up in my own little world that the festive season and the looming new year have come around without me noticing. If months were refundable, I’d definitely want at least $70 of my life back from December 2020.
As a way to make myself feel like a better person, I’ve made a post with some fun downloadable artwork for your phone wallpaper! Just pretend it’s 2009, your new Nokia is fresh out of the box, and your 90th favourite internet person has sent you floral patterns for your wallpaper! What a gift!
I have a very small following so I trust you, my viewer, to use these images responsibly (i.e. I won’t see my images on your IG or used anywhere without permission. I expect you will only use them for a hot minute, if at all, before you go back to Snoopy or your fave Kakao friend). Ugh, don’t you hate a copyright disclaimer. Do I even need to say it? Such a buzz kill.
Anyway, if you choose to use my humble illustrations on your cellular devices, let me know by tagging @hellojoquinn or @koreanpicnic on your instagram story. As you can see, I am giving, but I am also very much taking. After all, this is a marketing ploy to get you to share my instagram profile with your plethora of followers who are yet to be graced with my sporadic yet hilarious feed.
Have a Merry Christmas (but try not to go outside!) Be jolly and drunk (but don’t touch anyone you care about without injecting Purell into your veins first). Eat lots of saturated fats and sweets (but take your vitamins too, so as to not compromise your immune system). Subscribe to my channel (for real though, give me the gift of creative validation by subscribing here or check out my instagram pages here or there).
Oh, I almost got lost in my hilarious blogging bubble and forgot to add the wallpapers. Here you go! Click on the image to download. Sorry if they’re low-res, I’m not Santa. I couldn’t test them out on a big phone!
Hello everyone! This week I tried filming my first ever iPad drawing video using procreate. I have been trying to work on my ~perfectionism~ lately. So I challenged myself to see how many random faces I could draw in 20 minutes.
In my view, I failed because I kept worrying about how everything looked. I will keep working on this so that I can become a better designer and work more efficiently and effectively.
As a designer, I am always conflicted between trying to make things perfect and beautiful and trying to be innovative and get as many ideas as I can out and onto paper (or iPad) as I can. I want to try and make more drawing videos in the future, so if you enjoyed this, let me know down below!
I am so nervous to post this because the lighting kept changing and it’s hard to see what I am doing, but if I don’t post this now, I will probably keep thinking of reasons to never post a drawing video. Why put it off when you can just be satisfied with okay? You can’t improve and grow without giving it a good old crack.
I hope you are staying safe and staying healthy for both you and those around you. This year has been such a challenge for everyone, but I am so glad I was able to document it here and I look forward to continuing to do so in the new year!
I am so excited to finally be putting this all out into the world. About 2 months ago, I was asked by Coffee t&i Magazine if I could write about some speciality coffee cafes here in Seoul, South Korea. I of course jumped at the opportunity and got to work straight away… without realising just how difficult it would be to visit 5 cafes, take photographs, film clips for my YouTube channel, write the article and then gather all of the information for each cafe squeezed in over one weekend whilst working full time… But I have lived to tell the tale and I am so excited to be sharing it all with you today. If there was one thing I learned through all of this, it’s that bloggers, vloggers, writers and travel influencers definitely don’t have an easy job, they’re just great at making their craft look so simple.
Although this wasn’t a paid opportunity, writing and taking photos is something that I have always enjoyed for myself. My philosophy as a foreigner living in South Korea is that I should take any opportunities that come my way because it can only help me learn and grow. I have been accumulating skills in so many different areas because I have allowed myself to take on so many exciting projects this year and I know that someday my hard work will reward me… somehow… who knows!
The issue of the magazine was launched a few weeks ago but sadly, the online version is not currently available. I will insert all of the information about the cafes that I went to here as well as some images that I took on the day and images from the magazine! I hope that in the future I can write some more articles… or not. I can always just stick to my day job which is also pretty fun.
Cafe #1Duke’s Coffee Showroom
Cafe #2Perception Coffee
Cafe #3 Motif Coffee
Cafe #4 Scene Coffee
Cafe #5 Raw Coffee Stand
The Magazine Issue!
Not enough content for your eyeballs? Well, it’s a good thing I filmed the whole experience and put it on the internet! You can watch my vlog down below. For all media inquiries, please visit the work with me page here on my blog or get in touch via Instagram.
Hello Internet! This month’s Global Seoul Mate Challenge was based on three different categories: Colourful Seoul, Retro Seoul and 24 Hour Activities in Seoul. Here are my recommendations for this month’s challenges. Don’t forget to follow my Instagram and YouTube to keep up with my future GSM posts!
Colourful Seoul – The Cafes of Seongsu
Seongsu was one of the first places I went to in Seoul that felt grungy and dirty enough to almost be Melbourne. With so many cafes to explore, graffiti to be seen and shoes to be.. worn(?) – Seongsu is famous for shoes.
Retro Seoul – Style Nanda and Retail Interiors
Style Nanda is one of the many brands in South Korea that take Visual Merchandising to the level a little higher than extra. This flagship store in Myeongdong is the lovechild of Wes Anderson and Andy Warhol.
Other Korean brands that love their retro inspired VMing include Åland, Ader Error, Gentle Monster and Chuu. Can you think of more!?
24 Hour Activities in Seoul – Seoullo 7017
The Seoullo 7017 bridge at exit 2 of Seoul Station is a great spot to go any hour of the day or night! Have you seen this spot before? I hope Seoul continues to become greener and greener as it continues to grow and develop into the future city that we know and love.
360°VR Seoul with Cha Eun-woo
To see more of Seoul, enjoy these 360°VR Videos with Cha Eun-woo. For English subtitles, just click on the Closed Captions icon.