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!
Planning a trip to Jeju Island and not sure what food to put in your belly or which restaurants to check out? Well, nor was I until I created this detailed list of some of the places we visited in Jeju back in April. Wait, that makes no sense. Oh well, here’s some amazing food we ate in Jeju and I thought my readers would enjoy seeing it!
Dodu Fresh Burgers – 도두후레쉬
Dodu Fresh is located conveniently near Jeju airport. It is the perfect lunch spot if you are waiting for your hotel in Jeju City to open up for a 3pm check-in. We enjoyed our burgers a 5-minute drive away by the water and had to compete with the wind while eating. I would definitely recommend the cheesy fries. I chose to eat the Shrimp burger and it was GOOD! I could honestly go for one right now.
Store Hours: Opens Daily from 9:30 am to 7:00 pm (Closed on Tuesdays)
We found out about Noraba Seafood Ramyeon by looking at a restaurant brochure from our hotel. My husband knew immediately that it was his destiny to drive there and eat ramyeon. I’m glad we did because it was such a great experience.
We ordered two of the classic Noraba Seafood Ramyeon dishes (mild) and a Lunch box set or ‘Doshirak’ with rice and other goodies. My husband regretting getting the mild version because there was no spice at all. I enjoyed it but also would have liked a bit more bang.. in my mouth?
Pro Tip: We went to Noraba on a Monday and had to wait at least 45 minutes to eat. It is a very efficient system with sign ups and number calls etc. I would suggest you prepare for a waiting time. Outdoor and indoor seating is available!
Store Hours: Opens every day from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm
Galchi Jorim is a staple Jeju Island food specialty and is a ‘Hairtail fish Soup’. It is sometimes a sweet dish full of delicious fish, tofu and plenty of vegetables. For me, this place was a little too spicy, but having the Nurungji (scorched rice) dish really helped!
One thing you should also try in Jeju is an ogyeopsal BBQ! Unlike Korea’s regular, boring meat, samgyeopsal, this pork has 5 layers of meats and fats instead of 3! I’m not saying you need to go to this specific restaurant, but if you head to this general area in Jeju City, you are bound to find a great restaurant to eat Ogyeopsal. This was so delicious… but my memory of the food was somewhat clouded by the soju we drank with it.
There you have it, all the foods we ate on our Jeju honeymoon back in May. For more food related content, be sure to follow along with my Instagram page. Also, check out our YouTube videos about Jeju Island to see the food in action!
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!
Is it the water? Is it the clean(er?) air? Is it the… people? I am not sure what it is, but each time we go to Yeosu to visit my husband’s family, we eat the best food in the world. I am always too full to fully enjoy it. It just tastes so good? So, if you are in Korea and you don’t know what to do on your summer break this year, go down to Yeosu. I would recommend staying at the Amort Hotel on the beach. Enjoy it and thank me later.
Have you been wanting to explore new parts of Seoul? No? Oh, that’s cool! Oh, you don’t live in Seoul and this post is irrelevant to you? But you want to know anyway for when you inevitably travel here in a post-pandemic world where life is free and maskless? Okay, cool. Let’s see Hannam!
Hannam is a wealthy suburb in Seoul located next to Itaewon, conveniently situated in front of the Han River. It is a great place for shopping, cafe hunting, photo taking and it’s great for spying on some of the most expensive houses in Seoul. It also happens to be where our beloved BTS members live. I highly doubt they leave their house and I also highly doubt they spend a lot of time in their homes. So where do they go? Who knows. But I can guarantee if I ever saw a BTS member on the loose I wouldn’t recognise them without makeup and a Louis Vuitton ensemble.
My cafe recommendation for this area is Summer Lane Brunch. It is an Australian style brunch spot located in Hannam (or Itaewon, I’m not sure how Seoul geography works). If you are looking for some Aussie brunch and coffee, this HAS to be the next cafe you go to in Seoul. Here are the deets:
Summer Lane Brunch
49, Itaewon-ro 55ga-gil, Yongsan-gu Seoul, Korea
Opens 7:30 am to 18:00 pm every day
How to Get Lost in Hannam:
After you fill up on Aussie sausage rolls and Duke’s coffee, head in the direction of the ‘Nine One Hannam’ apartment complex. On your way down the stairs, you will find cafes, clothing stores, pubs, book stores and everything else you need to live a cultured and colourful Insta-worthy life.
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.
If you’re looking for a spot to snap some cherry blossom pictures this weekend, then head to Yangjae-cheon. It is located in between Yangjae and Yangjae Citizen’s Forest station. Beautiful any time of the year, the cherry blossoms that are now lining the stream are in full bloom. This area is not too crowded and you are guaranteed to take a good photo. Can you really take a bad photo in cherry blossom season, though? Scroll to the end of the post to find the location!
Take the line 3 Subway to Yangjae Station and walk to the stream
Or, take the Shin-bundang Line to Yangjae Station or Yangjae Citizen’s Forest Station
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.