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

Where to see all the pretty cherry blossoms in Seoul?

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!

Directions

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

Or, look up “Yangjaecheon” on Naver Maps!

Moving Offices in Seoul, South Korea

This morning, I went into my office for the first time in a few weeks. We have been working from home for the most part due to the recent wave of covid cases here in South Korea. This week, we are moving to a new office on the other side of Seoul. Tomorrow is our last day in our Myeongdong office that sits right in front of the Cheonggyecheon stream.

On my morning commute, I decided to prolong entering our building to walk around the area, take pictures and enjoy a warm coffee. This won’t be the last time I visit this area, but I just wanted to soak it all in. I had so many good memories in this area in summery Seoul in September. Somehow it didn’t have the same charm on this particularly chilly winter morning.

This move has come at a great time, we can kick off our 2021 in a brand new space!

How to get a non-teaching job in South Korea

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.

Photo by Jana Sabeth on Unsplash

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.

Websites for Job Hunting in Korea

Glassdoor / LinkedIn

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.

Non-Teaching Job Seekers Korea (Facebook Group)

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!

Craigslist

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!

Seoul Global Center Job Search

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!

If you have Korean skills, try here:

Saramin

Job Korea

Startup-specific Job Boards

Rocket Punch

It’s like Korean LinkedIn for Startups – Requires Korean Skills

Seoul Startups Job Board

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.

Job Bridge Korea

Another site that looks specifically for foreign workers in Korea.

Instagram Communities

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.

My videos about working in Korea:

Life in Korea Blog Content

First snow in Korea 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 snowballs 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 their 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 an 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.

Snow-covered post box outside my house
Snowy foot prints
Outside our home in Gyeonggi-do, covered in snow
Home cooking instead of eating in a restaurant due to covid

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! It has very snowy, cosy vibes so I hope you enjoy!

Follow My Instagram (It’s Hilarious)

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Sushi and Cherry Blossoms

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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 🙂

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