First snow and staying inside away from covid

This morning in Gyeonggi-do, we woke up to a magical snow-covered view from our window. It felt like Christmas morning, and the excitement was enough to get me out of bed on a Sunday. I threw on my warmest clothes and the rain boots I purchased during this year’s monsoon season, and raced outside to walk in the snow. Two young children had already beaten me to it, and were collecting snow balls from the car windshields. For a brief moment, I regained some much needed hope in 2020 and felt like a kid again myself.

In less sunny news, today South Korea reported over 1,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day. This marks the highest number of new cases here since its outbreak at the beginning of the year. I am becoming increasingly worried about the virus here as we move into the holiday season. Koreans have had quite a successful year thanks to its cooperative citizens, avoiding any drastic lockdown measures. This has lulled us all into a false sense of security, allowing people to feel comfortable socializing and going out so long as they are donning a face mask.

These days, I have been staying home, cooking meals and finding small comforts in our cosy home. Today’s snow gave me all the more reason to have a quiet day in and attempt to finish off the pile of unfinished books next to my bed. The looming new year is a reminder that I have yet again failed as a reader!

I hope you are staying safe and taking care of your health. Today, I finished reading the book ‘Before the Coffee Gets Cold’ by Toshikazu Kawaguchi. It is about a cafe in Tokyo where you can travel back in time, but only to meet someone who has visited the cafe previously. The time traveller must return to the present before their cup of coffee gets cold, otherwise an alternative fate awaits them. The book made me think about who I would go back and visit, if only for 10 minutes. It was beautiful how the characters were able to grow and learn about themselves from their short journey to the past. It was such a lovely story, and if you love Japan, you might enjoy it! Take care and follow me on YouTube or Instagram for more content.

Here is my latest YouTube video of a day in my life working from home in South Korea. I hope you enjoy my attempt at making Korean subtitles!

Glamping in South Korea at ‘On the Rock’

Hello Korean Picnic readers, old and new! It has been a while since I’ve sat down to offload the words in my brain onto my blog. As I write this, I am uploading a video I made last week of our glamping anniversary trip. I have become excited about YouTube and blogging again recently. My many dilemmas about quitting have ceased for the moment and I am enjoying the creative process more than ever. I have my cup of tea by my side as I watch the fourth season of The Crown.

Last week, my husband and I decided to celebrate our one year marriage anniversary by going glamping! We don’t typically do adventurous things because we prefer the comfort of a warm house and a computer or screen in front of us, but we thought we would branch out of our literal comfort zones. However, that branch lead us to be very cold and very achy from shivering from being so cold. In hindsight, we probably should have double checked that the heater was on!

We chose to stay at the ‘On the Rock’ glamping site located in Gapyeong (northeast of Seoul). The site itself was full of spaceship-like glamping pods. They overlooked the picturesque mountains of the Korean countryside. Each pod had a patio for BBQing and bush dancing. The site was also featured on Arch Daily, so I was smugly excited to stay somewhere that was approved by the architecture and design community.

Glamping has become a big trend in South Korea and there are many locations around the country. If you are living here, or planning to come in the future, I highly recommend grabbing a group of friends, buying every piece of meat at the grocery store, and having a glamping experience for yourself.

Please scroll to the end to watch my YouTube video! PLEASE! I beg of you. Not really, it’s totally up to you. But please watch it. And subscribe. And also like the video… but no pressure. Have you been glamping before? Were you as cold as we were? Let me know!

My Korean husband cooks Jjapaguri from the movie ‘Parasite’

parasite-jjapaguri-sceneIf you fell in love with Bong Joon Ho’s latest film ‘Parasite’, you might be curious about some of the food that was featured in the Oscar-winning movie. At a very tense moment in the movie, the newly appointed maid to the Park family is asked to make a dish called ‘Jjapaguri’. The English translation is ‘Ram-don’ but the Korean name comes from the two different types of instant noodles that are used in the dish. To make Jjapaguri, you need these two types of instant noodles that you can buy from your local Korean supermarket:

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Jjapaghetti and Neoguri

I was curious to try the dish for myself and I’m lucky enough to have a Korean husband who knew exactly how to make it! We live in Korea so these ingredients are readily available. We wanted to keep the recipe as similar to the dish made in the film so we even added beef! (Beef is a very expensive ingredient here in South Korea! Pork is usually the favoured meat). Here is how our meal turned out, it was surprisingly delicious and I think I may even like it more than I like Jjapaghetti by itself:

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The soju is optional!

Happy Korean New Year: My First ‘설날’ (New Year) as a ‘며느리’ (Daughter-in-law)

Hello internet, let’s talk about the fact that the moon calendar makes no sense to us Gregorians! Haha maybe another time, for now let’s just discuss Korean Lunar New Year. Koreans celebrate the Lunar New Year in a celebration called Seollal (설날). This was my first Seollal as a 며느리 (daughter-in-law) so everyone made a big fuss, or maybe I was just imagining things. Traditionally, 며느리’s are supposed to wait on each man’s beckon call and prepare copious amounts of food for the family, as well as clean everything. Fortunately, this was my first time as a daughter-in-law so I just sat there and smiled and made my husband help the women in the kitchen. It’s 2020, y’all!

On New Year’s day (Sat 25th Jan 2020), we ate rice cake soup (떡국) and a yummy eggy pancake. We also had lots of crustaceans and a variety of rural style side dishes. I celebrated Seollal in Yeosu, my husband’s hometown. The food and flavours in Yeosu are different to other parts of Korea. They like very salty side dishes and consume a lot of seafood. Some flavours are too strong for my weak little Australian palate, so I just shamelessly pick at the dishes with the most sugar.

We also ate steamed pork ribs (갈비찜) and sweet potato noodles (잡재) on New Year’s Day! We paid visits to all grandparents and did our New Year’s bows for good luck and great health. This was my first time bowing in Korea! When you bow on New Year’s Day, you have to say ‘새해 복 많이 받으세요’, which is like saying ‘I hope you receive lots of luck in the new year’.

This holiday went by so quickly but here are some pictures that I managed to snap. Whenever I pull out my phone to take pictures of food, I still feel like such a tourist in this country. I hope you had a great new year, how did you spend yours? Does your country celebrate the lunar new year?

Sweet potato noodles (잡재), Steamed pork ribs (갈비찜) and Kimchi (feat. Danbi the puppy)

Fresh kimchi, samjang sauce, garlic and a vinegary soup moment.

Close up of the steamed pork ribs (갈비찜)

A beautiful door

No strawberry can out-strawberry a Korean strawberry

A spotty train while we waited for our ride to Yeosu. The New Year’s festivities were happening during the start of the corona virus outbreak, so masks were necessary!

Korean New Year Pancakes with crab, spinach and other yummy things.

My stomach gets angry at me if I eat too much Korean food. It’s like ‘ummm, why haven’t you been eating any cake or complex carbohydrates?’ Go to a cafe immediately and give us the sugar and caffeine we deserve.