Monsoons, TOPIK, & Mud!

Rainy/monsoon season is no joke. Imagine my shock/surprise/horror when I left the house at 7 AM on a Sunday and it was just absolutely *dumping* rain. There was just no avoiding getting soaked. I was so annoyed!

But the test went well… I hope. I don’t have the results yet. I ended up shopping a bit after the test, and exercising in the evening. I have to work out in my apartment because I only belong to a taekwondo gym right now. I’d like to eventually join a real gym so I have access to equipment. My room must suffice though.

I also enjoy running outside, but the random rain makes it difficult. Turns out that heavy rain from that morning just flooded the stream and river in Jochiwon. I only got about 1 km into my run before I was forced to stop because the path was flooded. Squishy mud made it annoying and maybe a little dangerous to run in because it was slick.

I think the rain is tapering off these days, but we’re still stuck with ridiculous humidity. Must persevere so I can make it to vacation! For now, gotta make it through summer English camp for the coming 2 weeks. 화이팅!

Jo Kwon Mini Fan Meeting

I was lucky enough to be picked to attend Jo Kwon’s (singer of 2AM, musical actor) fan meeting at his cereal cafe – Midnight in Seoul – a couple weeks ago. The meeting was to celebrate the 9th anniversary of his debut.

I applied on the 2AM Daum cafe. I was a bit apprehensive because I’m not 100% confident about my Korean skills, but also meeting someone I admire was intimidating too. Nonetheless I applied and I went.

It was a pretty chill affair, although the weather itself was far from chilly. It’s summer which means heat, humidity, and the rainy season. Luckily the rain wasn’t a problem… until I had to go home anyway.

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It was held just outside Midnight In Seoul which is the cereal cafe Jo Kwon runs (co-runs? co-owns? The place was originally run by other people, I believe). About 30-35 fans total sat outside in the outdoor seating area while we waited. Actually, Jo Kwon came in rather nonchalantly. His parents and aunts were waiting inside, so he sat with them for a bit.

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The whole event took about 30-40 minutes. He greeted us and answered questions we wrote on memo notes. My question was what’s his favorite musical, but he answered all the ones he has been in and one or two others lol. So actually I don’t know if it was interpreted as “What’s your favorite” or “What’s your favorite that you’ve done”. By the way, he said he’s working on a new solo album. No word yet on when it’ll be released since he’s currently acting in the musical “Evil Dead” in Seoul.

He then showed us how to make one of the cereal specials that’s on the menu in the cafe. We also each got a chance to go up and say hi/get a signature. I was pretty nervous, but it turned out okay.

That was pretty much the end of the event. A few people got selfies with him, but he looked kinda busy so not many did it. I thought he’d pack up and leave, but he actually stuck around and worked at the cafe! Granted, there were other staff members, but he helped here and there. I ended up buying one the menu items which ended up being pure sugar.

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See? Tasty, but holy cow that’s just all sugar right there.

Now quite a bit after the event, maybe 30 minutes or so, I ended up getting a selfie with Jo Kwon. I had stayed to snack and also because the rain got kinda heavy. I didn’t really feel like walking in the rain (I ended up having to anyway). I felt bad about asking for a photo because he looked pretty tired, and I think he was packing up to leave. He was very kind, though, and obliged to take a photo.

Quick note: The cafe itself is nice. It’s actually split into 2 sections which are on either side of the building entrance, but share the outdoor seating area. I didn’t partake in any other food, so I’m curious about the privately labeled cereal. You can actually order it on their website, so I may give that a go one of these days.

You can check out Midnight in Seoul on Instagram and their website. If you’re in Seoul it may be fun to head on over. You may see Jo Kwon or other celebs!

Seoul Lotus Lantern Festival

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Long time no blog!

So… I’m back in Korea now. (“Say whaaaaat?”)

Yep a lot has happened since my last post *cough* last year. Long story short I re-applied to the EPIK program and was accepted. I’m now living in Sejong which is right next to Daejeon. How lucky!

I’m going to try to get caught up and do a back log of some of my adventures over the past couple months, but today I wanted to show some of what I saw at the Lotus Lantern Festival in Seoul.

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A lantern parade float

I randomly decided on Saturday morning that I should go to Seoul and check out this festival that I had read about online. A lot of my friends in the EPIK program decided to go to Jindo for the Sea Parting Festival which I a) still haven’t seen but b) forgot to chime in that I maybe wanted to go haha. So a solo Seoul (Seoul-o?) trip it is!

I was able to book a hostel in Hongdae pretty easily which was lucky since my first choice place was booked up. Well, that’s what I get for waiting until the last minute. I killed time in Hongdae until I headed over to Jogyesa Temple where the festival was being held. Jogyesa is the chief temple of the Jogyesa Order for Korean Buddhism. The festival is held in honor of Buddha’s birthday, which fell on May 3rd this year in Korea. It changes every year because of the lunisolar calendar, but it’s typically in May.

It was such a sight to see! There were groups playing traditional instruments, people dressed in beautiful hanbok and other traditional clothes, and so many people carrying lanterns. And the parade floats! I’d seen pictures of past parades, but it’s a whole different thing to see them in person. I can’t imagine how long those take to craft. Plus, there were people from different places like Thailand and Myanmar marching together with their own floats in honor of Buddha. The people carrying lanterns were even just handing them to people as they passed. I got 2! One I got was shaped like a lotus, and a little girl was staring longingly at it. So I gave it to her, and she traded me the one she had. I ended up having to leave 1 behind at the guesthouse, though, because I couldn’t carry it all with me (boo!).

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The floats were parked and lined up on the street, so I got to take a good look at all of them. I also explored Jogyesa a bit. There were soooo many lanterns hanging, and it just looked beautiful at night.

I also went inside the temple to pay my respects. I just quietly stood in the back because people were praying and I didn’t want to disturb anyone. I did, though, take part in the Bathing Buddha ritual. The ritual is supposed to help improve happiness and peace of mind. A person takes what is essentially a long ladle and pours water over a small Buddha statue 3 times. Each time you should say each of these things:

  1. May I eliminate all evil thoughts.
  2. May I cultivate good deeds.
  3. May I help save all living beings.

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Before I went back to Hongdae I walked down the street once more and came upon another celebration. There was a big stage set up with performers on stage (my guess is they were pansori singers, but I’m not sure). There was a large crowd watching, and also groups of people, both Korean and non-Korean, holding hands in a circle and dancing — or walking? They were walking in circles to the music anyway haha.

I honestly hadn’t expected the whole thing to be so lively. My initial thought was that since Buddha is such a revered figure that maybe it’d be a “tame” event, but it really was more like a party! I’m so glad I was able to experience it. If you’re in Korea around Buddha’s birthday you really should give it a go.

Studying & Coffee

I spend a lot of my days of from work in coffee shops studying and writing my master’s thesis. I wanted to just give a quick peek at my favorite coffee shop, Fiddleheads. They’re a really chill local coffee business with several locations in the Milwaukee area. If you happen to live around there definitely check it out (and try one of their seasonal drinks!).

I’m just chipping away slowly at my master’s thesis for now. It seems like it’ll never finish at this point, but I’ll get there! 🙂

Is It Okay To Be in 2 Kpop Fan Clubs?

There’s no question that Kpop fans can have a fierce loyalty to their favorite groups. From fansite managers, to people who run Tumblrs, people who go to pretty much every event and take videos, and people who buy multiples of CDs just to get into a fan sign event. Those people are super into their groups!

But are we, as fans, allowed to have more than one bias? Or are we supposed to swear unfailing loyalty to our one ultimate group/singer?

I was kind of wondering this when I saw that GOT7 was having their 3rd recruitment for IGOT7s. I’ve been an official Hottest for about 4-5 years now. Even having moved back home I still sign up when the new period starts. However, last year I had been considering being an IGOT7 too. I didn’t sign-up then, though, because I didn’t feel super into GOT7 at the time. Not enough to shell out around $60 anyway. This year was different! I’ve been getting more into the group and I decided to just go for it.

And, really, we shouldn’t feel hesitation in terms of whether it’s “okay” to be part of 2 fan clubs. Why not? We international fans almost never get to see our groups live anyway. We’re just doing it to support them.

I do get that there are people who only want to support one group, and that’s cool too. You want to put your energy into that group. As for me, I’m mostly a casual fan of many many groups, though I have a weakness for people from JYPE obviously haha. I’ll cheer for the big guys along with the nugus if I like the group.

Anyway, my point (along with a few others in the video) is that you can like as many groups as you want. Just respect each other, respect the artists, and enjoy the music! Because that’s what it’s really about.

Why do I still study Korean?

Even though I don’t study nearly as much as I did when I lived in Korea, I still like to study Korean in my free time back home. But people have asked why do I keep studying even though I’m no longer in Korea?

Well, honestly, why not? Why do we, when we are young students, have to study other languages? There’s no guarantee we will use it in those specific countries. But it’s good for you! It’s good for your brain.

Also, I spent quite some time studying while I was in Korea. Why should I give up that skill? There were days when I was deskwarming and I would spend a couple hours (or more) listening to Talk To Me in Korean podcasts. Or I’d go to cafes after work and study by myself or with friends. I even took the beginner level TOPIK. So why stop? Even though I don’t keep a consist schedule for studying, and I really should, I like that I’ve kept it up.

Another reason is that it’s comforting. Daejeon became a second home and there are many times I miss it there and all my friends. I even had occasions to meet and hang out with the fine folks at Talk To Me in Korean. ^^ So hearing them on podcasts and watching their videos makes me feel like I’m back with them.

Speaking of which, I highly recommend TTMiK if you haven’t been there! Both the website and their YouTube page are very, very useful. Honestly they account for, like, 90% of my study materials. You can also listen to music and watch TV programs to study. Keep word journals of vocabulary you hear while watching. Write down unfamiliar words and go back to them later for review. These kinds of exercises make for more effective vocabulary learning.

And even if you take breaks, it’s no big deal. Just get back at it. You can do it! 화이팅!

New Year, New K-pop Exercise Playlist

Can’t deny it, I was slacking over the holidays in regards to working out. But here we are, a new year, and it’s time to get back in the game.

I did a K-pop exercise playlist quite a while ago, so I’d say we’re about due for a reboot. I picked 10 songs from my current running playlist that I think you’ll enjoy (plus a few that didn’t quite make the list).

1. 4Minute – Crazy

2. SNSD – Love & Girls

3. SISTAR – Shake It

4.  Red Velvet – Dumb Dumb

5. MYNAME – 너무 very 막

6. Block B – Her

7. Brown Eyed Girls – Hot Shot

8. 15& – Sugar

9. KARA – Mamma Mia

10. Big Bang – Bang Bang Bang!

Honorable Mentions:

EXID – Up & Down
EXO – Growl
f(x) – Red Light
Super Junior – SPY
2PM – Go Crazy!

I do rotate songs in and out, but a lot of songs have stayed on my playlist for a really time. I guess they have staying power!

Best Dakkalbi Ever!

I’d been dreaming of one particular place in Daejeon since returning home, and I couldn’t wait to go there when I was on vacation in fall. That place is 맛존 (mat-jon or Mat [flavor/taste] Zone). I have never tasted better dakkalbi than there.

The first time I went there was a few years back when my friend was working there part-time in college. It became a favorite place among our group. I always get “mild” spice because even that makes my nose run. I had “hot” once with co-workers and I could barely handle it. So good though! It’s secret too. The owner makes the sauce off-site and brings it in to the restaurant. Wow!

You can get add-ons like cheese or have them make it into bokkeumbap (fried rice) with your leftovers. Plus, they have yummy pineapple makkeolli!

Mat-jon isn’t too hard to find. It’s in Gungdong (궁동) which is the area right by Chungnam University. Start from Sobija Mart, where all the taxis drop off/pick up. Walk straight for a minute or so. Turn right at the first large street by Paris Baguette. Then make a left at the next street. Mat-jon will be on the right side. Enjoy!

matjon map

Address: 대전광역시 유성구 궁동 408-14
(You’ll probably get more accurate results plugging that into Naver Maps as opposed to Google Maps)

Tokyo Game Show 2015


Hey, all!

If you didn’t see from one of my previous posts, I had the chance to take a nice long vacation in fall. So I decided to spend a few weeks in Japan and Korea. I still had to do my course work while I was away, but it was worth it!

I didn’t plan much for the part of the trip in Tokyo. I had things in mind, but nothing set. So while talking with some other hostel guests, I found at that Tokyo Game Show was happening while I was in town. Lucky me!

I’m not a huge gamer – casual, you might say – but I like to play. Plus getting a chance to see new stuff in person was definitely a plus.

It was a really long day with people, people, people everywhere. Also, we didn’t get to demo lots of games because of the long wait times. We got to try a handful of games in the hall with the indie developers. The only game I tried in the main event hall was Disney Infinity Star Wars (really cool!). But we also got to see some neat stuff.

Take a peek at the photo gallery:

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“Hormone” curry?

This one throw you for a loop? Certainly had me confused and amused. Luckily, the good folks at RocketNews24 have an explanation. “Hormone” is a portmanteau (words that combine their sounds and meanings)– “the word actually means “stuff you’d throw away” (horu, to discard, mono, stuff). If you haven’t guessed yet, we’re talking about offal, guts, entrails, icky animal innard bits grilled up yakiniku-style.” Ahhhh, now I get it. I probably would have tried it had I known.

And here are some of the cosplayers and promotional models at the show:

*Whew!* Long day, lots to see, but plenty of fun and a unique experience for my trip. If I’m ever back in Tokyo for TGS again I think I’ll be a bit more prepared for the experience.

FAB #3 – Etude House & Tony Moly

I can’t resist! I know I said I’d try to avoid Etude House for my next review. But then I found out they ship internationally now, *and* they had an offer for free shipping at the time. How could I resist?

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Color In Liquid Lips

I’m always attracted to Etude’s cute packaging, so this caught my eye. Not quite a tint, not quite a gloss. I’d say it’s somewhere in between.The color was great and not my usual choice. The consistency of the liquid is somewhat thick. I definitely had to blot so it was the consistency I wanted, but it’s not unreasonable. I like it!

You can find it here (I got #14 BE102)

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Proof 10 Eye Primer

I had high hopes for this because the reviews on Etude’s site were pretty good. It has not disappointed! It’s still not a product I use regularly, but it does what it’s supposed to. In general my problem is that eye shadow wears off fairly quickly. I noticed, though, when I used the primer that it took much longer. Eyeliner seems to keep on better as well. A worthwhile product!

Find it here

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Peach Punch Sweet Foam Cleaner (Tony Moly)

This is a pretty basic cleanser here. It has a fairly strong smell of peach (bit more like peach iced tea). At first I had a problem with it because I felt like my eyes were really sensitive to it. Now that I’ve been using it for awhile I don’t find I have that problem as much anymore. I actually had a similar problem with Trader Joe’s tea tree oil products (i.e. shampoo, cleanser), but after I got used to them it wasn’t an issue. So I guess there’s an adjustment period. It’s a decent product, but I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to get it again.

Find it here

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Soft Clay Pack

I don’t usually use packs, but I decided to try this one. The consistency isn’t very thick or anything. Honestly, I don’t worry tons about my pores. Maybe it’s because I don’t pay attention to that sort of thing. Anyway, I’ve used this a few times since I bought it. I’m not 100% sure how it affects my pores or anything, but my skin feels pretty smooth afterwards. Other reviews I’ve seen seem to like it, so I’ll keep using it!

Find it here

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Sunshine In Spoon S.M.Y. Sugar Apple

This is a very gentle scrub as described on the site. The scrub granules are pretty small and the lotion (yogurt?) is fairly thin. You don’t need a lot when you use it. I actually used 1 pack 2-3 times because you don’t really need the whole thing in one go. It’s a nice scrub you can use about once a week for a sort of in home spa treatment.

Find it here

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Moonlight in a Spoon Blended Sleeping Cream

I always wanted to try these sleeping pack things. I don’t know why. It just looked… interesting? I ended up buying Evening Primrose and Seaweed. I’ve only tried the Primrose at this point, and I guess I don’t know what to say. Maybe I should have inspected my skin more closely. I thought my skin felt smooth and moisturized. Other than that, though, I’m not sure what to say. People on the site really like it, and I enjoyed the concept/packaging.

Find it here

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My Beauty Tool Brush – My 140 Powder

I’m pretty bad with my brushes. I know I should take better care of them. So I bought this little guy. It’s soooo soft! And I noticed after I started using it that it holds powder so much better than my (very) old one. Gotta take care of this one!

Find it here

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Pocket Bunny Perfume Bar

I love perfume bars. They are so convenient! You can keep it at home, in your desk, in your bag, or take it on a trip. I loved the first one I bought from Tony Moly, but they don’t make that scent anymore (*sadface*). I decided to go with this one instead (#3 Bloom Bunny). The scent is nice! It’s very fresh and clean, like laundry you just took out of the dryer.

Find it here

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These pocket mists are meant to give your skin a little extra boost during the day. The Pocket Bunny line has one for dry and oily skin types. I went for the “sleek mist” since I have oily skin. I think I would’ve used this more if I still was in Korea. Just based on where I am now and how much time I’m indoors I don’t use this as much. If I was a bit more outdoors-y (or maybe if my work environment was more dry) I’d use it more. Also, I could do without it having a scent. It’s not a bad scent, but I’d rather just do without. But it does the job and works fine for me.

Find it here

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Proof 10 Gelquid Liner

I’m always jealous of my friends who can do a really nice job with their eyeliner. So I like to try out different kinds to see if I can get it down. So I went with this waterproof gel liner. It’s a cross between a gel and a liquid liner (hence the name). I like it because I feel like I can get a fairly decent line with it. The color is a very dark brown, almost a black. If you have a steady hand you can get a fairly decent line with it. I still need practice, but even I can make a nice wing using this liner.

Find it here

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Open Your Eyes set

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These are some lovely colors. Admittedly the Etude eyeshadows aren’t always long-lasting. I did, however, have more success when using the eye primer. I didn’t have to worry much about re-applying.

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A very nice set! It covers all the basic for eye make-up. I love the Play 101 pencils so the black is a nice basic one to have for your make-up needs. The Curl Fix mascara was way more effective then I imagined. That stuff does not wanna come off! I work it when I was working out. I wore it in the shower. Even then it did not wanna all come off. That is it’s strength but also it’s downfall. When I want make-up off, I want it off. This was so resistant. I used eye make-up remover and cleaner, and those didn’t take it off 100%. I guess they sell a mascara remover, but I haven’t bought it. I feel like I shouldn’t have to buy a specific product to take it off. So if you’re looking for a long-lasting mascara this one is awesome! But beware — it gets very attached to you.

Find it here

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Bling Bling Eye Stick

What a neat little product! This is perfect for no-fuss sort of people. It’s also great to carry around because it’s so light and easy to apply. I bought a neutral color. It applies well and has plenty of sparkle. Like many Etude eye shadows the color fades after awhile, so you should reapply it. It’s not a huge issue for me, but maybe that’s because I’m not too fussy. I’d like to try other colors since they one I got was pretty basic.

Find it here

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Play 101 Pencil

Ah the Play 101 pencils. So colorful. So creamy. I love ’em! It’s really different from the sort of liners I usually use. I do have to re-apply them every so often, but not anything that I’m not used to. They go on so smooth, and I can’t get over all the color options. I think they can be a really nice addition to anyone’s make-up routine.

I hope you found my review useful! If you have question about the products I showed feel free to comment down below.

Thanks for reading! 🙂