This week, what was supposed to be an innocent trip to Kinko’s turned into a lovely stroll around Deoksugung. Walking around Deoksugung was so peaceful and gave me such a cool relief from the sticky summer air here in Seoul. I spotted many beautiful l things along the way and I of course had to document it all. If you head to this part of Seoul near City Hall, you will be sure to find a lovely cafe, sculpture, gallery or restaurant along the way.
I ate a delicious chicken panini from a little cafe called ‘Le Pul’ and really enjoyed the familiar feeling the interiors gave me. Definitely check out the cafe if you are ever in that area and in need of a cheap and quick fresh lunch!
On my way home, I was desperate to quench my thirst so I stopped off at the General Drink Shop in Gwangwhamun. I had just been to Kyobo Book Store to stock up on my sticker collection and buy a new Moleskine diary. I loveed this drink, I ordered a Lemon Jasmine Ice Tea. YUM! And also, how cute is the cup it came in? Love it.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I read that this summer in Korea has one of the hottest heat waves in 111 years! This week, I decided to film a Summer in Korea Lookbook. I wanted to show you what I have been wearing this summer in Korea. I love minimal Korean fashion, and I think my style has changed a lot since moving here. Styling clothes is one of those secret things that I do that nobody knows about but it brings me a lot of joy. I have been doing this since I was at LEAST 14. This hobby resulted in many questionable outfits. I talk a bit more about why you should just do things you want to do and not worry about whether or not people think you are completely just the worst ever… in this video!
To be honest, I was inspired by my fashion icon Jenny Walton who never looks afraid to share her outfits or share her thoughts. This one is for you, Jenny. Is that weird? Sorry. It’s not for you, it’s for me.
Just do that thing that you love!
I explained at the beginning of the video about my experience feeling like a loser posting this kind of look-book content on the internet. I started a YouTube channel in 2015 and suddenly deleted all of my videos in one foul swoop out of sheer *embarrassment*. However, here I am six years later, still making this kind of content and still loving it. So the long story short of all of this is if you’re holding back from doing something you really want to do because you’re worried of what people will think, just do it anyway. Nobody actually cares, and people who love you will just be happy to see you doing what makes you happy, whether or not they actually read/watch/consume/listen to what you are making.
Here is the video below, feel free to check it out! Alternatively, you can just look at the stills of the outfits down below if you’re short on time! Thank you so much for supporting my channel and my blog, I feel like I am finally getting more confident to upload content!
Where I buy clothes in Korea
Most of the items are labelled in the video! Not Linked though….BUT in Korea, I mostly buy my clothes from these stores:
I find Korean clothing to be incredibly flimsy and low-quality. At this point in time, these brands are better for me financially because they wash well, the fabrics are better quality and they are in my price range.
This week I was asked to evaluate some delicious Korean foods that are being exported to the Australian market. One of the items in the package was ‘Bibim Noodles’, aka Korean cold instant noodles that are perfect for summer. I thought it would be a good idea to make a video on how to make Korean ‘Bibim’ cold noodles. I have a sneaky feeling that western people don’t know a lot about making cold noodles. So here it is! The people asked, and I delivered.
I have to admit, when I first tried these ‘Bibimmyeon’ or ‘Bibim Noodles’ back in 2017, I was not a huge fan. I am happy to report that after being reintroduced to them for this project, and I am already a huge fan. We only have one packet left!
In Korean ‘Bibim’ means mixed and ‘Myeon’ means Noodles. So they are literally mixed noodles. They can be served either warm or cold, but because of this sweltering Seoul heat, I decided to show you how to make them cold.
This video contains the simple steps needed to make the cold noodles. All you need to do is boil some water, cook the noodles, drain the water, mix the noodles in some cold water (and ice!), add the sauce and mix! I added some colourful peeled cucumber, seaweed and chilli flakes for the fun of it. I really enjoyed making this video and I decided to edit it with a really chilled, ASMR type, in the cafe listening to jazz piano vibe. Enjoy! Let me know if you have tried Bibimmyeon in the comments!
Watch the full video on YouTube here and subscribe to my channel!
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.
Hi job seekers, are you having a hard time finding a job in Korea? I’m sorry to hear that, but it’s also a pretty normal and common situation to be in as an expat. So it’s fine. It’ll be fine. You’re fine. BUT, just in case, I’m here to give you some handy tips on how to get started with what may feel like a never-ending quest. I have a degree in job rejection, but luckily I got a PhD in bouncing back. First, let’s break some things down with a series of questions to see where you’re at, and then you’ll get all of the juicy links to the sites and the things.
First things first, what kind of visa do you have in Korea?
The type of visa you have is the key ingredient employers are looking for in Korea. If a job description explicitly states the visa requirements you must fulfill, make sure you fulfill them! Wow, what great advice!
Do not bother applying for jobs if you don’t have the correct visa. It is a waste of time for both you and the employer.
Here is a good article that explains the different work visas here in Korea. Please note, it does not include F visas. Make sure you are aware of any working restrictions your visa has and whether or not your potential employer would be willing to sponsor you. Once you have sorted that out, let’s move onto the next step.
Why do you want to work in South Korea?
This sounds like a pretty simple question, but it is important for your job search. The answer to this question will help you determine where to look for a job and what to include in your applications and CVs.
Are you interested in the language? Are you interested in a particular industry that is unique to South Korea? Have you been studying Korean? Etc.
If your answer to any of these questions is, ‘because I love BTS and I want to be a professional ARMY member’, then it might be time to think seriously about what you want to do in Korea!
How should I write a CV in Korea and do people need Cover Letters?
It is okay to submit CVs in English to many jobs here in Korea. If you are a fluent Korean speaker, you will need to submit your CV in Korean as a Word document (from what I have seen). Additional documents like portfolios and cover letters can also be in English, in whatever format you desire (but just check what the employer wants). Make sure you tailor your CV and portfolio to the specific job you want to apply for. You should never use the same CV on jobs with different job descriptions. If you want to know more about this process, scroll down to watch a YouTube video that I made about starting your career overseas! Some jobs will ask for a cover letter, but it is not a common requirement in Korea.
Korean companies use these job sites to post jobs. *Shocking*. Most job postings are in Korean, but foreign companies typically post their listings in English. It is a good idea to turn on notifications for particular searches to get notified when the perfect job pops up! For example, turn on notifications on LinkedIn for ‘Engineering Roles in Seoul’. Make sure your profile is in good shape before you start applying for every job you see.
This is a FB group run by foreigners in Korea and is a great place to join during your job search. It has a wide range of jobs on there but they are posted sporadically. Foreign employers will often post about opportunities at their companies. You have to request to join, and make sure you follow all of their rules!
Sadly, Craigslist is the preferred method for hiring foreign workers in South Korea. Nobody is happy about it, but you can occasionally find a diamond in the rough, so it is worth checking periodically. Be careful about scammers and weirdos. If a job posting has a link to their website, that’s usually a good indication that it’s legitimate. I have been to several job interviews through Craigslist and have had multiple jobs through the platform. BUT be smart and don’t expect to find your dream job!
The Seoul Global Center is a great resource for foreigners living in Korea. They have multiple centers in Seoul and host Korean classes, cooking classes and other cultural events. The Jobs board is not updated frequently, but always keep your eye out for any opportunities that may come up!
Great place to find jobs in the Seoul startup scene. It is also worth joining their Slack group as people often post jobs and events happening in there. It is an amazing community and has been really helpful for me in Korea.
Another site that looks specifically for foreign workers in Korea.
When all else fails, find people on Instagram who work in your desired industry, and follow them. It is a good idea to build up a community on social media, no matter which country you want to live in. Not only can it help you network for your career, but it can also help you find friends, feel less lonely and learn about what’s happening around town.
Hello world, welcome to this important essay titled ‘Never not gonna Naver’. I actually just made that up and it kind of almost doesn’t make any sense. I’m currently getting my sweat on at the gym and thought ‘hmmm…perhaps I should write an important blog post about the positive correlation between a Korean cafe’s Naver presence and its interior design/aesthetic value’. The person who sweat all over this germ-infested bike before me really gave me that extra push of inspiration that I needed tonight.
Let me set the scene for you: it’s 8am, you’ve just awoken from a night of soju drinking in a new place and you realise that you’ve overpayed on your hotel based on the kink the $10 sandbox pilow has left in your neck. You’re disoriented, dehydrated and in desperate need of caffeine. Alas, the last thing you need is one of Korea’s chain coffee stores to so much as toy with the idea of trying cure your current discombobulated state. No no no. You need a real cafe. With real chairs. With a unique cafe concept. That’s what you need.
This is where the Naver part comes in (thank you for bearing with me on this strange journey, my bike has just ticked over the 15 minute mark and I have useless essay ideas aplenty right now). Naver, for you monolingual troglodytes out there, is Koreans answer to Google. Why did Korea need an answer to a question nobody else dare ask? Homogeneity. That’s why. (Naver have a search engine, a maps service, a WebToon website, they own ‘Line’ which is a messaging platform more commonly used in Japan as well as ‘Snow’ which is a popular camera app here in Korea (along with many other services)).
Anyway… so, my husband and I both embarked on the 30-second long task to try and find a cafe to schlep ourselves to. We searched ‘cafe’ in Korean and both decided that the best place for us to go was one with a beautiful range of pastries and bread. Not 20 minutes later were we ready and out the door, without a shadow of doubt blocking our decision’s limelight. Despite having to drive 20 minutes to the cafe, our 30 second decision did not alter along the way.
How beautiful your cafe is and the presentation of your food and coffee is the difference between someone making a 30 second decision to visit your cafe and somebody scrolling right past, without considering your cafe as a worthy contender for their business.
Well, that was an overly complicated way of explaining something quite simple. All you need to do to figure this trend out is to search the hashtag ‘카페스크그렘’ (cafestagram) on Instagram and see for your own eyeballs just how serious this cafe interior trend is among Koreans!
Here are some images of the aforementioned cafe and, really, the protagonist of this essay. It is located in Jeju Island and I have, contrary to the objective of this entire post, not linked it’s Naver details. Here is the Instagram page.
Happy cafe hopping, friends! Does anyone else sweat between their forearms and biceps when writing compelling phone essays while exercising? Food for thought xx
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.
Global Seoul Mate has officially started! As an official #gsm2020 I support #StayHome #ButTravelTomorrow
Today was a day of sushi and cherry blossoms. The flowers are a’blooming and the birds are a’chirping because spring is a’coming people. The cherry blossoms are nature’s way of saying, ‘hey guys, everything will be okay’.
Cherry blossoms are like the training wheels of nature, they make us feel safe and sound before we summon the confidence to do life with only 2 wheels. After they’re gone, we forget they were even there! Before you know, we’ve smoothly made the winter to summer, heatech to humidity transition.
WHAT AM I SAYING? It was my first back working every day this week and my brain is a little soggy. All of this quarantine has made me lose the humorous edge that helped crown Jo So Ko as the internet’s best travel blog 12 years running.
Time to get some rest, but first, here is a video I made about my work life in Seoul! Check it out if you have nothing better to do 🙂