I started a weekly newsletter called ‘Picnic in Your Pocket’

I finally started a weekly newsletter!

And I am loving it so far. Because I do so many things on the internet that nobody ever reads, I thought I’d make another thing for nobody to read. It is called ‘Picnic in Your Pocket’. This is more of an internet journal entry for things that I loved watching during the week, things that I have been listening to and things I have been thinking about. It is extremely cathartic and I have finished 3 issues so far.

If you are curious, you can get it for free in your email inbox of choice once a week and get inside my brain for free! Hooray. The image above kind of sums up what it’s all about and you can read the first issue on Substack or read a sneak peek of the first issue down below! I am planning to post each issue onto my blog as well as I know that I have more followers on here and it will be easier to reach more people!

Picnic in Your Pocket 01: Proving once and for all that cheesy popcorn is not an appropriate meal choice

Hello, and welcome to the first instalment of ‘Picnic in Your Pocket’. Right now, we are in the thick of Korean summer so the combination of humidity, heat and the excessive amount of ice treats I am eating is starting to fog my brain. So foggy, in fact, that in the literal heat of the moment, I thought it would be a good idea to launch a weekly newsletter. So here we are, writing these words on a sticky Seoul summer evening, wondering if I will be able to do this on a weekly basis. I’m willing to try if you’re willing to put up with it! So let’s go!


Here are three things I spent a lot of time thinking about this week:

Cheesy Popcorn at the Convenience Store

Despite knowing all too well that a bag of cheese flavoured popcorn is not an appropriate dinner meal, I do it anyway. This usually happens after a disturbed sleep schedule or an unusually large lunch. This week, I gathered stray coins from my house late one night and rode the elevator of shame to the convenience store in my building. I purchased my popcorn, gave the convenience store worker said coins, and shamelessly proceeded to eat the entire contents of the bag while I sat and wrote this very newsletter.

I felt better about myself after seeing a man entering the convenience store in pyjama pants who was balancing a small laptop in his hands while watching YouTube videos. Thinking about his thought process throughout that whole situation was what helped me forget how tragic my own life decisions were at that very moment. Thank you, convenience store YouTube pyjama man.

Hoarding Skincare I’m Allergic To

You know those skincare products you have that reacted badly with your skin? And you never threw them out? Yeah, those ones over there! Throw them away. Right now. You’re never going to use them. Get them out, or find another use for them. I personally use rejected skincare products on my arms, elbows and knees where my skin is less prone to breaking out in a fit of rage.

For some reason, I have a lot of guilt when it comes to spending money on things that make my face break out into itchy rashes? Why should I feel attached to that item when it betrayed me like that? The money is gone, more will come and my skin will recover naturally. But that guilt attached to the unused bottle in the corner of your bathroom cupboard needs to go. Bye.

(While you’re at it, throw away all of those tiny samples you got for free at the beauty store. Free things are not the answer. Keep products around you that you need, love and feel excited about using. Let’s face it, if you haven’t used them by now, you’re never going to use them.)

Burnout

I quit my job at the end of June and have been taking a mental health holiday ever since. This is what I’ve mostly been thinking about, the popcorn and skincare stuff are just side effects of all of this mental chaos. I’m trying to make a game plan for how to avoid burnout in the future, evaluate what I did well in my previous jobs and where I want to go with my career. Any and all career advice and anecdotes are welcome in my inbox/comments/DMs.


Weekly Doodle

This week’s doodle is the celebration of my rebrand for Korean Picnic. The second image is a snapshot of the paper doodles I created before doing the final drawings on my iPad. I am going to make a video this week about how to rebrand using Figma, so get excited. It’s going to be so cool! Like, the coolest.


What I watched this week

Never Have I Ever Season 2 (2021)

I spent an entire night binge-watching the new season of Never Have I Ever. Anything Mindy Kaling touches is golden and I was SO happy when it was released on Netflix last week. If you love high school drama, teen angst, grief, cultural and sexual identity exploration, then you will love this show. I am ready for the next season. I cried multiple times and it was so nice to cry uncontrollable tears of joy over fictional characters again.

Exit (2019)

We watched this Korean film last week and it felt very appropriate for the times we are living in. A mysterious gas is released into a suburb of Seoul and wreaks havoc on a family’s birthday celebrations. It should be noted that I was scared for the entire duration of this film, but it is not scary at all. Currently streaming on Netflix in Korea. Also cried at the end of this one. What can I say, I’m a mess.


This Week’s Video:

Wardrobe Organisation

Last week I took everything out of our closet and put it back in, in a slightly more organised way than it already was. Needless to say, I like to organise things and when there isn’t a lot to organise, I will just re-organise things that were already organised. It’s a really fun and quirky personality trait. Check it out! Did I just break the world record for the number of times using the word ‘organise’ in one paragraph? Possibly.


Favourite follow on IG this week:

@shoshibuya

An account I enjoyed discovering this week was Sho Shibuya. Sho is a Japanese graphic designer based in Brooklyn. He paints as part of his daily practice but was prompted by NYC’s covid lockdown to paint a daily sunset on the covers of copies of the New York Times. Check out his IG page to learn more. I got info about his work from this article, which is also a great read. Let me know if you have any follow recommendations on IG that don’t make you want to curl up into a ball and shove doughnuts into your face!!! Follow me here (shameless plug).


The song I can’t stop listening to:

I know Bo has a new special (I’ve watched it three times already), but I can’t stop listening to his Kanye rant from his ‘Make Happy’ special a few years ago. 5,475 listens later and I still get shivers when he sings this part:

“Come and watch the skinny kid with a

Steadily declining mental health, and laugh as he attempts

To give you what he cannot give himself”


Goals for This Week

Less Coffee, More Lemon and Kimchi

My goal for this week is to try and limit myself to one cup of coffee a day and eliminate alcohol and sweet drinks from my diet. I’m going to achieve this by increasing the amount of time I spend napping and also by adding fun things to my water like lemon and kimchi. It’s going to be a great week. What are you going to try and do a bit better than you did last week, this week? Don’t tell me, just ponder it and achieve things and flourish as a human. But don’t tell me about it. I don’t really care. Just kidding I do care. Just kidding, I don’t. Just kidding.


Thank you for reading, here is a final thing that I watched on YouTube this week that I will leave you with. Have a great week and don’t forget to wear sunscreen.


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Latest Posts

Aussie Brunch at Summer Lane, Hannam

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.

Global Seoul Mate 2020

I am pleased to announce that I have been selected as a Global Seoul Mate this year. This means I will be using my social media platforms to be a tourism ambassador for Seoul, South Korea. I am so excited to begin my monthly missions and share more of this beautiful city that I have been writing about for almost 3 years.

This month’s mission begins from home due to the current outbreak of coronavirus. My heart goes out to anybody facing hardship at this time, wherever you may be in the world. I am currently working and have to continue using public transport and going to my jobs. Unfortunately, this means I can’t be in isolation all the time. However, when I do go out, I wear a mask, sometimes gloves and always make sure to use hand sanitiser or wash my hands when possible.

I hope you are keeping safe, staying healthy and keeping an eye out for your loved ones during this difficult time. We can all get through this together if we follow our leaders and take necessary safety precautions.

I didn’t want to put a damper on my exciting news, but the theme for this month’s GSM mission is ‘Stay home, but travel tomorrow’. We can reignite our travel bugs at a later date! Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel, follow my Instagram and follow my blog to keep up to date with my GSM2020 experience throughout the year.

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Global Seoul Mate has officially started! As an official #gsm2020 I support #StayHome #ButTravelTomorrow

Embroidering a face mask and talking about coronavirus in South Korea

Hey, internet! Hope you are healthy and cool. Last week, I decided to embroider a face mask while talking about coronavirus and upload it on the internet! Why do I do these things? We will never know. The video didn’t go as planned because I couldn’t quite figure out how to talk, think and embroider at the same time.

Nevertheless, I put a video together and uploaded it. I love the process of thinking of a video idea, filming, uploading footage, editing a video and uploading it. I like that the final product has an ending and it doesn’t sit in limbo forever like some of my other creative projects…

The purpose of this video was to put a positive spin on the worldwide health issue and talk about my perspective as a foreigner in South Korea. I hope you enjoy it and it inspires some positive thinking in your day! Thank you for stopping by and don’t forget to subscribe or follow my Instagram or blog!

You can download my pattern if you are feeling inspired and want to embroider your own mask. Click this link to get the PDF! Face Mask Pattern Jo So Ko

Korean Skincare and Daily Makeup

Hello, welcome to my freezing cold bathroom! In my latest YouTube video, I take you through my 3-step Korean skincare routine. I also threw in a little makeup routine at the end because my skincare routine is very simple.

I have very sensitive, acne-prone skin, so I like to keep my products to a minimum! If you’re curious to snoop around my bathroom/living room, take a look!

I am very new to YouTube but I LOVE making videos! They’re such a great addition to my blogging hobby. Do you like Korean skincare? Let me know if you have a YouTube Channel, we can be YouTube friends!

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Working at an English Winter Camp in South Korea

2020 started on a productive note for Jo So Ko because she was out in the middle of nowhere, teaching English to primary school students. Okay, I can’t continue with the third person tense because it will get confusing. I just spent over 3 weeks working at my first ever English camp and had such a great experience.

I had heard through the teaching-English-in-Korea-grapevine that these camps are rather difficult. Which made me want to do it even more! Woo, hard work! While it was difficult in terms of workload, it wasn’t any more difficult than a normal full-time English teaching job in Korea. If you can manage your time and you like teaching, it won’t be too challenging.

The teachers were so kind, the Korean staff were amazing and hardworking and everything ran like a well-oiled machine.

Any teaching job in Korea comes with an expectation that teachers will complete their books, send their reports in on time and not cause any trouble with coworkers. Camps are no exception, so I guess if you’re not familiar with these expectations, an intense camp might be difficult.

If you’re considering giving either a winter or summer camp a go in your holiday time, it’s definitely a great experience. If you have any questions about teaching ESL in Korea, let me know! I am more than happy to help you. Good luck.

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Did I mention that the food was amazing? I saved a lot of money from these delicious meals!

Ice Skating at City Hall in Seoul, South Korea

Merry Christmas to the four people who consistently read my blog! I hope you had a great time with loved one(s) and reflected on the year we’ve just had. I have been absent on my blog due to visa struggles and moving house! All of our dilemmas have been solved and we are back to our happy normal life selves. My husband and I recently ventured further south east to Yongin in Gyeonggi Province. We feel so excited to move a little further from Seoul away from the chaos…

Today, we spent our afternoon gliding around City Hall’s ice skating rink in an attempt to enact Frozen 2 on ice. It was my first time strapping into ice skating boots and slipping on ice (I’m Australian, this is all foreign to me, I’ve never even been skiing). I managed to find my rhythm rather quickly thanks to many summers spent rollerblading in my local neighbourhood.

There was ample space for skaters of all varieties: speedsters, grandpas, clusters of friends who all kept falling over, and nervous parents. There was a special section for little kids to learn how to skate and it was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. As well as the learning zone, there was a separate rink for kids and parents to fall over in. I also saw some people playing curling and assumed they were Canadian because who plays curling? Does one ‘play curling‘ or simply just ‘curl‘?

In any case, I regretted not wearing a cape for this icy occasion but I’m pretty sure I’m a contender for Disney’s Frozen 2 On Ice Korea Tour 2020. My husband seemed to be a seasoned skater and glided around effortlessly. He’s good at almost everything so it was no surprise that he had skater’s legs and could spin without hesitation!

How to Ice Skate in Seoul:

If you’re visiting Seoul between Jan and Feb, the ice skating fun will be up and running. Just head to City Hall station on line 2 or line 1 and follow the signs! It’s hard to miss. We were lucky to have a sunny blue sky over us as we skated! It costs 1,000 KRW (roughly $1) to skate for 1 hour including skates and a helmet! How cheap! Also, bring a 500 won coin to use the lockers to keep all of your belongings safe (not that anyone would touch them in Korea!)

Apgujeong’s Elite Keeping Korean Architects in Business

Apgujeong is one of Seoul’s more affluent neighbourhoods. There is no shortage of designer clothes, expensive schools and plastic surgeons. Today, I spent the morning walking around Apgujeong Rodeo Street (not to go shopping because I’m not a bajillionaire). Instead, I admired all of the amazing buildings in the area that house some of the world’s most expensive designer brands.

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As a designer, I looked at these creations in awe. The craftsmanship, the beauty, and the detail were spectacular. With the facades on these buildings, they were worthy of being in every design magazine.

However, when I looked at them as a human, I couldn’t help but feel it was all a bit too… too much. It almost seems like a waste to have all of this design reserved for the filthy rich. It would be great to see more of this incredible creativity distributed around other parts of Seoul. Should this all be centred around one neighbourhood of Seoul? One street for that matter.

City Hall, Lotte Tower, and the DDP are all places that people can enjoy together. They are examples of architecture that enable all walks of life to share the design. Shouldn’t we save our creative energy for everyone to enjoy? I guess not… otherwise I wouldn’t be writing about this. One or two amazing buildings in a street, yes, but for every designer brand to have its own unique facade? Come on, guys! It’s too much! But I did appreciate the cool petrol station.

An Afternoon Well Spent in Gangnam, South Korea

I had another social day today, this time we were in Gangnam. We started our adventure in a Vietnamese restaurant called ‘Tam Tam’, which had queues of people waiting to be seated. We enjoyed our soupy pho noodles up at a really high table – the waiter literally had to push our chairs in for us because the seats were so high! The food was delish, but we had to be very careful after eating not to roll our ankles whilst trying to come back down to earth. You can see in this pic, the chairs are at the waiter’s hipbone!

Our teacher fashioned some makeshift chopstick holders out of napkins! So gorgeous!

This is a hill that my friend kindly escorted me down. It was so steep and I was in heeled boots, not a great combo!!


After lunch, we moved onto a cafe nearby! Two of my friends had flavourless tea and had to send them back. I don’t remember the name of the cafe so I can’t tell you. Despite their drinks being a disappointment, we sat here for hours and had a good quality chat. The cafes in Gangnam are so cosy in the wintertime. You can sit there for hours without being guilted into leaving or buying another drink.

How To:

If you’re wanting to explore the cafes and restaurants in Gangnam, go to Gangnam station on line 2, take exit 11, kep walking straight and head right up the small alleyways! There are an endless range of food and shopping options!

Happy belated birthday, Buddha! 서울에서는 석가탕신일

On a lukewarm Friday evening in May, I summoned enough brain and leg power to wander beyond my daily work route of train station to work, work back to train station, and went to Bongeunsa Temple. This miraculous venture just so happened to be around the time of Buddha’s sweet sixteen, so there were lanterns, confused tourists and colours a-plenty. How fortunate and rare that I managed to have this combination of energy, awake-ness and a desire for socialising all at the same time?

I’m currently writing this very important blog post in mid-June and have been sitting on these images and aforementioned boring story without having any clue about Buddha’s Birthday and what it means to the Korean people. After three and a half minutes of strenuous research, I now know that Buddha’s birthday is a celebration for the founder of Buddhism and is celebrated with lantern festivals and lotus flower displays all over the country. It is a long standing tradition in Korea and is a great time for the nation’s Buddhist folk to brush up on their virtues and values and other Buddhism-related jargon. The thousands of meticulously hung lanterns and lotus flowers is a way for Korean Buddhists to light up the sky from their hearts and spread love from South Korea to the rest of the world. What a nice tradition!

If you’re planning on travelling to South Korea in the April/May period within the next thousand years, make sure to mentally bookmark this auspicious occasion in your brain diary. I read that Buddha’s big b-day bash is celebrated on the eighth day of the fourth month in the lunar calendar. Between you and I, fellow blog reader, I could not even attempt to try and figure out when that date occurs in earth-calendar times. I trust you to figure that one out on your own. Lunar calendar are riddles that I’ll never be able to solve. Here are the pictures I snapped on my phone after a long day of wrangling 5 year old Korean children and force feeding them a vast and articulate English vocabulary. Everyday is an adventure if you want it to be. Have a great day, friends!

Photos taken on my super Korean Samsung Galaxy A9 Pro 2.58^4 Genius Tennis champion smartphone.