January 10, 2011

Costco Wholesale = Mini America in Korea

This weekend I was able to visit a Korean Costco courtesy of my friend Joanna, who brought her Costco card with her from America. I was surprised to learn that were seven Costco's in Korean. And even more surprised when I saw how crowded it was on a Sunday afternoon.
The real purpose of the trip was to hit up the Costco food court for a massive 12,000 won pizza. However, I was too excited when the pizza arrived at my table to take any pictures and before I knew it the whole thing was gone. Hence, I have no photographic evidence of some of the best pizza I have tasted in Korea.
It felt like I transported myself to Vernon Hills for the afternoon for some mall and Wholesale shopping. There were people everywhere, a food court that sold hot dogs and soft serve, and you could buy potato chips in bulk: Mini America.
Here are some snap shots of the craziness I found in Costco on Sunday afternoon.
Hundreds of SPAM gift sets. A hot commodity in the ROK.
Sunday line to check out: mob scene
Korean Costco Menu. Looks American to me.
Food Court

January 6, 2011

KPOP Friday

Happy Friday!

This weekend is my friend Eric's birthday. We are heading to Konkuk University area tonight for some dinner and college drinking. Then on Saturday we are doing a scavenger hunt around Seoul, which should be a blast.

Saturday night we are going to try to make it to Platoon Kunsthalle Night Flea Market in Gangnam. It is a place for socializing, drinking and where local artists show and sell some of their art. CNN say's the "warehouse resembles a futuristic edifice where Lady Gaga might possibly be working on her performance pieces." I am really excited to check out this "eccentric art-house playground" and maybe buy some Korean art for my apartment.
For this weeks KPOP video I want to show you a video that is much better than the music. TVXQ/DBSK's "Keep Your Head Down" is the quintessential KPOP video. Fire, low cut leather jumpsuits, group slow motion dance, its got it all.
You may be wondering what TVXQ stands for. So was I. I found out it is an acronym for Tong Vfang Xien Qi. Of Course! However, after some more digging I learned TVXQ is just their international name. They are known in South Koreas as DBSK, an acronym for Dong Bang Shin Ki. And in Japan they go by the name Tohoshinki, which translates to "The Rising Gods of the East." I never knew KPOP was so complicated.
Here is TVXQ/DBSK/Tohoshinki's video for "Keep Your Head Down". Enjoy KPOP at its greatest!

January 5, 2011

Desk Warming, Winter Camp and Vacationing in South East Asia

The Korean school year runs from March to December. The public schools have their 2 month vacation in January and February, giving the kids in Korea a cold, snowy "summer vacation".

During vacation all native English teachers have to teach a "Winter English Camp". Each teacher's camp is different, but usually is 20+ hours split up over 1-2 weeks. Teachers can have classes from 10-40 kids in their winter camps. Some schools have a large budget for the camp, which allows teachers to be creative and fun with their camps, doing arts and crafts and science projects. One of my friends, Quinn, is even doing a Harry Potter themed camp. Here is the advertisement for his camp that is hanging all over his school.
My school did not give me a budget and asked me to create an educational camp because the students who signed up like to learn. My camp will be full of kids in Choas Club (the science and math club at Bugok Middle School). I am thankful for having kids for camp who are dedicated learners, hopefully they wont give me a hard time. But my camp doesn't start until next week, so I will let you know then.

For this past week I have been desk warming. This term is used to describe the act of coming to work at a Korean school with no work to do. Many times when the school is closed and there are no classes the Korean school ask the native teachers to come into school anyways. Their thought process is that they are still paying us to work, so we should come and sit at our desk. Spending 8 hours a day for a whole week, doing nothing on the internet is a little draining. I am not complaining. I love desk warming, so much time for movies and skyping! The concept is just a little ridiculous.

Here is my desk and the empty teacher's office. My home for the last two weeks.
Here is a video from youtube that shows Hitler being told he has to desk warm during his vacation.

Next week, after I am finished with desk warming and winter camp, I am taking 12 of my 20 paid vacation days to go on a trip to South East Asia with a large group of my friends. With weekends and the Lunar New Year my trip will end up being 20 days long! I am so excited and next weekend can't come soon enough.
My itinerary is as follows:

Kuala Lumpur

Koh Phi Phi

Ho Chi Min City
Can Tho (Mekong Delta)
Phu Quoc

(pictures below are Koh Phi Phi and Kula Lumpur)
I have done a lot of research to plan this trip but I wanted to ask all my friends and family for some advice and tips as well. If you have been to any of these places please email with any info you want to pass on!


Thank you!

January 3, 2011

Western Delights

Can you get Western food and things in Korea?

This is a question I get often. I am lucky. I can pretty much get everything I love in America here in Korea. Since I live in a fairly wealthy area that is in close proximity to Seoul, Western amenities are easy to come across. I can find most Western food in the mega super marts (similar to America's Wal Mart). The food is usually expensive and not very good, but it exists.

When I want to get Western food at a restaurant in Bucheon I usually head to Rhythm and Booze or The Park. Both are Western bars that serve tons of delicious Western food at a reasonable price (5,000-10,000 Won).

This is what a average Western or Foreigner Bar looks like in Korea. Many of them have live Western music on the weekends and play football and basketball games during the week. These are also great places to meet other foreigners in your area.
Last week I at dinner at The Park (I was craving a cheeseburger). I took some pictures of the bar and the food I ordered. I ate a cheeseburger, a grilled cheese and a chicken parmasean sandwich. All were good, but not great (well except the grilled cheese-AMAZING). What else can you expect from Bucheon, South Korea? (I know Americans are stereotyped as being fat, but I actually shared all this food with someone else).
Also, today I was I lucky enough to get a early birthday package from my Wisco roommates.
It was filled with Velveeta mac and cheese, buttered mircrowave popcorn (my weakness), Cape Cod sea salt and vinegar chips and English magazines. I opened it and went to heaven. Thank you so much guys, I LOVE IT. I also currently have a stomach ache because I have been eating Cape Cod chips for the past 2 hours.