A day in Bukchon Hanok Village

Object – Adorable Stationery Store in Anguk, Seoul

My favourite stationery store in Seoul

Yesterday we spent a sunny autumn afternoon in Anguk-dong. The purpose of our adventure was to visit the traditional streets at Bukchon Hanok Village, but can you blame me for ending up on a hunt for adorable Korean stationery instead?

I first went to Object back in 2017 when I was an exchange student in Korea. I love that it is still almost the exact same as it was back then, only with newer goods. If you are looking for jewellery, mugs, posters, stickers or other trinkets while you’re in Seoul, this is definitely a must-visit store.

I am hopefully going to start collecting posts like this and compile some sort of top ten list by the end of it. I always mean to do that but I’m not a very good blogger I guess.

Object Stationery Store, Anguk
Object Stationery Store, Anguk

Close to Bukchon Hanok Village

Bukcho Hanok Village
Bukchon Hanok Village

오브젝트 삼청점 / Object Stationery, Seoul

How to get there:

Get off at Anguk station (Line 3) and get out at exit 2

Yeah, this isn’t going well — Working remotely in South Korea

I’m calling it. Remote working just doesn’t work in South Korea.

I’m a month into my remote working journey. I’m surprised, confused, proud and exhausted that I’ve made it this far.

Throughout the course of the pandemic, I have largely avoided working from home. I have had an odd couple of days at home here and a few half-day in-person meetings there. But mostly, it has been me at a desk in an office with endless supplies of sugary snacks and shit coffee.

South Korea has not made working from home a mandatory thing over the last two years. We are now in our fourth wave of the pandemic, and social distancing restrictions are the toughest they have ever been. So tough that the Level 4 social distancing rules have a policy stating that gym-goers must ‘maintain a treadmill speed of 6km/hr or slower, replacing high-intensity aerobic exercise with low-intensity aerobic exercise’. That is an actual rule. Mandated by the government. Sure, you can work in an office and eat in restaurants until 10 pm, but don’t you dare run too fast around people?

There have been guidelines and ‘suggestions’ for keeping office capacity at a certain level… Buuut most companies are keeping their workers indoors. In offices. On subways. In restaurants, during lunchtime peaks. It’s preposterous. I am a Melburnian, and although I didn’t struggle through 2 years of lockdowns like my friends and family, reading the Korean social distancing guidelines actually makes me feel embarrassed.

Photo by Mikey Harris on Unsplash

The startup I work for is working entirely remotely. It’s not going well.

When I moved to my new company a month ago, I attended my orientation online. They shipped a laptop out and said “good luck”. Well, they implied it anyway. I had seen people do this on LinkedIn. I knew it was a thing that happened a lot last year but experiencing it for myself, ugh. I had a 9:30 am meeting to get introduced and then that was it. No email from my new boss. No mention of what I’d be doing or who I’d be working with. Just. You know… have a good day!? Yeah, cheers.

So what does working from home do for the Korean population? Ah, why it gives us more time to work of course. No commute? No worries! Just add on 2, 3 maybe 4 extra hours to your workday! You’re not commuting anymore so you have more energy to work!? You’re at home so work during your lunch break!

Behind Colombia and Mexico, South Korea have the longest working hours in the developed world. On average in 2020, South Koreans worked a total of 1,908 hours in a year. Back home in Australia, my homeland, people work 1,683 hours per year. If I lived in Australia, I could have an extra 200 odd extra hours in my year to sleep or eat a proper meal or actually complete the projects I start in my spare time.

While nobody in my company is forcing me to work overtime, the overwhelming majority of the staff in Korea are sending emails and slack messages at all hours of the day. Our teams in other global offices are also largely working remotely, but they are not replying to our emails and messages at ungodly hours of the evening.

So, the only conclusion that I can draw is…. working from home just doesn’t work here in Korea.

Staff are always going to feel pressure to work long hours no matter how they are working. It is the nature, the heartbeat of this nation. As I said, we are not being forced to work longer hours. It just sort of happens. But you can bet your bottom dollar that I clock out on time every day. I have way too many failed hobbies and sources of joy outside of my work to waste my life working overtime.

An emergency that requires immediate action? Overtime work, sure. A deadline that I have to meet or other people are affected? Overtime? Yes, I’ll do it. But normal Monday evening on a summer’s day with no obvious mishaps or deadlines? Overtime? Absolutely-fucking-not. I mean, *priceless*.

All I can say is, man, I really hope nobody from my company reads this.

Good luck out there people, and don’t let work get you down. Take care of yourselves, your brain does wonderful things when it’s fed and rested.


This was originally published on my Medium blog – go chekitout.

Like my words? Well read more of them:

Here on my newsletter

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Or here on my new Instagram that is just drawings

Or on Twitter but to be honest, who uses Twitter? But also, follow me.

Photo Diary: Walking around Deoksugung on a Seoul Summer’s Day

Walking around Deoksugung Taking Photos

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.

Lunch at ‘Le Pul’, Jung-gu / 르폴

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!

General Drink Shop / 제너럴 드링크샵

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.

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I started a weekly newsletter called ‘Picnic in Your Pocket’
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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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What I’m wearing in Seoul this Summer – Minimal Korean Style

Summer is HOT this year in Seoul

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.

Minimal Korean Lookbook

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How to Make Korean Bibim Cold Noodles

How to Make Korean ‘Bibim’ Cold Noodles

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!

Korean Cold Noodles

More Food Content

Listen to AI ‘Blobs’ Sing Korean Folk Songs – Blob Opera by David Li

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!

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.

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